Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2003 – Snakewood

I have an inexplicable weakness for Faber-Castell / Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pens design. I enjoy their creations more than a bit. While I always thought GvFC series of POTY (Pen of the Year) looked intriguing, I haven’t expected I would ever try one. These pens aren’t cheap and unless you own your own oil refinery you wouldn’t buy one on impulse. I’m sure I wouldn’t. I’m not THAT spontaneous.

Happily one of polish collectioners (wodnik_olszynek on and sent me few high-end pens to try and review. It may happen I will help some of you to blow through a significant portion of pen-pleasure budget. Or maybe I’ll help you in making decisions it’s not worth it. I’ll start with GvFC Pen of the Year 2003.




Graf von Faber-Castell introduced first Pen of the Year in 2003 and that’s the one I had a chance to try. The first GvFC pen of the year was produced from snakewood, one of the densest and hardest types of wood in the world. A relatively rare wood found in Suriname, South America, it get its name from the black blots and splotches which looks like the skin of a snake. Typically used for luxury umbrella handles, walking sticks and violin bows, the eye-catching barrel of the pen is accentuated by the platinised metal fittings. The 18 carat solid gold nib (available in fine, medium and broad widths) is ‘run-in’ by hand before leaving the workshop. Each pen is individually numbered on the mechanism of the magnum-sized plunger (the part of the pen which holds the ink reservoir).

Overall impresions






I’ll be honest. Graf von Favber-Castell design appeals to me. I enjoy most of their pens. This one isn’t an exception. It combines my favourite materials: wood and metal in elegant and interesting way. Visually I find this pen stunning. In hand it feels heavy and well manufactured.

The metal cap is substantial and looks great. If you enjoy industrial design, you will probably enjoy this one as much as I do. The clip is hinged and it has little grooves under the clip where it would be able to grip a shirt or pen case. Basically it’s a similar design as on their Classic line of pens, but, definitely, larger.

The blind cap unscrews to reveal the piston knob. The knob itself is large and easy to turn. It has a metal plate on the end with engravings indicating it is a pen of the year and the number of the pen.

Metal section is smooth and due to material it can get slippery if your hands sweat, but I believe in this case plating works fine to prevent it. This metal has different feel to it than Lamy Studio section.  As POTY is a piston-filler there’s also grey tinted ink window composed into section that alllows to see the ink level. My preference would be to have it lighter so that ink color is clearly seen.

As I’ve mentioned it’s a heavy open, not everyone will enjoy using it.

Filling System




The POTY pens are the only ones in GvFC line that use the piston system. This piston-filler feels well made and is efficient and holds reasonable volume of ink – 0,8 ml. POTY pens can be send to GvFC in Germany once a year for a free servicing in case something unexpected and / or disturbning happens to the pen.







While GvFC doesn’t offer wide variety of exciting nibs, the ones you can have are not only nice, they also perform very well. You can have Pen of the Year with either fine, medium or broad nib. The one I tried has medium nib that can be described as medium + (as seen on comparison), rigid nib that is very smooth. The nib is very wet and enjoyable. It does justice to inks that are allowed to run through it’s regal feed.


Closed: 135 mm

Open: 130 mm

Barrel diameter: 15 mm

Weight: 72 g


What can I say – this pen looks stunning. It’s more a collector’s / discriminate user’s pen than every day cary choice for everyone 😉 The price of this model can reach 3 000 euros (usually it’s sold for 2000-2800 euros). It’s crazy expensive. Sure, I guess sometimes it’s possible to make good deal but even 25 % of MSRP is a significant amount of money most of us could use in a different, probably more mondaine way. If I could afford this pen though, I would buy it. For its classy look and the feel in my hand.






2 thoughts on “Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2003 – Snakewood

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