Saturday, November 9, 2013

My New Favorite Pen

I have written quite often on whether fountain pens and other hand-writing implements lead to different, or perhaps even better thinking than typewriters and keyboards. As anyone following the blog knows, I am extremely skeptical about such claims. This does not mean that I do not use fountain pens and very much enjoy using them. I do—and in a kind of self-experiment I have consciously made myself write every day in a notebook away from my computer desk.

It has led to more writing, but, I am sorry to say: it has not led to more brilliant ideas. (But then again, I may be prejudiced and thus just not notice ...).

However that may be, I discovered about two months ago a fountain pen that soon became my favorite. It is the L-Tech by Levenger.

Obviously this pen is inspired by the Rotring 600 (old style). Some people have even gone so far as to claim that Levenger bought the machine tools from Rotring to make them. But this is in all likelihood false. The L-Tech looks like the Rotring 600, if you do not look closely. But is is not only bigger and heavier, but also has a screw-on cap, something the Rotrings never had. While the 600 was hexagonal, the L-Tech has seven sides. Another difference is that the Levenger has a nib unit that can be exchanged with that of any other pen of their Truewriter line. It screws out easily just like the old Esterbrook pens and any new Waterman pen. Nor are you restricted to the Levenger nibs. Edison #5 (and similar nibs) also fit perfectly.

I do own a number of Rotrings 600s (as well as some Rotring Newtons) and I am extremely disappointed that Sanford (or Rubbermaid) discontinued this line.[1] However, I must say that the L-Tech is much better than the Rotring 600 which inspired it.[2]

Levenger also made a mechanical pencil in the same style, but apparently it had problems. This is not a problem as there are various manufacturers (like Retro 51) which do make copies. The weirdest one is from a company called "Redcircle" (i.e. "Rotring" in English). They are situated in China, and they may actually have made some the last Rotrings, as their products are hardly distinguishable from the original, as far as I can see. I own some of these as well (they cost a fraction of the Rotrings and are easily available on eBay. Sadly, however, they don't seem to make me smarter either. But they look smart, anyway.

1. Before they did this, they made some truly absurd "design" choices, however; and I surmise that they closed down all of the production of fountain pens and some of the production of mechanical pencils at least partially as a result of it.
2. For a review, see here, for instance.


Unknown said...

I have discovered my ideal low price easy to use and comfortable pen -- I use a computer for most writing but (like MK) enjoy writing with a pen -- especially in little notebooks which don't fit into the printer and I can carry more easily into the coffee shop. The pen, which has a nice heft is stainless steel, and has a ball-point writing tip, but uses regular ink -- making it smooth and sharp for writing (or my kind of small printing - the only way I write legibly) and feels more like a regular nib fountain pen. The pen? from Zebra pens (Japanese company with a new subsidiary in Canada (long in the US I think) look for the R-301. All their other pens are gel or ballpoint ink -- this one has a totally different feel and line.
And no, I have no connection to the company, this is gratuitous

Unknown said...

I also like a well crafted fountain pen. It is not always the case that an expensive pen is better than a cheap pen, I remember a pen I had by a company called Cross, it was expensive, it leaked, it was awful.

Having read your piece about Levenger I thought you might enjoy a recent piece about pens by Karen Traviss in the blog on the Cult Pens website, it is at


Paul J. Miller

MK said...

Yes, I had a bad experience with a cross as well.

I did enjoy the post!