Once upon a time, and seemingly overnight, Moleskin journals became the ultimate hipster accessory. Any artistically inclined individual, especially those who fancied themselves writers, suddenly started carrying a little Moleskin journal in their pocket or backpack. It was a harmlessly pretentious accessory that gave you a distinctive way to plan your days, sketch out your thoughts and write little notes. And all these years later, many writers still have a soft spot for Moleskin journals.
Over the last year, you may have noticed that your go-to bookstore or stationery shop has now started carrying Blackwing pencils, which can often be found right next to the Moleskin journals. (And if you don’t have a go-to local bookstore, then this article probably isn’t for you.) So what are Blackwings? It’s just a pencil, right? Not quite.
These premium writing implements are the only pencils that have their very own cult following, and they have a recognizable style and a trademark replaceable eraser. And in the same way that you just had to have a Moleskin journal, you may find yourself suddenly struck by an urge to write your notes with the fine graphite tip of a Blackwing 602 Pencil.
Blackwing pencils are a new status symbol for the stylish creative.
In an increasingly fast-paced digital world, what’s a guy got to do to slow down? First, perhaps, reconsider your everyday carry and add a stylish and well-rounded Blackwing pencil. Yes, that’s right: In an era when it’s hard to put down your iPhone for some real-life writing tools, reach for some of the best pencils ever made.
We’re officially calling it: the Blackwing pencil is the new must-have EDC accessory for lovers of mindful style and intentional design — the successor to the Moleskin journal, as it were. It’s purposeful, it looks great on your desk, and it’s another way to bring great design into every area of your life.
Blackwing pencils are known for their distinctive square easer and use of premium materials. We’ve heard them called “The $40 Pencil” — both derisively and affectionately — but where did these impressive pencils come from? Our story begins much farther back than this year. Like other everyday carry essentials (including the best men’s watches), Blackwing pencils got their start long before we became addicted to our smartphones.
A (Brief) History of Blackwing Pencils
Blackwing pencils were first made by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company in the 1930s, where they began to enjoy a cult following among writers and animators (John Steinbeck was reportedly a Blackwing fan — not a bad co-sign as far as creativity goes, right?). For years, they were a trusted writing and creative tool, but the brand was discontinued in 1998 (hence why Blackwing pencils shot up to $40 per pencil on eBay).
Blackwing, as we know it today, first began to take shape in 2007, when the owners first introduced the now-famed Palomino pencil. After a few years, fans or the original Blackwing pencils couldn’t be denied any longer, and it led to the 2010 rebirth of the original Blackwing 602, the iconic pencil upon which the brand built itself.
According to the official Blackwing website, “We tapped into over 100 years of family-run pencil industry experience to re-introduce Blackwing pencils in 2010. In the 10 years since its revival, Blackwing has grown from a single pencil into a culture.”
The Blackwing 602 is now made with Genuine Incense-cedar and premium Japanese graphite, two materials you’re not likely to find in your average dollar store pencil. And unlike the pencils you used in school, you can replace the erasers of Blackwing pencils, a feature that’s practically unheard of. They’re now available in custom editions and with new designs and colorways, and every Blackwing offers writing quality that’s simply unmatched (take it from this writer: I’m a big Blackwing fan myself). In addition, the Blackwing company is expanding its product selection. You can now buy custom Blackwing pencils, notebooks, colored pencils and other gear, all made with the brand’s signature precision and attention to detail.
The good news is there’s no need to spend $40 on a Blackwing pencil today. There are plenty of places to buy Blackwing pencils, from trusted big-box retailers to stationery stores and hip boutiques globally. For now, you can start your search for the greatest pencil on the planet — that’s our opinion — with the shopping guide below.
Keep reading to find the best places to buy Blackwing pencils online.
1. Bespoke Post
If you want a starting point to get to know the brand, it’s best to go the mix-and-match route, so to speak. Luckily, Bespoke Post allows you to do just that with the aptly named Blackwing Starting Point Set. The set features four Blackwing pencils, two helpful guards (to protect the sharp point of the pencil), plus a handy storage case and a bevy of replacement erasers. You even get your own pencil sharpener specifically made to deliver a quality Blackwing pencil finish (the pencils themselves are made in Japan, and the sharpener is made in Germany).
Note that you’re getting the Palomino model here, but it’s a worthwhile way to get to know the brand itself. It’s very fitting that Bespoke Post offers Blackwing pencils since the NYC-based brand has a keen eye for stylish gear, home goods, menswear essentials and unique desk accessories. Think of this starting kit as another way to add standout design to every aspect of your life.
As to be expected, the global retailer is also a reliable resource for Blackwing pencils. Here, you can pick options like the Blackwing Natural pencil, featuring a strong Japanese Graphite core for that smooth glide you need when working with sketch paper or writing notes in your journal. The Natural edition of Blackwing pencils features an “exposed Incense-cedar wooden barrel,” with a smooth matte finish (no need to worry about splinters here). Oh, and a portion of sales from Blackwing pencils go to benefit creative arts and music education programs in K-12 schools, so this is a stylish, design-minded purchase you can feel great about.
While you might be more used to heading to Walmart to shop for school supplies and stock up on groceries, you can also refresh and revamp your office and desk supplies at the big-box retailer. Select from the sleek black edition of Blackwing’s famed Palomino pencils, with handsome gold lettering and that distinctive gold-colored eraser holder. Sure, this box of 12 pencils is pricier than your average box of pencils, but once you’ve put that pencil to the page for the first time, you’ll know why authors, animators and creatives of all sorts trust Blackwing time and again. For a brand that was once incredibly hard to find, being able to snag Blackwing at Walmart is pretty ideal if you ask us.
4. Blick Art Supplies
Notably, you might first think of an arts and crafts store when you’re ready to buy Blackwing pencils. Of course, you’d have guessed correctly if you thought of a well-stocked retailer like Blick Art Supplies. Blick stocks everything from the original and utterly classic Blackwing 602 (for everyday use) to sleek editions like the Blackwing Pearl (well-suited for lettering and line work).
Blick makes it easy to order multiple colors and varieties with a few simple clicks, and at prices below $30 per 12-pack. If you want to save a few bucks while restocking your desk supplies, then Blick Art Supplies is easily one of the best places to buy Blackwing pencils online.
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