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Lamy Safari

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#1 haywoody



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 22:07


I was Googling "Lamy Safari colors" a few years ago and found my way to this thread. That was my intro to FPN. The Safari was the first fountain pen I ever spent money on. I remember staring at them in a drafting/art supply store near my university many times before I could bring myself to spend $24 for a pen! I'm glad I did... my Charcoal Safari was my only FP and daily writer for nearly 10 years. It wrote without a problem for nearly 17 years until it developed a leak last year. Not too bad for $24.

I have built up a collection of all the colors over the last few years and ended up with some interesting paraphernalia too. This post is the first installment, design changes, with several more to come. The information here is speculation based on the pens sitting in my collection. I doubt it is complete and I am sure there are other variants out there... some of this information is guaranteed to be incorrect. Corrections and additions are welcome.

So, aside from the F sticker on the front pen, what is the difference between the four pictured below?


They are all obviously textured Charcoal but there are minor design changes from the oldest (front) to most recent (back). Lets call them first through fourth generation. How to spot the differences:

First generation - launched in 1980 these were available in textured finish with 3 color options - Terracotta orange, Savannah green and Charcoal black. The white pen might have been made this early too but I have not seen one.The easiest way to identify the pen is by the lack of imprint in the bottom of the barrel. Another minor detail that is different from future generations is the cap nut is hexagonal. You can see the flats on it if you shine a light into the cap. The pen was designed for cartridges or the old-style metal squeeze bar converter so there are only two wide slots at the threaded end of the section. I believe the old-style converters were included with the pen in some markets and sold separately in others.

Second generation - these appeared sometime in the mid 80's. The "W. Germany" imprint was added to the bottom of the barrel. The inner cap was redesigned (the early material deteriorated quite easily) and the cap nut was changed to a round shape. Other colors were added, including white, red, yellow and blue. Most of these colors were only offered with a smooth texture. The charcoal was still textured and the white was made in both textured and smooth. I have heard rumors of a smooth charcoal but never actually seen one. The Terracotta and Savannah were discontinued.

Third generation - these came around 1990 or 1991. There were two changes on this pen: the barrel imprint was changed to "Germany," thanks to reunification, and extra slots were added to the section to accept the snaps on the plastic piston converter. Colors were basically the same as the previous generation but the textured white disappeared and the first demonstrator was added. The demonstrator might be considered the first "LE" Safari. Around the mid-90's they were sold in some markets but I don't know if they ever appeared as a regular catalog item.

Fourth generation - this change came in the mid to late 90's and was a big one. The clip, nib and feed remained the same but all other parts were redesigned. The Lamy logo and nib size were added to the nib via laser-etching. The barrel was changed from one part to two. The cap and cap ring were combined into one part. The cap asembly was redesigned to snap together, eliminating the machined top screw and cap nut. I believe this redesign was done as a cost-saving measure. The price of these pens has changed very little in nearly 30 years and this redesign allowed Lamy to lower the manufacturing cost. Total number of parts went from 14 down to 11 and they eliminated two costly machined parts. All done without really altering the appearance or quality of the pen - not bad. The original white pen disappeared, a textured grey was introduced and followed by many LE colors. The demonstrator exists in this generation too but it went away when the Vista was introduced.

Same pens with the section threads showing. The slots for the piston converter were added on the third generation pens

Tops, generation 1-4, left to right

Bottoms, generation 1-4, left to right

Autopsy shot - third generation pen

Autopsy shot - fourth generation pen

Converters and a cartridge

If you have a Safari which falls outside the descriptions above, please post (and let me know if you are interested in selling it yikes.gif ).

Next installment... nibs


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#2 diplomat


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Posted 10 January 2009 - 22:31

Wow, I am speechless! This is a wealth of information, it would deserve to stay in a book.
And how long did you take to bring together all this? only two years? That's impressive.

I didn't know that four different generations were made. So far I was collecting only the colours and that's all. This is a new world opening to me...

The anatomy pics are great. Really useful. So in the third generation the brass clip was continuous and then they introduced a gap to allow the insert in the new top cap? Or the gap is there already? It's the only thing I can't tell from the pic. Other thing I don't understand is the purpose of the second part of the barrel: what was it made for?

Thank you very much for this contribution which enlighten the story of a pen that actually made history!


#3 haywoody



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 22:57

I'm glad somebody is interested in this smile.gif .

I have been at it closer to 5 years... or 19 if I get credit back to the first purchase. I have not tried to collect every variation of the pen but I suppose I am heading in that direction.

The clip is the same for all pens; the gap is there in both pictures. It assembles onto the cap from the top in the older pens and through the two holes on the fourth generation pens. It is made with a gap because it is much cheaper to manufacture that way.

The short answer about the extra part in the barrel is that plastic molding technology has improved in the last 30 years. The plastic in the bottom of the barrel is very thick and it would have been difficult to make the barrel in one part, with the features they needed, without ruining the cosmetic appearance of the part. If you have a Vista you can see how they made the features on the newer pens with ribs. I will post some pictures of the two demonstrators later - that is probably easier than trying to describe the differences.


#4 GeorgeP



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:17

Absolutely wonderful work there. Will you be adding the aluminum models as well?
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#5 Flourish



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:34

I also spent quite some time ogling the Lamy Safari before deciding on which one(s), years in fact, up until this year actually. All those colors and textures and different materials. Then there were all those nibs to choose from. Guaranteed every time I saw one I had to stop and ponder its potential. Now finally after years of contemplating my options I decided to take the Safari plunge. I finally figured out a criteria that would allow me to hold within my very hands a Safari perfect for me. The only problem is that it actually took 7 of them, but that is a hundred or so choices and options less than my years of ogling had provided me with.

This past Christmas season I decided I would put together my dream drawing, calligraphy and writing set. I had four criteria for it 1) I could only spend $200 for it, including a bottle of ink and pen case. 2) The set had to include a variety of nibs so that any style of calligraphic script was possible, except for fancy frilly roundhand scripts as I could find no flex nib pen by itself for under $200. 3) The pens had to work the way they were supposed to. Usually very hard to accomplish in this price range. 4) The pens had to be color coordinated.

Now after years of research in which my dream calligraphy set had achieved a total cost of just under $3000 I remembered all of the Safari's I had seen and fondled over the years. Ooooo, now there's an idea.

I love color and lots of it. The only problem is that when it is in my hands I am very easily distracted. So color was out if I ever wanted to actually use my pens for any length of time without wandering off into a rainbow filled day dream or two. Once again Safari's fit the bill with their incredible array of blacks greys white and clear.

But I absolutely had to have Nibs! Extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1 mm Italic, 1.5 mm Italic and 1.9 mm Italic to be exact and all lined up in a color coordinated row in a nice leather pen case. If only Safari also had a flex option.

There was only only pen I could think of that fit the bill for all of my criteria and the was, you guessed it, Safari. So for $200 I ended up with 7 beautiful color coordinated Safari's, Black 1.5 mm Italic, Charcoal 1.9 mm Italic, Graphite M, Aluminum F, silver blue B (I know a color but I just couldn't bring myself to get white which also distracts my attentions), Vista demonstrator 1.1 mm Italic and another Black XF, a bottle of Noodler's BulletProof Black and a Labelle leather 10 pen case. And if you don't include shipping I also got two notebooks to write in. Wow! A complete set of pens, less a flex nib, a bottle of ink, a pen case and two notebooks for $200!

But of course I would not be able to respect myself if I didn't have a flex nib pen in my arsenal so my ideal drawing calligraphy and writing set is a bit more than double my $200 limit, but I did already have a Namiki Falcon with Spencerian modifications so I say the flex nib pen doesn't count as part of the cost. As fellow pen enthusiasts I am sure you would agree with my I love Lucynomics.

And now you just clue me in to the fact that I actually had four different versions of my dream drawing, calligraphy and writing set to choose from. Thanks!

#6 biffybeans



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:37

Outstanding - great job! And Thank you!

#7 bphollin



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:48

I'll echo the FPN peers above in thanking you for sharing this wealth of information on one of my favorite pens, Haywoody! Thanks especially for the "autopsy" shots. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installments...

#8 haywoody



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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:53

QUOTE (Flourish @ Jan 11 2009, 12:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also spent quite some time ogling the Lamy Safari before ...

Cool story about your calligraphy set, it sounds wonderful. Somebody here took a 14kt nib from a Lamy Studio and put it on a Safari... you could maybe get Mr. Mottishaw to add some flex to one of those and really complete your dream set. I'm not sure the nib would take the mod as wall as the Falcon (I had one of those, with the Spencerian mod, and it was wonderful) but it can't hurt to ask.

I also generally like the color in my pens to come only from the ink. My favorites, and the only ones I use on a regular basis, are the charcoal, light grey, black, white and demonstrator. My 5-year-old daughter likes to coordinate the more wild colors to her current drawing pad, color of her socks or her mood. Come to think of it, all those things are usually shades of grey for me too... so I guess we have the same purpose.

I have nibs in XXF (custom), XF, F, M, MK, L, OM, B, OB, 1.1, 1.5, 1.9 and a 0.7mm cursive italic (custom). Pics and writing samples to follow as soon as I set up the pictures...


#9 Scrybe


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Posted 11 January 2009 - 00:25

Props on the kewl and informative post. Looking forward to reading any future posts on the different colours. Keep it up - I'm impressed!
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#10 Ted H

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 00:34

Great job, and thanks for the info.

#11 hexadecimal


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Posted 11 January 2009 - 01:23

Wonderful work! Keep it up.

(another Lamy enthusiast)
Hey, I've worked out how to set up an avatar! Next week I'll move onto tying my own shoelaces...

#12 pen2paper


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Posted 11 January 2009 - 02:31

well done Woody!
also enjoyed the autopsy pics..any possibility that in your next installment that we could see these photos side by side?
(for those of us with small screens)
red safari medium, and joy set:)

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#13 Pjake



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Posted 11 January 2009 - 02:41

A++++ for the effort and content!



#14 zquilts



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Posted 11 January 2009 - 03:56

What an absolutely fabulously cool post.
Thank you for this very cogent anaylsis. Much enjoyed!

#15 shadowsforbars



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Posted 11 January 2009 - 04:38

Love the way you weave together the history of the model, the technical details and your personal story with the Safari. Thank you.

#16 chainwhip


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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:35

Thanks Woody for the great information you've shared!
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WTB: MB Kafka, Lamy Safari 2009 Orange, Pilot MYU (Black or Clear/White Stripe), Seiko FrankenTuna SKZ253 / SKZ255

#17 Garageboy


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Posted 11 January 2009 - 22:59

Wow, very impressive!

#18 Philips



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Posted 11 January 2009 - 23:10

What an amazing piece of research work you have done! I love to read about and see the design improvements that have been made throughout the life of the pen - very well spotted. The change from W. Germany to Germany on the end of the barrel is a very important piece of social history as well. The exploded photographs are very interesting.

I'm really looking forward to any more information you post up on this fabulous workhorse of a pen thumbup.gif

(Charcoal Safari - 4th Generation wink.gif )

#19 HDoug


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Posted 11 January 2009 - 23:45

Great info and photos! Thank you very much!


#20 pmsalty



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Posted 12 January 2009 - 02:46

Wonderful info. This is one reason why this is such an interesting hobby! Thanks for the great job.
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