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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.