The Blackwing 24 is the fourth installment of Palomino's limited edition pencil line. Four times a year, you can have a dozen (plus one archival pencil) limited edition Blackwings delivered to your door along with additional goodies that correspond with that quarter's edition. If you are not a subscriber, you may buy a box of the pencils for $24.95, but you do not get any of the collectibles that you receive with the subscription. Usually, the featured pencil uses one of Palomino's three Blackwing cores (Pearl, 602, Blackwing/MMX). The 24 on the other hand, uses a brand new graphite core that is "slightly firmer than the 602 without sacrificing the darkness." The entire story behind the Blackwing 24 can be found here.
The moment I opened my first box the the 24, I was enamored. The super glossy finish, black ferrule, black eraser, and blacked out stamping won me over instantly. I am so glad that Palomino did not decide to dye the wood as well since my experience with dyed wood pencils has been a bit meh. Plus, the natural cedar makes the black gloss pop even more. Speaking of the black gloss finish, I found it made the pencil super comfortable to hold albeit a bit slippery when my hand got sweaty. This is not an inherent flaw, I think it is just my intense grip and sweaty hands that made the slippage happen. Normal, non-Hulk gripped individuals should not face the same fate.
The 24 sharpens up nicely and has a perfectly centered core. As always, I enjoy the rich fragrant smell of cedar that Palomino uses and have to admit I am a bit spoiled by it. I expect the best and consistently receive the best with every Blackwing pencil I use. I just have one bone-- or should I say eraser-- to pick. The eraser sucks. Now an eraser does not make the pencil and in fact, half the pencils I use do not come with an eraser, but I guess I expected a bit more from my favorite brand. This is by no means ever going to change my view of the Blackwing, and in fact, I'd much rather Palomino put money into developing cooler designs and different graphite formulations. I just am disappointed. The best way to sum up the eraser performance is this: NO. Stick with your Boxy or Sakura eraser.
Writing with the 24 all week has been great. I had a lot of continuous writing in a psychology class I am taking (involves client/helper observation) and the 24 lived up to its promises. I was writing on standard copy paper and I sharpened the pencil once in a 50-minute class. With my gorilla grip that is amazing performance. The darkness of the 24 is just right and the graphite glides smoothly across the paper with little effort. I have compared the 24 to another one of my favorite pencils for writing, the Semi-Hex. As you can see from the (poorly lit photo) writing sample, the darkness of each pencil is about the same and the differences are negligible. Where the 24 wins out is its smoothness. The Semi-Hex is a lot scratchier, but it is not as smudgy as the 24. You can see in the photo below that the the first "Sara" that was written with the 24 is a bit smudged. Smudging is by no means a deal-breaker for me, but its definitely something to note. Especially for lefties.
All in all, the Blackwing 24 is a great addition to the Blackwing Subscription and I suspect these will sell out pretty quickly. Head over to blackwing602.com to subscribe or grab a box.