If you can’t find an original Blackwing 602, and you don’t want one of the new Palomino Blackwing pencils, what should you buy?
Palomino Blackwing Pencils
Obviously the Palomino Blackwing pencils will get you quite close to the original Eberhard Faber (and Faber Castell) Blackwing 602. You’ll get the aesthetics, with the flat ferrule and extendable eraser, plus you’ll get graphite that is, for the most part, going to be close to the original. Sure, the Blackwing Pearl will be a little softer and the Blackwing Natural will be a little harder, but you’ll be close.
That said, if you view the new Blackwings as something you don’t want to support perhaps just you won’t like them as pencils and you want to support something that’s spiritually closer to the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602, then here are some options…
Blackwing 602 Alternatives
- Eberhard Faber Contak 440: A wonderful vintage pencil in its own right, but it’s getting hard to find and is rather expensive now. This pencil’s graphite is close to the Blackwing’s but it’s a little less smooth because the graphite formula was said to lack some of the wax that was added to the 602. This pencil was made for test taking so the graphite is quite dark and is able to be picked up by the electric test scoring machines of yesteryear.
- IBM Electrographic – This pencil is a close match to the Contak 440, though it’s not quite as dark and not quite as smooth as that pencil. These are easier to find and can be had more cheaply (though not exactly cheap).
- Blasidell Calculator 600 – A close match to the Blackwing that is particularly dark and smooth. This was said to be one of the preferred pencils of John Steinbeck, just like the Blackwing 602 so it’s often considered to be a good alternative even though it’s gotten quite rare.
- Mitsubishi 4B Penmanship – This is a soft, dark Japanese pencil of the highest quality. These are still made so they are affordable and easy to find. Highly recommended.
- Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 2B: An excellent modern Japanese pencil
- Pentel Black Polymer 999 2B: This is a rare and interesting pencil that almost isn’t worth including here, because the pencil is harder to find than an original Blackwing 602. Pentel didn’t make many of these pencils and they have become almost impossible to find. They use a unique polymer-based lead that is super smooth. This pencil was sold as through a partnership with Craft Design Technology as well, but those are just as hard to find, if not harder.
- Tombow Mono 100 2B: While it’s known for its pens, Tombow makes some super high quality pencils, with the Mono 100 being their best. This is a modern pencil that looks great, writes super well and is easy to find for a fair price.
- Mitsubishi 9850 HB: A seemingly very standard Japanese pencil that is a great writer