Thursday, 4 November 2010

Blackwing 602

The Blackwing 602 is a discontinued model of pencil that has developed a cult following as "the best pencil ever made". It was produced by the Eberhard Faber company until 1998. Initially sold for 50 cents, Blackwings were being sold for $20 in 2006, and as of 2009 cost about $35 on E-Bay.

It was a very soft pencil with wax addition to the lead, and has been advertised as requiring only half of the usual physical effort to produce the marking. The wood was made from cedar. The pencil was used mainly by artists and writers, some of them famous, for writing text. After the pencil was discontinued, these known writers (Joseph Finder, Stephen Sondheim) tried to convince to continue production or at least said some warm words about the tool they were used to. This likely popularized the pencil, creating its cult following.

While the company says that other pencils with similar leads are available, the devotees are convinced that there is no adequate substitution.

The Blackwing used a special eraser ferrule, which required special clips that could only be manufactured by a custom-made machine. By the time Eberhard Faber was acquired by Faber-Castell in 1994, this machine was broken; however, a sufficient backstock of ferrule clips enabled Blackwing manufacture to continue until 1998. At this point, the company ceased production on the Blackwing, claiming it was not commercially successful.


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