Join a new generation of Creative Legends

The next chapter of the Blackwing pencil has been written. Eberhard Faber first introduced the Blackwing pencil in the 1930’s. Over time, some of the world’s most legendary Grammy, Emmy, Pulitzer and Academy Award winners, including Stephen Sondheim, John Steinbeck and Chuck Jones, began using Blackwing pencils extensively. In 1998, after several corporate acquisitions, it was discontinued, but certainly not forgotten. In fact, fans began paying as much $40 on eBay for a single Blackwing pencil. In 2010, Charles Berolzheimer, a sixth generation pencileer, revived this iconic pencil, both in its original form for devotees, writers and everyday users, as well as a modified version with a slightly softer lead for artists. No matter what your discipline, these tools will help you create your own legacy of greatness.

 

A HISTORY OF THE BLACKWING

Though a mere pencil, the Palomino Blackwing has a long and strong history. Its predecessor, the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602, had its virtues praised by artists and writers alike through the decades. The Paris Review quoted John Steinbeck:

“I have found a new kind of pencil—the best I have ever had. Of course it costs three times as much too but it is black and soft but doesn’t break off. I think I will always use these. They are called Blackwings and they really glide over the paper.”

True to his words, the Blackwings are known for its soft lead (graded at 4B) and smooth writing. Stephen Sondheim wrote in commentary to a book about his collected lyrics:

For those who like me are curious about a writer’s habits: the pencils I write with are Blackwings, a brand formerly made by Eberhard Faber but alas, no longer. Their motto, printed proudly on the shaft, is “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed,” and they live up to that promise. They utilize very soft lead, which makes them not only easy to write with (although extremely smudgy) but also encourages the user to waste time repeatedly sharpening them, since they wear out in minutes. They also have removable erasers which, when dried out, can be reversed to resume their softness and which are flat, preventing the pencil from rolling off a table.

 

That motto, “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” has lived on with the Blackwing through Eberhard Faber’s transition into Faber-Castell in the 1980s. Another unique feature to continue was the rectangular ferrule and eraser, which as Mr. Sondheim mentioned, makes the eraser longer and keeps it from sliding off a desk.

Unfortunately, that unique ferrule led to its demise. In the 1990s, the machine that crafted those rectangular ferrules broke, and Sanford (who bought Faber-Castell around that time), didn’t want to fix it.

Doug Martin, editor of the popular site The Pencil Pages, wrote about it in “The Blackwing 602: the FInal Chapter:”

It is true that the ferrule machine was broken, but it had been broken even before Sanford bought the company. A large stock of ferrules remained, and all Blackwing production drew parts from this stock. Those familiar with the Blackwing know of the small aluminum clip that secures the eraser in the ferrule. It was this small part that ran out of stock and prompted the discontinuation of Blackwing production.There was another factor that influenced the company’s decision to stop making this pencil. During the last years of production, the company made only about 1100 dozen Blackwings annually. The facility produces more pencils than that in a single hour! It was an economic decision based on low demand and the relatively high cost of repairs to the machinery that brought the end of the Blackwing.