Palomino Blackwing/Blackwing 73 – Review

One of my favorite things about the Blackwing line of pencils is their Blackwing Volumes, a limited edition, quarterly release of a pencil. Usually these are tributes to artists, significant events, and places. My favorite of these is the Blackwing 24, the tribute to John Steinbeck. This previous summer, Palomino released the Blackwing 73, a tribute to Lake Tahoe.

The Blackwing website explains why Lake Tahoe for this one:

You cannot fully understand a place or the people living in it without understanding the paintings, writings and songs created on its soil. Our local natural wonder of Lake Tahoe is a perfect example. The works of countless artists tell of a place of both breathtaking natural beauty and perilous unpredictability; a place that stands at the front line of the age-old conflict between the natural world and the encroachment of civilization.

As a result of human ambition, the lake’s signature blue color began to disappear in the 1960s, and its Secchi depth (a unit used to measure clarity) plummeted to 66.6 feet by 1997. Fortunately, through aggressive conservation efforts, the lake has begun to regain its remarkable clarity.

Blackwing 73 celebrates Lake Tahoe and other landmarks that have had a comparable impact on arts and society. Each pencil features a Tahoe blue finish and raised texture that mimics the lake’s topography. The number 73 references Lake Tahoe’s last measured Secchi depth of 73 feet.




This is a beautiful pencil that has a very eye catching color. The blue is just as bright as it is in this picture. At first I did not think that I would like the raised texture of the typography, but I found I enjoyed that extra layer of texture. The finish of this pencil is pretty glossy, so without the texture, it would probably slip from my hands.

Now, you may be wondering why the title of this post, and the header photo includes the regular Blackwing with it. This is because the core of both of these pencil are the same, so when it comes to the actual process of writing with both of these, it is the same, so I condensed the two reviews into one.

The regular Blackwing, or what has been nicknamed the MMX from the guys over at the Erasable podcast. The MMX has a beautiful matte black finish, and has recently been re-branded to include a black eraser instead of the white one pictured. I took one of the black erasers from an old 602 and put it on my MMX, and it is quite a beauty!





While it is an ungraded pencil, these feel somewhere around a 4B (if you don’t know what that means, see my previous post on graphite cores). Because of this, it is significantly darker than the General’s Semi-Hex, which is a #2/HB. It is darker, which means it is a softer pencil, which means that the point retention is not very good. I used it in class for note-taking, but because of how soft it was, I often had to resort to a back-up pencil to be able to make it through the remainder of the class. Also, since it is so soft, it smudged a good bit, word of warning to my left-handed readers. However, it does erase very well, although not perfectly.

This is a great all-around pencil, depending on what you want to use it for. If it is for long sessions of writing, unless you like having to stop to sharpen, I would say this isn’t a good choice. But if you want something for jotting down quick notes, making lists, for planners/calendars, and other everyday uses, this is a great choice. You can still get the 73 here and the MMX here.


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