This is a list of Blackwing sightings in the wild — movies, television, advertisements, etc. — as well as mentions but notable figures in history. We’ll use this space to highlight mentions and Blackwing users that are as verified as possible, not dispute claims others have made.
Of course many more people were pictured at one point in their lives with an Blackwing for instance Duke Ellington, but we have no idea if they were regular users or were picking up the pencil for the first time.
John Steinbeck, Author
One of the most famous American authors of the 20th century was John Steinbeck, who is known for Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath, which won him the Pulitzer Prize. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962.
Steinbeck is also perhaps the most famous Blackwing users in history. He was famously quoted in the Paris Review in an article entitled “The Art of Fiction” where he said…
“I have found a new kind of pencil—the best I have ever had. Of course it costs three times as much too but it is black and soft but doesn’t break off. I think I will always use these. They are called Blackwings and they really glide over the paper.”On Work Habits, “The Art of Fiction”, Paris Review
Steinbeck’s fondness for the Blackwing was verified by Joseph McElrath who authored John Steinbeck: The Contemporary Reviews which was released in 1996. McElrath wrote:
“I’m not in the employ of Eberhard Faber, but I regard it as duty to set down his devotion to the Blackwing (“Half The Pressure, Twice The Speed”).
Igor Stravinsky, Composer
Famous composer, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), was a confirmed user of the Blackwing pencil.
In series of photos appearing in the book Bravo Stravinsky, by Arnold Newman, the legendary composer can be seen holding a Blackwing pencil. The book, which was published in 1967, has black and white photos of Stravinsky composing music with the pencil by his side and in use. There is also a photo the pencil on the composers piano — clearly it was used to make changes and corrections while music like The Rite Of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) was being written and reviewed.
Chuck Jones, Animator
Chuck Jones, the animator and most famous name associated with cartoons like the Looney Tunes, was a Blackwing user. While there are a number of confirmations that Jones was a Blackwing 602 user, this can be verified by watching any number of Chuck Jones documentaries online.
Steven Sondheim, Composer
Sondheim, who is best known for his work on West Side Story, but has many other great works to his name, was known as a devout user of the Blackwing 602. He had mentioned the pencils specifically on more than one occasion and noted his enjoyment of their soft, dark lead and the need for somewhat frequent sharpening which provided a break for thought.
Duke Ellington, Composer
Duke Ellington, the legendary composer and band leader was known to be a Blackwing user. In book about composers, Ellington was said to have been “holed up” writing with is “favorite” pencils, the Blackwing.
In a 1965 image shot during work with the BBC Ellington can be seen composing with a Blackwing.
The Blackwing has appeared in numerous pieces of media throughout the years. Here are some of the most prominent and most interesting.
One of the most acclaimed of all American films and the first ever summer blockbuster, Jaws is among the most important movies of the 20th century. Jaws currently sits at number 56 on AFI’s list of the best movies of all time.
The Blackwing can be spotted in the mouth of Matt Hooper, the oceanographer who was famously portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss.
The Blackwing is clearly recognizable by its dark color, flat ferrule, and black band on the ferrule.
The cultural phenomenon Mad Men on AMC featured the Blackwing in use in a few scenes set during creative work at the show’s advertising agency.
The pencil was used by a bearded Paul Kinsey (played by Michael Gladis) as he wrote in a notepad. The appearance was in season 4 of the show and it was perfectly in keeping with the setting of the show, which was impeccably curated.
Other Sightings And People
Some of the less notable (but still interesting!) Blackwing sightings in history…
- The Presidio (1988): with Sean Connery
- Judy Green Music: A music paper store in Los Angelos, CA which sold supplies to music composers. Judy her was a music copyist. The Judy Green Music store catalog included the Blackwing pencil specifically, though it’s not clear if Judy used the pencil in her own music work.
- Laurie Spiegel: A music composer who wrote Harmonices Mundi (The Harmony of the World) which was placed on the Golden Records which were sent to outer space aboard the Voyager I and Voyager II spacecraft. Verified via her Instagram page.
- Mission: Impossible: A TV show that inspired the famous set of Tom Cruise movies. A set of Blackwing pencils was shown on a glass table during an episode that aired in 1969.
- Revenge of the Nerds (1984): In a pocket protector
- Robert Sherman and Richard Sherman: Brothers who worked together as composers for Disney. They created songs for Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and other works
- Quincy Jones: The musician Jones notes that his favorite pencil is the Blackwing. Jones wrote this in his own autobiography so the sourcing is quite good!