Music, movies, books, food and drink.  These are the meat and potatoes of choice that we put our passion into and write about at Step On Magazine.  So when we were presented with an offer to write a review about the Blackwing 602, an item revered for its sleek design, unfaltering quality and at one time limited availability that drove its demand and price through the roof, we just had to accept.

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Unless you are a writer or an artist, it’s likely the Blackwing 602 evokes images of the latest super-sonic airplane to be designed by Lockheed Martin in your imagination, so why offer a couple of culture critics in Toronto the opportunity to crash (and we surely would) $100 M worth of military hardware?  The answer is simple.

The Blackwing 602 is not a fighter plane.  It’s a pencil.  And a truly gorgeous one at that.  Manufactured by Palomino, the Blackwing tag line is “It’s not just a pencil, it’s an experience” a serious statement.  There is a tremendous amount of detail shared on Palomino’s website about the 12-step pencil making process outlining the care and quality that goes into every unit.

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The James Bond of pencils

The Blackwing was introduced by Eberhard Faber during the 1930’s and became the pencil of choice for discerning artists until its discontinuation in 1998.  This triggered die-hard loyalists of the brand to pay as much as $40 per pencil on eBay to get their hands on one.  The coveted pencils were used by legends including John Steinbeck, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, and Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones.

But do they really warrant all the hype?  Yes.  We have been field-testing the Blackwing 602s while out and about covering Canadian Music Week and they really are exceptional both ergonomically and functionally.  We experienced clean, even, and near effortless graphite to paper transfer and next to no smudging.  Inferior quality pencils leave a mess of clingy bits when the built-in eraser tip is used.  Not so with the Blackwing 602.  All traces of the graphite are removed, with very little residue left behind on the page.  The pencils also stayed sharp throughout the evening and were durable enough to withstand being tossed loose into our tote bags without losing their point. And just look at them.

So where can you get yours?  Visit pencils.com or use the retailer locator on the Palomino website to find a store near you.

By Dave MacIntyre