Sunday, August 29, 2010


Boing Boing has the details. Eberhard Faber's quirky Blackwing 602 went the way of the Ford Model T back in 1998, leaving a fan base nearly as devoted -- and now it has come back, the design licensed to another pencil maker (no word on the balky machinery that got it dropped in the first place).

What's so special? High-quality lead, for one thing; but the feature I suspect won it the most fans is the eraser, a nice, wide slab with a tiny slider to lift up more when it gets worn down. Maybe it's just the way I write, but I run out of eraser long before the pencil's too short to use (without a holder, that is).

It even gets passing mention in Henry Petroski's marvelous The Pencil: "...the steel-black hexagonal Faber Blackwing, a dignified-looking fifty-cent pencil with distinctive flat ferrule (The Blackwing's extra soft lead makes it so smooth and easy to write with that the pencil has been imprinted with the slogan, 'half the pressure, twice the speed.')" [page 354]

There's a particular pleasure in using a really good pencil; if you liked the old Blackwing, be on the lookout for the new ones.

(For The Pencil and other Petroski books, try the link at Tam's)

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