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Esterbrook J Vs. Lamy Safari


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#1 777

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 00:37

You can find the full review with pictures here at my Blog!

The Esterbrook J always seemed to me a sort of vintage counterpart to the Lamy Safari. I believe both these pens can be put into the same category. They are entry-level pens that are very well made for what you can buy them for. I decided to do a head on review comparing the two of them - Their good points and bad points. Let's jump right in!

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First off: Pricing


These are both entry level pens that are priced for a beginner, someone on a tight budget, or anyone else who likes them.

Esterbrook J: Usually between $25.00 (beat up or maybe even un-restored) to $45.00 (In near perfect condition).

Lamy Safari: Runs almost the same. I got this one in the review for $25.00 but they can retail for $45.00.

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Secondly: Size and weight. I'll do the sizes both in mm and inches.

Lamy Safari: 14mm or 5 1/2" capped, 13mm or 5 1/4" uncapped.

Esterbrook J: 12.7mm or 5" capped, 11.7mm or 4 5/8" uncapped.


As you can see, the Lamy is a bigger pen, but surprisingly it's not as heavy as the Esterbrook J. I don't have a scale currently but the Esterbrook J is definitely heavier than the Lamy Safari. Here are the pens in my hand. I have medium-ish sized hands.


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Next up: Nibs


In this area, both pens good advantages and disadvantages.


The Esterbrook has it's awesome trademark feature of interchangeable nibs. This is ahuge bonus for any pen especially when extra nibs units can be found for $7.00 and up like the Estie nibs. The downfall of the Esterbrooks nibs is this: They really are hit or miss. I've had some horrible Esterbrook nibs before out of the box and other ones that are just perfect. They are not super dependable. Also, if you're not getting the iridium-tipped 9xxx series of nibs then their lifespan is shortened greatly. The 1xxx and 2xxx series nibs have a folded tine construction making them inexpensive and less durable then their 9xxx series counterparts.


The Lamy on the other hand seems to have a little more dependable nibs. I've heard stories of bad ones but certainly not near as often as the Esterbrook nibs. They also have interchangeable nibs, though not as easily interchanged as the Esterbrook ones. The Lamy nibs do not have any iridium tipping on them so, that does limit there durability somewhat. Their nibs are actually cheaper most times than Esterbrook nibs. When I say "sometimes" I mean this: If you compare a fine Esterbrook nib of the 2xxx series to a Lamy fine nib you get the following prices:

Esterbrook fine: $7.00

Lamy: $11.00


However, when you get into the range of big nibs such as a 1.9mm cursive italic, a radical change takes place. Let's take a look:

Esterbrook Broad Stub (9xxx series): $40.00 - $60.00 (NOS)

Lamy 1.9mm Italic: $11.00!


So, there's a real difference there! The Esterbrook nibs get very expensive when you increase the tipping size. Now in favor of the Esterbrook you do have a lot more options than with the Lamy. There is around 16+ different tipping sizes of nibs for Esterbrooks. The Lamy has about 3-5.


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Next on my list: Filling Systems


The Esterbrook uses a lever filling system to draw its ink supply whereas the Lamy uses a c/c or Cartridge/Converter. I'll dive right in on the advantages and disadvantages if each.


The Esterbrook utilizes a very simple yet exceptional filling system known as a lever-fill. It's very easy to learn and there's something so classic about it! It's main advantage over the Lamy would be this: It's much easier to clean in my experience than the c/c filler used in the Lamy. Also, it will hold more ink than a c/c filler. It's main disadvantage is this: It's much harder to replace if broken than a c/c filler. If your Esterbrook suddenly has a broken j-bar and a leaking sac, you're going to need to send it in for repairs. This will cost around $20.00 and leave you without your precious pen for a while.


The Lamy on the other hand uses a very easily replaceable c/c filler. New ones can be purchased for about $5.00 and can be put in by anyone including you! The c/c filler is very simple to operate and does not break easily. Its main advantage over the Esterbrook would be it's ease of replacement and the fact that you can see how much ink is left in the c/c by just looking at it. You can do no such thing with an Esterbrook. Its main disadvantages are such: It can be a real bugger to clean sometimes and c/c fillers in general don't hold much ink.

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Lastly I'll go over: Fit and finish


Both pens are nice and have their advantages in very different areas. I'll go into detail here:


The Esterbrook is just such a classic design! It doesn't look cheap but it's not overly flashy either. The Esterbrook comes in the following colors: Red, Blue, Copper (brown), Green, Grey, Black, and White (these are rare). The Esterbrook has a twist cap and I personally think that is more secure than the Lamy's push cap. The Esterbrook does have its disadvantages in this: The clip is not very flexible. It's not springy like the Lamy clip. If it gets pulled, it'll get bent. Also, the jewels on top of the pen can be fragile. I often see an Esterbrook with one or both jewels broken.


The Lamy looks a little more cheap. It has the feel of a kid's school-pen. On the same note, it's built to withstand being a kid's school pen! The Lamy definitely wins over the Esterbrook in terms of sheer durability. The plastic they use in its construction is very resistant to breaking. Also, the clip on the Lamy is very strong. The Lamy comes in the following colors: Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, White, Black, and Clear. The main disadvantages to the Lamy is this: If you were to carry this around and pull it out in the middle of a business meeting it might look a little... Childish. The Esterbrook certainly looks more elegant.


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So, to wrap things up: These are both great pens and I like them almost equally. I am (of course!) slightly slanted towards the Esterbrook mainly because I love vintage pens. It all depends on what you want! If you want super-durable, bullet proof, and modern - Go with aLamy Safari. If you want classic, vintage, and quality - I'd lean towards the Esterbrook J!

I hope you've enjoyed this extensive review of these two wonderful pens. Hopefully this will help someone make a decision or just be informative to the general population!

Best Regards,
777 - Tyler Dahl



Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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#2 blemt

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 01:03

Thank you for the review! After a bit of reading I decided to see about picking up an Este to play around with. I like putting things together and the Este looks like a good pen to practice learning how to restore pens.

I am currently using Lamy Safaris, so this is perfect. It gets me a good idea of what the differences are. I appreciate it. :)

#3 777

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 01:33

Thank you for the review! After a bit of reading I decided to see about picking up an Este to play around with. I like putting things together and the Este looks like a good pen to practice learning how to restore pens.

I am currently using Lamy Safaris, so this is perfect. It gets me a good idea of what the differences are. I appreciate it. :)


Glad it was helpful to you! I'm sure you'll enjoy your Estie when you get it!

Best Regards,
777

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


#4 777

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 02:14

bumpity bump... :)

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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#5 KrazyIvan

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 21:59

I agree with everything except the childish look of the Lamy. Having both pens, and using both in a professional environment, I have found I get more compliments about my carbon Lamy than my black Bell Systems Esterbrook.

#6 Gobblecup

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 22:11

I agree with most of your review, except that repairing an esterbrook lever filling system is on of the easiest and most entry level types of pen repair, and just about anyone can do it with the appropriate $1.00 sac, some shellac, and talc. Sure there may be some who wouldn't want to delve that far into their pens, but I find this usually is NOT the case with fountain pen users. So I wouldn't automatically rule out the average repair of an Estie to $20.00 sent out to a repair person.

Otherwise you provide a nice perspective on these fun and popular entry level pens, which in the Esterbrooks case at least, can develop into a lifelong pursuit!

Edited by Gobblecup, 12 April 2011 - 22:12.

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#7 777

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 00:27

I agree with everything except the childish look of the Lamy. Having both pens, and using both in a professional environment, I have found I get more compliments about my carbon Lamy than my black Bell Systems Esterbrook.

Actually, I guess you're right about that. In matte black it would look very industrial and cool! It's really just the red, blue, and yellow that look school pen to me.



I agree with most of your review, except that repairing an esterbrook lever filling system is on of the easiest and most entry level types of pen repair, and just about anyone can do it with the appropriate $1.00 sac, some shellac, and talc. Sure there may be some who wouldn't want to delve that far into their pens, but I find this usually is NOT the case with fountain pen users. So I wouldn't automatically rule out the average repair of an Estie to $20.00 sent out to a repair person.

Otherwise you provide a nice perspective on these fun and popular entry level pens, which in the Esterbrooks case at least, can develop into a lifelong pursuit!



Yes, you're right about that as well. Esterbrooks are easy to repair and don't normally need that even. I was mainly speaking to a FP newbie who has no idea of repairing pens. Good point though and thanks for sharing!

Regards,
777


Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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#8 kathleen

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 02:20

Tyler,
Great review. I am sure some who read it will soon be entering into the vintage pen camp. I will watch the prices of my beloved Esterbrooks skyrocket on ebay. I am pleased that you compared the Esterbrook J to a comparable modern pen and, in so many areas, it compared favorably.
Give each pen sixty more years and I am still lovin' my Estie. Most Esties that I have acquired and restored now look nearly as wonderful as they did on the day they left the factory, having only slight surface scratches, barely detectable on the beautiful pearlescent surface of all but the black pens. The solid color Lamy could never look so fine after sixty years. The Lamy, to my eye, will never be as aesthetically pleasing as the Estie. I think the Lamy looks cheap with its "bent wire clip".
I want my pen to be a marvelous writing instrument first and foremost; I am not into "jewelry pens", but the Esterbrook J series has just that slightest touch of elegance that is so pleasing to my eye.

Esterbrook J Its beauty belies its age

Posted Image

A basket of beautiful Js

Posted Image

Edited by kathleen, 13 April 2011 - 02:29.

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#9 Zenas

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 02:51

777
Magnificent comparison. I agree with the review generally and your later annotations specifically. I am also still enjoying the Copper Estie I bought from you way back when...it is hands down my best Estie.

Z

Edited by Zenas, 13 April 2011 - 02:51.

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#10 Scrawler

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 04:24

To be quite honest, I do not like the appearance of the Lamy Safari, though many people do. I had a chance to write with a couple at a pen posse meeting and was impressed with their writing performance. One of the Lamys had a very broad stub. Even so, I would not get one for myself. A while ago I bought a beaten up little blue Estie, and one of the pen posse put in a new sac and replaced the nib a couple days ago. For the past 2 days I have been writing with my little blue Estie, and I prefer everything about it to the Lamy Safari. I like stubbed nibs, and after reading this review, I now know that I have future options to get myself another Estie, and to find a broad stubbed nib for it. I am glad to know this, and now fancy the idea of a bouquet of these lovely coloured pens on my desk.

#11 777

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 11:28

Tyler,
Great review. I am sure some who read it will soon be entering into the vintage pen camp. I will watch the prices of my beloved Esterbrooks skyrocket on ebay. I am pleased that you compared the Esterbrook J to a comparable modern pen and, in so many areas, it compared favorably.
Give each pen sixty more years and I am still lovin' my Estie. Most Esties that I have acquired and restored now look nearly as wonderful as they did on the day they left the factory, having only slight surface scratches, barely detectable on the beautiful pearlescent surface of all but the black pens. The solid color Lamy could never look so fine after sixty years. The Lamy, to my eye, will never be as aesthetically pleasing as the Estie. I think the Lamy looks cheap with its "bent wire clip".
I want my pen to be a marvelous writing instrument first and foremost; I am not into "jewelry pens", but the Esterbrook J series has just that slightest touch of elegance that is so pleasing to my eye.

Esterbrook J Its beauty belies its age

Posted Image

A basket of beautiful Js

Posted Image


A wonderful collection Kathleen! Yes, in my opinion Lamys will always lack the good-looks of an Esterbrook. I love the colored surfsce with its deep streaks and variations.

Say, do I see that one red SJ that I sold you months ago in that basket? That was a pretty pen...

Regards,
777

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


#12 777

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 11:30

To be quite honest, I do not like the appearance of the Lamy Safari, though many people do. I had a chance to write with a couple at a pen posse meeting and was impressed with their writing performance. One of the Lamys had a very broad stub. Even so, I would not get one for myself. A while ago I bought a beaten up little blue Estie, and one of the pen posse put in a new sac and replaced the nib a couple days ago. For the past 2 days I have been writing with my little blue Estie, and I prefer everything about it to the Lamy Safari. I like stubbed nibs, and after reading this review, I now know that I have future options to get myself another Estie, and to find a broad stubbed nib for it. I am glad to know this, and now fancy the idea of a bouquet of these lovely coloured pens on my desk.


Oh yes, you better go after one of those Estie stubs! Mine is amazing, almost my best writer in fact! They do cost a bit though bit it's totally worth it in my opinion.

Yup, the more Esties the better! Get one of every color!!!

Regards,
777

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


#13 Abhik

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 13:49

I have never come across any Esterbrook nor owned one. Safari I have two and used for extended periods. I loved this review! Nice evaluation. Your evaluation re-kindled my carving for few Esterbrooks with different nib choices!
Thank you 777!
Abhik.

#14 hunter186

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 13:55

The Lamy nibs do not have any iridium tipping on them so, that does limit there durability somewhat.


Is this true? I'm not sure about their italic nibs, but for some reason I've always thought the standard Safari nibs were tipped.

#15 dcpritch

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 14:00

...A basket of beautiful Js

Posted Image


Kathleen, that's a beautiful basket of great looking pens!

And Tyler, great job with the side by side comparison of these two important pens. The Esterbrooks were a workhorse model when introduced, and remain so today, while the Lamy could be considered among the modern era workhorses. My favorite Esties are the J models, which you reviewed, although some prefer the slimmer LJ or the slimmer and smaller SJ. I'm a large nib guy, so of course my favorite Estie nib is the wide 2284 Stub Signature nib, which is super smooth and wet and gives great line variation. Next would be the 9314-B Relief Broad Stub, followed by a 2668 that belonged to my grandmother and was restored by you. My nibs are all superb, of course, because you have done your mojo on them and now they write like a dream.

I like my Lamy, too, but the Esties come up far more frequently in my pen rotation than does the Lamy.

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That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.

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#16 2GreyCats

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 04:34

Tyler,
Great review. I am sure some who read it will soon be entering into the vintage pen camp. I will watch the prices of my beloved Esterbrooks skyrocket on ebay. I am pleased that you compared the Esterbrook J to a comparable modern pen and, in so many areas, it compared favorably.
Give each pen sixty more years and I am still lovin' my Estie. Most Esties that I have acquired and restored now look nearly as wonderful as they did on the day they left the factory, having only slight surface scratches, barely detectable on the beautiful pearlescent surface of all but the black pens. The solid color Lamy could never look so fine after sixty years. The Lamy, to my eye, will never be as aesthetically pleasing as the Estie. I think the Lamy looks cheap with its "bent wire clip".
I want my pen to be a marvelous writing instrument first and foremost; I am not into "jewelry pens", but the Esterbrook J series has just that slightest touch of elegance that is so pleasing to my eye.

Esterbrook J Its beauty belies its age

Posted Image

A basket of beautiful Js

Posted Image

Oh, wow, what a lovely sight those are! Sigh. Wish they were mine... :crybaby: ... or one of them, anyway.

Edited by 2GreyCats, 21 August 2012 - 04:35.

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