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July 10, 2019 3 min read

When I saw a particular package arrive at our Tampa studio, I literally leaped for joy. I would have screamed too, but I instead opted for a quiet gasp of excitement, not wanting to disrupt the usual tranquility of our shop. 

But could I help myself? The otherwise bland cardboard package said “BLACKWING” in bold black letters, which meant the newest Volumes had arrived.

Blackwing Volume 10 at The Paper Seahorse

Blackwing had really aimed for the rafters and then went above and beyond with their last volume, one that almost immediately sold out upon arrival. I wondered, what could Blackwing have up their sleeves this time around that could possibly follow their last act? 

Nellie Bly. 

Nellie Bly being amazing

The groundbreaking journalist, novelist, inventor, and industrialist herself.

Blackwing always uses their Volumes to honor the noteworthy within culture and history, whether places, things, or people. Every so often they take it up a notch and remind us of a figure we may have forgotten, or perhaps haven’t received the lasting recognition they deserve. History sadly has a habit of leaving out people that have changed the very history they were excluded from, and the fact that Nellie Bly isn’t in every history book is a goshdarn crime.

A Truthseeker and a Trailblazer 

Nellie Bly was born into a time when popular opinion of women consisted solely of childbearing and house cleaning value and not much else. In fact, it was an article asserting that very misconception that got Nellie Bly started on what would be an adventurous journalism career. 

The writer of the article, titled “What Girls Are Good For” (yes, really) received a published letter written anonymously by Nellie Bly that was so fierce, so cutting, and so convincing, that newspaper editor George Madden was immediately intrigued enough to put out an ad asking the “Lonely Orphan Girl” author to reveal herself. Nellie Bly came forward, and her rollercoaster of a career would just begin.

Bly worked her way from the Pittsburgh Dispatch to New York World, where she took on an assignment to report on New York’s now infamous Blackwell Women’s Insane Asylum. Her only instructions were to write as she saw, whether good or bad. Bly took on the task the only way she thought right: by getting herself committed.

10 Days in a Mad House

She pioneered and set standards for what would be known as “unbiased investigative journalism”, becoming the subject she was writing about, and experiencing first hand the horrific conditions and abuses of the insane asylum that she would end up publishing in her landmark work “10 Days in a Madhouse.” 

The resulting work was an immediate sensation. It set new measures for the treatment of the mentally ill, as well as shedding light on the misconceptions of the so-called insane. Many women kept in the asylum were perfectly functioning individuals who were merely victims of poverty, immigrants, or had no family.

Volume 10 Honors the Iconic Writing and Life of Nellie Bly

Blackwing volume 10

Bly would go on to be a trailblazing reporter by always seeking out the truth fearlessly, no matter what challenges were in her way. 

Blackwing honors Nellie Bly, her inspiring career, and journalists like her, while making poignant reference to her “10 Days” exposé, with the Volume 10 pencil.

With a sleek and classy color scheme (that is quite reminiscent of a New Yorker’s wardrobe), It is newspaper-inspired from top to bottom. A silver ferrule houses a dark grey eraser, while the body is matte grey with a newsprint finish and a dark grey imprint. The signature smooth graphite writes extra firm in the new Volume, perfect for circling notes in a newspaper, finishing the Sunday crossword, or taking it out with a paper pad into the field for some unbiased reporting.

Blackwing volume 10 pencil

Nellie Bly taught us that “energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything”. The new Blackwing pencil is a reminder to the things she accomplished, and the things we can accomplish, and to never fear telling the truth.

Blackwing Volume 10 is available now! Find them in-store at our two locations, or shop online. Once they’re gone...they’re gone!


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