This is what I was expecting:
Ferocase Pan-Gora Classic Pen Box (45 pens)
The rosewood Pan-Gora Classic pen collector's box by Ferocase offers room for 45 pens.
The tempered glass window shows your pens in a stylish way, while at the same time the case offers maximal protection. All compartments are covered with a soft plush velvet.
The case measures 40 x 21 x 14 cm and weighs 4.5 kg.
Source: La Couronne du Comte
but what I received is, well, not even remotely what was shown or described.
Mine certainly is not made of rosewood, or look anything like it. But then, had I looked at dneal's review four years ago of the one he won in an auction on eBay, I should have known better.
Lovely case in rosewood. Seems well made with attention to detail.
Would love to hear your views, once you receive it.
I don't think the material lining the pen trays qualifies as velvet, either.
Not that I mind the darker colour at all – when in fact I would have preferred it – but it's just a thin veneer, and I doubt the veneer itself is made of whichever wood it purports to be, as opposed to just being stained with the particular colour.
However, I very much took exception to the evidence that someone – either at the Ferocase factory, or in the LCdC warehouse – must have closed the lid (or, more likely, slammed it down) while there was a small hard object, perhaps a loose screw, sitting on the rim of the top tray on the right-hand edge. Whatever happened, it left indents in the wood, and caused the black paint to flake off, on both the rim of the tray and the rim of the lid.
(I have photos of the damage, which I sent to LCdC, but I'm not going to post them here.)
Of the three slide-out pen trays, each with a capacity of eleven pens, one came loose right out of the box. A second one came out with a little bit of jiggling, but the bottom one wouldn't come out no matter what, so I was a bit confused as to what the design intent was and which trays were the anomalies in manufacture.
On closer inspection of the tray, specifically to find out why there was an unsightly bulge in the rear right corner (top right corner in the photo above), I figure that the trays were not meant to slide out, but ought to have been prevented from doing so by two wooden pegs coming out of each tray's rear corners. The manufacturing process must have been to glue (or just jam) the peg into place in the rear left corner, then insert the other peg into the hole on the opposite side and allowing it to push the lining slightly off the inner edge of the tray, and insert the tray into the box at a slight angle. Once the tray was inserted, the peg is then struck through the lining with a small hammer or some such, in a manner that not intended to be easily reversible (to extract the tray back out of the box).
Whoever assembled it did not do a particular good job of hammering the pegs into place in the top two slide-out trays. Now, in all fairness, I don't mind that 'fault' that much, since there is utility in my being able to pull the trays out, say for pen display and/or photography. The inconsistency in the workmanship, and therefore the lack of attention to detail, is quite telling though.
Even though this has dented my long-held faith in German manufacture being most precise, with rigid processes that make paying due attention to detail a foregone conclusion, I'm still prepare to trust Japanese and German manufacture above Korean or Italian manufacture, which is in turn above Australian or American manufacture, with Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese manufacture at the bottom of my list of preferences.
(It's just a bloody wooden box! I'd gladly settle for a Vietnamese-made pen display case if the delivered price was right, and I had avenues for recourse if the product is not to specifications.)
I reported the issue of the damage on the rim to LCdC, and atypically for its Customer Service team, I got a reply in the same business day, offering me an apology and a substantial partial refund as compensation. I did not pursue the issue of the colour or the material not being as advertised, but chose to just accept the offer and call it square.
Why? With most of the options available to me in the market today – especially with the display cases (purportedly) crafted in the US or (in other cases, in which I'm more confident) Japan – sellers either simply won't ship to Australia, or want to charge something to the tune of US$80 or US$100 for delivery alone. That's close to the effective price, after accounting for the offered partial refund, it cost me all up to acquire this display case. I need a pen box of this capacity, and if this was to be judged only on its own merits, instead of focussing on where it was accidentally damaged or does not match the description in the item listing, it's actually pretty good for that amount of money. I wouldn't be so keen on spending three- or four-fold just to have a pen display case made actually of rosewood or some such, and I already have a 30-pen display box – slightly better constructed, out of I think better material, purported right here in Australia. Furthermore, I've had plenty of dealings with LCdC these past few months, and in the whole I'm happy with the commercial relationship and what it offers me, so I actually have a reason to stay on good terms instead of pressing the boundaries of what I think I could justifying demand.
So, with that out of the way, let's talk about this display case on its own merits.
This 45-pen case is compact, with a significantly smaller footprint than my 30-pen case. That's good. The depth of the slide-out trays could be a tiny bit limiting, but nevertheless the slots will accommodate just about all of the pens in my household except for the Platinum Izumo pens; those will have to go into the top tray (with a capacity of a dozen pens). Not being made of solid timber, it's also lighter and makes it easier for me to move or carry from one room to another fully loaded, in spite of tendonitis in my wrist. Just lifting the lid on the heavier 30-pen case could cause my wrist to complain@ All the same, it's solid enough.
As I've mentioned before, effectively having removable pen trays is an advantageous 'feature'. The top tray in my 30-pen case can be lifted out, but only after the lid is (almost) fully raised, and thus not very convenient.
The lining material in this display case is adequate, although I'd probably have preferred a darker colour to more readily hide dirt and stains.
One feature this box could do with – but then understandably drive up its price and its size and/or total weight – is a lock.
What good is a lock on one of these? Seriously. If I meant to steal your pen, I would just grab the whole box and take em' all. I suppose a lock would stop the "opportunistic" type of thief if this case were in a public place like an office.
Not really for security per se, but simply to stop the trays from sliding out of the box (completely or just halfway) when moving or transporting the box. Unless I'm mindful to either carry the box at an angle, or put a strap around the box prior to moving it, I run the risk of having my precious pens spill all over the floor.
My verdict: This box is of a good enough design, and sturdy enough, to be well worth $200 (in local currency!) delivered – in view of the other options on the market – and if you can get it for significantly less out of pocket, it's positively a bargain, as long as you know what you're getting and not misled. At that price, I don't think you could reasonably expect top-notch workmanship.