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  1. I do own some celluloid pens, a Parker Vacumatic pen and pencil set and a Montblanc from 1951. They’re nice, but I don’t really understand all the love for celluloid. As far as I know, celluloid was first used as a poor man’s replacement for ivory, but is still expensive and difficult to produce by modern standards. It tends to shrink, warp, and discolor with age, and it bursts into flames with relatively little provocation. I can see why it is rarely used today. It seems to me that acrylics, which can be beautifully colored and do not have those disadvantages, are altogether superior. Yet, celluloid seems to hold a special place in the hearts of fountain pen aficionados. Why? Why is Montblanc’s precious resin the object of criticism for being “just plastic” while celluloid is immune?
  2. The Ondoro is another of my Faber-Castell Design (FCD) pens. These FCD steel nibs are common across the entire design product range - Basic, Loom, Ambition, Ondoro & e-motion and have been impeccable in my experience. My first pen from the design series was an Ambition. I feel that the Ondoro is structurally a much better pen, though it might lack a bit of aesthetic flair prevalent to the Ambition. Below is a link to this review on my blog: Faber-Castell Ondoro Review The Ondoro line comes with a fountain pen (with 4 different nib widths), a roller ball, a propelling pencil (0.7mm) and a ballpoint pen across three coloured resins - Orange, Black & White (now discontinued) and a wooden one (smoked oak) priced substantially higher. PRESENTATION The Ondoro along with the included converter was hand-delivered at my workplace by A.W Faber Castell India personnel, encased inside this moss-green cardboard box. This colour always reminds me of the Australian Baggy Green Caps. The box has a slider where the pen is placed beneath a fabric band on a felted bed, along with a warranty card and a cartridge. Like the pen, the box does portray certain elements of minimalism. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Fc0XQgBbg8g/VeHlxofp3nI/AAAAAAAAFVQ/cm40PCnSoYs/s1600/box.jpg DESIGN - HEXAGON & CHROME (6/6) The pen seems to have an affair with geometry, structurally constituted of two overlapping hexagonal prisms - one orange and other chrome, with domed ends. Bold and minimalistic both in terms of convergence and functionality. The barrel is glossy while the cap is shiny chrome plated metal. Unfortunately the mirror finishes have a magnetic attraction for fingerprints. Faber-Castell calls the barrel material precious resin and it does feel qualitatively substantial. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jwgZbMNod34/VeHl7XF8PlI/AAAAAAAAFVY/ozpam9geDiw/s1600/DSC_5717.jpg The metallic cap snaps on and off the barrel with audible clicks. While putting the cap on, the hexagonal facets of the cap need to be aligned with the ones on the barrel. There is some metal at the end of the grip which actually is part of an insert for the nib unit. And there rests the shiny FCD nib. The barrel is designed to converge with the section subtly initiating a concave taper at the end of its hexagonal facets, leading to a comfortably concave grip section. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UwY4iHyWtyo/VeHmMQG5zdI/AAAAAAAAFVo/_bxi6lwZDgE/s1600/DSC_5725.jpg The finials at either end have smooth and convex domes, the one at the end of a barrel carries a engraved circle or an ‘O’. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2bRPeFtLQrY/VeHmHqEzhMI/AAAAAAAAFVg/gflyaBVtiwU/s1600/DSC_5726.jpg A mirror finish on the hexagonal chromed cap will attract your attention while you keep resisting your instant urges to polish off finger-prints, even after the slightest touch. The dome like finial is etched with Faber-Castell logo of two jousting knights and embossed there is a traditional statement preserving antiquity - Since 1761. The spring loaded clip is shaped like an arc with a concave end. It’s engraved with GERMANY on one side of its loading point. A plastic insert inside the cap gives the snap-on friction. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PZkfeOy0kTQ/VeHlwGjb_LI/AAAAAAAAFVI/RXHG6CgwqS8/s1600/cap.jpg FILLING SYSTEM (6/6) The rather small resinous concavity at the end of the barrel unscrews from the barrel with seven turns and it disengages the section containing the nib and CC filling system. There is a mention of e3 on the metallic thread insert, it’s apparently a reference to their old manufacturing plants. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r54us3mfHlU/VeHmXs1aUxI/AAAAAAAAFVw/ccQWq8h8GSY/s1600/DSC_5755.jpg The insert for the section threads with the metallic insert in the resin barrel. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qscoJSXp5Ls/VeHmkJikquI/AAAAAAAAFV4/l343kFQhwS8/s1600/DSC_5757.jpg The converter says SCHMIDT on the piston along with the brand imprint of FABER-CASTELL Germany on the metallic sleeve. It has a reasonably high capacity of around 1 mL, and the ink does last for quite a while! I usually am biased towards piston fillers, but I like the capacity offered by Faber-Castell or Schmidt converters. In case of GvFC Converters, there is no mention of Schmidt on the converters themselves. This converter will snugly fit many other pens. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NSOno4o5b_g/VeHmlIAnTaI/AAAAAAAAFWI/lWTl-pFgC5k/s1600/DSC_5763.jpg NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (6/6) The nib is made of stainless steel alloy with an iridium tip. The initially available nib sizes featured F, M and B nibs, though an EF was made available later. I went with an F sized nib. Right out of the box, this was a very smooth nib. The nib has a perforated imprint of dots which cover a third of its surface area. There is a subtle absence of any breather hole. The nib-size is embossed above the traditional Faber-Castell Design logo of two jousting knights near the tail. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GuGepiLE0h8/VeHmk2nj1EI/AAAAAAAAFWE/zimurJDHyqs/s1600/DSC_5776.jpg The feed is standard grey plastic, with a big filler hole for ink suction, which incidentally is used across the GvFC Intuition & Classic Series. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fDBSCfLAAE0/VeHmvEJDeYI/AAAAAAAAFWQ/PTA5tgQflgM/s1600/DSC_5778.jpg Faber-Castell Design (steel) nibs are sourced from JoWo whereas the GvFC nibs (18k except Tamitio) are made by Bock. PHYSICS OF IT (5/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING Sans the cap, the pen measures around 12.4 cm, which is quite comfortable for me given the wide girth. The cap can be posted easily. While the posted pen exceeds a 15 cm scale, a steel cap of 17g does make it top-heavy. Uncapped Length ~ 12.4 cm Capped Length ~ 12.8 cm Posted Length ~ 16 cm Nib Leverage ~ 1.9 cm Overall Weight ~ 32 g (Cap Weight ~ 17 g) Some capped, uncapped & posted references with a few pens like GvFC Intuition, Pelikan m205 and TWSBI 580 run below for your reference. Terracotta is much redder than the orange in an Ondoro http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jVgRyXwdBG4/VeHm9LFmMQI/AAAAAAAAFWY/Dtwhl79Buqw/s1600/DSC_5787.jpg Uncapped the Ondoro almost matches a TWSBI 580 http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HH2u5rSS3kI/VeHm_94vbnI/AAAAAAAAFWg/IKajNkSc5vE/s1600/DSC_5804.jpg Not really posted! http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZWsHc5_wH_I/VeHnGAQDFMI/AAAAAAAAFWo/3qO8OdWoej0/s1600/DSC_5815.jpg ECONOMIC VALUE (5/6) The Ondoro resin versions retail at around USD 125. I purchased it with a good discount, directly from A.W Faber Castell India, as there were some warranty issues with my other Faber Castell pen. I believe it’s a good value for money pen given such a beautiful nib, which can defeat any other. OVERALL (5.6/6) This nib is moderately wet, runs fine and smooth. There is absence of any line variation among horizontals & verticals. The nib has got some spring and a touch of softness. I find the grip very comfortable to hold the pen, you might say a little bit of barrel weight could have blessed this one. I will definitely recommend this pen to you, if you are looking at the Faber Castell Design Series. Being a moderately wet writer out of the box, the Fine nib puts a decent fine line (finer than TWSBI F) which takes around 15 seconds to dry a wet MB Toffee brown ink on MD Paper. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LtLB1WGbtKs/VeHnQe4ukTI/AAAAAAAAFWw/rHcuB7G_a0w/s1600/DSC_5837.jpg REFERENCES Faber Castell Ambition GvFC Intuition Faber Castell History Bock Clientele Thank you for going through the review. You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here.
  3. One of my initial reviews@fpn was of the FCD Ambition. I took this pen out today to give it a deeper look, after gaining relatively more experience with Faber Castell line of pens. Here is a link to my review on blogger: The Faber-Castell Design Ambition Review So here goes a detailed review. Long ago during school days, I had used some of the not so expensive Faber-Castell ballpoints, pencils, highlighters, rulers, mechanical pencils and geometry sets. They used to be a bit scarce in India then, as they came with a ‘Made in Germany’ tag. Though there was little or no price difference with other Indian brands like Camlin or Omega, these were not widely available as such. Years later one fine day, while randomly searching for pens made by Faber-Castell, I bumped across the Ambition/Ondoro/e-motion fountain pens which were placed in a premium segment with Graf-Von Faber Castell Anello/Intuition in luxury segment. In India, a few models were available in Shoppers Stop Online and some of the other known e-com sites, back then. I finally ordered an Ambition (then an Ondoro) from Pensavenue, as they were running a discount sale on all Faber-Castell products. I added a converter since it was clearly mentioned that a Faber-Castell Design (FCD) converter was not included with the gift package. A BIT OF FABER-CASTELL HISTORY Around 1660s Kaspar Faber was one of the pencil makers in Stein, Bavaria, Germany. Later Kaspar’s son Anton Wilhelm Faber took over the business and the initials A.W were added from his name in 1839. Later on in 1898, when Ottile Von Faber (sixth generation of Faber family) married Count Alexander zu Castell-Rüdenhausen, A.W Faber-Castell was born. Count Alexander modernised the company and introduced the jousting knights logo. Faber-Castell started manufacturing fountain pens in 1951, after acquiring the Osmia Company and produced fountain pens till 1975. They had carried the Osmia logo [diamond-within-a-circle] till the 1960s, given Osmia’s high brand recognition in the fountain pen industry. Later under Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, Faber-Castell started expanding their factories & offices across the globe and also started manufacturing fountain pens under two banners of Design and Graf von Faber-Castell (introduced in 1993) from the 90s. These Ambition range comes with a fountain pen (with 4 different nib widths), a roller ball, a propelling pencil (0.7mm) and a ballpoint pen with various barrel designs constituting of resin, wood or brushed steel. PRESENTATION Within 3 days, the pen and a converter were delivered in a moss-green cardboard box. The colour reminds me of lush green cricket outfields and the Australian Baggy Green Caps. The box has a slider and the pen is secured with an elastic band on a felted bed, along with a warranty card. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-msdcMLZM5x8/VcX15lwx8aI/AAAAAAAAFCI/azlre_iK5vU/s1600/DSC_4963.jpg DESIGN - THE CYLINDRICAL MOTLEY OF RESIN & METAL (4/6) Held in hand, the pen will feel somewhat heavier towards the cap end, with a relatively lighter brushed barrel made of up black coloured resin (Like MB, Faber-Castell also calls it ‘precious resin’, I feel it has comparatively lower density). http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Hih-SaIwMKU/VcX2CwS4I1I/AAAAAAAAFCQ/DXWLWXZ25Hw/s1600/DSC_4973.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-SxktYdYHRiQ/VcX2Xh2uVkI/AAAAAAAAFCo/sz_dpqB7bMw/s1600/DSC_5010.jpg A convergence in its minimalistic design of the chrome plated accents is achieved with another piece of metallic finial at the end of the barrel, which also serves as the click-lock for posting the cap. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n4O_LTCsd-8/VcX2HuQbODI/AAAAAAAAFCg/iPvdisa5D18/s1600/DSC_5000.jpg And yes, the chrome accents are prone to fingerprints. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-P96DZiiL9xI/VcX2EdtvRaI/AAAAAAAAFCY/8T7Awrn-FRk/s1600/DSC_4983.jpg The cap is substantially heavy with a snap-on locking mechanism. Once you pull it, it comes off with an audible click, and you can see a chromed metallic section attached to the non-differentiated grip, at the end of which rests the shiny nib. Absence of any taper in the singular cylindrical section, introduces a steep step for holding the pen. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4UFE2LGgsjE/VcX2mbCswxI/AAAAAAAAFDA/LKc5NSRPrUQ/s1600/DSC_5019.jpg A mirror finish on the chromed cap etched with the Faber-Castell logo of two jousting knights will immediately gleam with the slightest amount of light and it is also embossed with the traditional statement preserving antiquity of A.W Faber-Castell - Since 1761. The clip is spring loaded and is shaped like an arc with a concave end. To generate friction with fabric, there are multiple grooves on the insides of the clip’s concavity, where it touches the cap. There is also a plastic insert inside the cap which gives the snap-on friction. However, it seems to lose grip with time. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UQI4QeeQLeA/VcbJiYDaMgI/AAAAAAAAFD0/gT_mkgHU35c/s1600/Cap.jpg FILLING SYSTEM (5/6) The small metallic section at the end of the barrel unscrews from the resin barrel with less than three turns and it disengages the section containing the nib and CC filling system. The nib has a screw fit, and inserts into a metallic sleeve like most of the Faber-Castell fountain pens which I have seen. The nib sleeve has threads which synchronize with threads on the insides of the resin barrel. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RK7DWlaZ-AU/VcX2asJWGLI/AAAAAAAAFCw/E6G25MRITCo/s1600/DSC_5048.jpg The converter says SCHMIDT on its piston along with a brand imprint of FABER-CASTELL Germany on the metallic sleeve. It has a reasonably high capacity of 0.8 – 0.9 mL, and the ink does last for quite a while! I am usually biased towards piston fillers, but I like the capacity offered by Faber-Castell or Schmidt converters. In case of GvFC Converters there is no mention of Schmidt on the converters themselves. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Dha1qS8xnX0/VcX20pkwu2I/AAAAAAAAFDQ/kMbn4yPpB0Q/s1600/DSC_5072.jpg NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (6/6) The nib is made of stainless steel alloy with an iridium tip. The initially available nib sizes featured F, M and B nibs, though an EF was made available later. I went with an M sized nib. Right out of the box, this was a butter-smooth nib. The nib has a perforated imprint of dots which cover a third of its surface area. Had these been real perforations there would have been an opulence of breather holes. And in fact there is not even a single breather hole. The nib-size is embossed above the traditional Faber-Castell Design logo of two jousting knights near the tail. Nib section is screw-fit and thus easily removable from the steel sleeve for cleaning or replacement. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-56jH49qkE40/VcX2mZWV-lI/AAAAAAAAFC8/AkLF0kvG-Ec/s1600/DSC_5083.jpg The feed is standard grey plastic, with a big filler hole for ink suction, which is incidentally also used across the GvFC Intuition Series. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wJHOQThFG3Q/VcX200DcZCI/AAAAAAAAFDY/yqDYXJWC2QI/s1600/DSC_5103.jpg Faber-Castell Design (steel) nibs are sourced from JoWo whereas the GvFC nibs are known to be sourced from Bock. PHYSICS OF IT (3/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING Without the cap, the pen measures around 12 cm, which might not be comfortable for people with medium or large hands. Posting the cap is easy and it seems to be secured with a click-lock at the finial section. Although the posted pen exceeds a 15 cm scale, the steel cap makes it pretty top-heavy. In addition to weight, the cap freely rotates once it’s click-posted. While writing posted, the beautifully arched clip later becomes the pen’s arch-nemesis for top weight imbalance, with free rotation around the metal section. A girth less than 1 cm might be inadequate for the shorter uncapped length. Uncapped Length ~ 12.2 cm Capped Length ~ 14 cm Posted Length ~ 15.8 cm Nib Leverage ~ 1.9 cm Overall Weight ~ 28 g (Cap Weight ~ 15 g) Capped and uncapped and posted with a GvFC Intuition, Pelikan m400/2XX and a bigger MB146 run below for your reference. The Intuition has a wider grip than the Ambition. (Reusing some older pics here) http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-raOQ2a8hfmg/VaneoU3hiRI/AAAAAAAAE04/MbwYl1DQCNw/s1600/GvFC%2B017.jpghttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3IfUp77HFXU/VaneucQwuSI/AAAAAAAAE1Q/ywtzuSmqxKQ/s1600/GvFC%2B018.jpghttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lEIIXA9iDXQ/VaneqEEmoVI/AAAAAAAAE1A/_cJ3dzaaoo0/s1600/GvFC%2B019.jpg ECONOMIC VALUE (5/6) It retails at around USD 70 and I got a converter included at the same price because of the aforementioned discount. I believe it’s a good value for money pen given you too end up with such a nib, which defeats many of the gold ones. OVERALL (4.6/6) This nib is wet, runs wide and smooth like butter, without giving even a hint of feedback. I purposely used a less wet ink, but the pen did quite well against a drier pelikan 4001 ink. There is a bit of line variation with relatively thicker verticals. The nib has some spring and a touch of softness. In fact it lays a wetter and wider line with a little pressure. If you hold it from the metal section, the pen might feel slippery after some time and it might even rotate a little between your fingers. I instinctively hold the pen just above the metal section. Being a wet writer out of the box, the Medium nib puts a line which takes more than 20 seconds to dry on MD Paper with a relatively dry Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black ink. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-w-SffYYQWEk/VcX3A22t3SI/AAAAAAAAFDg/aai7dhvEl5Y/s1600/DSC_5185.jpg REFERENCES Faber Castell History Bock Clientele Thank you for going through the review. You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here.
  4. It's been known for some time that most of the more expensive pen manufactures, or the ones who would be inclined to use the term "precious resin" to up sell a plastic pen, have been creating pens with material that is transparent when viewed in the infrared portion of the EM spectrum. And having just gotten my first dedicated IR camera, I just couldn't resist getting some of my more swanky pens out for a nice family portrait. From left to right: Namiki Falcon (SF), Pilot Falcon (SEF), Pelikan M400, Pelikan M405, Pilot Custom (14k), Platinum Century #3776, Pilot Custom 74, Pelikan M800, Pelikan M600, Pelikan 140, Pelikan 400. Here are the pens in the visible spectrum (iPhone 5): http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/xq90/823/1n4d.jpg And here are the pens in the near-infrared spectrum (Canon T2i at ≈ 800nm): http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/xq90/841/hvkyb.jpg Here's a visual aid: http://imageshack.com/a/img850/1272/dhk.gif Here are the Pelikan M400 and M405: http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/xq90/834/pzz6o.jpg And here's the section of the Pelikan 140: http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/xq90/853/q4no.jpg The two Falcons and the Pilot Custom are able to be seen through, but just not with the ease of the obvious ones. I only have one Montblanc, a 344, but I can't find it. When I do I'll take a pic and post it here. And I find it very interesting that either the Pelikan M400 or M405 has an opaque rear twist cap…





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