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My Lamy 99: A Story of Retrospect


Gorpy
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Hello FPN!

It's been a hot minute since I've been on this forum so please excuse me if this should be in "Chatter," I will relocate it. The last activity I've had was when I really just got into the hobby as a bright-eyed teen obsessed about every bit of stationery, pens, and ink. Honestly, I cringe a bit when I look at my old replies and posts, and I was reminded of it when I was looking for more information about Lamy's history a year or two ago (my question about my mismatched Lamy 99 pen/Lamy 27 cap is one of the few results, much to my chagrin).

 

Well, it's 7 years later, I'm about to get my undergrad degree in a bit, and my enthusiasm towards pens has mellowed. While I still use them daily, fountain pens do not define me like they did for a while back then. I was filling up my trusty Lamy 99 with Diamine Asa Blue earlier today when I felt compelled to tell this story. I'm not the best writer, but I'll try to make it at least somewhat engaging. Thank you for indulging me if you read on.

 

When I entered this hobby, I was very fortunate to have my paternal grandfather dig up many of his old pens to give to me. It gave me a good range of different pens to write with while I only had my lone Sheaffer 100 previously (unfortunately for my dear Sheaffer 100, it is seldom inked nowadays, but I will not forget how it impacted my delve into stationery). From a Sheaffer Targa to a few Parker 21s to a few pens of brands lost to the sands of time, each was cleaned and subsequently inked in the following months. I went from having one fountain pen, to closer to a dozen than none. I was ecstatic to say the least. Now, if you you looked through my profile when I mentioned my old forum posts earlier, you'll note that I was overly skeptical of the pens my grandpa gave me. No ill will at all, but clones were indeed rampant in Asia at the time, and my grandfather being the ever-practical man, didn't really care about what brand writing instrument he used. Later I was told that most of the pens my grandfather owned were received as corporate gifts.

 

So I went along my merry way and started acquiring inexpensive pens as many younger members of new hobbies do when they start a new collection, often forgetting about the pens my grandpa gave me. After all, I have so many pens to try out, so much ink, and only so much homework! I'm a stickler for getting every bit of visible ink out of a pen, like the water must run absolutely clear without a hint of colour against the white of my bathroom sink, so the Parker 21s were a bit of a pain to clean without taking apart the nib unit, the Sheaffer Targa would magically hide ink in its feed after I swear it was already totally clean, and the others were just not my favourite in terms of performance. All of the pens my grandpa gave me were thus relegated to back of my pen shelf while I went to play with the shiny new toys I kept buying. Except one. The Lamy 99.

 

Practically speaking, it was the best of the bunch of pens my grandfather gave me. It was easy to clean, it held a decent amount of ink, and it was fine enough to use on bad printer paper without too much bleed (albeit with mild feathering). This was the stage of my obsession of fountain pens though. This is when I was deepest into reading every thread on FPN, every post on r/fountainpens, religiously watched GouletPens, The Pen Habit, and SBREBrown, and tried to get all my friends into fountain pens as well. Like my grandpa before me, his pens became "just another pen." Albeit for the exact opposite reasons.

 

A year rolls by, then two, then three. By then, I had about 30 pens, but only inked up maybe 7 of them. I have definitively, fallen out of my fountain pen obsession. I'm about to graduate high-school when I realised something. Never once, in the approximate "kilo-day" of using fountain pens had I ever taken the Lamy out of my rotation. It was a staple of my pen roll. Never did I think about my "favourite pen," but by sheer statistical anomaly, the Lamy 99 must be my favourite, and it is. Naturally, I tell my grandparents this, and when they moved, they told me they'd give me any other neat pens if they dug any up during the move. They didn't find anything.

 

It's late 2018-early 2019, and I'm new to uni. Some people ask about my pens, but I'm not nearly as much of a fanatic as I was in early high-school. The classes were small, so many of them saw my unusual writing, odd "ink pens", and eccentric colours in my notes, but besides the odd reply to a comment about my cursive, I kept quiet. It was during this time that fountain pens became a lot more personal to me. I still buy pens every now and then, but I can count the number of pens I've bought from 2017 to the present on one hand, and that number from 2017 to early 2019 on a hand that was in a severe woodworking accident. Anyway, the Lamy 99 became an extension of my hand, and if I questioned what my favourite pen was in the year previous, I didn't question it anymore. The pages upon pages of notes in the first two years of university have, for the most part, been written using the 99. From drawing the first page being simplified syntax trees and the economic situation of inter-war Germany, to the last being X-Bar expanded syntax trees and the establishment of Lesotho by King Moshoeshoe I. A good 66% to 80% of it was written by the 99 (usually in Chesterfield Mahogany, which I believe was a re-bottled Diamine Saddle Brown by xfountainpens). I continue using my pens, going through school, and eventually transferring to another institution where I am now. Thousands upon thousands of words written by my Lamy 99. Probably more than my grandfather ever wrote with it. In my turbulent undergrad program, using my Lamy 99 was the only constant, it was my anchor.

 

May 2020. My paternal grandfather passes away after complications with a fall and undiagnosed cancer. I was told he had a relatively painless last few weeks in the hospital, and that his cancer hadn't actually manifested any symptoms other than a weakened immune system. The writing on the wall was there when the diagnosis came in, so he decided to rather not have chemo or radiotherapy even if he did get better. Being in the midst of the first big spike of COVID, I did not get to see my grandfather for a last time after Christmas dinner. He was in his late-80s.

 

Everything being virtual, I didn't use my pens as much as I used to. Being that everything went online in March, I had not touched my pens since then. Summer term rolled around, low grades, fall semester, low grades, the new year, plagued with more awful grades. I risked withdrawal from my uni. I finally picked up my pens again in 2021 when it seemed like things were looking up pandemic-wise (oh how naive we were) and I was back on my antidepressants and seeking therapy. I was tasked with writing in a journal for the therapy sessions, so I rinsed out my 99 once more to fill with Montblanc UNICEF Blue. It was the first time that I had touched it in so long, that I forgot how well it fit in my hand. A little weird, since the writers' bump on my knuckle had shrunken slightly in the time I wasn't writing physically, but it was comforting, like an old friend hugging me at the door.

 

The dried J. Herbin Lie de Thé reminded me of the dried ink I excitedly washed out in my grandma's kitchen sink the minute my grandpa gave it to me. It was the first time I had to clean dried ink from it since the first time. The gold-plated Lamy 27/32 cap on the body of a Lamy 99/37. Mismatched by my grandfather probably either out of necessity or simple misplacement. No matter, because they fit together all the same with a positive click. A cap of gold marred by thousands of micro-scratches, the numerous vertical stripes catching in the light like rays of a summer's evening sun filtered through the green leaves of an old oak. A smooth black body with an equal number of minuscule scratches making it not quite as shiny as it could be. A piston knob nearly seamless to the rest of the barrel when fully screwed-in abruptly cut by a slightly domed, but flat finial at the end. Moving to the other side, a slight step-down for the cap meeting a clear transparent ink window like portholes on a black submarine. A metal ring marking the seam between the body of the pen and the nib section housing a fine semi-hooded 14k nib. Here on the nib section, a small blemish where my index fingernail digs into the plastic if it gets too long. Despite being mismatched, the striated gold cap of the Lamy 27 perfectly matches the gold nib within, two stripes on either end of the breather hole mimicking the same stripes on the cap.

 

A few months ago, my grandma was cleaning out my grandpa's desk when she said she found some more pens, I was excited at the prospect of finally reuniting my 99 with its long-lost cap, and likewise the 27 with its long-lost cap. Alas, the Lamy 27 was not within the bunch of pens that my grandma found. There some more ballpoint Parker 21s (I guess people in Taiwan really liked to gift 21s back in the day, which makes sense given its lower price than the 51 with the name-recognition of Parker) a Cross ballpoint, a Parker BP/FP set that has a weirdly narrow triangular nib, a Platinum C/C pen, an Elysee C/C pen I haven't looked into, and a partridge in a pear tree. I got first pick from my cousins because I'm the stationery nerd, so they got the left-over ballpoints. They were unused, so I'm pretty sure they were corporate gifts given to my grandpa near or at his retirement. I told my grandma that I still used my grandpa's 99 almost daily, and she was very happy to hear it. With a melancholic smile she told me about how my grandpa was always so happy when I visited him when his health was deteriorating even if he didn't show it in the moment. She also told me that while my grandpa thought of his pens as mere tools for his job, he was glad that I could appreciate them as objects.

 

My grandpa had every pen in boxes stored away. Sometimes many many pens in a single mismatched box, but they were always stowed away in a container. And again, except one. The Lamy. The 99 was found by my grandpa in an old coat pocket, the ink in it crusted from when it was used last, sitting dormant for decades nestled in a coat he hadn't worn in equally long. Across an ocean, at least four houses, and a generation, only to be used by a snotty kid who doubted its very validity within a week of it seeing light for the first time in so long, unappreciative and frankly, undeserving, of its inky abilities. Thinking back to when my grandpa materialised the pen from his hands, and how it was indeed not in a box, I asked my grandma if the Lamy 99 was a pen that my grandpa used the most frequently. She didn't know the answer to that, but she did know that he used it, which is good enough for me. The fact that it was found in a pocket and that my grandpa remembered there was a fountain pen in an old coat that he had not worn in years indicates to me that he did at least use the 99 enough to remember the location.

 

I have a new appreciation for my humble mismatched Lamy 99. I do not know where the Lamy 27 that its cap came from is, but if it was my grandpa's and my grandma finds it, I will not rejoin it with its long-lost brethren. My Lamy 99 and its Lamy 27 cap has a history together now. It is how my grandpa used it for so long, it is how I have been using it for so long, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Besides, a matching Lamy 99/37 or 27/32 straight-up looks wrong to me now that I've had mine for so long.

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Thank you for this excellent story. I really enjoyed reading it. The Lamy 99 is a great everyday pen as is the 27. 

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That's a special story. Thank you for sharing it.  🙏

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Great writing, thanks for posting and we'll look forward to more posts about your pen journey.

Children think adults have all the freedom and adults think children have
all the freedom.
 

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I enjoyed reading your story. I didn't know this model and in an internet search I found a great review on a Spanish Youtube channel, "Azahara Letras".

The unit shown in the video is in perfect condition and writes very well. It is striking that, according to the presenter, the EF nib writes like a B. I think the tines may have separated a bit due to use, but perhaps there were other width standards at the time. Does your 99 write as expected for its size?

 

Edited by Azulado
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That is a beautiful story and I would encourage you to keep the pens.  Just because you aren't using them now, doesn't mean you won't be using them in the future.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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