Often overlooked, the Palomino Prospector is a great pencil for those that want a quality pencil but need to stick to a budget. Most of the love goes to the Golden Bear, and rightfully so, but the Prospector sits in a spot on the shelf right between the Golden Bear and the Walmart Casemate pencils in terms of price, quality, and style. And it's made in the USA, for those people to whom that matters.Read More
I will fully admit to having FOMO. When I'm into something, I want to know about all of it. I want to dig into every little corner of its world. I don't necessarily have to be first with something, but when an item slips past me in a corner I've already delved into, I'm surprised. That's what's happened to me with the Palomino Imagine pencils. I totally did not know these existed.Read More
We’re into Year Two of the Blackwing Volumes series and Palomino has continued to release interesting pencils, if not maybe a little stale at times…this year there were only 2 leads used out of the 4 Volumes releases. I’ll go down my thoughts on the releases, then a few items on some things that happened in 2016.
Volume 24: John Steinbeck Edition
The introduction of the extra firm lead. All black: the lacquer, the ferrule, and the eraser. Imprinted but not foil stamped. Although this is the hardest Blackwing lead, still dark and somewhat soft. I liken the core to a high-end Japanese B. My favorite of the Blackwing releases, and my favorite pencil of the year. In honor of John Steinbeck, a prolific original EF Blackwing user, who, according to his son, would’ve loved this pencil.
Volume 56: Joe DiMaggio Edition
Dedicated to the 56 game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio, this pencil is striped like the Yankee uniforms he played in. It uses the 602 core and is foil stamped in gold with a gold ferrule and blue eraser. I ended up buying red erasers for this and making it a Cubs pencil.
Volume 344: Dorothea Lange Edition
Dedicated to Dorothea Lange and her famous photographs, 344 stands for the lot number at the Library of Congress that contains many of her photos, including the famous, iconic “Migrant Mother”. The core is 602…again. It has a deep red barrel (closer to brown, to my eyes), red imprint, red ferrule and black eraser. It’s supposed to look like a 602 pencil in a dark room. This was the first Vol. Edition to get the new logo and word mark, as well as the new erasers…more on that below.
Volume 530: Gold Rush Edition
Sutter’s Mill, California is the place where gold was first discovered, and is CA Historical Site 530, the namesake of this pencil. Gold barrel and ferrule with a black stripe, black imprint and black eraser. This has the extra firm, or 24, core in it. Not dedicated to a person, but a feeling, the feeling of striking gold, of those “Eureka!” moments. See my full review and my video.
Rebranding of Palomino
This year Palomino rebranded, taking away the horse logo and replacing it with a Three Tree logo. The first Volumes pencil to have it was the 344, but they rebranded all their pencils this year. They also changed the word mark from a thin, extended sans-serif to a more geometric sans-serif, furthering the homogenization of basically every word mark on the planet. I don’t mind the logo change, Palomino is owned by Cal-Cedar and their logo is 3 trees, and it further puts the brand under the umbrella, but the word mark change bugs me. Was the old word mark ugly and dated? Yeah. It was time for something different. But to use the same thing that everyone else is doing, moving word marks to plain geometric sans-serif fonts…it just rubs me the wrong way. I would’ve rather stayed with the old ugly one than this. This is a huge misstep that’s overshadowed by the fact that no one really pays attention to this type of thing.
New Eraser style
Finally we got dust-free erasers. They’re still nowhere near as good as the Tomboy 2558 eraser, but I can happily say that, after a few months with these, they have satisfied my want to NOT carry a separate eraser with me, and the day I’m carrying a Blackwing, I don’t have to.
Blackwing Point Guard
See my full review and video. This thing is junk and was not well thought out. I understand the need for wanting to do something different and something all-in-one, with no pieces to slide up and down to hold it in place, the need for something solid…but this ain’t it, folks. It makes a long pencil much longer, and I just don’t see the use case for it. It certainly struggles to fit in a pencil case when using it on a newly started Blackwing.
Blackwing Colors Colored Pencils
Special wax core, only 12 colors. I didn’t get any, nor do I care to. Instead, I’ll let Ana do the talking.
I think that about wraps it up for Palomino’s 2016. Overall, it was a good year for them, but not a homerun. I would like to see a little more exploration in cores next year, as they really only have 4 they play with and we only saw two this year. I would like to see a year-round offering with the Extra-Firm 24 core in it, and maybe another natural offering. More to come in my 2017 Wish List post…be on the lookout for that.
My girlfriend is obsessed with gold. She wants gold-colored everything. We had an argument on the wasteful-ness of buying gold-colored flatware. Our Christmas tree is nothing but gold ornaments. Everything in her make-up vanity area is gold. Needless to say, I don’t expect to have these pencils for very long.
This pencil is a tribute to the Gold Rush, to California, and to “Eureka!” moments in general. The number 530 refers to California Historical Site #530, which is Sutter’s Mill, where gold was first discovered in the mid-1800’s.
To my eye, the gold lacquer is between glossy and matte. It’s not as reflective as the previous #344, but more so than the matte black standard MMX. It is stamped in black with the new Palomino branding: 3 trees as the mark, and the new san-serif font for the Palomino name. The is an undercoat of yellow you can see if you get reaaaaallllly close after you’ve sharpened. The font used for “Blackwing” and the volume number remain unchanged, though maybe a bit tightened up over previous editions.
The gold ferrule is super shiny. It’s the same ferrule that comes on the 3 standard Blackwings, with one major exception: the 530 has a black stripe on the neck of the ferrule. This is the first decorated ferrule they’ve done. I’m looking forward to more in the future. Maybe this is to make up for removing the gold stripe from the MMX when they did the rebranding a few months back.
The wood is, of course, cedar. The core is the Extra-Firm graphite that comes in the Vol. 24 (Steinbeck Edition). This is a great thing. I love soft, dark pencils as much as the next guy, but the Extra-Firm core is my favorite of the Blackwings to write with. My hope, prayer, request, demand is that Palomino come out with a standard edition that uses this core. And just to make everything even more awesome, natural finish. Can you imagine the 211 look with the 24 core as a standard edition? I can, and it’s amazing. Do it, Palomino. DO IT.
The eraser is the new dust-free formulation. I’m all for it, but it doesn’t do a better job than the old eraser. I took a picture, but it doesn’t do it justice. But to my naked eye, between the new eraser, the old eraser, and a Seed Radar (my absolute favorite eraser), the new Blackwing formula is the worst of the bunch.
One thing I noticed is that every pencil in my box, the ferrule is just a bit off center. When the pencil is flat on the table, the ferrule is not flat with it. It is very minuscule, and probably well within factory tolerances, but I did notice it. I noticed one and quickly checked all the others in the box. They were all off. I even opened my tube and checked that one. Also off. I checked all my other BW Volumes and Standards, and none of them were off at all. I tried to get a picture, but i couldn’t get close enough and in focus enough to show what I’m trying to describe here. Let me know in the comments if you noticed it on yours now that I’ve ruined it for you!
You get some neat extras with the subscriber edition. There are two cards inside: one for a digital song download of Willy Tea Taylor's "California", the other for a free Blackwing Point Guard which is "free" because you still have to pay shipping. I'll be doing a review of it when I get it, but I'm sure there won't be much to review..."it's from Blackwing and protects your point...review over".
Overall, I’m happy with this pencil. The finish isn’t too gaudy for me to use, but it’s still gold. The core is perfect, my favorite. I hope at least they keep using this core in editions so I can always have access to it, but I really want it to become a standard core.
Available from Pencils.com, $24.95