The Viarco 1950, vintage collection

Here is my take on the Viarco 1950 pencil from their vintage collection.

I will not give you measurements or anything like that, everybody does this, so this is just that I felt it is worth talking about.

Viarco:

Viarco is a Portuguese company that opened in 1907.  Their pencils range from the interesting (scented pencils which I do not want to try) to extremely handsome pencils.  That is part of why I like them.  They make a nice looking pencil.

Fun fact about Viarco, they are a pencil company that still operates today, who can say their production was affected by Portugal’s participation in World War I.

I received a Viarco Fine & Candy as part of the CW Pencils pencil of the month club.

In 2016 Viarco came out with their vintage line.  I had to try one.  I bought the 1950.  I liked the look of the box.  I admit it but just look.  Also, CW takes a good photo (this is their photo.)

Viarco_Vintage_Collection_1950_-_box_1024x1024.jpg

There are more than these, and can be found sold by CW Pencil Enterprise, but these were my pick.  Let’s get right down to the grit of it.

I have written one down to about the point that one more good sharpen will do it in for my hand size, which is about five inches of pencil (a little more if it has an eraser) and I will say that this pencil is a good example of an all around HB/#2.  The quality of the wood isn’t bad, and even when put into general twist sharpeners, it does not chip much.  The pencil holds an ok point, it never broke on me, if you put it through a masterpiece or a long point sharpener you will lose your tip.  It makes a very nice clean line.  The large test swatch testifies to the clay content, as you color over the previous portions you can hear the rubbing from the clay in this moderately hard pencil.

This pencil has a quality requires quality feel to it.  I wrote a seven page letter on a recycled paper legal pad and suddenly you could feel the grit in this.  It was not all the time, but it was enough that this is not a pencil I scream and should as amazing and must have.

Overall-3.5/5  get them if you want them, just use decent paper.

Ganger-Bjorn

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The Blackwing 602 (Palomino)

Welcome back cultists of the crayon!  Today’s subject is the Blackwing 602 by Palomino.

First a little bit of background.  If you google terms along the lines of “best pencil in the world” or “world’s best pencil” or “pencil pricey enough to take two people to the movies for the price of a box,” odds are you will come up with the Blackwing 602.  Now they are very nice, but as you will see in the history portion of this, these pencils have a bit of a cult following, and it may be that following that drives them now.

The Blackwing pencil was originally produced by the Eberhart Faber company.  I did not find a start date for production, but Eberhart Faber opened in 1861 in New York City, the factory was located at the present site of the United Nations.  What we do know is that the pencil was produced up until 1994.  The problem was apparently the very iconic ferule and eraser.

The “paint brush” eraser is held in by a custom clip.  That clip (which you can see) was made by a custom machine, which in 1994 broke (wikipedia the blackwing for this) they may also have been victim to a decreasing market.  Either way the argument is that there were enough of these clamps to continue sales until 1998.  Then that was it, the original Blackwing was gone.  Now It was beloved by the likes of Stephen Sondheim and John Steinbeck, enough that their mention of the tool is enough to have created part of the cult following.  The most excellent article I have ever read about the Blackwing original (contained on a forum solely for posts about this specific pencil) is here.  I will not attempt to out do the author, as I am not here to talk about the old pencil, I am here to say they have been back for over three years and what I think of them.

Palomino resurrected this rather excellent pencil in 2012.  Now I have to be specific, their first attempt was just called the Blackwing and it was a tribute pencil.  Fans of the 602 were not pleased, they felt it strayed too far.  So Palomino came back with what we now call the 602.  They actually have three.  The blackwing (soft), the 602 (firm) and the pearl (balanced.)  I will only be covering the 602 today.

I am a little concerned about the pencils that they believe to be soft and balanced as I find the 602, their firm model to be a little soft.  The Japanese graphite found with in is not a let down, but the pencil does wear down somewhat quickly.  However a note on that, the pencil boasts “half the pressure, twice the speed.” It may be the part about half the pressure that is my issue, I am heavy handed and I know it.  ( I FEEL IT IN MY FINGAS…)  This is an incredibly smooth writing tool.  Also you can customize it by replacing the eraser with different colored ones.  I first sharpened up about half the box of twelve.

This will be fairly standard practice for this blog.  I used the brass bullet, the two stage feature of an M+R Tri hole, a Kum magnesium, and my new double burr hand crank.  Now I was afraid to feed that hand crank a 602 as it is still being broken in, but I suppose the fear drove me to be more careful.  After sharpening I went to work.  The new torture test for new pencils will be thirty minutes of cursive practice.  Yes I am an adult who does not know how to write in cursive, I am working on it.  There will probably be a post about it.

Each block of practice was done with a different point, the winner was the tri-hole as it creates a somewhat flat and not brittle point (similar to what I imagine of the El Casco) with the double burr coming in close second.  I still say these pencils wear down fast, but again that sweet smooth ride makes up for it, and I also wield a pencil like a club.  Ferule and all it measured in at eight inches.  The silver finish is incredibly smooth as well.  Again this is not a pencil you stumble onto, it is something you hear about.  Your perceptions may be influenced by those who told you about this piece of wiring greatness.  It is made of California cedar, and Japanese graphite.  Palomino makes lots of pencils (more reviews to come.)  You have to want it with these, they are about 25$ per twelve.

It rated in at an easy B grade (the graphite) I wouldn’t call it an HB and this lends a little validity to my argument that they wear down quickly.  However I am a junkie of the first order.  I am easy to please when it comes to things I am passionate about, and I am easily effected by the Blackwing cult.  As so this will be the standard of a pencil for me.  This is not your work horse, it is a treat.  They can be found on Amazon (if they are in stock) cwpencils.com, and eBay.  I hope you start spotting them in my photos soon.  Have a happy New Year.

Hrolf the Ganger

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