A Variation on the Levenger True Writer Theme


Fountain pens remain my first choice for writing and often for drawing but sometimes they just won’t do. On my desk are some gorgeous journals with paper that isn’t fond of  fountain pen ink. So to give them a chance and possibly even make them useful, it seemed only fair to look beyond fountain pens for something suitable. With lots of help from my Inkophile friends, I found just the thing.

The comments to my original post on the subject, When A Fountain Pen Just Won’t Do,  started my research. Eventually I settled on a fiber tip or fineliner as the second best writing instrument for my personal preferences as well as to test paper.

Thanks to the generous Inkophile reader Peggy Love who saw my When A Fountain Pen Won’t Do, Part 2 post, I now have three Levenger True Writer Rollerballs loaded with Levenger Fiber Tip refills. The pen colors are Water Lilies, Mosaic, and Starry Night. From past experience with True Writer Fountain Pens, I knew I would like the size but that was just the beginning.

Levenger True Writer Rollerball

Levenger True Writer Rollerball

Water Lilies is a true standout next to my simple black pens. With its variety of blues and dabs of green and lilac, this pen invites playful interaction. Starry Night is far more subtle as well as much darker than the other two. The amount of light striking the barrel can turn it from blue-black to a melange of blues and violets. It lacks the swirls of mineral green and the yellow stars of the Van Gogh painting but it is still handsome on its own. Mosaic is a violet affair with a mix of swirls and hatch strokes. In terms of ink colors, it has hits of Diamine Violet and J. Herbin Violette Pensee but J. Herbin Poussiére de Lune is the predominant shade.

It didn’t take long to discover that just like a fountain pen, the Levenger fiber tip takes a light touch. It isn’t as smooth as a True Writer nib but the ink flow is very consistent. That steady flow of ink did produce some ghosting on the back of absorbent paper but just with the broad tip. The extra-fine had less trouble. In fact that nice chunky broad line will make me reach for the TW instead of a Sharpie when I’m out and about. The line isn’t as wide as a Sharpie but the pen looks far more more upscale and professional. The black ink resists water if imperfectly. However, it is odorless unlike the Sharpie. That alone makes it a winner!

The downside is the limited range of ink colors for the fiber tip refills. Black and blue are just too ordinary for someone accustomed to a range of fountain pen inks. Levenger could add a blue-black and red at least but other colors would be welcome, too. The True Writer comes in such a variety of colors that it is a pity the ink can’t keep up with the promise of the pens.

The fiber tips are available in extra-fine, medium, and broad so that’s a bit more interesting. According to the package, they measure 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm, and 2.0 mm. The broad tip doesn’t really produce a line that wide unless you bear down hard and that would spoil the tip. Still it is considerably wider than the extra-fine so if you like a bold line, go for the broad size.

Bored at your board meeting? Doodle away with that fiber tip or take notes in two sizes to keep things interesting. You can do this with a single pen by varying the angle. Unlike a fountain pen nib, the medium and broad fiber tips have a huge sweet spot. A 90° angle to the paper yields the tips finest line. A 45° angle produces a much wider line. An even lower angle will make a line three times the width of the finest line. Writing isn’t workable at that angle but it’s great for bold underlining or a stout moustache on that caricature of your boss.

Now that I’ve seen how pretty it is, I really want the Water Lilies fountain pen plus a second one for my daughter. My pen wish list is getting long, very, very long. But you already knew that.



  1. Good News…. just got a Levenger catalog today and the Water Lilies TW’s are ON SALE. Great prices.



  2. Thanks for the fine review of our True Writer roller balls with the fiber tips. I wish more people knew how very different these pens can write with the three different sizes of fiber tips. I love the broad 2.0 mm for signing short notes and I know authors who use them for book signings–fast and plump writing. Yum!

    You can post this review as a product comment at Levenger and include the URL to your site.

    Many thanks again for your business and your thoughtful exploration of writing by hand. Bring on the iPad, but let’s hang on to our pens.

    Steve Leveen


    • Thanks for the kind words. I did not find a place to post a comment on the fiber tip refill at the Levenger site but appreciate your taking the time to comment at Inkophile.


  3. Your blog is a gold mine of information, even when I’m taking a different approach to the same problem this blog site is incredibly useful.

    I really want to write in my journals using my fountain pens and dip pens — including my beloved glass pens — but I’ve ended up with a beautiful journal or two in the past that were not friendly to pens with nibs. I simply didn’t have a clue about how to examine or inquire about the paper in journals. Using my Waterman roller-ball would be a solution for me too when it came to nib unfriendly journals, but I’ve decided to go a different route to solve the same dilemma.

    In my case, I started doing some research using your blog and a few others that are links from your blog, to learn more about journals and paper types. My next two journal books are already here, a Rhodia web journal and a Clairefontaine, both in large size.


    • Glad you’ve found some useful info here. As for your new journal choices, both should play very well with your fountain pens making all of you very happy.


  4. […] the World’s Best Writing Pen • I just started a fresh Moleskine Notebook • Love of Chair • A Variation on the Levenger True Writer Theme • What’s Your Favorite Pen? • One Notebook Per […]


  5. Thanks – I didn’t know about these pens. They look very nice!


  6. I love my Starry Night with the fiber tip! When I first wrote with it I was surprised at what a soft velvety flow it had.

    Excellent photo and review. Thanks for sharing!



  7. Dear Inkophile,

    Once again my compliments for the quality of your blog. One question: have you heard of a Sailor Professional Chic fountain pen?
    I will be in the US next May and would like to order one Sailor Professional. I’m very happy with the last Sapporo. Please advise me.


    J. Alcantara
    Brasilia, Brazil


    • I’m so glad you are happy with your Sapporo. I am right fond of mine, too. Yes, I have heard of the Chic but have no experience with it. Fountain Pen Network might have a review or at least some useful remarks about it. If I were on the hunt for one, that is where I would go first for information.


  8. Dear Inkophile,

    Thanks for the information. I will check the FP Network. In the meantime, if any of our readers has any reference on a sailor ProChic it would be really appreciated to hear from them.
    Wishing you the best,

    J. Alcantara
    Brasilia, Brazil


  9. […] Love (who also insured I have a lifetime supply of Apica Journals), I got my hands on a trio of Levenger True Writer Rollerballs with Fiber Tip refills. They won’t replace my fountain pens but they certainly are convenient and very easy on my […]


  10. All: I came across this blog ever so randomly, and lit on it like a bird on a wire.
    Beautifully written, it made me laugh outright: my catalog came the other day and I just shook my head at the Hare pen stand.
    The parrot had blown me away over the holidays, but THAT’S ENOUGH PEN STANDS (and I own no other)I thought as I paid for the beautiful bird, finally, unable to continue my resistence.
    And then the catalog came: here we go again….
    thanks to all!


    • As though pens weren’t enough… 🙂


  11. […] The Autopoint remained my favorite mechanical pencil in large part due to its 0.9mm HB lead. The Levenger True Writer Rollerball sporting a felt tip refill continued as my first choice when a fountain pen or mechanical pencil […]


  12. […] The Autopoint remained my favorite mechanical pencil in large part due to its 0.9mm HB lead. The Levenger True Writer Rollerball sporting a felt tip refill continued as my first choice when a fountain pen or mechanical pencil […]


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