The 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.
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.
- 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
The 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.
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.
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.