I was searching for a perfect archival quality pen that wrote extremely well. (Writing tool to paper interface is something important to me) when i learned that pencil is still used by many a journal writer because it stays around and is acid-free. No kidding, the second page of the Gettysburg Address is in pencil and that’s kinda been around for a while. So for the heck of it, I googled, “best writing pencil” and behold a story about a favored pencil by the successful.

The Blackwing 602 was a favorite by composers and writers and businessmen all around. When production ended, individual 602's would show up on ebay at $40 a piece. That’s how good they were. Apparently they wrote and felt like no other, especially that nasty yellow pencil schools use. Ugh! How common!

Well, the name changed hands and they’re-started production a few years ago of the 602 and its softer sibling, the Pearl. Many tout how it’s virtually the same as before. So I couldn’t hold back and had to see just what the heck a nice writing pencil is like.

Well, the 602 is pretty darn nice. Its not a rough ride at all. It has a good glide and a nice line. It is a magnitude better that that yellow pencil, yet something else trumped it severely. The Staedtler Norica HB2 - writes like it’s got a felt tip! There is minimal scratch and audibly, its supremely quieter, and the 602 was even quite a bit quieter than the shittty Dixon-Ticonderoga yellow pencil. I tried the Blackwing Pearl, a slightly softer led, and although it’s quieter than the 602, it’s not as quiet as the Norica. So who won?

The Norica is the best writing pencil of all, yet it will need to be sharpened much more often. That’s how it’s quieter, it’s obviously a softer led even though it’s labeled an HB hardness. The Pearl is the next best and it’s softness is rated about where the Norica claims to be. It’s just a bit louder without that felt tip feel but it’s no slouch. It lasts longer between sharpenings too so if you want a great pencil with a great line that’s decently durable, the Blackwing Pearl is it, but the Norica beats it totally on the feel front. Now, for the money, the Noricas go for $10 for a box of 24 and the Pearls go for $21+ for 12....its not hard to see the performance per dollar winner here. Just be cognizant of sharpening the things and where you can do that.


Yeah it’s a friggin pencil. Didn’t think anyone would really be that interested.