For some of us, pen shows can be like a wondrous emporium of exciting delights you never knew you could live without. For me, they are also double edged swords: full of delights and the opportunity to touch and try so many pens in one place BUT also a den of temptation where everyone is saying “yes, you do need that pen” and no one thinks you are strange for obsessing over such a superfluous and arcane item as a fountain pen. (I am sure if you are reading this you have heard someone you love say, “Why would you buy a pen when you can get them free almost everywhere.”)
Another challenge I face is a strong preference for Mike Masuyama working on my pens in person. Since he has not yet invited me to his house to hang out, my best opportunity is to catch him at the local San Francisco pen show. He is popular so I need to pass time until it is my turn. That translates to striking up conversations with various vendors (a “trapped” audience) and talking about their pens. This review is the result of a lovely conversation with Andy Lambrou, the man behind the US company Lambrou Pens (They used to be known as Classic Pens and were often confused with Classic Fountain Pens, Inc. aka nibs.com and John Mottishaw – also a great company, but not at the SF show this year).
Lambrou Pens has a great tag line (a must for all small companies): Heirlooms feed your soul. The firm has been around for over 25 years and has had a wide array of partnerships and high end offerings. Andy has chased what he liked and created many incredible pens. There are maki-e pens, hand painted pens, overlay pens, engraved silver pens, pens that can be a FP or RB, and more. They also have some amazing acrylics for use in their pens, including the recent Nature (Shizen) pens that combine the best of Sailor pens with a diffusion bonded acrylic exclusive to Lambrou Pens. The special process creates an extremely durable and stable pen material with a unique look. Learn more about all their great offerings by visiting their website: http://classicpensin.../Main/main.html
Their pens are not cheap, but they are a good value for the right customer. You get a limited edition pens (usually between 10 and 500 per edition), the highest level of craftsmanship, a warranty you can believe in, and unique materials. I have seen a few of the pens used in the market, but not many. To me it is a good sign that once you get the pen you want to keep it. There are plenty of review of previous models here on FPN which you can find using the search feature.
The pen I selected from Andy’s great offerings is technically known as the Legend 778 SA AP. That’s a mouthful (like some recent BMW models), but there is a method to the madness. The fist 7 refers to the shape (7 = Legend, 8 = Mythos), the second 7 refers to the pen size (6=standard, 7=oversize), the 8 refers to the nib size (6=standard, 8 = oversize), SA is for silver anniversary (in 2012), and the AP is for artist proof. This pen was hand made by Paul Rossi and is one-of-a-kind.
Sometime around 2008, Classic Pens created 4 experimental “Fire” acrylics: Garnet, Tourmaline, Indigo and Lapis. The colors were named after the semi-precious stones they were supposed to represent. Andy told me that he had shown the samples of the acrylics to Richard Binder and he was the one that came up with the “fire” designation as a result of the internal shimmer in the material. In my opinion, it does have a lot of internal “movement” and sparkle in the light, however, it is suitable for a professional environment because it is a subtle sparkle.
I believe the cap and barrel material is produced by Sintetica, an Italian company established in 1954. They specialize in the production of acrylic casted sheets, creates a special production of quality acrylics with pearl enhancement. Then Carville, a UK based manufacturing company established in 1928 and a leader in the precision machining of acrylic and other engineering grade plastics, uses their diffusion bonding process to eliminate stresses and to impart long term stability to the acrylic material. This process creates the unique and exclusive Classic Pens diffusion bonded materials.
They had Aquila make 10 FPs and 5 RBs of each color. These pens were the smaller, but still full sized Legend 766 size. These pens all sold quickly with a retail price of $395. Man, I wish I could have gotten one of these used when they sold around $300 on FPN.
The Indigo Fire material was also used in a few other pens. Andy considered making the LB3 Jupiter in this material, but after a prototype, went with a Space Blue material instead. It was used in the LR7 Moonlight pen. Paul Rossi placed it towards the barrel end in order to create the effect of moonlight reflecting on water.
Apparently there was enough material left from the Indigo rods to have Paul Rossi hand turn one larger sized legend pen in each color. While the original prototype pens in the Fire materials were a little under 6 inches, my pen is 6.25 inches long and quite a bit bigger than a MB 149 or Pelikan M1000.
The Pen Design
This is a cigar and is designated as the Legend style in the Lambrou/Classic Pens universe. If you like cigar pens, you will like this one. If not, I don’t think I can change your mind. There is something very timeless about the pen design that I find desirable.
As mentioned, the pen is .25 inches longer than the standard model 766 pen. Half of the extra length is in the cap and half in the body. In order to maintain the visual appeal of the pen, Paul made this clip on my pen 2 MM longer (46 vs. 44) to maintain the desired distance to the 9MM wide center band. The pen has the same girth as the standard model.
Those of you who have Lambrou/Classic pens may note the cap band. It no longer says Classic, but Lambrou in order to reflect the company name change.
As mentioned before, this pen was hand turned by Paul Rossi. The general consensus is that Paul is a master craftsman. He turns beautiful pens, clips, and even does intricate silver overlays. If you are not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and research some of his pens. He and Andy collaborated on the Legend and Mythos pen lines (among many others) and Paul makes the prototypes that are sent to manufactures for production, sometimes after slight modifications. Since my pen was turned by Paul, it is marked with his initials and “AP” on the body just under the trim ring.
One thing he did that I can appreciate was to make the pen a single thread. That ensures the streaks of shimmer are always properly aligned with the pen is capped. The downside is that it takes a little longer to cap and uncap. I counted 2.5 turns. Luckily I am not usually in a rush so this is not a drawback to me.
All the furniture is silver and very heavy duty.
Lambrou pens partnered with Bock for the production of their “house” nibs. They are simple and timeless with Lambrou and the logo on the nib (along with the metal content and nib size). Bock is able to make nibs to customer specifications. Andy ordered the nibs to have a bit of softness to them. It is nowhere near vintage flex, but definitely softer than most modern nibs. I was surprised to find these characteristics in an 18K nib.
Of course I am a sucker for large sized nibs. This is a #8 similar in size to the MB #9, the Pelikan M1000, and anything that uses the Bock #8. After pens come back from Paul, Andy assembles them in the El Paso office in a small workshop. Off the shelf they are adjusted for average writing pressure and wetness, but if you order from him, he is willing to make more adjustments to your specifications.
I ended up with an M nib. Given it is soft, with a little pressure it can easily write as a B or BB (western standards). I had the nib ground to a CI by Masuyama at the SF pen show. I do not have any writing samples from before the modification, but I can assure you it writes like an M with a light touch. This is not a nib that you want to use if you like nails or use a lot of pressure.
The Filling System
You either like C/C filling systems or you don’t. Most of my pens are piston fillers. With a converter you give up capacity but get an easier cleaning process. For me, that is a fair trade off. I don’t use pens so often that I worry about ink capacity. I have eye droppers if I need to take 3 or 4ML of ink with me. Most of the time I write at a desk and I have lots of ink available to me. I like changing colors so the smaller capacity lets me do that more quickly.
I also have too many pens and I like to rotate through them. I try to go through one fill before cleaning and putting the pen away. A converter lets me turn over my pens more quickly, and that is always a fun process.
you also have the flexibility of using cartridges if you take your show on the road. Those of you who are crafty are also adept at putting whatever ink you like into a cartridge with a syringe so this can open a world of options.
Finally, if a converter breaks, you still have a lovely pen. You spend $5 and you are back in business. If you have a piston and the screw breaks, you have a nice paperweight until you are able to service the pen. If this is a MB pen, you are looking at $100 from the factory. sometimes, simple is a good option.
This pen was not cheap in dollar terms. You could get something similar for significantly less, but value is relative to the person spending the money. You might think I am nuts to spend more than $100 on a pen and you are right… my values make no sense in your world. With this pen I was buying the details: the quality materials that are well made and hard to reproduce, the lathe time of a master craftsman, the design and warranty of a well respected industry veteran, the uniqueness of my pen, a warranty you can count on, and the opportunity to support a company that tries to bring something special to the market. I can’t say I would have paid more dollars, but I am happy with the pen and feel it represents a good value for me. I certainly think enough of the pen to spend this much time writing about it!
When writing this review, I was reminded of some I have read in Car and Driver or Road and Track. The reviewer waxes poetic about a limited edition, super expensive car that is already sold out before the magazine went to print. But I can still appreciate the beauty of the car and the engineering and design that went into its creation. I fell better off for knowing about it.
This was a long review, but I want to be thorough. There is not a ton of information out there about Lambrou pens and their great offerings. I guess I like to pull for the smaller guy in a world of giant manufacturers without a face. While you cannot have my pen, there are many wonderful offerings available that are similar and just as lovely. If you have the chance to get one of Andy’s pens (and can still afford to eat afterwards), don’t hesitate. You will get a great tool that could become one of your favorites. It will certainly last long enough to be an heirloom if you choose to pass it down. And if you want to sell it, you know where to find me. :^)
Edited by zaddick, 08 September 2015 - 19:44.