Fountain pens


Fountain Pen Calamity 2

This morning, when I went to the lecture theatre to give a class for my second year undergraduate students, I made an unusual discovery.

Someone forgot two vintage gold-nibbed fountain pens on the computer station. Shock!

Well, one of the fountain pens is not in such a good state, but it is still a gold-nibbed fountain pen. The other pen seems to be in great shape for its age.

I took them to my office, have checked the timetabling system and have emailed all staff who used the room in the last week in the hope that these treasures can be reunited iwth their rightful owner.

I had had lost my fountain pens I would be devastated, so I hope the owner can be found soon.


The Lamy Horror Picture Show 4

Think of a random number between 1 and 1000.

No, really. Please do.

Ok, now multiply this number by 3 and remember it.

Well, imagine the shock I got when I recently had a closer look at my Lamy 2000.

Lamy 2000 exploded view

Cleaning my Lamy in expectance of the new ink

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘Not shocked at all’ and ’10’ is censored because of the expletives uttered, the number representing my shock was slightly higher than the number I just asked you to remember.

It all started with me happily going about my daily business and cleaning my Lamy 2000 (with an EF nib) in expectance of a Robert Oster ink from Kirit Dal, one of Robert Oster’s UK resellers.

When an ink ‘stain’ at the front of the Lamy’s grip section didn’t want to disappear I had a closer look and after moving the end of my fingernail over the ‘stain’ I started to have an ominous suspicion. Not much later the aforementioned shock happened1.

You’d think I’m a broken man now, looking back at the excitement and fun I once experienced when using fountain pens, but not able to have any joy anymore going forward from now on. The reality is different. I’ve come to stoically accept that mark on the grip section as something that makes this Lamy 2000 different to all its anonymous siblings that left Lamy’s conveyor belt since 1966. It is something, together with a dent on its body, that makes this Lamy mine. Who knows, maybe deep down, in some illogical part of the brain, I might even be a tiny bit ‘proud’ that I have my own unique Lamy 2000 now…


I am sorry for showing you all these gory details, especially after just showing you horrific pencil mutilations in the previous blog post. I guess you might be more careful form now on, avoiding to look at my blog anymore while eating food.

In case you’ve been sick over your pen collection while looking at these gory photos: I’ve heard that baking soda might eliminate the odour, but I haven’t tried it myself yet.

I thought of combining this blog post with a look at the ink I was expecting, but I didn’t do it because I thought someone who doesn’t read carefully and only looks at the pictures might that the ink I was expecting caused the issue. To avoid this the Oster ink I was expecting (cleaning the pen to be ready for this ink) will be covered in a separate blog post.

I have a suspicion which previously used ink might have caused the issue, but as I am not sure it was really that ink I don’t want to mention the brand in this blog post.

  1. Well, where are the smelling salts and the defibrillator when you need them. []

Lamy dialog 3 and the discontinued wooden case 2

It was about eight years ago when I first came across the Lamy dialog 3.

From dislike to like

Back then I didn’t like it. I thought it is too big and modern ..but somehow, over the years, I warmed up to it, more and more – up to the point when I started to actively want one.

Funnily enough, my wife’s favourite ballpoint pen, the pico, is from the same designer: Franco Clivio. Both, the pico and the dialog 3 have a similar shape, a bit like a test tube, but round on both ends.

Price variations (£99 – £250)

Well, I didn’t think I’d get a new >£100 fountain pen in the next few years, but somehow (actually because of Christmas) it did happen. Well, I say >£100 fountain pen, but WH Smith is regularly selling the palladium version with an M nib for £99 (~$122; €114), but most shops will charge you £200 – £250 for this pen. The one I got for Christmas was also a cheap one, that’s why I got an F nib. I would have preferred an EF nib, but there was no EF version available for a good price. I can always buy an EF nib if I want and it would have still been a very good price compared to the RRP.
The whole price situation of the dialog 3 reminds me of the blue Pelikan M605 – every few years Kaufhof seems to sell it for a good price. I paid €99 (~$105; £85) for mine.

The nib

There have been many blog posts looking at this pen, with the one from Dries being one of the latest ones, so I don’t see a need to write more about the pen itself. Instead, I want to tell you that the nib on my dialog 3 is the smoothest nib I have ever used (and I have used quite a few gold nibs over the years). As I haven’t seen too many raving reviews about this nib I am not sure whether all of Lamy’s Z55 gold nibs or even all Z55 F nibs are that good, but mine is excellent. As described in Ian’s review here this nib can be used in all modern Lamys except the Lamy 2000.

The nib is however not only smooth, it also has a pleasant amount of springiness. I have seen nibs advertised as flexible that offer less line variation than this nib.

The case

The dialog 3 used to come with a wooden case. Lamy stopped supplying the case, but many shops still advertise the pen as coming in this case, so that might be old stock.

According to Lamy, the wooden case is not being offered anymore. I suspect the case was stopped when the dialog 3 was redesigned (there were some complaints about the pen drying out soon in the original version).

If you want to get the wooden case the only way to get it now, as far as I know, is to buy it used or to find old stock. My pen didn’t come with the case so I had to get it separately.

I tried to make a short film showing my dialog 3 (and the case), but I guess I shouldn’t make a car (to pull the camera) from some toys lying around in the living room. The owner of the toys came to get them back during filming…

Well, before I finish the blog post, here’s a picture of the ‘camera car’ that was used for the film, now you know why he wanted it back…

Camers car made out of Duplos

Camera car made out of Duplos

 


Exchange rates: January 2017

You can read more about the dialog 3 at The Pencilcase Blog,  Pentorium, Goulet Pen’s blogThe Clicky Post, The Gold Standard, No Pen Intended, The Well-Appointed Desk,  Writer’s Bloc, The Silent Cartographer, and even Wired.


A hand turned fountain pen 1

Cuerden Valley Farmers Market

Cuerden Valley Farmers Market

Today: another fountain pen related blog post. I try not to have too many of those, as this is mainly a pencil blog, but neither the last post about fake Lamy Safaris, nor this one were planned. They ‘just happened’, so please bear with me before we go back to pencils.

David Royle hand turned pen

Farmers market surprise

The weekend before last our family went to to the farmers market at Cuerden Valley, a park about three miles South of our home.

Shredded Dollar pens

Shredded Dollars pens

We didn’t know what to expect and there weren’t much more than maybe ten to fifteen small stalls, but one of the stalls came as an unexpected surprise: Wood turned pens!

Shredded Dollars resin

Shredded Dollars resin

All the pens on sale there were made locally by David Royle. He started wood turning in 2004, but only recently, in 2012, started with pens and explained that he is still on a learning curve. He did also do mechanical pencils in the beginning, but because of problem with the pencil mechanism he stopped doing them.

The maker himself

The maker himself

Special wood and other materials

My assumption is that he buys the complete pen bodies and mechanisms and then creates and adds the wooden ‘shell’. Some of his wooden pens use rather special wood. One example is wood from Jim Beam or Jack Daniels Whiskey barrels.

Whiskey pens

Whiskey pens

He told me that his whole house will have a nice whiskey smell like when he works on those. Another example is English oak taken from the roof of a 17th century cottage.

17th century English oak pens

17th century English oak pens

There’s also material other than wood that is quite exciting, e.g. shredded Dollar notes made into some sort of resin ..and there are also acrylic pens.

Acrylic pens

Acrylic pens

He said the whole house will smell horrible when he works with the acrylic material.The most special pens are probably the inlay wood pens where coloured wood shapes are inlayed into the wood first before turning. This seems  very labour intensive process.

My purchase

I bought a fountain pen with African Wenge (African rosewood) wood for £31 (~$39; €37). It came with a converter and features a common Iridium point Germany nib1 that is slightly springy, by springy I mean that you can vary the line if you press hard.

David Royle hand turned pen

The pen is quite light and, unusally, features a thread on both ends of the body so that you can screw the cap on the end when writing. The grip section is a bit slim and doesn’t provide much grip, but other than that it is a nice fountain pen which is made beautiful by the wood on cap and body.

David Royle hand turned pen

I had a look and found web sites selling tools and ‘blank’ pens for pen turning. They seem to cost around £6 (~$7.50; €37) and come from China, which reminded me of Richard Binder’s article on IPG nibs.

 

 

Well, finding pens at a farmers market was an unexpected surprise and hearing from the maker himself was fascinating.


Price and exchange rates: December 2016

As always: if you want to see an image in full resolution please right click and open in a new tab/window.

Bullet pens

Bullet pens

  1. As reported in other places many of these nibs are not from Germany. []

Fake Lamy Safari fountain pens in Europe

I am quite sure that I’ve written about my use and like of Lamy pens in previous blog posts.

My admiration for Lamy started in the Eighties

I’ve started using Lamy Safari fountain pens more than 30 years ago (my first fountain pen was from Pelikan though) and have been very happy with them throughout the years. I really can’t remember what colour my first Lamy Safari had, but I am quite sure it came in a cardboard box like the one seen here (scroll down), the one the first Safari came in. The next ten years the Safari (I had a few over the years) was being used every weekday.

I’ve also spend some time near Heidelberg (the place were the Lamy Safari is made), because I have some relatives who live two miles East of Heidelberg. It’s a great place, even though that doesn’t have anything to do with the design and quality of their pens.

..but what’s that? Dark clouds over Heidelberg and the Lamy factory. The fake Safaris are coming!

real: top, fake: bottom - the text on the nib is a different colour, but the ink window matches up for both

real: top, fake: bottom – the text on the nib is a different colour, but the ink window matches up for both

 

Invasion of the fake Lamy Safaris

I recently bought two Lamy Safaris from eBay UK and paid £23.98 (~$30; €28.50). Buying two Lamy Safaris from a normal UK online merchant would have cost £28 (~$35.50; €33.30), so not much more expensive, but the ones from eBay came with converters and they were colours not being made anymore.

real: left, fake: right - the colour is slightly off, this is more pronounced in artificial light

real: left, fake: right – the colour is slightly off, this is more pronounced in artificial light

Well, when I got the pens I noticed that they didn’t feel right. One of them was lime green, Lamy’s special colour in 2008. The ‘screw’ in the cap had the wrong colour and the ink feed was shiny, something I have never seen in any of my Lamy Safaris (I confess, I have a two digit number of them – Oops.). I have a few lime green Safaris, which were bought from Papier Pfeiffer. So I thought I compare the eBay lime green Safari with my Papier Pfeiffer Safari: well, the colour was similar, but not the same. In artificial light the difference between the real and fake colour looks even bigger than in reality.

real: top, fake: bottom - the ink feed of the fake Safari is shiny

real: top, fake: bottom – the ink feed of the fake Safari is shiny

A quick search on the Internet revealed that fake Lamy Safaris are a thing. Desk of Lori wrote about it and Goldspot Pens made a video about fake Safaris.

The fake Safaris have certainly improved since Goldspot’s video. My nib looked quite good, the line goes straight to the middle of the breather hole. The ink window also matched up correctly with the grip section, so that’s another area where the fake Safaris have improved.

real: bottom, fake: top - the pattern in the fake LAMY letters is shallower and there are lines

real: bottom, fake: top – the pattern in the fake LAMY letters is shallower and there are lines

Goldspot Pens mentioned that their real Safari’s cardboard ring had text printed on both sides. I checked several real Safaris and they all only had the text printed on the outside, so the printing on the cardboard ring doesn’t seem to be a reliable indicator whether the pen is real or not.

the fake Safari's F nib is much wider

the fake Safari’s F nib is much wider

So what things did I notice that were different between the fake and the real Safari?

  • In the case of lime green the colour of the fake Safari is slightly off
  • In the case of lime green the ‘screw’ at the top of the cap is the wrong colour
  • The text on the nib is light instead of dark
  • The surface in the embossed LAMY letters of the body have a shallower pattern and some scratchy lines
  • Corners in the plastic are less pronounced
  • The ink feed is shiny instead of looking matt and washed (from testing)?
  • The second Lamy Safari’s cap is cracked near the top, so I assume the plastic isn’t as durable as the real ones
  • The fake Safaris don’t start well. Starting them after the first filling took a along time and they needed some help (pushing ink through) before they finally started
  • When you push ink through the nib section the fake Safari’s ink comes out from the filler hole (under the ink feed), not through the nib’s breather hole.
  • The fake Safari’s F nib is much(!) wider than a real Safari F nib

I have sent the seller a message in case they were not aware that they are selling fake Safari. The two colours I bought are now not available anymore, there’s only a yellow Safari left now.

The other fake Lamy Safari had a crack on the cap

The other fake Lamy Safari had a crack on the cap

Thinking how much progress has been made since Goldspot Pen’s video was made the fake Safaris could, if they improve further in the next years, be very difficult to spot ..but even if the appearance is gettng closer to the real thing, it still looks as if they are not as durable, don’t write as well

and they’re also not much cheaper1.


Price: November 2016

Exchange rates: December 2016

  1. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the manufacturing process is not really bothered about being environmentally friendly. []