Review: Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe

Caran d'Ache Ivanhoe uncapped on a mirror with the cap standingThe Caran d’Ache Varius Ivanhoe joined my accumulation the same time as my Waterman Edson. I should have bought stock instead of pens back then. Like the Edson, the Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe now sells for over three times what I paid for it. I had been debating between it and the Edson. By the time I picked the Edson I had also saved enough for the Ivanhoe. The Ivanhoe is part of the Varius collection so the full name is Caran d’Ache Varius Ivanhoe but I just drop the Varius.

The Waterman and Caran d’Ache were my first really nice (and expensive) fountain pens. For the next year they were almost always inked together. The Edson was my writer and the Ivanhoe was for marking up documents. Because of this the Ivanhoe almost always had red ink and I grew to associate this pen with red ink.

I’ve been avoiding this pen and it has been over a year since I inked it up. Actually, I can’t remember the last time but I’ve been reliably tracking my inked pens for over a year and this one isn’t in the list. I’ve grown less fond of thin pens and pens with metal sections which is the reason I’ve avoided this pen, But more on this later.

Why I Got It

I was looking for a “nice” pen and the all metal look caught my attention. I loved the chain mail finish. I pulled the trigger and bought this pen in 2003.

What I Got

The Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe has an 18kt gold fine nib that’s rhodium plated. It has a screw on cap with a metal section. Most of the body is a intricate stainless steel chainmail design that’s rhodium coated. The rest of the pen, except the nib, is aluminum coated and very shiny. The nib is very shiny and matches the pen, its just not aluminum plated. Despite the all metal build the pen is still a reasonable weight.

Caran d'Ache Ivanhoe chainmail close up

Closeup of the chainmail finish

The cap takes nearly 2 1/2 turns to remove or tighten so this isn’t pen to reach for if you just want a quick note.

The end of the barrel is designed to accept the cap for posting. It snaps into place and is held with friction. It’s a tight fit and if I posted my pens I’d be concerned the cap would stretch a little over time. I don’t post  my pens so I can’t vouch for the durability of this design but it starts out as a very secure fit.

The pen is still well balanced when posted. This is mainly because the cap isn’t very heavy when compared to the rest of the pen. My biggest complaint when the cap is posted is that it’s so shiny it’s distracting and often reflects light back into my eyes.

The pen is a cartridge/converter and came with a converter. The original converter has proven to be very durable and I still use it.

The aluminum on the pen has picked up some micro scratches over the years and they’re highlighted by the shiny silver finish. Although fingerprints are highlighted even more, so they often mask the scratches. Personally I think the scratched give the pen character and show it has been used. I could do without the fingerprints.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.1685″ (131.28 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.94″ (125.47 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.5″ (165.1 mm)
  • Section Length:  0.6815″ (17.30 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3155″ (8.01 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 0.34″ (8.63 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.308″ (7.82 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.424″ (10.76 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4305″ (10.93 mm)
  • Weight: 1.1 oz (32 g)
  • Weight (body only): 0.8 oz (24 g)

Writing With The Pen

Caran d'Ache Ivanhoe uncapped on a pen standThe pen is a typical cartridge/converter and takes standard international cartridges, both long and short. I’ve used bottled inks almost exclusively in the pen. I probably used the included cartridge when I first got the pen but that was about it for cartridges. Back in 2003 I was almost exclusively using Waterman ink so it was probably mostly Waterman in the pen. My Waterman Edson was my business pen so always had black or blue ink and the Ivanhoe had a bright color for marking up documents. As I said, I consider red synonymous with Ivanhoe, but I also liked Waterman purple in the pen. It always wrote well and never gave me any problems. For this review I went with a cartridge – Pelikan Edelstein Ruby.

It’s a thin pen with a metal section. Today I wouldn’t consider the pen due to those two reasons. (But that would be a mistake.) Ten years ago neither of those things bothered me. Over the years the pen has ingrained itself into my brain as a very enjoyable pen to use.

I tend to naturally hold this pen higher up, above the section, which avoids the slick metal section. I grip it right on the threads which are smooth and don’t bother me. My fingers also rest on the chain mail body which helps the grip and is wider than the section.

Since I grip the pen at the barrel which is about as wide as the sections on the pens I find comfortable. The chain mail finish allows a firm grip on the pen. So while this is a thin pen with a metal section, my natural grip makes it neither too thin or too slick. I don’t find myself subconsciously gripping the pen too tightly as I typically do with thin pens. I can write with this pen for about 45 minutes before getting fatigued which is standard for most of my comfortable pens.

As for the nib itself, the 18kt gold nib is extremely smooth. It’s one of my wetter fine nibs, although not a downright gusher. The nib has some spring to it (not flex) which give the nib a soft touch on the paper.

Cleaning The Pen

The pen is a cartridge/converter and as easy to clean as most of them are. Flushing with a bulb syringe or its own converter is all that’s been necessary. I’ve never had to take the pen apart to clean it so I couldn’t say if that’s hard or easy. In my case, taking the pen apart has been unnecessary.

Inks Used

A Pelikan Edelstein Ruby cartridge was used for a month before this review. I never had any hard starts, even after sitting unused for a week. Likewise, there wasn’t any skipping.

As I mentioned, Waterman bottled inks were a favorite of mine early on when I got the pen. None of them ever gave me a problem.

Wrapping Up

I have a slight sentimental attachment to the Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe since it was one of my first really nice (and expensive) pens and I used it a lot after getting it. I spent months deciding if I really wanted it and it was even better than I expected once I got it. This alone pretty much guarantees that this pen is a keeper. I’m glad I pulled this out for the review because it reminded me that this pen really isn’t as thin as it looks.

That said, I’d have a hard time justifying the pen at it’s current prices. I’d suggest looking for a used Ivanhoe (but not mine). One area of concern would be how you hold the pen. My natural grip is very comfortable with the pen, but I do grip it across the threads and the chainmail which may bother some people. But if you do like the looks enough to spend the money, you won’t be disappointed with the pen you get.

Additional Reading

Reviewed on FPN

Reviewed again on FPN

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This Month’s Ink – August 2014

Well now, I hit the publish button before I was really done. Pulling it back just confuses things. Obviously I planned to publish this on the 31st.

Like July, I’m starting August with 12 pens inked, five are carried over from the beginning of July. I actually hit a high of 20 pens inked in June thanks to some reviews and testing playing.

My favorite pen and ink of July was the Sheaffer 300 with Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun. It’s not the ink that the pen started the month in, but I liked the pen so much I wrote both the cartridge and converter dry.

My biggest disappointment was my Lamy 2000 with Sailor’s Kiwa-Guro ink which I inked up mid-month. The Kiwa-Guro is a pigment based ink but I’ve never had a problem with the ink, provided I use the pen frequently enough. With the Lamy 2000 the ink just didn’t flow well. It never actually skipped, but both the pen and ink usually provide a much better experience when they aren’t together. So this was one of the few pens to be flushed before being empty.

I usually do my writing samples in a Doane Jotter so I have an easy to find record. But I got some Tomoe River paper and had to give it a try. The paper is so thin that the ink cloth shows through from under the paper in the photo, sorry about that.

I finally used the Montblanc Alfred Hitchcock ink. I have a sample that was provided by FPGeeks forum member cwent2 during a meetup last year. It’s been awhile as I hesitated to use this great ink. I finally decided to use it in one of my favorite pens and one that was made as Hitchcock’s carrier was just getting going.

As usual, links are to my reviews if they exist.

This Month's Ink Pen Tray for August

This Month's Ink Writing Sample for AugustSheaffer Triumph Lifetime (extra fine) – Montblanc Bordeaux // Edison Menlo Pump Filler (extra fine)Montblanc Toffee Brown // Pilot Custom 823 (fine) – Pilot Blue-Black // Pelikan M101 Lizard (extra fine) – Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey // Sheaffer Balance Jr (fine stub) – Montblanc Alfred Hitchcock // Sheaffer Crest (extra fine) – Sheaffer Red // Franklin-Christoph Model 29 (fine) – Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine cartridge // Omas 360 Vintage (fine) – Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black // Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe (fine) – Pelikan Edelstein Rub cartridge // Franklin-Christoph Model 66 (extra fine)R&K Blau-Schwarz LE // Pelikan M620 Piazza Navone (broad stub) – Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown // Esterbrook J (#9461 Rigid Fine) – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9460 Rigid Medium

Esterbrook #9460 writing sample with penNext up on my Esterbrook nib list is the Esterbrook #9460 Rigid Medium Nib. The box also refers to the nib as a “Medium Manifold.” A 1959 nib chart specifically says the nib is for carbon copies. A more specific term for this nib would be “tank.”

The Osmiridium tipping (probably mostly iridium) gives it added durability, if not smoothness. Add to this the extra strength of a manifold nib intended for use with carbon copies and this nib could be used as a weapon and then be used to write a letter.

My particular nib is very smooth, one of the smoothest Esterbrooks I have. It’s almost too smooth, especially on smooth paper. I prefer a nib with at least a hint of feedback. But between the dull medium point (compared to a extra fine) and the tipping this nib glides over the paper.

I do experience some occasional skipping, especially on slick paper. It isn’t enough to be annoying, especially since I don’t use medium nibs very often. The nib tines are just slightly misaligned. It doesn’t really seem to be enough to matter but it might cause the skipping if I angle the pen just right. I hate to tinker with these vintage nibs and since I rarely use a medium nib I can live with the skipping.

The Esterbrook #9460 Rigid Medium is a nice nib, if you like medium nibs. I prefer extra fines and fines so it’s not a nib for me. It does put down a nice line. While these Esterbrook nibs can vary, even among the same nib number, this nib was too smooth, especially on paper that is also smooth. If you like a little feedback this may not be the nib for you.

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Sunday Notes and Links

Six pens ready for my therapy sessionIt was time for some fountain pen therapy this past week. I’d been using pens and inks based on what was on the review list, which left little time for my old favorites. A week ago I pulled out my favorite pen case – a Penvelope Six in well-worn Boot Brown leather. Then I went through my pens and filled the six slots with the pens that caught my attention and were just waiting to be used. This brought me to 19 pens inks but so what . A couple pens were already inked and I kept them going. I’ve been using these pens all week so new reviews will be slower. I have a couple ready to be written but the backlog is gone so things will be slower. Instead I’ll be enjoying my pens.

I’ve been picking one pen/ink as my primary writer for the day. I’ve been posting my selection to Instagram.

Some links from the past week…

Nock Co Brasstown & Hightower Review – nibcreep.com //A new pen blogger. No fountain pen reviews yet despite the great name

The Esterbrook Bandwagon – Pen Pursuit // A new member of the cult of Esterbrook

Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 40P Fountain Pen – Masuyama Broad Stub @1901FC – Gourmet Pens

Refreshing! The Kaweco Skyline Sport (Mint) – From the Pen Cup

Paper Review – Environotes Sugarcane Paper – Fountain Pen Physicist

Parker Vector Navy Body Fountain Pen – No Pen Intended

Original Crown Mill Pure Cotton Envelopes and Tablet Review – Pen Paper Ink Letter

Waterford Kilbarry Guilloche Fountain Pen Quick Review – THE UNROYAL WARRANT

Pen Review: Nakaya Neo Standard – The Pen Habit

Montblanc Arturo Toscanini Donation Pen- mycoffeepot.org

Notebooks Explained – JetPens.com

Analogue and digital: an equal partnership – Pete Denison

Clairefontaine Basics Life. Unplugged Staplebound Duo Review — Modern Stationer

Ink Reviews…

Platinum Mix-Free Leaf Green – Inkdependence!

Sailor Jentle Ink – Four Seasons Nioi-sumire (Sweet Violet) – An Inkophile’s Blog

Noodler’s Turquoise Ink Review — The Pen Addict

None More Black — The Gentleman Stationer

Caran d’Ache Chromatics Idyllic Blue Review / Caran d’Ache Chromatics Idyllic Blue Mürekkep İncelemesi – Write to Me Often

Sailor Jentle Grenade ink review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Montblanc Albert Einstein – inklode // Gray inks are my favorites and this was a reminder I need to get out the bottle of this ink

Diamine Syrah ink review – Peninkcillin

Ink Notes: Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite Cartridge

Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite cartridge tinFor the second week in a row I’ll be reviewing an ink cartridge. It’s another Edelstein ink – Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite. The cartridges for this review were provided by Goulet Pens.

I’m not a fan of blue inks, but blue-blacks can get my attention and even make my favorite 5 inks list. My first reaction when I used this ink was “meh”. It performed OK but just one of many blue-blacks. It’s grown on me over time. Like the Edelstein Aventurine ink it’s well behaved so it starts off with a likeable personality.

An ink called Tanzanite might be expected to have a violet look to it but I don’t see any in this ink. Although there is some purple dye on the paper towel when cleaning the pen. The ink color is growing on me and I like it better on some papers than others. Personally I like it’s looks better on non-white papers.

There’s just a little bit of shading. This isn’t really noticeable with my typical thin nibs unless I look closely.

In addition to the color varying based on the paper it also varies based on the nib. Wider nibs have a bluer color while the thinner nibs have more grey. Considering I like grey but not blue it’s not surprising I prefer the ink’s color with thinner nibs. This is most noticeable in the swab where all that ink looks more blue than I’ve ever seen when the ink comes out of the pen. It’s no wonder I didn’t really like the color at first since I started with the wettest, widest nib so the ink was on the blue side.

The ink dries quickly, especially on the Doane paper I use most of the time. Smooth Rhodia paper takes longer to dry but it’s still acceptable. It’s not really waterproof but it wasn’t completely washed away. There wasn’t any noticeable feathering and no bleed-through on any paper I used. The line it puts down is consistent and true to the nib size.

Pens Used

The pens used for the writing samples where used just long enough for the sample, then the cartridge was moved to the next pen. The Edison Collier with an extra fine nib was used for a couple of days as was the Franlkin-Christoph Model 25 with a medium stub nib. Both pens wrote flawlessly, no skipping or false starts. The Franklin-Christoph sat unused for an enforced five days and wrote immediately when the nib touched the paper.

The cartridge went dry earlier than expected due to a leak in the Faber-Castell eMotion. After writing the Rhodia sample about half the ink leaked into the cap. The problem was completely unrelated to the ink. But the end result was the cartridge was only in the Collier for a few days.

Wrapping Up

The R & K Blau-Schwarz Limited Edition remains my favorite blue-black ink although it is limited. Second place has a lot of contenders, depending on my mood (my current mood has MB Midnight Blue in second place). Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite is a little faster drying than most, so it will probably get some use and would be a good choice if drying time is a priority. It really is a nice ink but I don’t see it kicking any of my other blue-blacks to the curb. It is fun seeing how the color varies depending on the paper or nib.

Thanks again to Goulet Pens for providing the Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite cartridges.

Additional Reading

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