Thursday, October 18, 2007

Could Blackfeet Become the Next Blackwings?

Earlier this week we had an inquiry from a consumer looking to find a supply of Blackfeet Indian pencils. I had to pass along the news that the Blackfeet Indian Pencil Company is out of business for sometime now. The linked article here provides an interesting look at the challenges faced by Blackfeet Pencil Company as they last tried to re-establish operations around 2000. Unfortunately the company was not able to recover from its prior debt load and the changing competitive environment as increasing volumes of pencils entered the US market from Asia..

The best advice I could offer this person was to try eBay and I was able to provide a link to a current auction at the time. Today this auction for a 12 pencil wood box set of “The Blackfeet Indian Pencil” ended at a total value of $62.25 plus $4.50 shipping for a whopping $5.56 per pencil. Certainly this includes the nice redwood wooden box that these pencils come packed in, but still seems quite a premium as compared to our own Palomino Wood Box sets priced at $9.95 for 6ct on eBay or’s Palomino Signature 12 count Wood Box Set at $16.95.

So will the now discontinued Blackfeet Pencil develop a similar sache to that of the famous Blackwing? This auction does not represent the amazing $20 to $35 each pencil premiums that Blackfeet pencils fetch that these days. Certainly there is a bit of emotional attachment some people place on buying a pencil produced by Indians that once benefited and supported one of our Native American cultural groups. The pencil writing performance is good, but not to the quality of the Palomno or many premium quality writing pencils available today. The natural wood grain finish is a nice feature, but in and of itself is not uncommon these days. In fact most people associate the all natural finish of the Blackfeet Indian Pencil with their image of this brand, but the company did produce a broader range of pencil styles and brand names as exhibited in this nice collection. Certainly there has been some attention to Blackfeet pencil at Pencil Revolutions and Paper and Pencil. I guess only time will tell if we’ll be seeing $10 or $20 Blackfeet on occasional auctions of this item.


Anonymous said...

I've only used the black ferrule version of the natural finish Blackfeet pencils and was disappointed by its performance. I understand these were a later version of the pencil and that those produced earlier were better (isn't that always the case?). I've never been willing to pay the premium on eBay to try them out.

Anonymous said...

I've used them, and they were nothing special. I wish I still had some so I could sell 'em--it seems that the "greater fool" theory is still in operation.

Anonymous said...

These are the finest pencils I have ever used. It's a shame they are no more. I coveted this box of pencils, never allowing anyone else to use them. They were the best on the planet.

I find this a sad day. I did not know they had gone out of business.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Don - that is what I figured. I love the aesthetic and story around these pencils. That (along with their scarcity) must be what is driving the price up.

Anonymous said...

i loved the blackfeet pencil and scored a bunch of them (2 gross) labeled with the name of a drug company. the gold ferule blackfeet is very very good.

what i recommend, as a pencil freak, in addition to the palomino, is the New York Museum of Modern Art "Artist's Block" pencil. it writes like a blackwing. i am amazed.