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The Other German Pens


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#1 jar

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 20:16

Most folk here are probably familiar with several modern German fountain pen manufacturers; Lamy, Pelikan, Montblanc, but the pens from Faber Castell and Graf von Faber Castell are not as well known yet it is one of the largest manufacturers of writing instruments. Founded back in 1761 it is best known for their wood pencils and slide rules (those who don't know slide rules can ask a grandfather what it is) but it also makes some really fantastic fountain pens that range from the high introductory price range to truly astronomical.

I was first introduced to Faber Castell products through their wood pencils and stylograph technical drawing pens. One thing that set their wood pencils apart was their durability. As a kid in school dropping pencils was common (okay, I was a klutz) but when dropped the lead in my Faber Castell pencils didn't break into a brazziion pieces.


My first Graf von Faber Castell fountain pen was one of their Classic series in Grenadilla with a medium nib. Later I added one of their Guilloché pens in Coral with a somewhat stub like medium nib. Then just recently a GvFC Intuition in Terracotta/Black with a fine nib joined the family.

The Classic came in a lovely genuine real grew on trees wood case and maybe the fact there were two unfilled slots in the pen tray drove my need to fill it up.


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The Classic is on the bottom, the Guilloché on the top and the Intuition in the middle.

All three are my favored filling system, international standard cartridge/converter. The nibs are 18K, smooth, responsive and with just the right amount of feedback.

I've always liked "Nail shaped" pens, ones with the flat top that is flared out from the body like the Ferrari da Varese Savant, the Waterman Preface or the Yard-O-Led Corinthian and these three pens also fit that mold.


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The body on the GvFC Classic is wood as mentioned above, it is waxed and feels great in hand. The cap is screw type and takes just under one full rotation to cap or uncap. When posted it fits securely on the plated end piece. The nib is masked 18K gold and the section is subtle curved and relatively long.


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The body on the Guilloché is a hair slimmer than on the Classic but the sections and nibs are interchangeable and it is a snap cap instead of screw cap. The material is a plastic but feels more like Hard Rubber than Precious Resin. It's warm, soft without feeling like a sponge and I gotta admit, I love the color. The nib on this one is monotone 18K gold in medium with a semi-stub tip.


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The Intuition is the outlier of the trio, the widest and shortest of the three. It is also an internal section pen like some of the Franklin Christoph pens, the Yard-O-Led Pocket pens and the ST Dupont Gatsby and Montparnasse pens and uses an internal carriage to release the section operated by turning the end cap similarly to the mechanism on the ST Dupont Montparnasse.

This example has a masked 18K nib in fine.


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Everything about this pen is subtle from the curvature of the body that would be the section to the flair of the cap.

All of the pens are moderately wet and seem to love just about any ink I've tried in them including Private Reserve, J. Herbin, Diamine, decades old Skrip.

They all use the GvFC spring loaded clip and hold securely in dress shirt or Henley pocket.

Edited by jar, 16 September 2012 - 00:34.

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#2 quinden

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 20:35

Those are beautiful pens - I think my favorite is the Classic. There's something about the shape of those caps that really appeals to me, and the spring loaded clip looks like it does the trick very effectively. Thanks for sharing! :thumbup:
Currently using:Too many pens inked to list, I must cut back! :) I can guarantee there are flighters, urushi, and/or Sheaffer Vac-fillers in the mix!!!

#3 olivier78860

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 03:57

I had spotted the "250th anniversary" edition in wood a while ago, and last time I went to a shop, I could see it.
It was nicely made. Beautiful materials, beautiful line. In my opinion, there was just one problem, it was sold twice the price it was worth.
For 1200€, one would expect a decently-sized pen, not a pocket pen: too thin, too short.
It was just impossible to write with it without posting the cap, and I don't have large hands. I won't mind when it comes to a 1960s Waterman's pen I paid 40€, but in this price range...
The other limited editions were bigger (they also were piston-fillers), but they were priced between 2500 and 3500€, and had a less subtle design.

All this reminded myself that when it comes to fountain pens, one has to see them "face to face", and that internet has its limits.

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#4 beluga

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 06:16

Faber-Castell has beautiful craftsmanship and I really do like their designs and quality.
I would even go as far as to say that I never held a Graf von Faber-Castell pen in my hands that didn't write well.
Apparently, the more upmarket "Graf von Faber-Castell" ranges exclusively use Bock gold nibs; the less expensive Faber-Castell (note the absence of the "Graf von" in the name) "Design" ranges use either Bock or an other German brand's (JoWo?) steel nibs and demonstrate how well steel nibs can write.

My love affair with the Graf Von Faber-Castell started about 15 years ago when I saw their Classic design for the first time.
The wooden barrel was beautiful to hold and although I didn't buy the pen then, it was always something in the back of my mind. Piece by piece I started a collection and they are among my favorite writing instruments now.

The original Classic had silver-plated grip section and cap, which gave it a warm tone; newer ones have rhodium plated parts that give it a colder brilliance, but are harder and more resistant against the small nicks and dents that occur with daily use.

The Coral Guilloche that you pictured appears to be one of the early ones; current production pens have rhodium coloured gold nibs, which IMO better match the overal rhodium coloured design accents.

These Classic and Guilloche models fit better into my hand than the Intuition, the third pen in your review and incidentally my most recent Faber-Castell pen purchase. The Intuition was released in 2012 with a wooden barrel, which seems to have become one of the Faber-Castell specialties, but I found the pen a little to short for my liking. (Mind you, I prefer to write uncapped though.)

The Graf von Faber-Castell range is pricey and discounts are virtually unheard of. Their Pen Of The Year limited edition models take this to the extreme, but as these are restricted to fountain pens only, and I prefer to buy fountain pens with at least a matching ballpoint pen, this has never troubled me too much.
Matching writing instruments brings me to another Faber-Castell big plus in my book: pencils.
Faber-Castell collections usually come with matching mechanical pencils. This is not entirely surprising given the company's long history of pencil making, but as I do like to write with pencil it makes this brand even more attractive to me.

Edited by beluga, 16 September 2012 - 07:25.


#5 jar

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 14:17

I probably should have included the boring details up above but maybe it is not too late; and so, without further ado... I present

Boring Details.

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#6 pavoni

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 15:24

Wow! Stylish. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this particular brand Jar. Thank you also to beluga for the useful supplementary information. I was immediately drawn to the 'Intuition', though all three are simply stunning. :puddle:

Pavoni.

#7 jar

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 16:28

The pens from Faber Castell and Graf von Faber Castell remind me of the pens from Sheaffer before the Textron era, simply superb pens from the very basic entry level all the way up to their most expensive. From the children's pen through the Basic on up to their mid-range E-Motion and Ambition the quality, feel and writing performance is simply wonderful.

But wait ... there's more.

Unlike many manufacturers you can actually buy spare parts for Faber Castell and Graf von Faber Castell products online.

My Sister's website :  Rose Hill Studios

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#8 Uncle Red

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 17:25

Thanks for the review. I really like the unplated 18K nib, it looks great.

#9 raging.dragon

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 00:54

I had spotted the "250th anniversary" edition in wood a while ago, and last time I went to a shop, I could see it.
It was nicely made. Beautiful materials, beautiful line. In my opinion, there was just one problem, it was sold twice the price it was worth.
For 1200€, one would expect a decently-sized pen, not a pocket pen: too thin, too short.
It was just impossible to write with it without posting the cap, and I don't have large hands. I won't mind when it comes to a 1960s Waterman's pen I paid 40€, but in this price range...
The other limited editions were bigger (they also were piston-fillers), but they were priced between 2500 and 3500€, and had a less subtle design.

All this reminded myself that when it comes to fountain pens, one has to see them "face to face", and that internet has its limits.


You might like the Intuition. It's fairly fat, and the grip area is on the barrel, so it's feels like an a even larger pen.

#10 Mags

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:19

I have one of the entry level pens with a wood barrel and it is my least favorite pen.
Rob Maguire (Plse call me "M or Mags" like my friends do...)I use a Tablet, Apple Pencil and a fountain pen. Targas, Sailor, MB, Visconti all wonderful.

#11 jar

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:22

I have one of the entry level pens with a wood barrel and it is my least favorite pen.


Which model is it, what don't you like about it and have you contacted Faber Castell to see if they can help?

My Sister's website :  Rose Hill Studios

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#12 bphollin

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:31

The only GvFC I've handled is from the e-Motion line. It was superb. I can imagine the fit and finish of the upscale line is exquisite.

How does the Intuition feel in hand? Does it post?

#13 jar

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:40

The only GvFC I've handled is from the e-Motion line. It was superb. I can imagine the fit and finish of the upscale line is exquisite.

How does the Intuition feel in hand? Does it post?


The Intuition posts positively and securely with a firm "click" when it seats during posting or capping. The plastic feels warm and the closest comparison I can make is to the OMAS Vegetal Resins.

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#14 breaker

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 08:41

nice review and pics!
thanks!
Cogito ergo sum

#15 Russ

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 12:55

Thanks for an outstanding review. These appear to be superb pens.

#16 jar

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 15:15

Thanks for the review. I really like the unplated 18K nib, it looks great.


That's actually a fairly old model; the newer Guilloché models have a plated nib.

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#17 Mags

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 23:03

I have one of the entry level pens with a wood barrel and it is my least favorite pen.


Which model is it, what don't you like about it and have you contacted Faber Castell to see if they can help?



Which model is a good question, I cant answer. What i dislike is the barrel shape...rigid steel nib and taper of the area before the nib which rubs my writers bump. I just made a mistake not dipping and trying it before buying one. I think it is an entry level pen as I may have paid about 100 dollars I cant recall. The matching pencil is nice and I like it.
Rob Maguire (Plse call me "M or Mags" like my friends do...)I use a Tablet, Apple Pencil and a fountain pen. Targas, Sailor, MB, Visconti all wonderful.

#18 jar

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 23:08

I have one of the entry level pens with a wood barrel and it is my least favorite pen.


Which model is it, what don't you like about it and have you contacted Faber Castell to see if they can help?



Which model is a good question, I cant answer. What i dislike is the barrel shape...rigid steel nib and taper of the area before the nib which rubs my writers bump. I just made a mistake not dipping and trying it before buying one. I think it is an entry level pen as I may have paid about 100 dollars I cant recall. The matching pencil is nice and I like it.


Post a picture of pen and maybe someone can at least identify it.

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#19 raging.dragon

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 00:05

I have one of the entry level pens with a wood barrel and it is my least favorite pen.


Which model is it, what don't you like about it and have you contacted Faber Castell to see if they can help?



Which model is a good question, I cant answer. What i dislike is the barrel shape...rigid steel nib and taper of the area before the nib which rubs my writers bump. I just made a mistake not dipping and trying it before buying one. I think it is an entry level pen as I may have paid about 100 dollars I cant recall. The matching pencil is nice and I like it.


If it has a steel nib and is still in production, it's probably one of the following:

http://www.fabercast...gories/ambition
http://www.fabercast...gories/e-motion
http://www.fabercast...tegories/ondoro

#20 beluga

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:13

I have one of the entry level pens with a wood barrel and it is my least favorite pen.


Which model is it, what don't you like about it and have you contacted Faber Castell to see if they can help?



Which model is a good question, I cant answer. What i dislike is the barrel shape...rigid steel nib and taper of the area before the nib which rubs my writers bump. I just made a mistake not dipping and trying it before buying one. I think it is an entry level pen as I may have paid about 100 dollars I cant recall. The matching pencil is nice and I like it.


If it has a steel nib and is still in production, it's probably one of the following:

http://www.fabercast...gories/ambition
http://www.fabercast...gories/e-motion
http://www.fabercast...tegories/ondoro



My guess is it's the Ambition series. ( http://www.fabercast...tainPenM?page=3 )

Nice writers, but I too don't care too much for the step from the barrel to the grip section.

It gives the pen clean, aesthetically pleasing lines, but having the "correct" (whatever that may be) grip drilled into me as a school kid, the step between the two annoys the middle finger of the right hand that supports the pen.

Other users may not be bothered by this, it's all a function of how the user holds the pen.
Sort of redesigning the pen, there is little that Faber-Castell can do about this and I'm just too hold to change the way I hold pens... B)

Pity, I'd love to love that pen....






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