Birds Of A Feather

Blackwing and Van Dyke 3

Some of the many versions of the clamp eraser ferrule.

Blackwing and Van Dyke

Famous Blackwing Users: Eberhard Faber

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Of all the people associated with the genuine Blackwing 602, one name rises to the top of the list: Eberhard Faber. I recently had the privilege of paying Mr. Faber a visit at his home in Pennsylvania, and while there were very few pencils on the shelves, there were three 1/2 gross boxes of Blackwings.

We spoke a great deal on the phone and in person about the origin of this pencil, and to what degree it was directly advertised by the company:

“The original Blackwing was introduced in 1934. The lead was a formula that my father developed [Eberhard L. Faber, 1893-1945]. He was a chemist, and in fact he developed most of our lead formulations at the time. The Blackwing, I think, was the first wax-impregnated lead, which is one of the things that gave it its smoothness. It was popular among people who did crossword puzzles because it wrote well on newsprint.”

I was curious to learn how the company viewed this pencil, because compared with the campaigns for the MongolVan Dyke, and the Microtomic I have come across comparatively little in terms of advertising:

“There was an advertising campaign in the New Yorker Magazine [1965], and my mother was responsible for that—she was at that time in charge of public relations. That [ad] reawakened a certain amount of interest in the Blackwing, but it always had its fans, who would not use anything else.”

I learned more in an afternoon than the past several years of research. Now, the work begins to write it all down and fill-in the rest of the story.

Special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Faber for their hospitality and generosity.

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Blackwing by Eberhard Faber

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Sampler

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The Hollywood Reporter Profiles the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602

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While in Los Angeles last month I was fortunate to have been introduced to Seth Abramovitch from The Hollywood Reporter. Starting with a casual conversation about music, the topic of pencils wasn’t far behind, which led invariably to discussing the story of the Blackwing 602.

Seth’s insights and his connections with some of the most well-known professionals working in the entertainment industry today have resulted in a great article at The Hollywood Reporter, not least of which because it furthers our modern insight into the Eberhard Faber Blackwing, but also because it offers a unique perspective on the state of today’s writing culture. It’s the first mainstream article on this pencil in over a decade, and it’s very gratifying to see the Eberhard Faber Blackwing in such great company.

Thanks to Seth for his great work.

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Boxed-up

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