Known not only for its exceptionally smooth performance, the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 is also distinguished by its unusual appearance. When someone sees a Blackwing for the first time there are often as many comments about its ferrule and eraser as there are about how it writes.
But this type of ferrule is anything but uncommon—its basic design idea dates back at least to 1891, was adapted as a ferrule, and was used for several Eberhard Faber pencils, though the Blackwing was the last surviving pencil with this particular ferrule.
In fact, many other companies employed similar designs, whose shape was best described on PencilTalk as resembling the end of a paint brush, sans bristles. Here is a small sampling of other large-ferrule pencils (pictures from Bobby Truby’s site):
With the exception of the Blackwing, use of this type of ferrule unfortunately waned during the 1950s and 1960s. Here is a close-up from a 1960s Microtomic ad (thanks to Herr Gunthekaliker for the scan).
While its basic shape and color varied only slightly over its 65-year lifespan, the Blackwing logo underwent some distinct changes. The earliest logo, though not overly stylized, is nevertheless distinguished from the rest of the text on the imprint:
Printed materials on the packaging featured a similar logo, but with the addition of triangular spurs:
Every subsequent version of the logo employed an oblique typeface, presumably a visual metaphor that suggests a sense of smooth motion. The letters are more rounded and less angular, and the lower-stroke of the ‘K’ now meets at the stem rather than at the upper stroke:
The “final” version of the logo seems to have arrived by the 1950s-1960s. One of its distinguishing characteristics is the bar of the ‘A’ which exceeds the left stem. Also, “602” now immediately followed “Blackwing”, rather than being located at the end of the imprint:
Most interesting though are the subtle changes found in the logo once Eberhard Faber was sold to Faber-Castell in the late 1980s. At first glance the logos look nearly identical, but upon closer inspection (and thickness notwithstanding) disparities can be found, between the ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘K’, and ‘G’ especially:
A few things come to mind that might possibly explain the change. Perhaps the actual stamping die wasn’t passed along, or, that they weren’t compatible with Faber-Castell’s equipment. Maybe Faber-Castell wanted to redesign the die from scratch owing to the other changes on the imprint and were satisfied with something that was ‘close enough’. Or perhaps the original design materials—created decades prior—simply weren’t to be found or were in an obsolete format. When Sanford/Newell acquired the Blackwing, the Faber-Castell version of the logo persisted.
It would be interesting to see what differences there might be between other contemporaneous products, such as the Mongol and the Black Velvet, from both the pre- and post-Faber-Castell eras.