Early in the new year I was contacted by Andy from Pencils.com and he asked if I would give their products a try. Soon there after I received a lovely little sample pack giving me a good over view of the variety of pencils they offer. The pack included:
- A Palomino Blackwing, which is a high-quality graphite pencils. A tribute to the famous Eberhardt-Faber Blackwing 602. This is their top of the line pencil.
- A Palomino HB. This is the flagship pencil.
- A triangular Golden Bear HB. Their consumer level pencil
- A Prospector HB. Their economical but still high quality model.
- A Forest Choice HB. An Eco-Friendly option.
- A Spangle Mini Jumbo. An entry level pencil geared to grade schoolers.
So keeping in mind that I have not used a pencil in years, with the exception of jotting a few notes or a quick correction of my son’s homework, I headed out into the land of the wood cased pencil with an open mind and some fresh paper. I did recruit the help of my wife Terri, who is a school teacher and my seven year old son to test some of these as they are more regular pencil users.
First up I tried the Spangle Mini Jumbo. I didn’t enjoy this pencil but I am not the target audience. My son liked it and my wife did appreciated an early learner pencil that was not a full jumbo and that had an eraser, apparently a lot of primary pencils do not have erasers. I have since ordered a dozen Spangle Mini Jumbo triangular pencils so they were a winner.
Next up is the Forest Choice. I appreciate the Eco-friendly aspect and the natural look of this pencil but I didn’t like the feel. This was the only one that felt like an average pencil.
The Prospector is California Republic’s economy pencil. This pencil was a real surprise, I wasn’t expecting much and what I got was a pencil that I was most likely to buy (and now have). I has a great fee and writes quite similarly to the more expensive Palomino.
The Golden Bear is the mid-range pencil and I was left wondering why it was more expensive than the Prospector that seemed to perform much better in my opinion. One thing I did really like about the Golden Bear that was included was its triangular shape. The Triangular body feel much better in that hand that the standard pencil shape.
The Palomino is the one that started it for this company. You can tell this pencil is a cut above the previously reviewed models. From the lacquer finish to the trim to the feel of the lead this pencil stands out. The only con I can assign to it is that it is good but not necessarily good enough for the extra cost. This is still a great pencil.
The Palomino Blackwing is the cream of the crop. This pencil stands out mostly because of its distinctive large rectangular eraser but once you hold it and use it, it becomes apparent that this is a premium pencil. The matte black lacquer finish feels very nice but the Blackwings crowning achievement is the smooth dark line that the lead leaves on the paper with little to no effort. This is a pencil that you could write page after page with and never grow tired of it. All this goodness comes at a price but I think the Blackwing is well worth the premium cost.
When all was said and done Terri and I sat down and ordered the pencils as to as preferences and here are the results.
- Palomino Blackwing
- Golden Bear
- Spangle Mini Jumbo
- Palomino Blackwing
- Golden Bear
- Forest Choice
Here are some tests:
So clearly the Palomino Blackwing is the clear cut winner and it is not hard to understand why, this is a really unique pencil. Despite my preference for the Palomino I ended up buying two dozen triangular Prospectors instead because of the price and the Palominos are not available in triangular bodies.
Overall I would say that pencil.com and California Republic are putting out some very nice pencils that are definitely worth checking out.