Ink and Pen Notes: Caran d’Ache Geneve with Kaweco Red and Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite

Caran d'Ache Geneve medium nibNow that my Caran d’Ache Geneve review is finished I decided to flush the pen, even though I’ve been trying to write my pens dry. As I said in the review, the pen is a nice pen and a nice writer but it doesn’t grab my attention. I know I’d always be picking one of my other pens to use.

I had been using Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite (also a cartridge) before the Kaweco Red and I had some annoying skipping problems with the ink. It was so annoying I swapped the ink.

I inked the Geneve with Tanzanite on Dec. 6th and in Dec 12th I got tired of the skipping and swapped it for a Kaweco Red cartridge without cleaning the pen.

The pen wrote well with the Kaweco Red cartridge. It’s your basic good nib with your basic good ink. Nothing spectacular but a problem free writing experience.

Gallery

I take the photos with the pens shows any all signs of use, I don’t clean the nib or the photos. The macro shots sure do highlight all the dirt and dust. But the pen was writing just fine before the photo shoot.

 

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Review: Caran d’Ache Geneve

Caran d'Ache Geneve uncapped on a mirrorI picked up the Caran d’Ache Geneve (hopefully I catch all of spell-checks attempts to turn it into Geneva, but it is Geneve, which is the French spelling of Geneva) over 10 years ago, in May 2004. It was the year I got the Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe, a considerably more expensive fountain pen. The Geneve was a great writer when I first got it and one of my better nibs at the time. The nib was smooth and not all that wide for a european medium, although not a thin as the Japanese medium nibs. The pen was’t perfect, but more on that later.

I ignored the Geneve for a few years before pulling it out again to give it a spin. Unfortunately it had all sorts of flow and skipping problems so, not knowing any better, I put it aside.

I decided to work through the unreviewed pens in my accumulation and it’s time for the Caran d’Ache Geneve so I pulled it from it’s case. There’s some corrosion or flaking on the cap threads and I figured some fell into the feed. The nib and section ended up being just friction fit so they were easy to pull. I dropped them into the ultrasonic cleaner and gave them a thorough cleaning while flushing the section and brushed the corrosion off the threads.

So now it’s time to review the pen.

Why I Got It

I like the design and the brown marble finish. The gold furniture doesn’t bother me so much because it matches the brown finish. At the time I got the pen I wasn’t paying any attention to the details such as the trim material. I purchased the pen from the now defunct Joon Stationery on a trip to NYC.

What I Got

Caran d'Ache Geneve uncapped on a pen standI don’t have any memory of the packaging. It did come with a converter and cost about $150 at the time. The pen takes international cartridges, including long cartridges, or bottled ink. The Geneve has a 18K gold medium nib that is gold in color. While the nib isn’t a complete nail there’s no flex and no real spring worth mentioning. The nib has the Caran d’Ache logo along with some other decorations.

The slanted cap jewel has the Caran d’Ache logo on it. The band around the barrel is engraved “Caran d’Ache SWISS GOLD PLATED ‘G’” and the Caran d’Ache logo is also engraved. Practically a novel for a pen band. It’s all a bit much for my tastes, but I tend to ignore it because I really like the brown marble finish.

The end of the barrel has a gold jewel that form a slight lip around the barrel. This lip is used to post the cap securely .

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.4170″ (137.59 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.8830″ (124.02 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.2″ (158 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.6010″ (15.26 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3555″ (9.02 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 0.4200″ (10.66 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3370″ (8.55 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.5270″ (13.39 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.5280″ (13.06 mm) (Barrel tapers to 7.60 mm)
  • Weight: 1.1 oz. (30 g)
  • Weight (body only): 0.7 oz. (20 g)

Writing with the Pen

Caran d'Ache Geneve nib close-upThe cap takes one full rotation to remove, but no more. The cap has always been very tight when screwed onto the barrel, it takes significant effort to unscrew it. It’s not going to work its way loose on its own. The pen posts securely thanks to a lip at the end of the barrel which the inner cap can grip. Because of this the metal threads aren’t used to grip the barrel and won’t scratch it.

I tend to hold this pen pen higher than most so my fingers are on the threads. They aren’t sharp and don’t bother me, although I’m generally very forgiving of these things. The threads are noticeable to the touch so if threads bother you it may be a problem. The gripping section is long enough if held closer to the nib.

I have fond memories of using this pen when I first got it. The nib was smooth and put down a nice consistent line. The nib isn’t a nail, but there’s no spring to speak of either. I never had any problems with the pen and for a time it was one of my favorites.

Then it was slowly replaced by newer pens with finer nibs and neglected for a few years.

As I mentioned, performance was terrible when it came out of storage and my first attempt flushing it out didn’t help. There was some flaking, possible corrosion, around the cap threads. Maybe the tight cap caused this, maybe it was actual corrosion. Some must have worked it’s way into the feed since a thorough cleaning resolved the problem.

In any event, this returned the pen to its former self. I did have some skipping problems with one ink, but the rest have been fine. Overall, the Caran d’Ache Geneve is a pleasant, although uninspiring, writing experience with a smooth nib.

Inks Used

I did have some skipping problems with a Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite ink cartridge but none with the Kaweco Red ink cartridge. Back when I was using the pen a lot I pretty much stuck to Waterman ink and didn’t experience any problems.

Cleaning the Pen

It’s a cartridge/converter so it’s easy to clean. If a bulb syringe is used to flush the pen it’s really quick. The nib and feed are friction fit so it’s easy to remove and replace. The feed does guide the nib to sit correctly but nib/feed can slide into the pen in any orientation so it’s easy to do.

Wrapping Up

My memories of the Caran d’Ache Geneve are better than the current reality thanks to nostalgia. It’s an excellent writer and it’s obvious why it was a favorite back in my early fountain pen days. But when put against the 100+ fountain pens in my current accumulation it doesn’t stand out. The corrosion or metal flecks is a problem but once it was cleaned up the pen recovered. The maintenance is easy to it’s not a real detriment for me.

But the bottom line is that although the Caran d’Ache Geneve is a very nice pen that served me well, for me it’s not a keeper, at least not after 10+ years.

Additional Reading

I couldn’t find any other Caran d’Ache Geneve reviews which surprised me a bit since it’s a nice pen. If you have a review let me know in the comments.

Review: Caran d’Ache Dunas

Capped Caran d'Ache Dunas uncapped on pen stand

I pulled the Caran d’Ache Dunas from long term storage (a.k.a. – out of sight, out of mind) so I could give it a spin and a quick review. I can’t remember the last time I used this fountain pen. That’s not due to a bad memory, it’s been years since I inked up this pen. I didn’t find it on the Caran d’Ache website and it’s not produced anymore. I did find it listed as in stock from Pen Boutique and I found some forum comments saying it was purchased this year, so it does still seem to be around at some retailers. Current prices are just under $100. Recent eBay sales ranged from $71 to $125 although those were for different finishes.

Why I Got It

I bought the pen in late 2005, about two years after I got the Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe which was my first Caran d’Ache fountain pen and one of my first really nice (read that as “expensive”) fountain pens. While it is nothing like the much more expensive Ivanhoe, I had already picked up a second Caran d’Ache (a Geneve) which was also a great writer. I had high hopes for a budget priced Caran d’Ache. At the time the pen was $68, which is only budget when considering the Caran d’Ache premium.

I also liked the red finish which was unique in my accumulation at the time. The design was just different enough to catch my eye.

What I Got

Uncapped Caran d'Ache Dunas uncapped on pen standWhile described as a high quality resin, my shiny red Dunas has a very cheap plastic feel. And yes, “shiny red” is the official color name. Despite the plastic feel the pen is solidly built.

The cap and barrel have a hexagonal shape although the barrel becomes more rounded towards the end. The shapes prevents the pen from rolling. The cap end is flattened, angled and has the Caran d’Ache logo emblazoned on it. A band around the barrel has the Caran d’Ache name engraved. It’s a nice looking design that elevates itself above the cheap feel of the pen.

It’s a snap on cap and while it seals tightly it easily rotates on the barrel when capped. The cap doesn’t post securely unless it’s pushed down hard on the barrel. Very hard which might eventually crack the cap since there’s no cap band. This isn’t a concern since I don’t post my pens. I believe the pen has Caran d’Ache’s lifetime warranty although I don’t have the original paperwork so this may not be a concern for anyone. It’s a little strange that it doesn’t post very well since the barrel is round where the cap posts.

It’s a medium steel nib and as far as I can tell, a medium nib is the only option. It may have been offered in other nib widths, but I’ve only ever seen medium and it was the only option when I bought mine. The nib is silver with the Caran d’Ache logo engraved on it along with some other ornamentation. All the furniture is also silver.

I don’t remember much about the packaging, but a converter was included. From some forum posts or reviews a converter isn’t always included.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.4085″ (137.37 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.79″ (121.67 mm)
  • Length Posted: 5.9600″ (151.38 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.9150″ (23.24 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3215″ (8.16 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below barrel): 0.395″ (9.99 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3530″ (8.96 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.46″ (11.69 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4610″ (11.71 mm)
  • Weight: 16g (no ink or converter)
  • Weight (body only): 1g (no ink or converter)

Writing With The Pen

Dunas nib closeupThe snap on cap does seal securely but the pen can still be uncapped with one hand. The clip has a little spring to it and it slides easily into and out of most of my pockets. I usually require two hands to slip the pen into my pocket since the clip is a bit stiff and sits right against the cap.

The pen is just a little small for my comfort since I generally like larger pens. It’s not what I would consider a small pen, it’s just I prefer larger pens.

The section is long enough for my grip but my thumb just touches the step between the barrel and the section. The step isn’t sharp so it’s not noticeable.

The pen is much too light for my tastes and a little on the thin side. Pens with both these attributes usually become quickly uncomfortable when I use them. This pen is no different although it did seem to last longer than most, probably because of the nib.

And what a nib it is. The medium steel nib is extremely smooth and it certainly enhances the writing experience that this pen delivers. I didn’t experience any skipping or false starts. It is a stiff nib but that’s a benefit for me.

The only problem I had was ink clinging to the converter when I stored the pen nib up for over a day. Well, the ink always clung to the converter but storing nib up seemed to get enough out of the feed to cause starting problems when I picked up the pen after a couple days.

Inks Used & Cleaning the Pen

I used Waterman Black while using the pen for this review. There’ weren’t any problems and it was easily flushed from the pen. It’s been a very long time since I previously use the pen and I have no idea what inks I used in the past. But I don’t have any memories of problems with the pen.

I did have the previously mentioned problem with the ink clinging to the converter. This was only a problem if the pen was stored nib up for a couple of days. When it was I had to help the ink saturate the feed as gravity wasn’t doing it fast enough for me.

Wrapping Up

There’s nothing fatally wrong with the Caran d’Ache Dunas fountain pen. It’s got a great, smooth nib and the design is a little different than other pens which gives the Dunas some appeal. Despite this it’s not a keeper.

The pen has a cheap feel to it even though it’s actually solidly built. But the fatal flaws, at least for me, are that it’s too small and too light.

The value of this pen is debatable. While this pen has one of the best steel nibs I’ve used, if not the best, and has a lifetime warranty, it seems far too expensive at the $90+ prices I’ve seen currently. Recent eBay sales of around $70 are more reasonable (and close to what I paid 9 years ago), but these days there are some very nice pens and nibs for about half the price. The Faber-Castell Basic has a comparable nib and sells for around $35. Even though I say the pen feels cheap (and it does) it is in fact well built, with a good fit and finish, so it will last a long time. That certainly justifies a higher price.

Even though it isn’t a keeper for me, if you have small hands (or like smallish pens) and like extremely light pens you won’t be disappointed with the Caran d’Ache Dunas.

Additional Reading

Caran d’Ache Dunas Review – The Fountain Pen Network

Gallery

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

Gallery