by Amanda Fleet

Much as this word usually conjures images of a shaven-headed Nicholas Hoult in the remake of Mad Max for me, I'm actually referring to the gold Palomino pencils.

I love a good pencil. On my desk, I currently have two pots of assorted pencils (one a rather charming antique ceramic jam jar, the other a 250ml glass beaker that I have clearly nicked from somewhere!). I write in pencil quite a lot, and my 'system' is to sharpen half a dozen pencils, then write with each one until it's too blunt for my liking, then move to the next sharp one. When they're all blunt, I take a break and sharpen them all again, using a mechanical sharpener that I couldn't be without. Whereas others may wax lyrical about the summer scents of freshly mown grass, I think I'd choose the smell of a freshly sharpened cedar pencil.

mechanical pencil sharpener with pencil sticking out of it

Much as I like a B pencil for the darkness of the line, they can be too soft and blunt too fast. An H pencil is far too hard for my liking in any situation, and HB... can be pretty variable, with some creating a lovely dark line, and others something pale and illegible.

Palomino make fantastic pencils! The graphite leads are a perfect combination of dark, without being so soft that they need sharpening every two minutes. I would rate them a little closer to B than HB on the blackness of the line, but plumb centre on the slowness to blunt. The wood of the barrel is cedar, giving a pinkish blush when freshly sharpened.

The gold pencils come in a box of 10 and have no branding on the sides. There's an eraser, for those of you who like that kind of thing. I don't, because then I can never figure out which way to put the pencils in the pen pots... eraser down? Then the eraser gets grubby. Point down?? (Shudders). To be honest, I don't find the eraser great, and my tendency with almost all pencils with one attached is to detach it, and sand the wood smooth where the ferrule was.

I did a quick comparison of a selection of pencils from the jam pot:

Nero has some stock, but it will possibly sell out fast. If it has by the time this is posted, I would direct you to the Nero's Notes pencils, which also write with a fairly dark line, but take forever to need sharpening again. The line isn't quite as dark as the Palomino, but time to bluntness is a fraction longer.