I’ve always loved pens, and I still buy them even though I don’t use them as much these days. I like my pens to be beautiful as well as useful, and I’ve noticed that my hands are much more comfortable writing with pens with bigger barrels. My go-to pen these days is a beautiful, screaming red Levenger True Writer ballpoint that I keep in its matching red pen stand. I have other Levenger ballpoint pens, and I find them to be sturdy, well made, and a bargain for the price. When Levenger offered one of their True Writer fountain pens, I asked to give it a try. I received the True Writer Foliage Fountain pen. We can see that it is beautiful. Let’s see how it works.
Like other Levenger True Writers, the Foliage is made of a resin with embedded color chips. The Foliage has greens, oranges, yellows, and reds in the resin; you’ll see some of the chips have an iridescent sheen that adds life to the colors. The attractive colors are complemented with gold-plated metal banding and pocket clip. The large band at the bottom of the cap is inscribed with the Levenger name.
The barrel is as polished and smooth as glass. It doesn’t have a single rough place to irritate fingers. The pocket clip slides smoothly over the top of a pocket, and it holds tightly so you don’t have to worry the pen will fall out if you bend over.
The Foliage fountain pen measures 5.5″ long when capped. The barrel has a 0.5″ diameter. It’s big enough to grip comfortably, but not so big that my hand feels cramped after just a minute of writing. At 0.77 ounce, it has a nice heft but doesn’t feel like you’re writing with a stone chisel.
Here’s the Foliage fountain pen with my tried-and-true True Writer ballpoint. I’ve had the ballpoint and stand for at least eight years, and they still look great and work as well as when I opened them up on Christmas morning. I expect to get many years of use from the fountain pen, as well.
In the previous photo, you’ll notice that the red ballpoint is accented with a black cabochon at the top of the cap. The Foliage pen has cabochons on the cap and at the base of the barrel, but these are made of the same resin as the body of the pen. They’re pretty, but I think I like the black better.
I’m sorry the nib is out of focus in this picture, but we’ll see it a bit better in the next photos. You can see the cap is threaded and screws onto the barrel. The barrel has threading on the outside for attaching the cap and on the inside where the metal section (that’s the gold-plated piece) screws into the body. The nib screws into the section.
The Foliage fountain pen came with Levenger’s medium-point nib. The two-toned nib is made of stainless and is plated in gold. It’s hard to see, but the rightmost image shows a nipple in the bottom of the nib that can pierce ink cartridges.
If the medium-point nib isn’t to your liking, it’s interchangeable with the other nibs Levenger sells. They offer long-life iridium-tipped steel nibs with fine, medium, and broad points individually for $24.00 each (not two-toned) or a box of four that includes a stub nib (medium point that’s squared off for calligraphy) for $99.00.
The top image shows the supplied black ink cartridge inserted into the bottom of the section with the nib in place. Because the sample cartridge is so short, I couldn’t just drop it into the barrel and screw the section back into place and pierce the cartridge as it connected. Instead, I just pushed the cartridge into the bottom of the section until I felt resistance, then I pushed a little more. Levenger says there’s room for a spare cartridge in the barrel. Perhaps having the spare in the bottom would have allowed the cartridge to be pierced as I screwed the section into place.
You’ll see that Levenger also included a pen converter for using bottled inks. I have never used bottled inks because of a deep-seated fear of ruining furniture or hardwood flooring when (not if) I manage to knock over a bottle. I didn’t try the converter.
Here’s the pen in hand, with the cap posted. Because I always fear scratching the pen, I never normally post the cap. I think the Foliage fountain pen felt a little better in my hand without the cap, too. Of course, posting means you’re less likely to lose the cap.
I tried writing on various papers I had in the house. This is just a thin, cheap index card that my daughter uses for school. Although the card is pretty thin, there was no bleed-through to the back.
Then I tried writing in a Moleskine Cahier. I wrote with a Cross ballpoint I had laying around, with my red True Writer ballpoint, and with the Foliage fountain pen. You’ll notice there is some bleed-through to the back with the fountain pen.
I also tried using the True Write fountain pen and ballpoint pen on the Levenger paper in my Circa notebook.
You’ll notice there’s some bleed-through here. It’s not so bad that I couldn’t use both sides of the paper, but it is noticeable. I think it’s a combination of the medium point nib – I prefer a fine point – and the dark, black Levenger ink. I don’t write as quickly as I used to, so my slow pace combined with the easy lay down of the ink from that medium nib probably resulted in too much ink.
Despite that, I never saw any blobs of extra ink when writing. The lay down was smooth, without any skips or blotches. The point was smooth, and I didn’t feel or hear (shudder) any scratching as I wrote.
I stored the pen overnight, with the nib pointing up, and tried writing with it again. The ink immediately started flowing. There was no clogging or skipping at all.
The Levenger Foliage Fountain Pen is a beautiful pen that feels good in the hand. It writes well, and lays down a smooth, even layer of ink.
Unfortunately, you don’t have a choice of nibs (without a separate purchase), because I think I might have gotten less bleed through with a finer nib. (Correction: You select the nib size you want when you place an order.) I’d like to try out a fine nib with a blue ink – my favorite combination for writing. At $89.00, you get the quality of fountain pens that cost more. Levenger offers their True Writers in a variety of resin colors/patterns. I’m sure you could find a pleasing pen that will give you years of service at a very reasonable price.