The $40 Pencil: My Collecting Habits

The first step is admitting I have a problem right?  Well, I am an amateur hoarder.  I keep things I think will be of some use in the future.  That’s probably what they all say.  Sometimes, I find electronic components that I know I can build things with.  Or, in this case I have art supplies that I know I’ll need in the future.

I’ve been out of the animation business for over a decade now.  Having quit that habit like an addictive drug, I still have some remnants of that life including a drawing disk, a light table, and a layout board.  That layout board alone sells new for $2k.  Never the less, I was curious about the Blackwing 602.  It was a pencil often used in animation, especially for clean up work.  You had to be gentle with it and learn to spin it.  If you treated it right, it left the trace of a beautiful line of varying weight.

That was 90% of what they worried about at the studios…line weight.

I read about Chuck Jones using the Blackwing and most of the animation texts touted its quality.  There was nothing else like it…well, until the Tombow Mono 100.  A couple of us discovered the Japanese made Mono 100 one day in the supply room.  So, I took a few boxes of 2B’sand 4B’s.  To be honest, I thought highly of the Mono 100’s.  They had a really inky smooth feel to them.  I wasn’t alone, my friends Brent, Allan, and Tim felt the same.

When I got my pink slip from WBTV Animation, I still had a bunch of the 602’s unused in my desk.  That was the year, 1998, when Eberhard Faber stopped producing them.  By the time I got to Universal, they had a few boxes left and tons of Tombow Mono 100s.

By 2002, the Blackwings were fetching up to $20 each.  Now, they are priced up to $42 each.  The internet is an amazing place.  There is something for everyone, as clear in this blog, even the wooden pencil enthusiast.  Now, mind you, I knew the legends of the 602 in animation culture.  I had no idea there was such a following outside of that.  Now to my surprise, I find that a company in California took up manufacturing the pencil again.  Most say it’s a close representation.  But, each pencil box cost $20/dozen.  Wow!!!

Imagine my emotional level when I remembered I had some originals left in my box of animation supplies.  I have forty-six to be exact.  What would you do?  I can’t see myself sharpening a $40 pencil.  Each word would cost around $.23.  Each time you sharpen it, that would be another $3.21.

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