Saturday, 10 March 2012

Why I Hate the Lamy Safari

I've just retired my two Lamy Safaris, probably never to re-ink them. This is a pen I really wanted to like, and have ended up buying four of them, including two for my children, but have found that it's just not for me.

Lamy produces a range of pens with some outstanding designs, such as the famous Lamy 2000, or more modestly, the Tipo. I don't have a problem with modern design; I can use the Safari quite happily with its odd nib section grip. I like the size of it, and the chunky barrel. The fact that the cap pops off and on is a plus for me, as I prefer that to screw-on caps.

I like the fact that it is available in a range of colours, or even no colour (the Vista). I even quite like the thick wire clip.

One problem I have with the Safari is the fact that it takes a proprietary ink cartridge, the T10. It's easy enough to fill using a syringe, but that tapered section on the end always seems to stay filled with ink. If you want to instal a filler, you have to get the special Lamy model, the Z24. I find the fact that it does not take standard international cartridges a big drawback. Granted, I love Pilot pens which have their own IC-50 proprietary cartridge, but their pens so well for me out of the box, I am prepared to overlook that. (Plus, they don't have that wretched narrow tail at the end.)

But what I dislike most of all about the Safari is the deal-breaker: the nib. For me the heart of the fountain pen is the nib. I have tried a variety of nibs for my Safaris, and all of the nibs I have tried have been unsatisfactory to the point of irritation. My first Safari was a black model with a B nib, which was rough and did not seem to give the broad line I was after. Perhaps it was a dodgy example? So when I got the next one, I ordered an EF nib. I replaced the B with the EF and everything seemed fine...but then I noticed how scratchy the nib was on the paper, and the fact that the line was very slightly uneven - like a stub but in miniature. I realise that fine nibs are at risk of being scratchy, but I have used enough Japanese pens to know that it is not inevitable. But the unevenness of the line was enough to put me off.

I have also tried the M nib which is standard on the Safari. The line is even and looks good on the page, but the smoothness is still missing. It's at this point that I give in. I could have ordered one of their famed italic nibs such as the 1.9mm, but to be honest I can't be arsed. For the price of getting the nibs smoothed I could buy a few Pilot 78Gs, a type of pen which, although more traditional in shape, much smaller and with a screw-on cap, offers a much more enjoyable writing experience.

I know the Safari has lots of fans, and I've probably alienated those who may read this. It is a classic design, but not one I can use: rather, it's one I can admire from a distance.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Guardian and BBC Talk Stationery

LinkThe Graun's Lucy Mangan has come out of the cupboard as a stationery fan in an amusing article published online here. (I have posted a comment under the article which is awaiting moderation as I type this.) She has also put together a programme for BBC Radio 4 called The Stationery Cupboard, which is broadcast in the UK on Friday, 2 March at 1100 UTC. I hope to check out after work tomorrow.

I wasn't invited to appear on the programme, but that's OK; this is the pen and paper blog nobody's talking about, after all....