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November 11, 2008

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Pen Outfitting: The Pen Becomes Your Power Tool
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Comments

Jimmy Springett

Hi Steve, good evening--
For me being an artist, the use of a pen is very important to me. When I discovered your company a few years ago, I was very happy to learn about the excellent pen selection. I have loved fountain pens since I was young, and my grandmother gave me one that I used for years until worn out. The most important part, besides the great experience of writing with a fountain pen, is the ability to write, to think, and keep thoughts flowing, from one to another. As an artist, keeping great notes on my designs is important, so I write constantly when not painting. The use of Circa notebooks helps a lot and provides a good method of saving the work.

Thank you for making such works of wonders in a world of throw this and throw that away. Both Marge and I love having writing instruments of high quality and we'll be back checking out the new offerings.

Happy writing and great creating--Jimmy

Felicia

I favor refillable pens. The least amount of garbage we produce, the healthier the Universe will be.

I favor fountain pens also. I bond with my fountain pens. Throwing away one of them, any of them, feels cruel.

Suzanne

Disposable versus refill? Refill! Every time.

Robert Ferguson

I do not like disposable pens because they are usually made with lower quality materials. They feel scratchy and usually do not write smoothly. It's all in the feel and performance of the pen.

ANDREW SOLOMON

I am very fond of your various products. Before you apparently took over the brand, I bought every style of Rotring. I love the heavy, solid feel and knurled barrel which does not slip around between my fingers when I grasp it tightly.

Furthermore; I have purchased several of your specialty books on Churchill and Lincoln and will be adding your latest offering as an update of previous gifts to my son, who loves history.

I always read with interest your catalogs and find new things to tempt me.

Andy

Fred Putnam

Refills vs. disposables? Keep vs. throw? Reuse vs. trash? No contest. I began using fountain pens in college because I liked ink that flowed, and so that I wouldn't have to throw away the otherwise-ubiquitous Bic stick pens.

I had a friend who refilled his cartridges using a medical syringe (this was when they were available OTC); his record was one cartridge that he reused for over 18 months!

I use mechanical pencils for the same reason.

I would rather pay [somewhat] more for a tool that looks and feels good, knowing that it will be with me for years, than buy something cheap that--no matter how nicely it writes, or how much I like its "chassis"--will end up in a landfill when it empties.

Incidentally, my daughters and I all use fountain pens from Levenger. Thanks!

Fred Beiderbecke

I go for the fountain pen. Right now, the Lamy Safari is my daily pen of choice. They seem to be able to write after being capped for a long period. I don't find that to be true with the Levenger pens.

I miss the old Delray store and the wide selection of pens you carried (though I did get some serious deals when you were selling out).

Also, I am a fine point person - please make your fountain pens in fine, I see some of the new ones are only offered in M.

Lianne

I started writing with a fountain pen about a decade ago after getting a Cross fountain pen as an anniversary gift at work. I'd always found that writing notes made my wrist ache, and my handwriting was getting atrocious.

When I switched to the fountain pen, I found that the ease of the ink flow meant I didn't have to grip the pen as hard, or press down as hard, so I can go a lot longer without the wrist aching, and amazingly enough, my handwriting improved by leaps and bounds.

I now have a collection of about 15 fountain pens, and twenty bottles of ink (all the colours you can get!). I can choose my pen and ink to suit my mood or task. Absolutely wonderful.

And as a side effect, I now have a couple of refillable rollerball pens for those occasions when a fountain pen isn't appropriate (needing to press through multiple copies, for example).

I now avoid disposable pens altogether. They're wasteful, and they not only look cheap, they feel cheap. Give me a beautiful pen that I can keep for ever instead.

W.Keller

A smooth-writing ball point is a joy, but so often they stop being that and degenerate into glob-producing aggravations. Your article makes it sound like I can correct this problem just by buying your refills instead of the other guy's. Is this true? I don't see how a "sampler" can work, as so many pens have different shapes and sizes. Did Levenger go with a particular refill design that works for all the pens you sell?

Claire

I much prefer refillable pens to disposables. My one problem with refillable pens is finding refills. I have several pens that I like but have trouble finding refills because either the company discontinues that model, or I can't find the refill because of where I live (small city - limited shopping). Online is an option but it is hard to justify the shipping charge when I only want to purchase a pen refill. That is why I prefer fountain pens. I rarely have problems finding refills for those. Good quality pens (and pencils) are a thing of joy and beauty - both to hold and to use.

Victoria Smith

As much as I love the feel of a good pen in my hand the reality is that I lose them more often than not.
I thus must rely on throwaway pens most of the time because when I lose them I haven't lost a friend, just a tool.
Maybe what we need is a beeper on our good pens!
On the other hand there are some fine throwaway pens available - you just have to look for them.

William H. Holt

I have purchased many items from Levenger and the only times I have been disappointed is with your fountain pens. I have ordered the "fine" nib only to discover it is actually a "medium" by industry standards. I will order again, (for the pens are beautiful), but only if you get the nibs correct.
Thank you

Lori Brown

I prefer refillable pens. I like to pick my pens and pencils like I pick any other accessory for life, whether it be a purse or shoes. It must look good, work wonderfully and be made of such quality, it will last for years. The greatest joy was finding a fountain pen from your site. The inks I bought for mine are also like my accessories and although it doesn't make me the best customer, profit-wise, I am happy to say that the box of assorted inks I purchased with my pen are still running strong, and my pen is in such great shape after so many years of use; it has become a welcomed friend, along with my books and notebooks.

John

Refillable vs. Disposable? Refillable every time. I use Fountains, Rollers and Ball pens, as well as pencils (fine and sketch) nearly daily. Each has a purpose, and frankly, the "ritual" of filling a fountain pen provides a calming moment in an otherwise busy day. And don't forget colours! I don't need a different pen, just a different colour ink!

Steve Leveen

Dear pen lovers,

I hear you! More true fine points for our fountain pens and keep improving quality. As for the sampler packs, we offer six sample refills for our ballpoints--all of which fit in our regular size ballpoints, and the same goes for our roller ball samplers--all six types fit any of our roller ball pens. The samplers offer a comprehensive and economical way to see what writing styles you like best. It's a first we're pretty proud to offer. --Steve

Sandy W

Hi Steve,

I am in love with your fountain pens - I've gotten quite a collection started and my granddaughter has put dibs on them. I've had to start her a collection just to keep my pens for myself. When she was just learning to write cursive I got her a fountain pen which helped her have the best handwriting in her class, and now that she's in high school everyone wants to use her pens.

I have started buying your pens as sets of fountain and rollerball which handles just about everything I do. I also love the sampler packs for every pen that I buy since I can try out different refills to find my favorite.

One problem I have is that the fountain pen nibs tend to dry out if I don't use them every day -- is there something I'm not doing that I should be or is this just a normal process?

One request that I have is for you to build a store out west, I can't get to Florida very often to see the products in person, although the web works great for most of my purchases. Oh, and I wish you would quit releasing such gorgeous pens, I'm going broke trying to get them all, LOL.

As for disposable pens, I need them for work where I won't cry if I lose it, but my good pens are always in my purse, backpack, and at home.

Steve Leveen

Dear Sandy and other Pen Lovers,

Thanks for more great comments and questions. As for fountain pens drying out, our pen maven suggests a drop of water to prime the pump. Since I'll go a week or more without using a particular fountain pen, I'll dip it in one of our ink bottles before I write. This ensures a lucious write from the get-go, and primes the feed to begin drawing from inside the pen. Plus, I like the feel of dipping a pen before writing. It adds even more sweet ritual to the writing by hand that I especially enjoy in the afternoon when I close down my email and write to customers.

Sometimes I think of my grandfather--the Zaner-Blowser handwriting instructor. He wouldn't be impressed with my script, but I hope he would smile at my attempt to pay tribute.

Someday we will open stores out west, as we have so many customers in California. But will we stop making beautiful new pens? Sorry, can't help you there. Wait till you see what's coming next year!

All best wishes to you all and thanks for keeping alive the old fashioned art of writing by hand.

Becky M.

Hello fellow pen lovers,

I, too, like many of you, have acquired quite a selection of beautiful, refillable writing instruments, many from Levenger. I love every one... I find I enjoy a fountain pen when writing in my journal or writing letters (yes, there are some people who still do that via "snail mail"!) For everyday note-taking use, I keep a nice roller ball handy in my purse (thanks to a "mini blink and ink" it's right with my sunglasses!) It never fails to get noticed by others when I use a nice pen... Some even want to try it out, which is fine, but I keep the cap in my hand while they do so my pen doesn't walk away with them! The refill sampler packs have been fun to experiment with, too, especially for the different kind of roller ball refills.

I can't tell you how many people I have referred to the Levenger website. I'm sure the initial cost may be a surprise or a turn-off for some, but I would much rather have a quality pen forever than a cheap disposable one - in the long run, if you write a lot, you come out ahead with a refillable one - and the journey has been more pleasant.

I agree with the other posts about wanting more fine nibs... I am also fortunate that there is a store near my home that can grind nibs to be cursive italic ones (kind of like calligraphy nibs, but with rounded corners.) That's a pretty cool look - might be something Levenger may want to carry or provide as an option. I confess, a couple of my Levenger pens have received this treatment and I'm very pleased with the results.

Another tip, for folks frustrated with ink flow through a fountain pen: When rinsing it out (when it's empty or when changing colors) put one drop of dish liquid in a small glass of water and, using a converter, draw it in and out of the pen a few times before rinsing it out with clear water. I have had great success with this - especially after a pen has been sitting around unused for a while.

Many thanks for offering beautiful products... I'm sure I'll be purchasing more pens (and other goodies) from you in the future!

dr. penny pickett

Long ago, I liked fountain pens, usually of the Parker variety. I used a pen mainly for writing letters and diaries, even through the hideous Bic years. But I've been a working editor since 1962 (with time out for graduate school and several years teaching university). In this work, I started, all that time ago, with wooden no. 2 pencils of the red and blue variety.

Sometime in this career as an editor, I switched to mechanical pencils. The colored variety no longer mattered: being able to move fast across the paper did. I picked up a black 0.5 mm Pentel and never looked back; it's perfect in my hand. Since the eraser gives out in a heartbeat, I used a Pentel ClicEraser too, which requires refills.

Then followed a few years of electronic editing on the now ubiquitous desktop computer, but when I revert, as happens more and more often, to doing a paper edit, I use a rollerball. Ballpoints just don't cut it. I don't even own one. For me, the best editing pen is a cheap stationery store Pilot Precis V5 Extra Fine point blue throwaway. I don't use erasers anymore.

But let's get down to brass tacks: for a really good pen, what do I use? My hands don't feel comfortable with fat-barreled or with long-barreled or with (forgive me) some of the really short-barreled pens made by illustrious Waterman. I still prefer a rollerball but not disposable. A few years ago, I found a little Schaeffer just 5 inches long, not more than 6/16th inches wide, with a pull-off cap, that I would not part with for love or money. I think you guys sold it to me, but I can't swear to this, since no copy of it is in any current catalog comes over my transom. I use in it a fine-point blue refill no. 206 from Levenger by Schmidt. I own a couple other rollerballs but mostly it's this one I pick up to take with me in the morning and lay down reverently at night.

I think about fountain pens from time to time, but frankly I don't miss the mess at all. I did calligraphic writing for a while. I leave this to folks with hands and eyes better suited to it. My mind and hand are calibrated to getting words on a page that readers will want to read, and for this the little Schaeffer is the best thing since sliced bread. If Levenger ever decides to sell it again, let me at it! If you don't and, heaven forbid, I lose my Schaeffer, I'll have to stop by to get fitted for something else. So glad you're there. Thank you.

Carole

Here is a question I hope someone can answer. I am a true lefty, who desires a very smooth pen to paper feel that you get with a fountain pen. BUT, being a lefty, it can smudge life crazy. I have tried the regular roller ball, but does anyone have any other suggestions??

Thanks!

Steve Leveen

What great comments. Thank you all. As for a nicely flowing, fast-drying option for left-handers, try our Easy Flow refill that fits into any Levenger ballpoint (item number: PR 1370).

Enjoy keeping this venerable art form alive.

Steve

Melody Bliss

When I was in elementary school, we were required to use cartridge pens with blue-black ink. Maybe this was because it would slow down our writing and make it neater (didn't work for me). In about 8th grade we discovered Bic pens, which we thought were great (come on, we were in 8th grade!). Over the last few years I have been experimenting with fountain pens again. I received a True Writer Demonstrator fountain pen and ink for Christmas and I love it! Smooth writing and the ink always flows well when I uncap the pen and start writing, unlike my other fountain pens. I was going to buy one for my partner but couldn't find it on your site. Have they been discontinued? Instead I bought a True Writer Metalist fountain pen and am looking forward to getting to try it out. Wish you had a store in Vegas!

James Spina

Despise disposables...in almost any medium but certainly for pens.
Here's the breakdown of tools from a professional writer/editor:
1. A red barreled Parker Jotter for all editing with a blue Jotter for second edits on any manuscripte already edited by my copy editor.
2. Freshly sharpened Mirado Black Warriors/HB. The world's best pencil, taught that in catholic school where the pencil had to have a round shaft so it would always stay in your hand or in the pencil slot but never randomly on the desk.
3. A Parker Big Red (bought at Levenger) rollerball for all my bills and check writing.
4. A vintage Parker 51 fountain pen for notes and letters.
5. A Lamy Safari fountain pen for travel.
6. A Parker Duofold fountain for showing off.
7. A Faber Castell thick lead mechanical pencil for everything else.
PS...no cartridges. All my fountain pens drink from ink bottles...I wear ink stains with pride...

Tina Lux

I have always been attracted and loved to write with fountain pens. I have some that have been passed down from my great-grandfather and my grandfather. They still work and are treasures that are both beautiful and functional.
Refillable pens always! I like pretty pens and have a collection of over 200, but if it isn't refillable my family and friends know not to buy it for me.

Loretta M. Yeo

I like ballpoint pen and pencil sets. It doesn't make sense to spend (what to me is) a fortune on an elegant pen for my Parker refills, and then be stuck with an old plastic mechanical 0.9 mm, or better yet a Skillcraft 1.1 mm pencil. Cross doesn't even make pencils for most of its line anymore, and where their pens do have mates, they're the unreliable, and hard to read 0.5 mm things. I am an accountant, and I learned to neatly fill sheaves of 13-column worksheets with a standard #2 pencil, so pleading smaller diameter for smaller writing doesn't fly with me. I say, if the design is good enough for a pen, then make me want to buy the pen by offering a matching pencil. Otherwise, no sale.

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