Many of the Blackwing 602’s design changes were subtle from pencil to pencil, and spread out over time. For example, the “black steel polish” evolved to graphite-grey, ferrules changed then ultimately lost their painted bands, and elements of the imprint varied as well. But there was one change that was dramatic and more substantial.
As you can see, the first four pencils can be grouped by length; the first three of which have the same style of logo. The fourth pencil seems transitional—it has the new logo but it retained the shorter length. The paint used for the logo is the same as that found on the previous three. But the fifth pencil is noticeably longer, somewhat lighter in shade, and the logo has reached its “classic” look—crisply stamped in metallic foil and with additional elements:
The following is pure speculation, but I wonder if the changes in length and design found between the fourth and fifth pencils mightn’t be connected to the 1956 move made by Eberhard Faber from Brooklyn, New York to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The previous factory was considered obsolete, prompting Eberhard Faber IV to relocate and re-tool (Petroski, 174). If pencils were being produced with new, state-of-the-art machinery then it seems plausible for changes in the length, color, and imprint to have occurred. I can’t claim that the fifth pencil is precisely from 1956, but it may at least be representative of this overall change in production—I think it may be why they look so different from then-on.
Now, the hunt begins for some catalogs from 1957 and shortly before, which would cleanly resolve the matter. Actually, the hunt just continues for any vintage Eberhard Faber catalogs.
Coincidentally, I just found a source in New York for Eberhard Faber catalogs from 1942, 1943, 1944, 1947, 1951, 1954, and 1956-57(!) But unfortunately I’m nowhere near New York, and won’t be in the near future. Some scanning services are available at this particular institution, but I would need to tell them specifically which pages to scan—they can’t be expected to search for the information I need, too. But I obviously don’t know the page numbers, and it would just be too costly to have them scan everything. Then there are the usage fees (even for a non-commercial blog), and you get the idea…
A fee grows in Brooklyn.
But, I’ve sent out a request to someone who may have some similar information, so we’ll see.