Style & Self

Palomino Pencil Review

5 Jun , 2013  

Palomino Pencil Review

Palomino Pencil Review

When writing, what you use is almost as important and how you use it. Just like you wouldn’t take out a pretty girl on a date driving a broken down 93 Toyota Celica, you wouldn’t want to write anything important with some two-bit dollar store pencil made from pirated Mongolian graphite and  plastic pseudo-wood. And, in the world of fancy pencils, Palomino is king.

Palomino’s bread and butter is the Blackwing 602, which is a reproduction of the original 602, a pencil that was used (and preferred) by such greats as Chuck Jones and John Steinbeck, but they’ve got a wider array of pencils that will get the job done, too.


The Palomino Prospector is your basic, get-the-job-done pencil. It comes in a cool green finish and retails for 2.25 per dozen. Although this is a far cry from the luxury that the Blackwing 602 offers, the Prospector is a pencil that looks great, is sturdy enough not to break in your hand, and leaves a solid, easily readable mark.

Golden Bear:

What differentiates the Golden Bear from the Prospector is that it’s made from California grown cedar that has been incensed. Frankly, it smells delicious. I couldn’t tell a difference between the graphite streak of this and the Prospector, but when you look closely at the wood, it’s striated finish gives it a more rustic and natural look.


The HB is a premium grade incensed pencil that gives a more robust line. I really prefer this to lighter graphite pencils- its high contrast against white paper just looks more professional to me. These cost a bit more at $12.95 a dozen, but there is a noticeable difference between these and regular pencils.


The Blackwing is is a softer version of the iconic 602- something that you could use for sketching. I’m not an artist, so I can’t attest to its use in that realm, but what I did take away from this was that it was much easier to write with. If you’re someone whose hand easily cramps up or is planning to jot down the next great American epic, this pencil is for you. You’ll use half the effort and it will still leave a solid, dark mark that is easily read and defined.

Blackwing 602:

The Blackwing 602 is the Holy Grail of pencils. Originally made by Eberhard-Faber, upon it’s cessation of production in the late 90s, Blackwing 602s would routinely sell for ten times their retail price, with some listings online going as high as $40. I’ve drank bottles of whiskey that cost less than this pencil sold for- and, upon using it, I see why. There is something different about the 602. It might be the lore around it, but still, I like it. It’s got a cool black matte finish that is striking to the eye and the rectangular replaceable eraser works much better than a standard pink cap. I do a lot of my writing in sketchpads and notebooks and usually I just pick up whatever pencil I have around, but I think I’ve found my new pencil of choice. Even though it’s $19.95 for a dozen, I think it’s worth it- like spending the extra money on leather-soled shoes or skin-sensitive shave butter.


The Palomino Pencil Sharpener:

Although it’s not a pencil, the sharpener that Palomino makes is worth mentioning. Most portable pencil sharpeners are pretty standard: a razor blade fixed at the top of a conical entrance. You put your pencil in, twist it around, and hope it comes out sharp. But what I really liked about the Palomino version was that it came with two openings- one to shave away the pencil wood, leaving an elongated cylinder of lead at the tip of it, and one that you use to refine the black tip. It is a simple process, but one that is remarkably more efficient that just using the single razor method. Using a manual sharpener like this also helps you appreciate the different types of wood used in pencils- it helped me appreciate the cedar used in the premium version of each pencil made by Palomino, like the floral bouquet of bourbon from a snifter.



Pencils.Com, the great people who sell these pencils, have given me some samples of Palomino’s Pencils and Notebooks to give-away- check out my personal blog here for more information on how you can get your very own deluxe writing utensils FREE from Felix Exi and


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Walter Blake Knoblock By  -    
Walter Blake Knoblock is a lot of things. Follow him on twitter @WBKnoblock and on