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Two Similar Wood Pens


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18 replies to this topic

#1 jar

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 14:48

Long long ago in a land far far away I had two friends, brothers, so similar at first glance that one could be mistaken for the other yet once you really got to know them you found each to be unique and instantly recognizable from the very least clue.

I'd like to compare two corresponding pens, similar yet unique, each having traits the other lacks, each outstanding on its own, the Caran d'Ache Varius Metwood (rosewood) and the Graf von Faber Castell Classic in Pernambuco.

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When you are first introduced to this couple you can see the basic similarities, both have wood bodies, bright finished caps and end pieces, are about the same length, both are slim and simple.

Closer inspection shows that one is a smooth hexagonal body while the other is a round ribbed body and a "nail" cap. The clips (and we will return to them later) are also different, one being a simple spring and the other a heaver hinged clip.

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Both pens have screw caps and there you find more differences, the GvFC Classic takes only about three quarters of a turn to cap or uncap while the Cd'A Varius takes just over two full turns.

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Both pens are cartridge converter pens and the GvFC Classic takes over ten full turns to separate body and section while the Cd'A Varius takes far fewer turns but has an o-ring to keep the section and body secure.

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The GvFC is slightly longer, wider and heavier than the Cd'A Varius.

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Also, while both sections are slim and concave, the section on the GvFC Classic is longer. In addition, you can order different sections for a Graf von Faber Classic pen, the standard Platinum plated one, a Sterling silver section or a resin section.

Now let me go back a moment to the clips. Both slide over fabric easily and hold securely but as I mentioned, the one of the GvFC Classic is hinged and spring loaded. In addition, underneath the sprung part of the clip GvFC has cut a series of ridges to help keep everything secure.

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Both pens post securely and when posted the GvFC Classic is just slightly longer.

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Another difference is that the converter on the Caran d'Ache Varius is a screw in type while the GvFC uses a push fit converter.

Both write smoothly, are reliable, come in a variety of nib styles and widths, both carry a lifetime warranty but only Graf von Faber Castell has an online link to buy spare or repair parts.

Which do I prefer?

Well I own more GvFC Classics than Cd'A Varius and the GvFC has a lower MSRP than the Cd'A products, but I keep finding one of my Varius pens inked and when I have both a Classic and a Varius inked it always seems the Varius runs out sooner. Since both are equally wet and it doesn't seem to matter whether the Classic is a fine and the Varius a medium or the Classic a medium and the Varius a fine, I feel like the Varius must get used more.

Regardless, it would be hard to go wrong with either.


Edited by jar, 24 March 2013 - 15:32.

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#2 Audit This

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:43

Nice review.

#3 lintonwang

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 04:24

I always hv this special phase towards wooden barrels.. simply beautiful~~

#4 da vinci

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 10:57

Interesting review, thank you.

How do you find the wooden barrels wear compared to metal or resin? Are they more prone to scratches an scrapes?

#5 bcbg

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 12:37

Own a Varius Metwood and have to say, it's my favourite pen. I find its nib stiffer to that on the GvFC.
From memory though, the converter on my Varius is a push fit.
bon chic bon genre

#6 jar

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 13:28

Interesting review, thank you.

How do you find the wooden barrels wear compared to metal or resin? Are they more prone to scratches an scrapes?


How do wooden tables and desks wear? How does an old cane wear?

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#7 jar

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 13:29

Own a Varius Metwood and have to say, it's my favourite pen. I find its nib stiffer to that on the GvFC.
From memory though, the converter on my Varius is a push fit.


Yeah, it's surely a running change. My Ecridors are push fit and my older Hexagonal Chinablack is also a push fit converter.

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#8 Essensia

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 14:13

It is always a pleasure to see and read about your pens, jar. Thank you for exhibiting these two beauties.

#9 picautomaton

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 15:15

Thank for the comparison. Interesting to see the C'Da is more enjoyable experience.

Jar - you must have a serious collection of pens, good pens. Have you ever listed them on FPN?
"One Ink-drop on a solitary thought hath moved the minds of millions" - P R Spencer

#10 jar

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 15:29

Thank for the comparison. Interesting to see the C'Da is more enjoyable experience.

Jar - you must have a serious collection of pens, good pens. Have you ever listed them on FPN?


Actually I don't have all that many pens; compared to many folk here at FPN I have a relatively small collection, under 300 pens. Considering that I've been accumulating pens since Ike was President that's not all that impressive. Some folk here have more desk pens than I have pens total, more Sheaffer pens than I have total, more Parker pens than I have total, more Montblanc pens than I have total.

And yes, I'm certainly surprised by the Cd'A pens myself.

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Edited by jar, 25 March 2013 - 16:36.

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#11 da vinci

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 20:31

Interesting review, thank you.

How do you find the wooden barrels wear compared to metal or resin? Are they more prone to scratches an scrapes?


How do wooden tables and desks wear? How does an old cane wear?


I dont really know about a cane although I can probably guess. Wooden furniture wears well when subjected to the rigours of every day life as a piece of furniture. I dont own any resin furniture though so I wouldn't know whether one wears better than the other - which was the point of my question.

#12 jar

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 20:38

Interesting review, thank you.

How do you find the wooden barrels wear compared to metal or resin? Are they more prone to scratches an scrapes?


How do wooden tables and desks wear? How does an old cane wear?


I dont really know about a cane although I can probably guess. Wooden furniture wears well when subjected to the rigours of every day life as a piece of furniture. I dont own any resin furniture though so I wouldn't know whether one wears better than the other - which was the point of my question.


But you have your answer; which is "better" is irrelevant. They are simply different and so will wear differently.

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#13 ransky

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 22:43

Great pictures of very nice pens!

#14 MarcS

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 16:37

thanks for the interesting review. in your experience, are the wood barrels absorbent, staining permanently from ink smudges or skin oils?

#15 jar

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 16:52

I can't say. Not sure how ink would get on the wood. And wood naturally changes with use and age.

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#16 bcbg

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 17:45

My Varius has darkened slightly with age ( visible lower down the barrel). I like that organic, evolving quality: it gives life and character to a pen.
No doubt, the skin's natural oils help condition the wood, too.

Edited by bcbg, 29 March 2013 - 17:45.

bon chic bon genre

#17 Montblanc owner and lover

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 22:49

nice comparaison but as i can see the Caran d'ache is slimmer thant the graf no??
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#18 jar

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 23:01

nice comparaison but as i can see the Caran d'ache is slimmer thant the graf no??


Yes, the Caran d'Ache Varius is a little slimmer than the Graf von Faber Castell Classic. As I said in the OP the GvFC is slightly longer, wider and heavier than the Cd'A Varius.

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I'm really surprised since I generally find myself using wider body pens at how often it seems one of the Cd'A pens is what I end up choosing but they are so well balanced, the sections so matched to my hand, the nibs so reliable, wet and controllable that they seem to end up in rotation even when I try to put them away.


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#19 ballboy

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 14:24

Thanks for guiding me here jar! These are my two favourite wooden pens of modern or recent issue. I have to agree, I'd probably find myself reaching for the Varius more, going by my satisfaction with the Leman.
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