The Blackwing 211 is the second Volumes edition from Palomino released in September 2015. The 211 was slow to hit UK shores arriving only a few weeks ago however it is still available at a couple of online retailers including The Journal Shop and Bureau Direct so there is time to snap up some of these lovely pencils.
The 211 Backstory.
The Blackwing 211 pays homage to John Muir and the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park. Blackwing describes the 211 as "subtle and subdued" and I couldn't agree more. The promotional video below pays homage to that.
The Palomino packaging has always been impressive. The perfectly sized sleek black box is wrapped in a white sleeve with the Volumes branding and a photograph of the pencil inside. It's a clean and simple design, dare I say it Apple like, and helps to give an impression of quality.
The black box itself made from a heavy card stock and includes a black Blackwing logo on the exterior and simple hex pattern on the inside cover. The pencils themselves, unsharpened, fit snuggly in the box with a tiny bit of wriggle room.
Included with the Volumes edition pencils you have a small leaflet explaining the story of the 211. On the reverse of the 211 leaflet there is also a small map of the Jon Muir trail in Yosemite National Park. It's a really nice touch and shows a high level of thought and detail went into designing this edition.
The Palomino Blackwing pencils are at the high price end of the pencil market. I bought this pack for £26. But with this you get 12 high quality pencils with a gorgeous finish (more to come on that below) and well thought out added extras surrounding the branding. Some people may say this stuff doesn't matter, but it certainly helps to create an air of quality and also a little bit of mystique.
Stripped back design.
The Blackwing 211 is a natural finish with its branding etched in brown. You have the usual Blackwing golden ferrule and this edition pencil comes with the not seen before brown eraser. I have also enjoyed using a Blackwing pencil however this particular edition really is stunning. It's not groundbreaking or wildly different like the Volume 725, but this could be my favourite Blackwing pencil. It takes the humble pencil back to its core and keeps everything simple. The visible grain on the pencil is lovely. You see minimal variation between the pencil barrel and the sharpened section showing that there is very little treatment on this pencil. It must have a light finish to give the pencil protecttion, but it does not compromise on the natural finish in any way.
The Blackwing 211 seems to be the perfect partner for the Field Notes Shenandoah edition notebook. Both give a nod to nature and both embrace the simplicity of their function and design.
A Firmer Graphite.
The 211 comes with a firm graphite which personally I prefer. I did buy the Volume 725 which was compared with the Blackwing Pearl. The 211 graphite is firm but still gives you a nice dark line on the page. Perhaps this volume edition is similar to the 602 which is the firmest of the Blackwing line.
A small negative.
The downside of this pencil is definitely the eraser. Whilst the colour option suits the pencil story and look so well, functionally it's pretty poor. For use on the go this eraser is fine but if I can I opt for a better eraser such as the Carta Pura.
It's almost a shame that this is a Volumes limited edition pencil. I think the 211 is a really lovely pencil with a classic design and would make a fab addition to the permanent Blackwing line up. Hint hint.
If you have a chance to buy these pencils then snap them up wherever you see them. I have really enjoyed using this pencil and regularly grab this from my pencil cup.