The decision to label this as a separate example rather than as a sub-version of the late-model Blackwings, was based on two factors: the imprint and the date of manufacture. This Blackwing 602 is unlike any other in that the imprint reads nothing of Eberhard Faber, instead it is custom designed for the Boston Athenæum. On three separate faces it reads:
THE BOSTON ATHENAEUM
10 1/2 BEACON ST.
BOSTON, MA. 02108
(Pity there was no capital ash, i.e. “Æ”.) It is stamped in the familiar gold foil, though the typeface differs from those found on ‘standard’ Blackwing pencils.
It is not unusual for pencil manufacturers to offer custom imprinting. What seems unusual to me is that it was available for the Blackwing, but as we have come to learn this was for a special occasion, which leads us into factor #2: the Blackwing was about to go extinct.
A benefactor of the library who worked in the office products industry made arrangements to purchase the last run of Blackwing pencils from Eberhard Faber (purported to be 1,100 dozen). If this is so, then the Boston Athenæum Blackwings represent the last original Blackwings ever produced, made more special due to their custom imprint.
I’m unaware if during the 50+ year history of the Blackwing whether custom-printed 602s were produced. It doesn’t seem implausible, but I’m not familiar enough with the industry to know whether custom labeling was typically available for any stock the customer wanted. Perhaps it was the failing status of the Blackwing pencil, together with the august standing of the Athenæum, that coincided to produce this special run of pencils.