The original version of this classic pencil has a cult-like following, and if you feel like shelling out upwards of $30 you can usually buy one pencil for that price on eBay. That’s right one pencil runs about thirty dollars. Recently though, the Palomino Blackwing 602 has been reinvented and can be purchased for a much more reasonable price. For full disclosure, this review sample was sent over to me by Brad and all of the great folks at Jetpens.
Everything from the paint to the eraser has been duplicated on this revived version of the Palomino Blackwing, and it looks fantastic. Unfortunately I’ve never used the original version so this wont be a comparison type review, but I can still give you my insight as someone that really does not like to write with traditional woodcase pencils.
One thing that stands out about this pencil when you compare it to some of the more generic mass produced ones is the amazing paint job on it. It has a very consistent and slightly glossy finish that looks as professional as something you would typically find on a car. Once I sharpened it, I noticed something kind of cool, but you need to click on the above picture and look closely to see it. Along the wavy edges created by the sharpening process you can see that there is a tiny band of black before you get to the silver paint, which makes me wonder if they have gone as far as first putting some sort of layer of primer before applying the final coat of paint. Also, as minor as it might sound, even the gold inlay on the lettering for the “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” looks great. On many pencils the different color lettering that you see is often inconsistent with splotchy paint that you can see through to the base coat of paint. Definitely not the case here, the lettering is very nicely done.
On a premium pencil such as this one, it would be a shame if you burned through your eraser while you still had lots of pencil left, and the solution that they have implemented to avoid that is brilliant in its simplicity, and also gives the pencil a bit of a paintbrush shaped look to it. As you can see above there is a small silver cylinder at the edge of the eraser, and with a simple tug, it pulls the entire eraser out from the pencil and allows you to either lengthen it a bit or swap it with a completely new one.
With the eraser removed, you can see that its actually quite a good size, so before you ever need to replace it you will be able to extend it out a bit. In addition to the black eraser that these come with, you can also pick up replacement erasers for the blackwing in pink and white.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, and have pointed out in previous posts, I’m not a huge pencil person, and I typically dislike writing with them because of the scratchy nature and my constant need for a sharp fine point. I have to say though that writing with the blackwing was a much better experience than many of the other woodcase pencils I’ve written with. There is absolutely no question that the lead in this pencil writes incredibly smoothly. Not once did I get that scratchy feel that you get with other pencils and the lead seemed like it just melted off the tip and onto the paper, rather than me feeling like I was etching lead onto the page. Even with my heavy hand and limited artistic abilities, I was able to produce several discernible levels of shading with little effort. The eraser also performed pretty well, not as great as the pencil but still at an acceptable level. The only reason I say “acceptable” is because if you look at the shading examples in the scan above where I tested the eraser, you can see that on the two heaviest and darkest samples, the eraser didn’t quite remove everything. On the other test patches though, it did an admirable job.
Considering the fact that I view myself as a “pencil curmudgeon” I have to say that if forced to write with a woodcase pencil, the Palomino Blackwing 602 would probably be my first choice due to the super smooth lead and the practicality of the replaceable eraser. It also doesn’t hurt that the pencil just looks fantastic with its classic design elements and attention to detail on the paint and lettering.