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Caran D'ache Varius Metwood


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#1 jar

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 18:42

In an earlier review I looked at three German pens from Graf von Faber Castell. Now I'd like to wander south to Switzerland and another old manufacturer, Caran D'Ache.

While the former company was named after the founder and still run by the family, Caran D'Ache was actually the pseudonym of a French-Russian cartoonist and satirist named Emmanuel Poiré and based on the Russian word for pencil (karandash).

Caran D'Ache is slightly younger as a company than Graf von Faber Castell and was founded in 1924 but it is known for having invented one of the early clutch type mechanical pencil designs as well as a long history making fine wood pencils, pastels, chalks and paints.

Let's begin with packaging. The Caran D'Ache came in a nice genuine grew on trees wood box like the Graf von Faber Castell Classic, but it is BIGGER.

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No little box here, it's a BIG box and it has two kinds of wood and it looks varnished and it has HINGES.

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The Varius Metwood sits on a nice padded cushion and is held in place with a nice ribbon and what is particularly important for old folk like me is that Caran D'Ache of Switzerland also appears on the inner side of the lid in case I should forget what pen I am looking at.

Seriously, it is an impressive presentation but I like the three slot tray of the Graf von Faber Castell even better despite it being smaller, having only one wood and having to take the lid off to use it. If I lay the lid down nearby with the top up, it too reminds me I am using Graf von Faber Castell pens.

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The CdA Varius Metwood has a hexagonal Rosewood Body, a section that is plated metal, an 18K nib and is cartridge/converter filled.

So without further ado here are the ...

Boring Details

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In size, the Varius Metwood falls between the GvFC Classic and Guilloché.

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It's long enough to use unposted but also posts securely which is the way I use it. The section is slightly slimmer at it's minimum but the length and curve of the section fits my hand perfectly. This is really one slim pen that encourages the user to have a light hand, it is near perfect even though I usually prefer thicker sections.

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Like the GvFC Classic it is a screw cap that takes about one and a half turns to cap or uncap. The nib is fully plated, simple, medium in width that writes towards the broad end of medium with wet inks like Private Reserve Electric DC Blue and close to a true Western Medium with a slightly drier ink like Noodler's Nightshade.

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#2 hari317

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 18:49

Hi Jar, nice to see another Metwood. I have one that I purchased a few years back, it came in a jaw dropping nice Rosewood box, it seems they have changed the packing now.

I wish CdA would make more Sterling silver pens.

How do you compare the plated metallic grips of the CdA Vs say the grip on the Standard YOL Smythson?

Best
Hari
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#3 jar

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 19:20

Hi Jar, nice to see another Metwood. I have one that I purchased a few years back, it came in a jaw dropping nice Rosewood box, it seems they have changed the packing now.

I wish CdA would make more Sterling silver pens.

How do you compare the plated metallic grips of the CdA Vs say the grip on the Standard YOL Smythson?

Best
Hari


I touched on that just above but I think it worth expansion.

The section on the standard size YoL is straight and tapered from widest to slimmest. The section on the CdA Varius is concave with a slope that matches the shape of my fingers so that my fingers do not tend to slide down it at all even when a very light grip is used. The GvFC sections also incorporate a similar slightly concave form. It is ' ) ( ' as opposed to ' \ / ' and that makes a big difference.

The hardwoods, particularly those like Ebony, Pernambuco, Grenadilla, Cocobola and Rosewood are getting more and more expensive.

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#4 jar

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 16:23

Hi Jar, nice to see another Metwood. I have one that I purchased a few years back, it came in a jaw dropping nice Rosewood box, it seems they have changed the packing now.

I wish CdA would make more Sterling silver pens.

How do you compare the plated metallic grips of the CdA Vs say the grip on the Standard YOL Smythson?

Best
Hari


I wanted to expand on this a little more, first on shapes and then on materials.

Here is the section on the Yard-o-Led standard:

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and the GvFC Classic:

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and the CdA Varius:

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Note the difference in the shapes. The YoL is straight and tapers uniformly from widest to narrowest while the later examples are concave, the section narrows slightly but then expands again.

This works really well with the shape of my fingers; the subtle change of shape actually positions my fingers and keeps them in place.

The second issue is material itself. Sterling silver is pretty forgiving when discussing "slip" which is one reason it is preferred for fine tableware. The nature of Sterling silver does make a difference. Even though the section on the YoL is not concave, because it is Sterling silver it does not get slippery when wet, it feels and behaves nicely.



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#5 adyf

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 06:45

Hi Jar,

What do you think of the price versus quality and therefore determining value for money? I quite like the look of this pen, beleive they do a Varius in silver and black but if I remember correctly I was put off by the price.

#6 jar

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 14:52

Hi Jar,

What do you think of the price versus quality and therefore determining value for money? I quite like the look of this pen, beleive they do a Varius in silver and black but if I remember correctly I was put off by the price.


The quality is exceptional as it should be when in that price range. The interior of the pen where it's likely only fools like me would ever look is finished to the same high standards as the outside. Precise and polished would be the adjectives I'd use to describe the pen.

However I'll also admit that I prefer buying pens second hand or when they are on sale. At full retail I'd say that the pen's cost is honestly justified by the quality. At 20% under retail it is a bargain. At 40-50% under retail it is a steal. I would look for one on sale or on the secondary market if I were looking today.

The pen you were looking at was most likely the Varius China Black which is considerably more expensive than the Metwood simply because so much additional specialized hand labor is involved as well as the difficulties and toxic nature of working with urushi-e.

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#7 adyf

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 17:37

Thanks for your reply, it was the Varius China Black that I was looking at.

Edited by adyf, 27 September 2012 - 17:37.







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