Palomino Blackwing Volumes 530 Review

I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
— Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle

Video Review

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.

Does everything need to be a sans-serif now?

New branding gets a closeup.

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.

First decorated ferrule in the new Blackwings.

Who wore it better?

There's gold in them thar pencils!

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.

I love this core hardcore.

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.

New dust-free erasers aren't the worst, but they're kinda the worst.

Nothing snarky, I just love this shot.

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!

It's 530 somewhere...

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 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, $24.95