Levenger True Writer

31 08 2009

Once again, it’s been a while since I did an update here. Hopefully I can get back in the habit and change that. One big reason for my lack of posts has been the economy. It blows, by the way, in case you might be wondering. Blows I said…

Back in February I was laid off from a position I had with a local developer as a project manager. Here’s how bad this economy blows. Last December, we won an RFP (Request for Proposal) to do a redevelopment project for the local university. This would have been a $200 to $225 MILLION dollar (…that was MILLION with an M) project. Good news right? Job security for the next 5 to 7 years, minimum. Oh, and a BIG raise to come (lots of pens to buy…). This was December of ’08. By February 2009, you couldn’t find financing for a project like this anywhere. And so, the lay-offs began.

I relay this story not to solicit sympathy. No. Lots of folks have had it worse, and gone through much worse than me. I’m now entering into a new career (Insurance agent with Colonial Life) and finally feel like I can begin to allow at least a little time for some of my previous hobbies again.

Tonight I decided to break out an old favorite of mine, a cobalt blue, Levenger True Writer, circa about 1995.

I have two of these pens, this one, and a stunning (I think…) white pearl version, both with fine points. First, the physical description. This pen as mentioned is kind of a pearlized cobalt blue color with chrome hardware. By Levenger’s own account, these pens were modeled after one of my favorite pen lines, the wonderful Esterbrook J series pens. That heritage is easy to see. The cap is topped off with a simple black tassie mounted over a chromed clip. A chrome band sits just above the cap lip, and has the company name LEVENGER elegantly engraved on it. Like the Esterbrook, the Levenger sports a screw-in stainless nib. The nib is quite elegant, I think. It sports only a slit for the tines, no breather hole, like traditional nibs. Unlike the Esterbrook, this pen has a section that is the same material and color as the rest of the pen’s body. The Esterbrook sported a black section. The end of the pen features a chrome ring and another black tassie matching the one on the cap, simply smaller. Compared to the Esties, this is a substantially larger pen, measuring 5 3/8 inches long capped and 6 ½ inches long posted. From a strictly aesthetic point of view, I’ve always thought this was just a stunning pen.

Although I do love this pen, both it and its white sister-pen have had some quality problems. The chrome band on this one has come loose several times. I’ve repaired it with some crazy glue and for now, it seems to be holding; though it also sits a bit lower on the cap than it originally did. The white one I have had a problem with the section, where the nib screws in. It basically disintegrated around the nib. A call to Levenger got me a new nib and section for $25. (Does anyone still sell a reasonably priced pen with a lifetime warranty anymore?)

My True Writers are both outfitted with converter, but will also accept universal style cartridges. These pens are the definition of a “buttery smooth writer”. Like butta. Like butta, I tell you. Both of my pens are fine points, but definitely write closer to a medium point as compared to most of my other pens. I know that my pens are some of the early ones produced by Levenger, though I don’t know if they’d be considered 1st generation or not. I mention this, primarily because I’ve read that many of the early pens suffered from quality problems such as those I mentioned earlier. It’s my understanding from several online sources (Fountain Pen Network among others) that the current line of True Writers from Levenger are largely problem free.

This is not a pen that you see a lot of information about. Anybody reading this that knows more about them (I certainly don’t claim to…) please add a post to tell us more about these great pens!

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11 responses

31 08 2009
Jon

Where you say, “I relay this story not to illicit sympathy,” I think you meant to use ‘solicit sympathy’.

31 08 2009
wtisaac

You’re right. This 6th grade Anderson County education was top notch!! Thanks for the catch.

31 08 2009
Steve Leveen

Thanks for the thoughtful review Will–and for being a great customer. You’re right that some of our early True Writers had quality problems and we will always make it right by customers. Glad we helped you when you called. Since my grandfather used Esterbrook and taught penmanship, I’m proud that Levenger can carry on some of the tradition of good quality pens–that are alway beautiful–at a reasonable price with our True Writers. More to come!

Best wishes with all your work,

Steve

16 09 2009
Felix Cheshire

The notion of “illicit sympathy” is so delightful that it almost excuses the mistake! The suggested correction to “solicit,” however, though acceptable, is probably off the mark. I imagine the writer meant that he did not intend to “elicit” sympathy. “Elicit” is a near-homophone of “illicit,” and more likely to confused with it.

16 09 2009
Felix Cheshire

Physician heal thyself! I left out the “be” before “confused.” Also, while I’m here, to save anyone the trouble of looking it up if the word is unfamiliar, “elicit” means to evoke or draw out, often applied to an answer or an emotion.

17 09 2009
wtisaac

Yeah……What he said. I just like this pen. 😉

17 09 2009
Felix Cheshire

I have a couple of questions for Steve Leveen regarding True Writer specialty nibs, and also about the clip. I have a Metalist with a medium nib, and I like the fact that the nib is on the wet side and that it is fairly eager to start a line even after not having been used for a while. I also like the look of the pen, and its weight doesn’t bother me. (I bought it from one of your sale catalogs at a deep discount, so I’m guessing the weight drove down sales because a lot of people found it too heavy, would I be right about that?) I also think the clip is way to tight — this is not a pen you want to take in and out of the inside pocket of a good jacket many times a day. You really have to pry up the clip every time if you want to make use of it. I have many pens with a clip that is firm enough to work but also gentle enough not to tear either fingernails or cloth, and if this pen had a more forgiving clip I’d be far more likely to take it out of the house. As for the nib, it happens that round nibs don’t suit my handwriting so I am always on the lookout for stubs and oblique nibs. I have read very mixed reviews of the Levenger stub nib. Apparently they differ in quality a lot, and many people say they have had to go through several returns and exchanges before getting one that performs in even a partially satisfactory way. It’s good that you are willing to work with customers to that degree, but even if the nibs are hand ground, why do they differ so widely in quality? Second, why are they so expensive? Sixty bucks is a lot to spend on a nib for a pen that probably cost less than that to begin with. Pendemonium will custom-grind a nib for fifteen dollars, and Richard Binder, nibmeister extraordinaire, charges forty-five (I believe) for a basic nib reconfiguration, and that includes adjustment of ink flow, testing, etc. Does Levenger figure there isn’t enough demand for speciality nibs to justify offering an italic (cursive or crisp), or an oblique? Or do you reckon that people who really want those nibs on a True Writer will probably send the pens to Binder or Pendemonium or some other custom grinder? If so, then why such a high price point on your own stub? Anyway, it’s still a nice pen, and I like it well enough to shell out for a custom grinding job, but I’m puzzled as to why Levenger offers only the stub, and at such a high price.

17 09 2009
Felix Cheshire

I wish this site let a poster go back later and edit a post if necessary, the way FPN does. I meant “too tight,” of course.

5 03 2010
Tsquare

Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do 🙂

24 08 2010
penmanship « the republic of less

[…] Cobalt blue, Levenger True Writer, circa about 1995 at fountain of pens here. […]

5 10 2013
Tal

I know I am a few years late to the party, but I just wanted to share my experience with a Levenger True Writer. I similarly had one where the nib sleeve crumbled apart. I got in touch with Levenger to see if they would sell me just the replacement sleeve. Instead they said that while they don’t do repairs or sell parts, they will happily take back the pen and replace it! They just needed the original purchaser information.

I have had this pen for 12 years, so it looks like they have gone back to lifetime warranties.

Of note, the original purchase was through Amazon and so Levenger does not have the original purchaser information. However, they will give a credit for the amount that it was last listed in their database.

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