Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil
Quite a long winded story here - but definitely worth summarising because this much talked of product is often the object of many confusions.
The real Blackwing is a pencil made from the 1930's to the 1990's by a now-extinct pencil maker Eberhard Faber. The company was created by one of the heirs of the German Faber Family (now Faber-Castell) who was sent to the USA to source cedar wood for the production of pencils in the 19th century. In the end he remained in the USA and formed a competing company which would establish itself (in Brooklyn) as one of the largest suppliers of stationery in America. Indeed many items of which Choosing Keeping would call the "American Stationery Canon" were made by Eberhard Faber including the Pink Pearl Eraser (here pictured) and the Mongol Pencil.
Unfortunately the use of computers lead to many pencil companies going bust and now there are but 3 pencil makers still producing the USA. One of the casualties of these bankruptcies happened to be the Eberhard Faber Blackwing, a high quality, much loved (by musicians especially apparently) very smooth and very black pencil.
In 2010 Cal Cedar, a pencil wood slats producer, acquired the trademark to the Blackwing and decided to re-launch the pencil capitalising on its notoriety amongst pencil bloggers and pencil collectors.
In defence of Cal Cedar they did do a fantastic job at re-creating the feel of the original and this is a top notch pencil, particularly suited to drawing and sketching. Very dark in colour, very buttery, the lead melts into the page.
However Choosing Keeping would like to point out that this new Palomino Blackwing pencil is not the original - not made by the same people, not in the same place and not with the same materials. It is in fact made in Japan, which unfortunately underlines the sad state of pencil manufacturing in the States :-(
If you put aside the heavy marketing, which is in our opinion a bit on the un-elegant side, this is still a good - an excellent pencil. Kudos to the Japanese for keeping the tradition of pencil making alive so we may enjoy wonderful writing implements still today.
Although the Palomino Blacking 602 is ungraded, we estimate it to be a 3B-4B. If you want an even darker version, try the Palomino Pearl. (both are still very much soft lead drawing pencils - but the Pearl is slightly darker and softer still)