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  • Writer's pictureDale Thele

Pencils of Famous Writers

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

It’s no secret that writers can be pretty particular about their writing tools. Some might call it an obsession or fetish, but the pens, pencils, notebooks, and other implements authors have used to create their most famous works can be endlessly fascinating. I must admit, I, too, have my own peculiarities regarding writing tools. Take notes, and save your pennies to purchase these writing instruments for yourself (even if you aren’t a writer)

In this post, we’re looking at pencils and two famous authors who used two particular pencils.

Vladimir Nabokov preferred the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 for outlining his novels on index cards.

The Blackwing 602 is a pencil noted for its soft, dark graphite, unique flat square ferrule, and replaceable eraser. It was manufactured by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company from 1934–1988, then by the Faber-Castell pencil company from 1988–1994, and by Sanford from 1994–1998. The pencil initially sold for 50 cents each. After it was discontinued, single original pencils were found on eBay for over $40, with some older (and rarer) ones sold for over $100. Originals are becoming increasingly rare. As of 2012, a different pencil using the same name began being manufactured by Palomino.

I don’t have the disposable income to purchase and own the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil, but I have the second best: the Palomino Blackwing 602. That’s not to say that I write a lot in pencil; I prefer writing my rough drafts with fountain pens. But, a pencil does come in handy from time to time, and to write with a similar pencil as Nabokov or Steinbeck adds a bit of nostalgia and reverence.

John Steinbeck was a pencil addict

Steinbeck started his writing sessions with 24 pencils. He adored the famous Blackwing pencil but also favored the Mongol 480 No. 2 3/8 F. It’s been said he used 300 pencils to write East of Eden and 60 for The Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row.

I own a few Eberhard Faber Mongol 480 pencils, not the original vintage pencils, but the newer manufactured model. My pencils may not be the exact pencils that Steinbeck used, but to experience the similar sensation with a similar pencil is worth the extra cost of the pencil.

I would like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment in the Comment Box at the bottom of the page.

Dale Thele, Bestselling Fiction Author

Bestselling Fiction Author

Stories with an LGBTQ+ Twist

corrupting readers since 2008

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