(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
I don't typically order super expensive, limited edition pens that come in boxes that are fancier than the pens they house. But Chatterly Luxuries had a good price on the Walden Woods pen, and because I'm working on an MA in English in Creative Writing (I totally need another "practical" degree), this pen appealed to me. I love the fact that the barrel has Thoreau's handwriting etched on it. I appreciate that the ash wood used for the pen is reclaimed from naturally-fallen trees at Walden Pond. I am pleased that my purchase of this pen means a new tree will be planted at Walden Pond by the American Forests organization. All these factors combined with the great price led me to purchase the pen. I bought it for $395 (retail $750), which is still quite expensive.
I waited to open this pen until I turned in my grades for Summer II. It was my reward for surviving the term (and it was a doozy). The packaging was impeccable. A thick, outer cardboard box protected the beautiful wooden box within. The lid of the wooden box is unadorned except for a small logo and the Graf von Faber Castell name.
The box opens smoothly and silently–I mean look at that hinge mechanism! And this is just the box!
A cream-colored, molded insert houses the pen and information about it. A well-designed booklet gives a brief history of Henry David Thoreau's two-year experiment at Walden Pond which became the basis for his book, Walden, or A Life in the Woods. The Walden Woods Project, which formed in 1990 to protect Walden Pond from development, is also discussed, as well as the partnership with the American Forests organization. A card with warranty information is enclosed and there's a small cloth for cleaning. The insert that houses the pen and information comes out, so with a pen tray cut to size, the wooden box can be repurposed for pen storage.
The Walden Woods pen is a limited edition of 2006 pens, each individually numbered. Mine is number 1268.
Unlike Graf von Faber Castell's yearly limited edition pens, which can be quite ornate (and cost thousands of dollars), the Walden Pen is understated. It has a beautiful platinum-plated cap with a spring-loaded clip that is easy to operate.
The finial is concave and unadorned other than grooves etched around the edge.
The Faber Castell logo appears just above the top of the clip.
"Graf von Faber Castell Germany" is imprinted around the bottom of the cap, and just above that, in tiny letters, is a credit for the quote used on the pen.
The grip is made of the same platinum-plated metal, and so is the bottom of the barrel which is convex and sports the grooves around its base.
The ash-wood barrel feels smooth to the hand. It's hard to tell whether Thoreau's quote is actually etched into the wood or just painted on (the descriptions I've read use the word "etched," but the words don't look or feel like they are carved into the wood). The quote is written in black and stands out nicely against the light color of the wood.
The quote chosen for the pen is beautiful:
"So we saunter toward the Holy land; till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perhance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, so warm and serene and golden as on a bank-side in Autumn."
~Henry David Thoreau, Walking
The nib is a two-toned, 18K gold medium. It started up immediately after I inked the pen, and I've had no problems with skipping, hard starts, or scratchiness. I inked it with Iroshizuku Ina-Ho because I thought the golden color of that ink matched the ash wood nicely. The nib is smooth, but firm without any springiness.
Because the grip is metal, it becomes slippery under my sweaty fingers. It is small in diameter (I don't have a caliper, but it's less than 10mm at the thinnest point), and my hand cramps up while writing. I may eventually have the nib ground to an oblique italic so that I can rotate the pen into a more comfortable position. Plus, the medium nib lacks personality in my opinion.
The pen is a cartridge/converter filler, but no cartridges were supplied, an oversight for such an expensive pen. I use the converter anyway, but I think cartridges should have been included for those who don't use the converter. The converter works smoothly and draws up ink without any difficulty.
At 135mm (5.31 inches) capped, 130mm (5.11 inches) uncapped, this is a medium length pen, just a little longer than a Pelikan M600 capped. The pen is fairly heavy due to the metal construction. I could not find a specific weight in any of the literature or online. In spite of this, it feels balanced in the hand unposted. Posted it is 173mm (6.8 inches) in length and is unwieldy. The cap is simply too heavy and throws the balance off.
I am interested to see how the wooden barrel reacts with the natural oils in my hand. I don't know if the ash will darken over time, or if the wood has been coated to prevent that. My main concern about the light ash wood is what will happen if I accidentally get ink on it. Will the ink wipe off or will it stain the barrel? I am unwilling to test this, even for the sake of a Pen Addict review, sorry.
This is my first Graf von Faber Castell pen. I like many things about it, and it is definitely unique. But, it's not the most comfortable pen I've written with. My hand grew fatigued fairly quickly due to the small grip combined with the weight of the pen.
Nevertheless, I can't wait to take this pen to my English classes. I hope Thoreau's spirit channels itself through the pen to make my poetry better. I can always hope, but so far no poems have magically emerged from my Walden pen.
- Simple design with understated elegance
- Fans of Henry David Thoreau would probably love this pen
- The Walden Pond ash wood and Thoreau's writing on the barrel make this pen unique
- The nib is beautiful and well-made (though I don't like the medium point and will probably send it to a nibmeister)
- For every purchase of this pen a tree will be planted at Walden Pond
- The beautiful wooden box that houses the pen can be used as a pen box with the addition of a tray (but, honestly, I'd rather just have a simple cardboard box and a lower price)
- Expensive, even on sale
- Fairly heavy pen
- The grip is metal and narrow in diameter which may make it difficult for some people to write comfortably
- Cartridge/Converter filler, which can be a plus or minus depending on your perspective, but no cartridges are supplied with the pen which seems an odd oversight
- The pen is no longer being manufactured, and remaining units are limited