As many of my repeat visitors know, I post about my Levenger stuffs often. Like A LOT a lot. I’ve been a diehard user of the Circa notebook system for 7 years now, so am always trying out new pages and covers and discs. But surprisingly, while I’ve read a bunch about their fountain pens, my only exposure to their pens has been the Levenger L-Tech I bought for my husband a couple of years ago. So when Levenger contacted me and asked if I wanted to review a fountain pen here on my blog, this was pretty much my exact reaction:
So of course I said YES! They sent me a True Writer Select fountain pen with a Fine nib, and TWO bottles of ink in Cobalt and Shiraz!!! This was a most-welcome surprise, as I’ve never tried any Levenger ink either. Reviews of the ink colors will come later, but for now, let’s take a look at this gorgeous new pen I have to play with.
The True Writer Select comes in Mediterranean (ocean blue), Stormy Weather (light grey), and Macchiato (coffee brownish). If you want to read some reviews of the Mediterranean colored pen, check out Pen Habit and Pen Addict for some fabulous close-up pics.
Anyhoo, I was given the choice of colors to review. I normally don’t do brown pens at all, as I’m very much into bright colors. Which is a big reason I haven’t tried True Writers up until now, the colors tend to be very conservative and traditional. But since I am 100% in love with all things coffee (except chocolate covered espresso beans, because GROSS), Macchiato seemed like a slam dunk. How can a pen that looks like this go wrong??
When he saw the pen Levenger was sending me, the husband was all, “Oooh, if you don’t like it I’ll totally take it off your hands” – psh, fat chance of that Mister!
I was already impressed with the packaging on the L-Tech, but hoooo boy! The True Writer Select has some pretty epic nesting-box awesomeness going on. I felt like I was cracking into a sarcophagus just trying to get to the pen.
First was a white cardboard sleeve:
Next up, a grey box with Levenger printed in silver on the top:
The lid to this box came off to reveal a canvas mesh wrapped second box:
Once you unwrapped the canvas-like material from the inner box, you saw that it is a nice felt-bottomed wooden display box – it has some impressive heft to it. When opened, the rim of the box is trimmed in a light wood that unfortunately didn’t capture well no matter how I tried with my lighting and camera. But let’s be honest – I only had eyes for the pen anyways! It also came with a standard twist-style converter and one standard international-sized (1/5″) ink cartridge.
Which leads us into …..
At first glance, I was all, what the heck? This isn’t coffee colored!? But as I turned it around under various lights, I came to realize the Macchiato color is actually very chameleon-like. In some lighting the swirls appear almost yellow-green or grey-brownish. My first thought was it was almost more of a mink/fur-coat color.
In other lights, it appears brown.
As you can see, the swirls are a very elusive color and difficult to photograph. If you ever had Tiger’s Eye polished rocks as a kid …
The pen is somewhat like those rocks in person, in that you can’t keep from turning it around in your hand to watch the resin swirls change. But it’s definitely not exactly the coffee/caramel brown I was expecting.
Looks really brown in this pic!
At first glance, this pen is HUGE. Both in length and width. But it is surprisingly lightweight, especially in comparison to the hefty L-Tech. Here are some (not-so-super-scientific) measurements and weights:
Pen – Length – Weight:
Lamy Studio (Royal Red) – 13.7 cm – 33g
Monteverde Invincia (Stealth) – 13.9 cm – 41g
Levenger L-Tech (Stealth) – 13.6 cm – 49g
Rebecca Moss Mystery Pen – 14 cm – 47g
Lamy Al-Star (2015 LE Copper Orange) – 13.7 cm – 21g
Levenger True Writer Select (Machiatto) – 15 cm – 37g
Monteverde Artista (Purple) – 12.7 cm – 25g
As mentioned above, the True Writer Select is surprisingly comfortable to hold for such a huge pen. When posted it feels a little unbalanced, too heavy towards the bottom. Here it is shown next to the L-Tech, both pens posted.
The End Thingies:
I can’t tell if the end thingies (yep, that’s my technical term) are black or just dark brown. But the top one is pointed ever so slightly. The clip is unobtrusive and I haven’t had any issues with it. And that’s about all I have to say about any of them.
The Cap Trim:
The pen has a screw-on cap. One side says ‘LEVENGER’ and the other ‘Select’. I like the script font that is used for the Select side, it adds an elegant touch to the pen.
As I mentioned earlier, my only experience with Levenger nibs has been with Medium and Fine nibs on the L-Tech. The Medium nib I thought was butter-smooth but way too wide for my tastes. My husband ended up ordering a Fine nib separately because it was too wide for his tiny writing style as well – SIDEBAR: can I just say I LOVE pens that let you order the nibs separately!? It’s so convenient to have that option, rather than buying a whole new pen. When he got the new F nib I was impressed with how it wrote, but was still a little put off by the weight of the pen – especially after my lightweight Lamys) – so didn’t really play with it much. But I’ve also been conflicted about my everyday pen carries lately, as I like fine nibs for writing, but want the broader nibs that really let the ink color shine more too.
In this case, practicality won out and I went with a Fine nib. Levenger sent this pen along with a note stating that they were interested to hear what I thought of the F nib, as it was somewhat different from their other nibs. In appearances it does look pretty different. The True Writer nib is larger, with different pattern etched into the steel, and a round hole missing from the L-Tech nibs.
More importantly, I inked it up right away with some of the new Levenger Shiraz ink, and it wrote perfectly right out of the box! Smooth, always starts up, a fine but not needle-fine line. No squeakiness, scratchiness, or other complaints. Here is a comparison to some Lamy pens (which tend to write wider lines than most):
I think the Levenger F nib actually writes a finer line than the Lamy F. The F nib on the True Writer Select also looks a teensy bit finer than the L-Tech, but that could just be a factor of the inks as well.
I REALLY enjoy writing with this nib. It’s just ridiculously smooth.
I’ve been using the Levenger True Writer Select for a few days now and really like this pen. My fingers tend to slide down the grip a little, but I think that’s the nature of the polished metal grip section more than anything – I’ve been using Lamys so long I need to get used to metal again! It is larger than most pens, and this might be slightly off-putting to those with smaller hands, but I’ve surprised with how well I adapted to it. I think I’d have preferred to see a magnetic cap too, but that’s a minor critique.
One complaint I’ve read in other reviews and noticed when using this pen as well: the pen barrel does tend to unscrew itself ever so slightly from the feed with frequent use. I’ll go to uncap the pen, and have to give the barrel a few twists to get it back to where it should be. It’s not a deal-breaker, but something to be aware of. The husband says his L-Tech does that to him fairly often too.
Price wise, with a retail value of $169 this pen is definitely not an entry-level fountain pen – although the accountant in me has to wonder how much of that cost goes into the elaborate packaging. Fancy packaging to me is somewhat of a waste – I can’t bring myself to get rid of it, so put the boxes away in a closet and never use or display them again. But again, that’s the practical side of me coming out. Levenger is playing up the gift-giving side of pens, promoting that the box the pen comes in can be engraved. And as any customer of Levenger knows, their items are priced at a premium and people have come to expect fancy packaging that the company is known for. And this pen is definitely marketed towards someone who already knows fountain pens and perhaps wants to upgrade to a nicer pen or expand their collection. Or who just wants to treat themselves.
(Just add FOUNTAIN PENS to the above meme haha. Also, I may have been binge-watching Parks and Rec this weekend.)
And besides, Levenger regularly has sales and coupons where the pen is available for a good $35 less or more, often with free shipping. And its about on target market-wise with its competitors. I recently got a Visconti Van Gogh Portrait in Blue, and it was of similar construction, materials, and price point. The Levenger steel F nib actually writes better than the steel Visconti F nib, which I thought was very nail like and almost too fine, whereas the Levenger F nib I took immediately to and can’t recommend highly enough.
All in all the True Writer Select is a solid, attractive fountain pen, and I seriously don’t know why I waited so long to get one! Many many thanks to Levenger who provided me this pen to review. My husband SO isn’t getting this pen, that’s for sure!