On the web

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Here are three items that caught my eye this weekend:

1. The Independent’s 50 best stationery items. I learned about some interesting UK businesses such as drafting supply manufacturer Blundell Harling and online store Pencils 4 Artists.

I saw the story via papernation’s tweet. Papernation itself looks like a very interesting store.

2. Death of a Brand – BOSTON Pencil Sharpener Company at Scription. An interesting discussion and some amazing photos of these old workhorses.

3. Lamy Design – From the Hammock at Dave’s Mechanical Pencils. This look at a Lamy catalogue caught my eye because I think I have that “white pen”. I had no idea that it was so noteworthy.

Lamy White Pen

Lamy White Pen

Lamy White Pen

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen/Ballpoint Pen set

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Lamy Safari Fountain Pen/Ballpoint Pen set

There may be hundreds of reviews of the Lamy Safari out on the net. I agree with their general sentiment: the Lamy Safari is an excellent pen in and of itself, and one of the best overall values in fountain pens today.

I have a Pelikano Junior that’s also doing extremely well, but it’s new so I won’t place it in the Lamy’s category just yet. (Nor is the Pelikano even close to the same design level.) I also have other fountain pens that require a regime of rinsing, cleaning, and choosing the right ink. That’s okay, but convenience has some merits. The Safari, though abuse would be unwise, doesn’t require any of that sort of pampering. For me, it always just works. It is a great pen for someone who may be curious about fountain pens, but doesn’t want to spend too much.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen/Ballpoint Pen set

The Safari comes in many colours, and Lamy released a white version last year. The set in the picture also includes a matching ballpoint pen.

The aesthetics of the Lamy are current and modern. I think it’s a great looking pen. The plastic box housing the pens is itself a great piece of design.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen/Ballpoint Pen set

Now let me mention a couple things that you might have to learn the hard way if you buy a pen like this somewhere other than in person at a specialty fountain pen shop (where they typically know their stuff).

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen/Ballpoint Pen set

It will come with a handy ink cartridge. That’s nice, but be aware that this is a proprietary Lamy-only size. If you want to use these cartridges in non-Lamy pens, or use “standard” cartridges, such as from famous ink manufacturer Herbin, you are out of luck. Lamy makes a few colours, and that’s where your choice ends.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen/Ballpoint Pen set

The ballpoint, which is also quite stylish and usable, takes a proprietary Lamy M16 refill. For someone like myself in a small city – the problem is that the local big box office supply store doesn’t carry this item.

Lamy Safari Fountain pen cartridge: T10

For the fountain pen – there is a path to more choices which I recommend – the (again proprietary format) Lamy Z24 format converter allows the use of bottled ink. This is to me a defining merit of the fountain pen – there are hundreds if not thousands of ink varieties available, ranging not just in shade, but density, wetness, drying times, and many other factors. The converter sets you free to try whatever ink you choose.

Lamy Safari Ballpoint refill: M16

To review, the Lamy Safari Fountain pen and ballpoint pen use these refills:

Ballpoint refill: M16
Fountain pen cartridge: T10
Fountain pen converter: Z24

Overall, I think they are great writing implements, but I have just a bit of concern about the non-standard formats – the ballpoint in particular.