Palomino Blackwing 602

You’d never know it from those orange #2’s you used in school, but a great pencil can be a magical thing. It turns simple note-taking into a charcoal sketch, with darker or thicker lines depending on how firm your grip is and how fast you’re scanning the page. It’s not just a pencil; it’s a lead paintbrush.

For those who are extremely, embarrassingly serious about these things, there’s a clear favorite: the Palomino Blackwing 602, a legendary soft-wax model tragically discontinued in 1998, and sorely missed ever since. Devotees included everyone from John Steinbeck to Stephen Sondheim, and in the 13 years since they stopped being made, 602s have built up a sturdy cult following…and no small eBay presence.

And now, they’re back.

The appeal can be a bit confusing to non-pencil snobs, but the slogan says it all: “Half the pressure, twice the speed.” The lead here is unusually soft, so you can make your mark by just grazing the page. And if you happen to work with any lead-minded creatives, you can count on a few lustful glances. Now, to find an artisanal sharpener…

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom