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C. E. Levi Small Nox Review


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#1 Doug C

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 21:13

Now that I have your attention, C. E Levi fountain pens are actually handmade in Canada by Cameron Lewis (gotcha...).

In the last few years there has been a renaissance in American-made fountain pens (Bexley being the exception-they have been around since the beginning of time). Anyone who spends time on FPN knows that collectors of home grown pens are a devoted bunch, and with good reason; in today's market, if you don't have a superior product, your company will wither and die on the vine.

I'm no different. I love all of my pens from Bexley, Edison, Gate City, Franklin Christoph, Joe Cali, Ralph Prather and now, C.E Levi of Canada, N.A.

I came across Cameron's site by accident, but as soon as I perused it, I knew I was looking at something unique. One of my pen club buddies decided to take the plunge on a Nox. Once I saw his, it sealed the deal for me.


DESIGN:
9/10

At first blush, you might think that his pens are rather plain. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like any minimalist Bauhaus design ,the beauty lies in the details (i.e. Nakaya). The Nox (available in a large and small size-this is the baby) is clipless but has several details that give it real architectural interest. Notice the brushed finish on the ebonite, with the ends in brighter effect, the cut lines on the brass trim, and decision to have the blind cap stop just before it screws flush with the body.

All of these contribute to real integrity in the make up of the pen's look, and really comes to life when you see the pen in person.
Posted Image

CONSTRUCTION:
10/10

This is one the real strengths of C. E. Levi pens. With all of the great pens out there it is hard to imagine that there would be yet another original take on the fountain pen. The combination of ebonite and brass gives the pen a hard to describe feeling of being very lightweight, but with a little heft that the brass provides.The ebonite finish is very close to that of the Lamy 2000, except that is Makrolon (fibreglass)

All of the machining is perfect, and this is done on a lathe (no CNC equipment from what I know). The cap and blind cap screw on smoothly and securely. One major flaw is that Cameron doesn't provide the company name on the pen anywhere.

Less is more...

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FILLING SYSTEM:
7/10

Most of Cameron's pens utilize a button filling system, which will delight purists. Mine is very easy to use and appears to provide a full sac. Some of my other button fillers have relatively stiff buttons, but this requires the lightest effort of all of them. One little nit is that there is a considerable amount of play in the button itself. I talked to Jim Hughes who also owns this pen, and he said that his is the same, but it doesn't affect the filling process. He said he got two to three weeks of random writing on the first fill.

NIB:
9/10

The combination of the Nox body and the vintage Sheaffer Triumph nib is perfection. Not only are the asthetics wonderful, but the nib itself has been tuned exactly as I had requested. It is one of the smoothest nibs I own, with the flow being flawless and absolutely no skipping.

A truly great nib.
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CONCLUSIONS:
9/10

As you might expect, I like this pen. A lot.

If you are a devotee of modern Japanese clipless pens, you will love C. E. Levi pens. They have the look of a no-nonsense tool that might have been in my father's desk (or toolbox) 50 years ago.

Their quality and construction is without fault, and they are unlike anything else on the market.

(Photos with permission of Cameron Lewis).
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#2 Chi Town

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 21:50

Very Nice Doug! Between your review and Jim Hughes you guys are gonna end up pushing me into one of these BEAUTIFUL works of art.

Mike

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#3 jar

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 22:08

Very nice looking pen and it's pretty hard to find nibs better than what came out of Ft Madison. Clipless though is just not something I could live with.

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#4 Doug C

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 22:48

Very nice looking pen and it's pretty hard to find nibs better than what came out of Ft Madison. Clipless though is just not something I could live with.



JAR, I agree in that I have too many clipless pens, and I normally prefer one with a clip.

This pen is so special, it would just not seem right with a clip; having said that, Cameron is looking some sort of clip including a wrap around clip as used on early Viscontis and vintage pens.
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#5 Doug C

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 22:53

Very Nice Doug! Between your review and Jim Hughes you guys are gonna end up pushing me into one of these BEAUTIFUL works of art.



Chitown, I think you will really be knocked out by this pen.

Once I had a chance to use Jim's pen, I was hooked...


BTW, one of the things that I didn't mention is that Cameron is a superlative nib tuner. I asked for just slightly more flow than Jim got and he delivered....

Impressive...

Edited by Doug C, 09 September 2011 - 22:58.

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#6 Chi Town

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 23:48

Very Nice Doug! Between your review and Jim Hughes you guys are gonna end up pushing me into one of these BEAUTIFUL works of art.



Chitown, I think you will really be knocked out by this pen.

Once I had a chance to use Jim's pen, I was hooked...


BTW, one of the things that I didn't mention is that Cameron is a superlative nib tuner. I asked for just slightly more flow than Jim got and he delivered....

Impressive...



Doug, I am sure you are right. That I would be knocked out by these pens. That's why I want to stay away from both you and Jim as I know I will want to "test drive" them pens and then I just may be sunk! LOL As I am already eye balling these pens and I like hearing of a wet nib.

Mike

            Visconti Last Lira aka Luigi Einaudi #63 of 975, Stipula Yellow Da Vinci Carbon Fiber T, Stipula Model T, Vintage Fountain Pens, Delta Amerigo Vespucci LE, Pelikan Special Edition Sahara F/P, TWSBI Micarta, Danitrio Mikado, Genkai, Nakaya Decapod Cigar, Watley in Woodgrain, Marlen Yellow Liberty LE, Santa FE Style Custom "51" made by Ralph Prather, president New Mexico Pen Collector's Club.


#7 jimhughes

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 01:00

Doug:
You are still a bad man. You exposed me to this site, when I was way in the red on my pen budget. Of course I had to have one. Now you're using Ms Cameron as a lead in for Camerons Pens. What's next? Great review, I concur 1000%. Wish I had the way with words you do. Enjoy the pen. Jim

#8 gordonf

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 04:35

I'll provide a strong second regarding Cameron's work. I have two items purchased from him, both beautifully machined and finished to perfection.

One pen he made to order was intended to look like a polished rod of brass. While caps unscrew from each end to expose the nib and button filler, when the caps are on, you can almost not find the seams. The thread fits have no play and yet don't bind - they just screw on and off smoothly.

This pen is fitted with "Lifetime" two tone fine nib from a late '30s – early '40s Sheaffer Balance pen.

Being machined from solid brass, its w
eight is approx 133 grams. That's what I wanted, and it's surprisingly easy and comfortable to write with. I've used it regularly for the last two years.

Working with Cameron was great. He intrepreted my thoughts on this design well and offered great suggestions. Excellent communication along the way, too!

Please pardon my lousy photographic skills. The lighting doesn't do the fully polished brass finish justice in these shots.

C E Levi 1.jpg

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  • C E Levi 2.jpg


#9 Uncle Red

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 14:01

These are spectacular pens, thank you both for sharing. I'll need to look at one of these soon. I've sworn off cartridge/converters for the future and a button filler sounds like a nice addition to my collection.

#10 reprieve

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 14:35

These pens look fantastic. What is the size of the small Nox?

#11 Doug C

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 20:04

These pens look fantastic. What is the size of the small Nox?


Reprieve, the small Nox is almost exactly the same length as my Nakaya Piccolo (regular size), but not as wide.

Does that help? If I get a chance, I will try to take some photos this week against other pens for comparison.

Great pen Gordonf...

Edited by Doug C, 10 September 2011 - 21:45.

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#12 reprieve

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 20:32

These pens look fantastic. What is the size of the small Nox?


Reprieve, the small Nox is almost exactly the same length as my Nakaya Piccolo (regular size), but not as wide.

Does that help? If I get a chance, I will try take some photos this week against other pens for comparison.


That helps a lot, thank you! Still, I hope you do get a chance to post some size comparison photos... mostly just because I want to see more of this lovely pen. :)

#13 jimhughes

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 20:37

Doug:
My Piccolo and Nox are in boxes, in case you weren't aware of that. My inspection on arrival, notations show a capped length of 5" on my Nox. Which, as you surmised, is right at the Piccolo length, although the latter is of a bigger diameter. You are aware it's all you fault I bought both of these pens. I have to blame someone, I wouldn't spend money like that on my own initiative, now would I? Jim

#14 Doug C

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 22:57

One more thing: the impression given so far is that C.E Levi is a new company. According to Cameron's website, it was established in 1994 (correction:2004)


Just a little piece of information to indicate that his company is not a newcomer...

Edited by Doug C, 11 September 2011 - 15:31.

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#15 jimhughes

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 03:00

Doug:
My bad. I'm the one who started that rumor on my review of a Cameron Lewis pen about a month back. Sorry for presenting incorrect information. Jim

#16 cbbp

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 04:07

One more thing: the impression given so far is that C.E Levi is a new company. According to Cameron's website, it was established in 1994.


Just a little piece of information to indicate that his company is not a newcomer...


Actually the website says 2004 (which is quite respectable nevertheless!)

http://celevipens.com/wordpress/

#17 Doug C

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 19:18

One more thing: the impression given so far is that C.E Levi is a new company. According to Cameron's website, it was established in 1994.


Just a little piece of information to indicate that his company is not a newcomer...


Actually the website says 2004 (which is quite respectable nevertheless!)

http://celevipens.com/wordpress/




I did correct my initial post (and thanks for making me aware of this), but it still stands that Cameron has been around more than most people think.

I am surprised that more folks haven't posted on the wonderful pens they have had ordered from C. E. Levi..
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#18 CLewis

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 23:49

Thank-you very much for the kind review, Doug. It was a fun pen to make, and for a nice person. Until I put this discount-for-review promotion up most of my sales weren't to fountain pen enthusiasts. I realized that I needed to get serious collectors and users aware of my pens since they were the ones most likely to spread the word. So far it's going pretty well :thumbup: There should be a good few more reviews coming.

Edited by CLewis, 11 September 2011 - 23:50.


#19 dcpritch

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 05:57

Great review, Doug!

I'm another of the lucky FPNers who got a Nox from Cameron Lewis. I ordered a large Nox, and had him put in a semi-flexible Mabie Todd & Co. Swan No. 2 nib - what a dream! Unreal workmanship, superb balance ... but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll be doing a full review of my Nox in the near future - got mine a month ago but had a son's wedding reception and some other events delay my review. In the meantime, here's a picture of the nib on mine:

Posted Image

And a comparison of its size in relation to pens folks might be familiar with:

Left to right, Pelikan M605, M800, MB 146, Lamy 2000, the Nox, OMAS Milord*, OMAS Paragon*, Namiki VP**, Parker 51***
* old style - 2003
** old faceted style - 1994
*** with Ralph Prather cap


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#20 jimhughes

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 20:41

Any C. E. Levi Pen owners out there who'd be willing to at least post a photo to see what you chose? A review would be even better. Jim






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