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Levenger True Writer


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38 replies to this topic

#1 jde

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 16:10

The Levenger True Writer Golden Tortoise was a gift I received in early December. Reading the conflicting reports on FPN about the quality of True Writers has lead me to dismiss them as possible daily writers. I'm reminded that the best way to discover a pen is to hold and use one. So go forth reading knowing this "review" is only my experience. Some of my biases: light-weight pens, piston filing pens rule, so do bottled inks, the less box/packaging the better, simple but colorful (browns, caramels, esp.) pen designs.

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.
Posted Image

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.
Posted Image

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:
Posted Image

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:
Posted Image

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.

Conclusion:
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.

Posted Image

Edited by jde, 24 December 2009 - 16:11.

 
...writing only requires focus, and something to write on. —John August
...and a pen that's comfortable in the hand.—moi

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#2 CraigR

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 16:34

Great review. Your observations are pretty much the same as mine. I own 6 True Writers, ranging from a fine to a stub nib. I use cartridges as well as the converters and ink from the bottle. I believe that these pens are a great value, especially when purchased on sale or on their e-bay store. Yes, I use these pens regularly and with pleasure. /Craig

A consumer and purveyor of words. 

 

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#3 TMac

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 18:46

Great review.

I currently have 3 True Writers. Enjoy all three. 2 of them are great writers. One unfortunately is just not as smooth as the other two.

I will definitely acquire more TW's.

#4 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 18:48

nice pen thanks for sharing :thumbup: :clap1:
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#5 DanDeM

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 19:47

I have four or five of them and they are presentable, reliable, white bread pens. EXCEPT for the stub. Now, that has character!

Had only one problem with one of them. The pen was delivered with the replaceable nib/feed element only partially screwed into the section. Opened the pen after filling, to find the cap full of ink. Happened to be their white model which required much soaking to remove the Pelikan Brilliant Black ink. Cautionary tale for all pens with interchangeable nibs.

Good review. You really caught the essence. Thanks.

#6 Pippin60

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 19:56

Thanks its a beautiful pen and I have admired it unfortunately I haven't been satisfied with Levenger nibs yet. I am glad you are happy with yours.

I also wish at some of their prices they offered a gold nib. But good luck with yours.

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
- Mark Twain in a Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888


#7 jde

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 21:18

True Writers cost at full retail anywhere from $56 - $90. Of the 7 TWs currently offered on the Levenger website, only 2 pens are above $68 (the Golden Tortoise and the "Signature" stub pen). I would think that gold nibs would take these pens over $100 which defeats Levenger's "Esterbrook" intent with this model.

I'm not going to say that a modern pen out there doesn't have a gold nib offering for under $100 but I am hard pressed to think of one. Unless it is a vintage pen.

And we all know a pen is no good if the nib doesn't work for you and that is always a bummer.
Cheers.
 
...writing only requires focus, and something to write on. —John August
...and a pen that's comfortable in the hand.—moi

#8 Tricia

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:21

Very nice review. My Golden Tortoise (M) is usually filled with one of the rich brown inks that I have: PR's Chocolat, Noodler's Walnut, MB's Season's Greetings, or FPN's Galileo.

I agree with CraigR - these are great pens for the money, especially if you get a deal from their ebay outlet. Very reliable writers ime, and some of mine are always in my current rotation.
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." - Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

#9 Pippin60

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:32

True Writers cost at full retail anywhere from $56 - $90. Of the 7 TWs currently offered on the Levenger website, only 2 pens are above $68 (the Golden Tortoise and the "Signature" stub pen). I would think that gold nibs would take these pens over $100 which defeats Levenger's "Esterbrook" intent with this model.

I'm not going to say that a modern pen out there doesn't have a gold nib offering for under $100 but I am hard pressed to think of one. Unless it is a vintage pen.

And we all know a pen is no good if the nib doesn't work for you and that is always a bummer.
Cheers.


I agree,what I meant is that they are nice pens but the nibs are poor, IMHO.

I would pay close to 200$ if they had nice smooth nibs. Lamy manages it, and Esterbrook certainly did so with steel nibs. Even my stub is scratchy after a replacement nib. It feels like an italic the way it catches paper even smooth Rhodia paper. Sorry I don't mean to be so down on Levenger pens. Their other products are good quality.

Just my opinion, I don't want to debate it. Others may have other experiences.

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
- Mark Twain in a Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888


#10 dzdncnfsd

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 22:23

Length: ...8 1/8" posted (so it looks with my ancient ruler)


8 1/8" posted length for this pen sounds freakishly long! Is that really correct? Would appreciate someone confirming/correcting the figure (and maybe also reporting on the section's width measurement? ;)) Thanks.

Edited by dzdncnfsd, 30 June 2010 - 22:24.


#11 Jimmy James

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 23:35

8 1/8" doesn't seem inaccurate to me. The cap pretty much leaves 90%+ of the barrel exposed -- it posts securely right around where the barrel jewel is. It's a pretty well balanced pen in both metal and acrylic forms, too. I like the True Writer, but I like them a lot better as $20-something dollar pens in the Levenger Outlet when they have good sales.

#12 jde

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 01:08

Length: ...8 1/8" posted (so it looks with my ancient ruler)


8 1/8" posted length for this pen sounds freakishly long! Is that really correct? Would appreciate someone confirming/correcting the figure (and maybe also reporting on the section's width measurement? ;)) Thanks.


Uh... do I get any leeway for it being Christmas Eve when I answered that?

You're RIGHT: it's 6 1/8"

Attention! Attention! It's 6 1/8" posted.

P.S. It's still an outstanding pen in my little pen hoard.

P.S.S. Thanks for paying attention and catching that numeric burp.

Edited by jde, 01 July 2010 - 01:13.

 
...writing only requires focus, and something to write on. —John August
...and a pen that's comfortable in the hand.—moi

#13 Hennypenny

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 11:31

For their price range (particularly when they're on sale), I think Truewriters are great - I have 4 or 5. And I happen to like their italic nib (it is advertised as an "italic", rather than a stub, isn't it? - can't remember offhand), but it is somewhat "scratchy" like a true italic. I got it in a trade with someone who couldn't stand it, so some people like it and others don't. I also had one of the medium nibs stubbed, and it's one of my favorite writers! So, all in all, they're a great value and have some beautiful colors.
The sky IS falling. C. Little

#14 Glenn-SC

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 22:50

Glad to hear you had a good experience with your TW.

Definitely not mine, with the four or so TWs I've owned and tried.

#15 Ray-Vigo

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 23:51

The Golden Tortoise is somewhat unique among True Writers-- mine seems a level nicer than the other, regular TWs I tried. I got my Golden Tortoise about 3 years ago or so. It's a nice pen and the nib sure looks like a Bock to me-- very smooth, very wet and writing a line a little bit wider than most other Mediums.

The plating on the trim is just ok-- looks nice but wears quickly.

The Tortoise plastic is first rate-- I really like it. The Golden Tortoise seems a cut above the normal TWs to me (and it was originally priced that way too, if I recall). It's a nice pen, but a bit on the pricey side.

#16 Zenas

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 04:05

Magnificent review. Your review has motivated to now obtain a True Writer...imagine that.
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#17 revbyrd1

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 23:57

Thank you for the in-depth review!

The Golden Tortoise was the first Levenger Fountain Pen that I purchased. It is a stunning pen, as the pictures show, and my F nib has performed wonderfully since day one. Since acquiring this pen I have added an additional 2 True Writers and a Plumpster that is no longer carried. My experience has been positive with all of my purchases from Levenger, ranging from desk accessories, folios, totes, to circa notebooks.
Peace,

J. Kenneth Byrd, Jr.

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The Tar Heel State--GO HEELS!

#18 aspendigger

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 03:22

"Even my stub is scratchy after a replacement nib. It feels like an italic the way it catches paper even smooth Rhodia paper. "

I appreciate everyone's effort to be fair but honest.
I'll share that I had the exact same (disappointing) experience - the stub, which I expected to be smoother at the edges and more forgiving than an italic proved to be one of my more problematic pens. On arrival, I had ink flow issues, and once I was able to get those worked out I found myself left with a scratchy nib. I may be mistaken, but my understanding is Levenger produces these screw in nibs in F, M, and B, and then has a medium customized into a stub, rather than it being a production line nib. The nib is a handfinished product, which could be a plus or minus, depending on the skill of the person doing the customization.

More here:
http://blog.wellread...andwriting.html

#19 jde

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 01:27

<snip>
I'll share that I had the exact same (disappointing) experience - the stub, which I expected to be smoother at the edges and more forgiving than an italic proved to be one of my more problematic pens. On arrival, I had ink flow issues, and once I was able to get those worked out I found myself left with a scratchy nib.
<snip>


Welcome to FPN!

Hope you let Levenger know your issues. I know sometimes people give up in frustration w/Levenger but they won't improve if people don't let 'em know. People on FPN have indicated their customer service is pretty responsive. Don't have first hand knowledge myself.

Belated thank yous to others for their kind comments as well as differing opinions about the review!

Edited by jde, 20 November 2010 - 01:28.

 
...writing only requires focus, and something to write on. —John August
...and a pen that's comfortable in the hand.—moi

#20 aspendigger

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 00:11

[/quote]

Hope you let Levenger know your issues. I know sometimes people give up in frustration w/Levenger but they won't improve if people don't let 'em know. People on FPN have indicated their customer service is pretty responsive. Don't have first hand knowledge myself.

[/quote]


Thanks for your suggestion.
I have contacted Levenger in the past for other issues with products from them, but did not regarding this particular nib.
It is what it is...I think what I find objectionable is a matter of tuning.
While I was able to adjust and restore the ink flow to function properly, the nib I have is "edgier" than other stubs I have written with - more like an italic, I suppose.
Works fine for slower writing, but not smooth enough to be a pen I carry and pull out to jot a quick note.
I don't feel like I am giving up in frustration- the pen works well enough, just not well enough to have me raging about what a great deal my stub nib was.
Seems the solution is buy your nibs as you'd like them, and have them customized to taste.






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