From an aesthetics standpoint, I absolutely love the Golden Bear. With two color options-blue barrel; orange eraser or orange barrel; blue eraser- the Golden Bear is perfect for NY Mets or Knicks fans. All kidding aside, for a pencil that is twenty five cents, you cannot beat the quality that Palomino offers. This pencil may not perform like a Blackwing, but you definitely get your money’s worth. The lacquer on the barrel is superbly shiny and the barrel itself has just the right amount of edge (somewhere between a Ticonderoga and a Musgrave Testing). The ferrule is gold to match the gold foil stamp and has an orange (or blue) band around the center of it. The cedar smell is fairly strong and the graphite is about standard for a number 2 pencil.
Performance wise, the Golden Bear has some high points,but just as many low points. Starting with the positive, the point retention is great for a budget number 2 pencil. It was nice to not have to sharpen as frequently as I am used to. Also, the craftsmanship of the Golden Bear is amazing considering it is so cheap. Palomino really knows how to manufacture quality pencils and it shows. I cannot get over how shiny the lacquer is or how centered the graphite cores are. Well done. Now for the negative. The eraser is horrible as it barely erases its own graphite and leaves a ton of dust. Not really a deal breaker for me since I prefer to use a block eraser anyway, but still. Not good. Another negative was the amount of smear and transfer to opposite pages I got with this pencil. I cannot see myself using this pencil regularly due to the way I like to keep my notes, but for classroom use this pencil would be perfect.
One can find a pack of these pencils at http://www.pencils.com