I have a beef with Levenger. I don't write this post out of frustration, though. Not entirely, anyway. It's just that I've tried out quite a few Levenger papers, intending to review them all — and I will, eventually — but I thought it would be helpful for folks to see a summary of my experiences in one post. Think of it as a bunch of mini-reviews rolled up into a single post.
Levenger does a wonderful job of describing their paper products (all of their products, actually). A photograph of a paper tablet won't inspire desire in a lot of people, but the description of the paper's luxurious feel, fountain pen friendliness, and sturdy weight . . . well, that will get the hearts of me and a lot of my readers racing.
Levenger generally describes their various papers quite similarly in these regards, and while they all feel great and are indeed sturdy — I love how thick their papers are — they have proven to be incredibly inconsistent in performance and even appearance.
Generally, here's what I've found (with fountain pens only — I haven't tried other pens):
White Pads. Most nibs wrote smoothly, but the paper tend to absorb ink, resulting in severe bleedthrough and nibs tending to write broader lines than on other papers, but without the ink actually feathering much. As I wrote in my review (which, technically was of some discontinued pads that may differ from the current Freeleaf variety), for the limited uses I had for the pads, I could live with the bleedthrough, so that performance deficit was outweighed by the smooth writing experience.
Multicolored Freeleaf Pads and Multicolor Notebooks. Great, heavy paper. But I don't like writing on these at all. The paper is smooth, but performance otherwise varies a lot by the color of the paper. Sometimes, the paper repels the ink so much it looks like I've tried writing on wax paper; the ink doesn't so much skip as bead up and bubble.
Circa Paper. Horrible bleedthrough with a variety of inks when using fountain pens. (Not the Rhodia refills, of course).
Wired Notebook Full Page Ruled. This one is a standout. The white paper has great weight, smooth feel, great performance. No bleedthrough even with heavily saturated inks delivered through juicy nibs. This is awesome paper.
Desk Journal Refills. This is what I use for my journal (if you can call six entries in as many months a "journal"). I love it. Very heavy paper, no bleeding, no problem at all writing on both sides no matter what ink I use.
Notabilia Notebook. This probably has the most luxuriously smooth feel of the products I've mentioned in this post. It is a pleasure to write on, with great resistance to bleeding. So soft to the touch, but not up there with the R by Rhodia line.
In short: when its good, it's great; when its not great, it's pretty bad. There is very little in between. I am a very happy owner of some Levenger leather products and some pens, and I know Levenger is generally a stickler for quality control. So I just can't figure out why their paper is all over the place.