Appearance & Design: 5 of 5 nibs up!
The Golden Tortoise comes in an understated, simple Levenger box which also holds the converter and single (black ink) cartridge. The pen is very striking, and the acrylic has a richness and depth that always surprises me in modern acrylic pens. The trimings of the pen are simple: a black jewel at the top of the cap and one at the base of the barrel. There is a small gold plated band surrounding the jewel on the barrel. The cap band has a simple "Levenger" imprint. The section of the pen is made from the same material as the cap and barrel.
Most True Writer users know that Levenger claims the Esterbrook as the pen's inspiration. What struck me about the pen was the clip because it reminded me of Shaeffer's WASP Addipoint pen.
Construction & Quality: 5 of 5
The pen feels sturdy and well-made. Nothing is loose. Nothing rattles. What do I know anyway?
Weight & Dimensions: 5 of 5
The pen is very comfortable in my small hand without posting the pen. (I don't post my pens so YMMV.) Often I find modern pens too heavy and so the weight of the True Writer was another good surprise.
Inked: 13gr unposted -- 24gr posted
Length: 5 1/2" pen -- 4 7/8" unposted -- 8 1/8" posted (so it looks with my ancient ruler)
I cannot effectively speak to the balance of a posted pen as I have no real reference for using a pen in that manner.
Nib & Performance: 4 of 5
Nib is marked "F" and performs as an American Fine. But what do I know? The nib is two-toned steel with the Levenger name imprinted on it. The nib apparently unscrews and you can substitute it with other Levenger nibs (a stub, medium or bold point). I have not tried this feature.
Using the pen for the first time I installed the included ink cartridge. I don't know who makes Levenger ink but the black ink was very wet and free flowing.
The nib wrote smoothly but skipped and did not write for a few strokes after sitting (capped). Before calling customer service at Levenger, I decided to flush the nib with water and a mini-mini-miniscule amount of dish detergent. A bulb was used to flush. Also, I flushed the converter having decided to put the ink cartridge in another pen.
After letting everything dry, I filled the converter with Diamine Grey. The ink took to the pen quite well and was not as wet as the cartridge converter. The pen has been writing perfectly since the Great Flush. The nib is smooth and glides across the paper. The pen writes without hesitation even after being capped for a day or two.
Writing sample uses Clairefontaine paper and Diamine Grey ink:
The nib has some spring to it so it is not rigid. Some people have referred to the nib as semi-flex. Personally, I wouldn't say the nib has any flex but it does have spring and responsiveness. It even reminds me of my vintage Sheaffer Feathertouch nib. (Hmmm.... another Sheaffer reference.)
I will be paying close attention to how the nib performs with other inks. I have a box of Diamine cartridges that I will try out in this pen. The nib may need adjusting.
I know nothing about feeds but always am curious about them. And so, here's a back of the feed shot:
Filling System & Maintenance: 3 of 5
The True Writer is cartridge converter. If you appreciate that feature you'd give the pen a 5.
Cost & Value: 5 of 5
Certainly, I can't speak for other models of the True Writer as the Golden Tortoise is the only one I've ever used.
As of this posting, the Golden Tortoise retails for $88. You can get it on sale, or as a gift, or both (as apparently I did). My modern Conklin acrylic crescent pen cost more and the trim (or the "furniture" as Eric47 likes to say) is cheesy. Compared to a low-end Pelikan which costs about the same (e.g., the current blue demonstrator Pelikan) you miss out on a piston filling pen. The Golden Tortoise is an example that you can have a good nib and beauty for under $100.
Even at full cost, the performance and solid construction of my pen feels like a good value. But "cost and value" and even beauty are subjective experiences IMHO.
Flush the pen before using. Probably flush the converter too. If that doesn't work, contact Levenger. The fine nib could be finer because I'm always wanting an extra fine nib. The Golden Tortoise will remain in my pen collection because it was a gift. The pen will become a daily writer because it performs well while I'm writing with it and it makes me smile.
Edited by jde, 24 December 2009 - 16:11.