Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche Burned Orange

My first experience with a Graf pen was in the Faber-Castell boutique in Düsseldorf. I’d always heard that they have extremely smooth nibs, though I balked at what I thought was slightly clunky design. But when the chance to own a second-hand one came (at a tiny fraction of the price — thanks Rupert!), I came home from the monthly London pen meet with this:

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Slim profile, chunky cap.

The nib proved to be as good as I remembered from my 5 minutes with a tester pen in Germany. Out of the box, it was probably the smoothest 18k nib I’ve ever used, with loads of ink at every stroke, fantastic (lack of) feedback, and a properly round medium point instead of a slightly stubby one. In a #5 size, this was utterly impressive.

The nib imprint tastefully features the Graf von Faber-Castell coat of arms (also seen on the cap above), and the body has the guilloche marks briefly popular around 2017. The official description of the colour as a “burned orange” recalls Pelikan’s 2015 M800 release, though I think this is a little lighter and brighter than the Pelikan.

I am not a fan of the clip: it’s a hinged one, and the cap is really solidly built, but it feels like it needed a spring to complete the effort. The clip doesn’t hold anything tightly and in fact can be left in a permanently open position when manipulated. I think the flared end of the cap strangely out of place with how streamlined the rest of the pen is as well.

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Closeup of cap and nib, showing the GvFC coat of arms and hinged clip.

The pen itself is really slim, with a concave section that’s even thinner than the barrel, but has a solid feel to it, with weighty metal parts. Unlike the similar metal section of the e-motion, however, I don’t feel like the pen will slip away from my fingers during long writing sessions.

What might prove disappointing to some is that this is a cartridge/converter pen:


Top to bottom: Barrel, section + converter, and cap.

It’s of no consequence to me, since I find these easier to clean, but might dissuade more demanding users (especially at the full price of just under £300).

But it writes so well: this might be the first non-Japanese pen that’s really blown me away with how good it is. Even when I finally gave up and ground it to an extra fine, it behaves wonderfully.


Look at the shading!

In conclusion: yes, a hugely worthy pen. There are tons of colours to choose from, and even some wooden finishes to boot. Lovely. (As a bonus, there’s some of my piano playing in the video below.)

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🎵 sound on 🔊 Danny Boy, as performed by Reno Palmier and Herb Ellis on the 1978 album Windflower. I wrote it out as an exercise, and the audio is of me playing (no drums, of course). It took just shy of an hour from starting the transcribing process to making the recording. Pen: Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche in Burned Orange, with an EF grind by me Ink: Linpen, Bird series, Chestnut-winged cuckoo Paper: 5.5mm manuscript paper I made in Word and printed on regular copy paper. I won't use anything larger… #fountainpens #fpgeeks #penandink #matchymatchy #brown #orange #music #jazz #piano #guitar #renopalmier #herbellis #manuscript #grafvonfabercastell #gvfc #guilloche #linpen #cuckoo #bird

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