Five arguments for the Safari


A typical newbie question is “what’s a good first pen for me?”

The short answer is “Lamy Safari.”

So why the humble Lamy when there is a ton of starter options out there?

1. Availability – the Safari can be found in most any National Book Store branch, in colors to suit your tastes and whims. It even comes in clear, a nod to the crystal pens that schoolboys worldwide used at one time. The pen will cost you less money than ten White Mocha Fraps, leaving you with enough cash for decent ink and paper.

Ready to write out of the box. Almost.

2. Bulletproof build – the pen is injection molded from tough plastic. The ones I have owned have survived rolling off desks, sailing across rooms and being sat on. (Don’t ask.) Despite such abuse, all of them kept on tickin’.

If this shoe won't fit, slip into another one...

3. Swappable nibs – You can change nibs as easily as you can slip into your jeans. The nibs are relatively inexpensive so you can explore line widths from extra fine to 1.9mm Italic without committing to more pens just yet. You can even get obliques if you need them.

Vintage Esterbrooks have the same versatility but their nibs are getting more expensive and harder to find. Also, the last lot of Estie nibs that I hauled in needed a lot of tuning to work smoothly, and this is something noobs may not be willing to suffer.

The ink version of have it your way.

4. Catridge/Converter fillling – Yes, pistons are more pedigreed but all noobs (and even a lot of old hands) fall prey to ink ADD. It is easier to try different brands and colors if you don’t have to wait for World War Z to refill.

Yes, fingers go here...

5. Triangular grip section – Some folks hate this but honestly, it taught me and legions of other pen people a lot about proper hold and pressure. It takes some getting used to but the dues you pay now will reap unparalleled returns in time.

Others will strongly recommend Esterbrooks, Parker 45s and Pilot 78s. These are all nice pens as well. But in my modest experience, nothing in the starter pen division punches as far above its weight as the Lamy Safari.



Some sing. Some quack.

My own luck with Pelikans has been anything but Irish.  I seem to attract bad nibs, and filler units that pop out of barrels at the worst possible time. Not wanting to feast on Hannover lemons, I sent the entire flock south and called it a day.

Life had other plans though. My best-est friend asked me to adopt a monster of a Pelikan, thinking that we might make a good pairing. I had my doubts but she certainly knows her pens.  So on her say-so, I brought an M1005 Demonstrator home.

Naked is the new black, but black isn’t old either.
Nothing to see here, folks. Just Sailor’s Summer Sky.

It looked like it devoured M200s for breakfast, though its transparent guts refuted my suspicions. It is the largest pen I have ever used and it took a while to get comfortable with its Teutonic proportions. It did however dilute my pessimism by a significant measure.

An Extra Fine that can flex like Bruce Lee.

The rhodium plated EF nib has a pleasant mix of spring and flex. With my typical downstroke, the line looks to be a Medium but the ascenders and connectors are a notch below Fine. Unlike a lot of M1xxx nibs out there, this needed no ministrations from a nibmeister to flow reliably.  This may or may not herald welcome news from the German marque, but it has earned a slot in my case.

Kinsmen as alike as Fredo and Michael.
Green stripes as cut by a tailor from Hannover

Another bird joined the nest this Christmas. Unlike the look-at-me vibe that the M1005 oozes, this one is more sober. Boring, you might say. The M600 is a size larger than the M2xx/M4xx series, which is a good thing. It has enough girth to give its striped suit a nonchalant hint of swagger. Sort of like the guy who dresses up to please himself more than anyone else.

It isn’t the size of the boat, you know…

The two-toned Fine looks a little small for the pen.  Like Leonidas in size 6 sandals, it emasculates the whole thing just a bit. However, pretty is as pretty does and this one does a lot. The tipping is perfectly aligned and gapped from the factory. It lacks the spring of its elder sibling but the line variation it gives is equally pleasing. It does have the faintest hint of feedback but being used to Japanese tips, this might as well be hallucination.

Curiously, each nib shows stubbish qualities. It seems Pelikan has adopted a less rounded tipping profile. Some folks may like this. Others may not. For my part, I appreciate gaining line variation without making a trip to a nib wright.

Pardon the lack of color correction, but you get the idea…

It would seem my luck is changing. But in no way am I pushing it.

Hibernation has ended

It’s been a while. A long while.

I took on more clients last year and the ride has been manic if not uplifting. It did however leave little time for blogging.

I hope to rectify this imbalance soon. I will not be able to commit to a weekly entry but that is my ultimate goal. On a more positive note, a lot has happened in a year (pen-wise.) These twists and turns may prove interesting to some.

Or not.

Meanwhile, let me clear the dust from this place.