More Blackwing – and an alternative

My previous blog post, looking at Tiger’s Blackwing, seems to have made some people upset.

The ‘points’

It might be worth to walk a few steps back and to get an overview of the points I tried to raise.

  • There is no continuity between the original Blackwing and the CalCedar/Palomino version.

If the new Blackwing would use the same lead recipe or was made in the same factory I would see that as ‘strong continuity’. If the name was bought from Faber-Castell I could see that there is some continuity, but the Blackwing stopped being made, the name ‘expired’, someone unrelated grabbed the name. These are just facts – Don’t shoot the messenger.

  • I like Tiger’s Blackwing more because it keeps the point better.

I’m writing with pencils, I’m not an artist as you might have noticed from the low quality of the occasional drawings you can find here. I also write very small, so need a fine point. People use pencils in different ways, so for you a 4B like pencil might just be the thing you need. Everyone’s mileage varies. The Palomino Blackwing might be great for some, but I spelled out why I prefer the Tiger. Put the Tiger in your hand! (was: put the tiger in your tank).

The ferrule

There were some questions about the ferrule, asked by Gunther and on social media. When those questions where asked I made a little video instead of writing it up, just because talking to a microphone is so much faster and more convenient than writing a blog post and my blog is still in hibernation mode because of a lack of time. I thought I link to the video here, in case you want to compare the ferrule to your own ferrule.

Cheaper alternatives

Graph from the DelGuard post.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the CalCedar Blackwing, why not try a Staedtler Mars Lumograph 3B. It’s great! ..but don’t take my word for it, look at Pearson Moore’s comparison instead. The man who spent some 1,200 hours collecting and categorising data point for different pencils. I first heard about his book from Gunther.

If you remember my DelGuard blog post you know I’m into this kind of stuff. Unfortunately that blog post only got one comment, so I assume this topic is not of interest to readers of my blog. but if you are one of the rare ones who likes this kind of stuff have a look at Pearson Moore’s book: Pearson’s Graphite 2015 ($19.95 in the USA, £13.95 in the UK)


Here are some of the attributes of the two pencils that are most important to me.

Palomino Blackwing201015912
Staedtler Mars Lumograph 3B15714

The have the same darkness, but the Staedtler keeps the point longer as it is less soft. Lissance, i.e. smoothness is higher for the Staedtler. That’s a win win for the humble blue pencil. The Palomino does score higher in some other areas like Pressure Insensitivity, but they are not important to me. Pearson Moore checked pencils between 30 mN and 1N. I guess if you are an artist this might be of interest, especially if you only have one pencil you need to do all your shading with, but again this is not the case for me.

If you love the Palomino Blackwing please let me know what you think of the Mars Lumograph in 3B.



8 thoughts on “More Blackwing – and an alternative”

  1. The Mars Lumograph is my go to pencil for drawing.
    I use the cheaper Tradition for writing.
    I said in my earlier comment that the Tradition was quieter than the Palomino Blackwing 602, by which I meant that the BW makes more of a scratchy noise when writing.

  2. I didn’t know about that book so thanks for that. I recently tried every pencil being sold at officeworks and decided that I quite liked the Staedtler 2B in the jumbo triangular shape. Much smoother than other 2B options. I also am quite liking the Mitsubishi 9850 HB 45 as an all purpose pencil that is smooth and keeps it’s point well.

  3. “Lissance, i.e. smoothness is higher for the Staedtler.”

    lissence is a modern derivation of the ancient Greek word lissos meaning “smooth”. Lissos is also an ancient city in south-west Crete.

  4. Thank you for your comments.

    Michael, I also really like the Lumograph and the Tradition Thank you for your explanation regarding the Palomino 602.

    Elaine, it’s a great book. I am surprised it is not more popular. The 9850 is not common around here. I should give it a try if I see one.

    David, thank you for this explanation.

    Gianni, I assume you mean the Tiger alternative. I think you can only find it in Tiger shops. The Lumograph, which is a great alternative, should be easy to find in most countries

  5. I wonder what happened to the original formula. If Faber-Castell still has it they should start making “true Blackwing” pencils again. I would prefer it without those ridiculous ferrules, though, which originally were not hipster but now certainly are.

  6. Thank you for your comments.

    Joe, I think Sean from Contrapuntalism is the expert regarding this topic. He knows Eberhard Faber IV and he knew the late Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell personally.

    I think if Faber-Castell wanted they could make a true(er) Blackwing, but they wouldn’t be able to use the name as they let the trademark lapse – I think people who are really into the pencil for it’s advantages wouldn’t care about the name, but some people who like to hear a good marketing story wouldn’t like that imaginary FC revival pencil without the original name.

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