Another light review, with a few snaps...
Preamble (as usual, skip this bit if you don’t like preambles):
We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to get our hands on some pretty nice pens over the last few years. The posting of my last review prompted quite a lengthy conversation between “She who must be obeyed” and myself, about the difference between luxury pens, affordable pens and just pens that we have enjoyed.
There is such a wide range in the wild, of pens that can be regarded as affordable. However, when a pen costing $2 can indeed be described by some as expensive, and conversely, a $200 pen has been recently described as affordable/reasonably priced.
Factor in, the diverse disposable income between different individuals, affordability and value for money can vary widely between from person to person.
So, although being fortunate to be able to do a couple of reviews on what are regarded as “high end” pens, I seem to have missed out on having a go at doing a reasonable review on a couple of pens that are family workhorses.
In this case, the review here is part of a review of pens “we like”, rather than, “oooh look what we got”.
We would like to introduce to you, the Lamy Safari.
Lamy Safari, in charcoal finish, with matching black nib, supplied with cartridge convertor and a free ink cartridge.
Purchased online from either eBay or amazon (can’t remember to be honest, but it was one of those two) at the same time as I ordered a pack of A4 writing pads. I think the cost was about £15 at the time, with a matching convertor for another £5.
Arrived in a jiffy bag which contained a small pen sized cardboard box. The box had a small divider in the centre with the convertor on one side. Very business like, no wasting of material in packaging, pen, convertor, box. Done. Box consigned to recycling bin, and now possibly back in the system as brown wrapping paper somewhere.
Without a doubt, it felt well made in the hand. It is a light feeling pen, and I believe it is made from similar materials to what lego bricks are made from. Stand on a lego brick with a bare foot, and the brick wins. Every time.
The finish is a sort of matt rather than shiny finish and end to end, has no sharp edges or mould flashing. So far so good.
More diving into the details. The pen comes with a black finished nib to match, in fine. The cap has a matching clip, in black.
Although covered above, if I was new to the pen hobby (takes a huge step back), I would have to say, that it is simple but impressive. Recyclable cardboard packaging, cartridge already in the pen with a cardboard ring to keep it from piercing inside the section, and the convertor by it’s side. Again, if I was new to the hobby, I would have been quite impressed.
The pen doesn’t exit from it’s packaging in need of a fanfare, it is too business like. It is obvious straight away that this is intended to be used and used and used. Take the pen out, ink it and get that letter written.
Remember, the fancier and bigger the packaging, the more cost is passed to the consumer OR less goes into the pen itself in materials and quality. In this case, I felt that we had at this point, got good value for money.
One thing I DID do, is recycle the box and the separator ring, then drop the free cartridge straight into the pen to get it in action. More about that later.
Overall Look of the pen.
When I was a youngster, many many many years ago, I started my love affair with fountain pens, and have handled some interesting designs (parker 25 as an example). Well, that was (coughs) 40 years ago now. The Lamy looks briefly reminiscent of an old school fountain pen I once came across. Minimalist, functional. However, the Lamy is much more modern looking and for sure looks better made.
The aforementioned Parker 25 was a regular fave of mine, futuristic looking and, at the time, a couple of weeks saving with school pocket money was sufficient to snare it. Unfortunately due to youth and the passing of time, it is no longer in my possession. The Lamy seems to have some of the same minimal/modernistic look about it.
This one came in a “fine” and finished in black, to match the pen. The nibs are VERY easily removable, small bit of sticky tape and tug. Brilliant for any tinkerers or cleaning. The size looks in keeping with the overall size and design of the pen, again, functional looking. Had I been that schoolboy once again, this would have been definitely on the list to save up for.
Loaded the pen with it’s free Lamy cartridge and tried to write. The best I can now say is that it wrote. It felt dry (definitely NOT scratchy) but wasn’t pleasant. Out with the 30x loupe and there was NOTHING visibly wrong with the nib. Took the nib off completely, again, all good. Then came the lightbulb moment.
Lamy cartridge went to the bin, did not stop at go, did not collect £200. Convertor fitted and Waterman serenity blue sucked up.
3, 2, 1, bingo. Instant writing karma. Nice fine line, not scratchy, but not over smooth. Needed using, to smooth it down for sure, but definitely an extra fine to fine line. Nice and wet. The nib is not flexy, but didn’t feel like a hard nail. The nib material is simple pressed steel with some sort of tipping material, which means the nib does have a tiny amount go “give. Again, the nib definitely feels like it is going to deliver years of use.
Functional, furnished with a black shiny clip. It contrasts with the charcoal finish, which is a nice touch. It will post, if you HAVE to, but it doesn’t add anything to the look or usability and looks awful posted.
It is a click fit/push fit (slip cap), which is not my favourite method of connecting cap to body, but it is quick and works. Positive with a nice soft click, and I going to say it again, functional.
Overall, it works well and should return the owner a good operating life.
Cartridge convertor. Comes supplied with a free blue Lamy cartridge. I purchased the optional convertor as I do prefer bottled ink. However, I did try the cartridge, and in my honest personal opinion, was just a waste. The ink didn’t play nice at all with the pen so binned it.
The convertor is VERY well made, and locates positively, aided by a couple of small locating lugs. Very smooth to fill, doesn’t leak, and reinforces the overall impression of good design and function.
Interesting section, it has two shaped facets to promote a “correct” grip. At first, I thought “school pen”, but after a little use, I started to appreciate it. I am not sure if left handers or people with different pen gripping techniques will appreciate it, but, I really liked it. The matt material is not slippy, the end of the section has a nice shaped raised bit to stop fingers going near the nib. Again, good design. Section diameter is a tad on the smaller side for my fat fingers, but for the majority, I am sure will find it reasonable.
So what now?
It is stuffed into my work bag, in the little area where pens are kept, no case, next to a metal ballpoint. It is loaded with Waterman ink and is in every day use. The nib has indeed polished itself now and writes exactly as it should. I would say the EF nib runs more towards F, but that could be due to the flow properties of the ink, which, the Lamy inks being dry in this pen, MAY now deliver a true EF. However, I won’t go there. Waterman in this pen plays nice.
Yes. You read correctly. It is stuffed into my work bag. The pen is robust, and can not only take a good beating, the finish just doesn’t seem to easily pick up scratches, so always looks pretty nice! Keep it in a proper pen pouch and it should stay looking new for a number of years.
£15 for the pen and an extra £5 (approx) for the convertor. Not the cheapest combo on the market, but it is well made for the money (haven’t said value here as it really is subjective).
In comparison, a pack of 50 Bic biro’s can be obtained online for approx £10, which, although would last anyone a considerable amount of time, every single bit is disposable and would head direct to landfill.
As usual, a few “show and tell” snaps.
The big question. If I was in the market for such a pen, would I buy one?
A resounding yes.
As either a beginner to the hobby, or for someone who wants a daily beater, yes.
If you are saving up to be able to get one of these, again, yes. BUT, if it is going to be your only pen, I would try and save a little longer, and look towards the Lamy Al-Star, which has a range of coloured anodised aluminium bodies/caps and do look a bit higher quality/look/feel. A colleague has had a silver grey al-star for a number of years now, he was gifted as a leaving present from his previous company and it’s his only pen. He loves it. The Al-Star will NOT write any better, it is merely look and feel.
But then again, Safari’s come in a huge variety of colours and release different colours from time to time, so plenty of choice.
Oh, and DO get the convertor.
Edited by Diver, 01 April 2018 - 20:11.