I picked up my order of Blackwing Pearl pencils. As advertised, they are in the middle of the Blackwing 602 and the Blackwing (The Paliomino Blackwing).
Over the last two years, the Pencils.com
web site has expanded their offerings to include other pencil manufacturers.
Most of the other brands offered at Pencils.com seem to use the California Cedar products pencil slats. I have seen videos of the Cal Cedar slats being used on the Derwent pencils and also the Faber Castell 9000 pencils. It seems like they are used on the Japanese pencil brands like Kitaboshi and Mitsu-bishi Hi-Uni.
For me, the Blackwings renewed an interest in drawing that lay long dormant. since picking up my first set in September 2011, I have gone through many and given others away. (See: The Palomino Blackwings
I have spend the last year and a half getting aquanted with pencils and different grades of paper. Important tip: Michaels has the best deals on artist paper. And never shop at ANY art store without a coupon. Sign up and get regular 20-40 percent off coupons at Utrecht, Dick Blick and Michaels.
To start, I have gone through a number of pencil sets in various grades: General Kimberly, Michaels Artists Loft, Prismacolor Turquoise, Prismacolor ex Venus Design Drawing, Palomino Graded, Dixon Ticonderoga in HB H and F, Faber Castell GoldFaber, and Derwent. I set these aside to use up as I viewed them as starter or introductory artist pencils.
There are a number of other sets I have dabbled with since I have purchased: Tombow Mono, Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni, Staedtler Mars Lumograph, Faber-Castell 9000, Koh-i-nor Toison Dor, Utrecht, Blick, Caran Dache, and Bryunzeel. I have not gone through the complete sets of these yet.
I have found that the Palomino grades run very dark and black in all of theirs, even up to their 2H. Only the Goldfaber seems to be graded the same.
I bring the Blackwings in different grades to work. One thing I can tell you is that using pencils to take notes in the IT business is not common. Most people take notes on their keyboards, with pen and paper, or not at all. Those that do not take notes make lots of errors when trying to remember what happened during meetings. I would have figured that at this point in my career most people would have figured that out.
The first Palomino Blackwings write very dark on standard notepaper. I like the Blackwings of all three grades for note taking. The Palomino HB even fits the bill, since it writes darker than standard #2 pencils. The Palomino HB even writes darker than the legendary Tombow Mono 100 B grade pencil. I have a dozen of these as well.
Custom erasers are fun with the Blackwing pencils. I got a couple of sets. The red ones make a nice traditional look. Changing them out with the white and black ones is nice.
Several hundred dollars have left my wallet and purchased pencils from around the world, and mostly assembled with Cal Cedar slats!