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Thanks for reading our 10-Point Pen Review of the Lamy Safari Fountain Pen! For this review, we are using a round medium grade nib on a yellow Safari fountain pen which is filled with J Herbin Eclat de Saphir (from a bottle) and a Lamy Z24 Ink Converter. We've consulted a Rhodia Webby (A5, 90gsm Plain Ivory pages) as well as a Moleskine notebook (Pocket, Lined) and a Clairefontaine Roadbook (A6, 90gsm Lined White pages).
Lamy have been making pens in Germany since 1930 and is one of the most respected pen names in the world. The safari was introduced in the early 1980s as part of the Lamy Young Writing range. It has been through 4 generations of changes to take its present condition and is an excellent embodiment of Lamy's design philosophy of form following function.
2) Intended Use
This is an extremely important point. A pen, or any item, can only really be assessed in relation to what it is trying to be and in this way we try to make our assessment of each pen relevant.
The Lamy Safari is part of the Lamy Young Writing range. In Germany, all school students learn to write with a fountain pen and so there is a lot of demand for an excellent fountain pen to foster good writing technique. All of the following points will be made in relation to this - essentially, we're reviewing a pen which is great if you've never used a fountain pen before and/or you write a lot!
The Lamy Safari comes in a cool little cardboard box. It's nothing extravagant, nor is it supposed to be, but it is a clever way to present and safely ship the pen. Unpacking it is reminiscent of unpacking an Apple product - everything is neat, minimalist and protected nicely.
4) Colour Range
As this is a young person's pen, colour is really important. The barrel on the Safari offers no noticeable aesthetic features. It is a straight colour of sturdy ABS plastic. There is a contrasting clip of stainless steel, the LAMY Logo is engraved at the bottom of the barrel and there is a transparent ink window.
So, your colour choice determines fully the pen's aesthetic appeal. Currently, there are seven colours available - Black, Matt Charcoal, Blue, Red, Yellow, White & Transparent. With each of the four generations, the colour pallet has changed. There are also special edition colours - recently, we have seen the passing of Pink and Orange, both excellent, if only fleeting, additions - and many of these are now collector's items. A Safari collection is something most pen fans are very proud of (or perhaps that should be obsessive of) and with good reason. Sometimes you'll feel like using your Matt Charcoal Safari, or the Yellow with a contrasting black clip...
All in all, the colour offering is great and perfect for a pen which is made for the hands of trend-sensitive adolescents.
5) Nib Range
The Safari fountain pen is made with an Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad and even Left Handed Nibs. These are all rounded nibs and are made of stainless steel, and so they produce lines of even thickness in both the horizontal and vertical direction. For interest's sake, this is in contrast to an Italic Nib, which produces lines thicker in the vertical direction and thinner in the horizontal direction. Italic Nibs are available as separate parts.
The rounded medium or fine nibs are the most popular and with good reason. A rounded nib allows for faster writing than an italic nib and is generally more common. The nib you use depends on how you write - speed, size and flow of lettering - and also on what ink and paper you are using. Having said that, the result of using a medium or fine nib satisfies an extremely large portion of the standard distribution of pen users, experienced or novice.
The safari is a relatively big, chunky pen. In this regard it is perfectly European and is definitely the product of its Heidelberg surroundings. For measurements, the Safari fountain pen is 140mm long when at rest. When you remove the cap to write, it is 130mm in length. If you 'post' the cap on the barrel and write, it is a very large 166mm in length. At it's fattest point, the barrel is 13mm in diameter. When filled, it weighs about 18 grams.
Having relatively small hands, i was happy writing with the cap fully detached - there was no need to post it. However, i also enjoyed it with a posted cap. 'Posting' is where you remove the cap and pop it on the end of the barrel. It's somewhat controversial if your pen is made of gold, silver or any other delicate material which may be vulnerable to scratches and marks. However, the tank-like robustness of the Safari mean that posting is no problem at all, so feel free to go for it.
7) Grip & Comfort
As mentioned, this is a thick pen and its design is supposed to allow for relatively long periods of writing without any fatigue. Being thick means that you can comfortably rest the pen in your hand without having to apply any pressure through your fingers. In this way, they do not fatigue and you can write comfortably for a very long time. The grip section is quasi-triangular on top with a rounded bottom edge and tapers slightly towards the nib. It accommodates the fingers nicely .
The grip section is not rubberised or padded in any way but because of the ergonomic design, this does not matter so much. It's more accurately termed a 'rest' section than a 'grip' section as your fingers rest there and needn't do any work. As mentioned, this is a pen which teaches people how to write and so the design and angling of these rest points fosters 'proper' writing technique.This is proper in so much as it will allow you to write comfortably but if you have a particularly idiosyncratic writing technique, you may find these rest points stubborn.
The Safari fountain pen can be filled with either a Lamy patented T10 cartridge (but no other cartridge) or with a Z24 Ink Converter and any bottled ink. The T10s are available in Black, Blue Black, Blue, Red, Green, Violet & Turquoise.
The Lamy T10 ink is perfectly nice but being a fairly limited pallet, it is a shame to be restricted to it. This is why the Z24 Ink Converter, being so easy to use, is a great help. Using the converter allows you to use bottled fountain pen inks and opens up an excellent choice of colours.
Lamy's ink is nice but I do prefer to fill my safari with some J Herbin. Either method, cartridge or bottle, is particularly easy. Cartridges are great of you're traveling (in which case, the Safari is a perfect pen to have with you) but otherwise, the bottle is our choice!
9) Barrel & Materials
The barrel is made of sturdy ABS plastic and this is the main reason for the pen's excellent affordability. The plastic is relatively lightweight for the pen's size, which again is good in not fatiguing the hands. It's simple and super tough. You can drop this pen, step on it, throw it around, your dog can chew on it, you can do just about anything to it and it will always look back at you with friendly regard. The best thing about the Lamy Safari fountain pen other than its writing performance is just the way that you can use it, always and everywhere. It was made, let's remember, for German school boys, and is suitably tough. It's also easy to clean and unlikely to scratch or blemish easily.
The clip on the cap is made of stainless steel, it is relatively big, opens up nice and wide and closes very fast again. As for the above, it is tough and wants to be used without complaining.
10) Writing Performance
Undoubtedly the most important point of this review. The Lamy Safari is revered for its reliability, unfaltering consistency and capacity for robust use. The writing is very good and always the same.
As this is a beginner's pen it is very easy to use and encourages writing. It does so by delivering a very smooth performance. It's easy to not be conscious of the fact that you are writing with this, which i guess is a compliment. The danger for somebody such as myself (messy writing) is that i can become very messy because the pen is so smooth and easy to use.
But this is what it is supposed to be, something that makes writing easy. The only other comment that can be made is that the nib is somewhat stiff so if you want to write extravagantly, then the combination used here may not suit. Again, as a pen to teach proper writing, this is apt - your everyday writing is supposed to be neat and controlled, not a calligrapher's proverbial bouquet of lines.
But back on point, in relation to its intended use:
1) To teach you how to use a fountain pen
2) To allow high volume writing
The Safari Fountain Pen is excellent. A very humble item, it turns up and does what you want it to do every day!
Overall, this review should read very glowingly as I am a converted (pun intended) fan of the Safari fountain pen with J Herbin Ink. It has the power to democratise fine writing pens (how nice would things be without bic) because it is just so easy to use! The injection of colour, of personality, that it can afford your writing is a wonderful thing. That it is so affordable and so easy to use (it bears repeating, even in the same paragraph) make it a must have for any pen user.