Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Elemental Review of Graf von Faber-Castell Elemento (L.E)

Elemento L.E

To be honest, the Elemento seems so alluring, ever since I have got an Intuition. The yearning could only multiply with time. A sale was good enough to trigger my purchase as I could not wait long to catch hold of the pen. Incidentally, this is my first numbered (limited edition) fountain pen, delightfully so with a wooden barrel.
Elemento, incidentally was designed to celebrate the 250th anniversary of my favourite fountain pen company - Graf von Faber-Castell.  It also marked the release of a few other similarly sized wooden models of intuition. The Elemento range comprises of individually numbered propelling pencils (250 pieces), ball point pens (1500 pieces), roller-ball pens (1000 pieces) apart from these fountain pens (2500 pieces).


One of the best parts of the presentation is a big hand-crafted wooden case in wenge colour, housing the entire collection. There is also a similar box which holds only the fountain pen. I was not able to get this case due to certain shipping constraints. However to my absolute delight, the Faber-Castell company sent me a spare wooden box, which usually is meant for the Intuition Wooden/Platino editions.  Many thanks to Nicole, who handles marketing at Faber-Castell for APAC/MEA region.

The pen comes in a small cardboard box, which has an L.E number attached to one of the smaller faces of the cuboid. Along with the pen, there is a brochure which narrates a bit of Faber-Castell’s ‘since 1761’ history, along with alluring pictures of the Perfect Pencil, before it delves further into the elements of the Elemento range.

DESIGN (6/6)

This is probably where firms like GvFC revolutionize the past, present and future of design. A dazzle of platinum deeply resonates with the subtlety of discernible olive wood grains in the barrel.

The barrel is made of cross-grained olive wood (Stimholz in German), where wood is cut into discs, perpendicular to the height of a tree. This renders both strength and elegance to the wood. You can notice some heavy varnishing on the barrel, so that any chance of staining is well-eliminated. The wood is said to be fitted onto the barrel in six individual elements, for the sole purpose of transforming it into a fountain pen. A contour of colours ranging from honey gold to reddish brown, garnish the barrel while the black lines running across the length of barrel give it a distinct elegance.

On puling off the cap, you will instantly notice a singularity of the barrel, running sans any joints. A super-sized two-tone nib is divulged with a golden-silvery sheen glistening with the platinum coated trims. Towards the nib end, the singular barrel narrows down to a slightly concave section, to form a comfortable grip. The cap is friction fit and closes onto the barrel, with an audible click.

At the other end of the barrel is a glittering crown, which can be twisted to disengage the nib and filling system. You can find the GvFC coat-of-arms logo embossed on its finial, earlier used to represent complete achievement in heraldic tradition. And, why not!

Once you reach the end cap, you will notice a disc of olive wood adorning the finial and rendering a finality to the wooden barrel.

The cap is engraved with GRAF VON FABER – CASTELL, encircling the wooden finial insert. Below at the cap band, it says GRAF VON FABER – CASTELL on one side and HANDMADE IN GERMANY on the other. ‘Handmade’ because there are over a hundred steps in the entire manufacturing process of this pen, a majority of which are carried out by hand. The clip shines in consonance, with a highly efficient yet visible spring loaded system.

As a Limited Edition (L.E), a number, i.e XXXX/2500 here, is etched at the end of the barrel section, which attaches to the nib & filling system insert. And while writing, you can always observe a subtle reflection of the L.E number, rhyming in cadence with your script, on the visible metallic end of the insert.


Once the crown on the barrel is rotated anti-clockwise to disengage the nib & filling system, you would notice a rather classical CC filler system. The nib has a screw fit, and inserts into a metallic sleeve like most of the Faber-Castell fountain pens, which I have seen till date. The nib sleeve has threads which synchronize with the inner threads on the metal insert of the barrel, both ending up with octagonal cross sections. The converter has a metallic band which friction-fits into the nib section although it does not fit a FCD Ambition section. With a reasonably high converter capacity of 0.7 – 0.8 mL, the ink does last for quite a while! My usual bias towards piston fillers has always been negated by the relatively higher capacities of Faber-Castell or Pilot CON-70 converters. The converter has a decent suction and resembles a Schimdt K-5.


The giant two-tone nib with an usual iridium tip is run by hand, and it comes in four main sizes – EF, F, M & B along three special widths – BB (extra-broad), OM (L) & OB (L).

The tail end of the nib specifies the size and below it rests the composition (18 ct, 75% Au) of the gold-alloy used. A golden decor runs along the shoulders of the nib and it converges across the outer tines onto the iridium tip, while the rhodium silvery finish diverges from the breathless slit (There is no breather hole on this nib!) across the inside of the tines and over to the tail.

A cross hatched border segregates the rhodium and gold decors. Then, there is a dazzling white coat-of-arms logo resting above the tail-end. This one is a fine nib and writes superbly butter smooth with no hint of feedback.

This feed has closely spaced fins with a buffer capacity to hold ink with transient temperature and pressure, giving an effortless writing experience. 


With a cylindrical wooden body, it does give a superb feel with a comfortable weight, without posting. The overall capped length of around 13 cm is more than a typical Pelikan m2xx/4xx. The total weight of Elemento has a significant contribution from the cap, which is quite well-balanced otherwise. You would not love to use the pen posted, though.
  • Uncapped Length ~ 12.5 cm
  • Posted Length ~ 16.9 cm
  • Nib Leverage ~ 2.3 cm
  • Overall Weight ~ 40-45 g

While it’s not posted, Elemento compares well with a Pelikan m800, which I feel has a slightly flatter and bigger nib.


Although the Elemento retails at more than USD 1200, it is available at lower street prices. I was able to get the pen at a good discounted price. I would not undervalue this rating by much, because in the end, the Elemento is a kind of masterpiece in itself.

OVERALL (5.8/6)

I adore the distinctly granular olive wood design and the remarkably superlative appeal of Elemento, given the contoured gradient of reddish brown to honey gold colour. This pen is blessed with a butter smooth fine nib which delivers a relatively wide but wet line. The line width closely resembles with a Pelikan Fine nib. For a Waterman Florida Blue ink, it takes around 14-15 seconds to dry. I could not find any line variation with horizontal and vertical strokes for this one. Below is a written review of the same:

It was fun reviewing the Elemento. I hope you enjoyed it. Another wooden pen I have reviewed is the Izumo Tagayasan from Platinum (Japan).

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