Volumes

A Week with the Blackwing 24

The latest Blackwings volume release is the stylish Blackwing 24. It is a nod to John Steinbeck, designed alongside his son and is a representation of his ideal Blackwing. Steinbeck wrote with Blackwing pencils preferring a firm, dark graphite pencil and a dark pencil barrel.

Below is the promotional video which tells the story behind the Blackwing 24.

The Blackwing 24 in theory should of been a contender for my ideal pencil. It was a Blackwing, a brand of pencils that I enjoy, and it had extra firm graphite! When the 24 was announced it was like a dream, a pencil design that had everything I wanted. Therefore when my box arrived I decided to use one of these pencils for a full week, something I wouldn’t normally do, however I really wanted to get a feel for this pencil and understand if it could be my perfect graphite writing implement.

Blackwing 24 packaging - simple and stylish  

Blackwing 24 packaging - simple and stylish  

Looks

I won’t go into the packaging on the Blackwing 24, other than to say that it follows the standard beautiful Blackwings packaging. Inside you get a nice clear sheet of paper with information on the edition and why it was produced.

The Blackwing 24 is a blackout pencil. Black barrel, black ferrule, black eraser, black branding. It’s all black. It’s different and catches peoples eye. One small anomaly is the metal clasp that the eraser sits in is aluminium rather than black. So this does contrast with the rest of the pencil. It’s not a huge deal but when so much detail has been paid to the rest of the pencil it would have been nice if these were blacked out as well.

I like this look of the Blackwing 24 but I don’t think it’s the prettiest Blackwing pencil available. I really like the style and look of the Blackwing 211 and the Pearl’s sheen on the barrel is always personal favourite. Regardless of the looks Blackwings pencils all have a high level of design style. The rest is just personal preference.

My Blackwing line-up - the Pearl, MMX, 602, 725, 211 and the 24

My Blackwing line-up - the Pearl, MMX, 602, 725, 211 and the 24

The graphite

When I received the Blackwing 24’s in the post I decided quite quickly that I would use this pencil alone for a full week. I really wanted to get a feel for it and decide if the graphite was extra firm. I have written a normal amount during the week. I have been using the 24 in my Field Notes for general note taking, in my Hobonichi Techo and in my Travelers Notebooks. Pencils and Field Notes always work well together so I have no complaints there. There is some printing on the page and a bit of smearing but nothing too substantial. In the Hobonichi Techo the graphite glides over the Tomoe River paper and does appear a lot lighter. I usually write with fountain pens in my Techo as I get to enjoy the ink on that gorgeous paper, but graphite use is non-existent. However with the Blackwing 24 it was lovely. The 24 also performed well with the Travelers Notebook refills, but I wouldn’t really expect anything less.

After using this pencil for a week I do think that the graphite is firm, but I wouldn't say it’s noticeably firmer than the Blackwing 602. The differences are marginal. In my photo below I have shown writing samples of each of the different Blackwing pencils. As you can see they all are pretty dark and the differences between all the writing samples are small. The eraser test performed well leaving only a small hint of the previous line.

Overall thoughts

I like the Blackwing 24 a lot. I have learnt during this week that I cannot use a pencil alone for a full week. I miss colour and using my fountain pens. If I was forced to use a pencil for a full week again this would be a good option but it wouldn't be my first choice. The graphite is firm and the quality of the pencil is compatible with other Blackwings. However when looking at the full line-up of Blackwing pencils that I own I don’t think this is my favourite option. I still think the 602 and 211 are better pencils.

The firmness of the graphite didn’t meet my expectations. Extra-firm was a bold claim by Blackwing and I don’t think this has been met with the 24, at least not to my tastes. I would still like to see a graphite firm enough that you could easily see and feel a difference against the 602 straight away.