Lamy

Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil

Welcome to my blog post about the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil, which was provided for free by The Pen Company. This blog post has also been published on their blog.

lamy2000pencil4

50 years of the Lamy 2000

The Lamy 2000 was first released in 1966 so this year is its 50th anniversary – and after several special editions covering materials like grenadill wood, ceramic, titanium, and more, we can expect a new special edition in 2016. I went ahead and compiled a list of the special editions so far, which can be seen at the still unnamed pen wiki. I checked with the company that handles the launch of the 50 years Lamy 2000 special edition. They checked with Lamy and I was told that the list is complete. I wonder whether someone has all of them. Maybe the person who bought the Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson special edition in red?

 

lamy2000pencil12

The material

It’s still not clear how the special edition will look, but however it looks, the ‘normal’ edition is stunning in itself. The main body is made from Makrolon (polycarbonate) and the surface is brushed, which means that use over time will slowly start to polish the surface and it will become shinier. This reminds me very much of Lexikaliker’s ‘beauty through use’ post (Translation / Original). It is a beautiful concept and idea and just one of the things I love about the Lamy 2000.

The surface of the Lamy 2000 in the middle changed after years of use.
The surface of the Lamy 2000 in the middle changed after years of use.

The Lamy 2000 Fountain pen

Even though I’ve been using Lamy (Safari) fountain pens since the 1980s, I only bought my first Lamy 2000 fountain pen in 2008. The most expensive fountain pen I had before that was probably a Parker, which was less than half the 2000’s price. Before I bought it I was looking at the 2000 pen for several months before I decided that it’s worth the €89.95(~$102; £72) it cost back then, and in the end I got this pen as a Christmas gift that year from my wife. It’s a great pen! After I got it, it was the only fountain pen I used for a very long time. One unusual thing about my 2000 fountain pen is the enormous ink flow you get if you start using a bit of force. The M nibbed one I have is like this, but I wouldn’t know whether all Lamy 2000 in M are like that. Well, I liked this pen so much that I bought an EF version a bit later, mainly because of the fairly big line variation I got from my version in M.

Lamy 2000 fountain pen and mechanical pencil
Lamy 2000 fountain pen and mechanical pencil

Even today, after Lamy has increased their prices a few times, they provide excellent value for money. You won’t find many piston fillers with a gold nib for the price the Lamy 2000 fountain pen sells for – and you’ll find even fewer fountain pens as handsome as the Lamy 2000, especially not for this price.

The Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil
The Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil

The Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil

Well, technically it’s not really the 50th anniversary of the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil; even though the fountain pen was released in 1966 the mechanical pencil was only added in 1970 (and the ballpoint pen in 1968).

Despite loving wood-cased and mechanical pencils, and despite the good reviews out there, I hadn’t had the pleasure of using a Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil until I got one from The Pen Company in January 2016.

lamy2000pencil7

 

Vitals

My first impressions: the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil was much lighter than expected. I know these numbers won’t mean much to most readers, but in case you want to compare it to another pen, here are the vitals: The length of the pen is just under 14cm, with the thickest part of the barrel having a diameter of 12mm. The weight is just under 19g. The centre of gravity is very much in the middle as you can see from the picture where the 2000 is balanced on a type.

What a well-balanced pencil!
What a well-balanced pencil!

Look and Feel

One of the other things I noticed first was that the Lamy 2000 pencil is much slimmer than the Lamy 2000 fountain pen version. As I was used to the thickness of the fountain pen version I did initially find the mechanical pencil too slim, but by now I like it the way it is. The clip has a similar design as the fountain pen, but again, is slimmer. This is a good thing as many users of mechanical pencils will rotate them in their hand, so a slimmer clip makes it less obtrusive when it rests on the purlicue between the thumb and index finger. You’ll still notice the clip in your hand though, because the corners are not rounded – the clip is still quite noticeable and can even be distracting.

The clip
The clip

If you write using a fairly acute angle, i.e. if you hold the pencil very flat, the pencil’s body can still be too wide, especially when writing near the spine in a notebook where the pages don’t lie flat. In that case, the body of the pen can touch the paper, making writing difficult – but this issue doesn’t usually occur.

The grip section
The grip section

The good thing about the cap is that it fits quite firmly on the pen and there is no danger of it falling off by mistake. I mention this because the cap of the my Caran d’Ache 844 is quite loose and can come off easily.

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Speaking of the cap: the 5 on the cap seems to be laser etched, similar to what you get on some keyboards, so I don’t expect the 5 to rub off anytime soon.

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Conclusion

This is a great mechanical pencil. I am sure I will enjoy it for many years to come. Since I got it, it has been my most used mechanical pencil.

The fountain pen and the mechanical pencil – easy to distinguish in your shirt pocket
The fountain pen and the mechanical pencil – easy to distinguish in your shirt pocket

Price: 2008

Exchange rates: April 2016

I would like to thank The PenCompany for providing this pen free of charge for this review.

You can find more about the origins of the Lamy 2000 design on the Fountain Pen Network.

Dave has a review of the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil too.

If you like the Lamy 2000, have a look at the Lamy Scribble, as well.

lamy2000pencilshirt1

 

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Last December, i.e. a few days ago, I was in Shanghai again. You might remember my previous posts about stationery in Shanghai. I thought I add my new experience to this blog, too.

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

I’ll start with Lamy’s presence in Shanghai. I mentioned them in 2012 and 2015., so here’s a quick recap. I first saw Lamy products in Shanghai in 2010. I didn’t notice them before that so if they had a presence it was not very obvious. They tend to be present in big shopping malls where they don’t have shops but fixed stalls, usually near escalators or lifts.

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

 

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Their stalls seem to get bigger and bigger every year. The one I have seen this year in the Raffles City shopping mall is the biggest and most impressive one so far. Raffles City is near People’s Square in Shanghai and at the end of FuZhou Road, a road full of book, art supplies and stationery shops.

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

As usual prices are quite high with cheaper items being proportionally much more expensive than in the West compared to more expensive items. There expensive items are still more expensive than in the West, but the price difference seems less out of place.

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

 

A Lamy Safari mechanical pencil will set you back ¥200 (~$31; £21; €28), a fountain pen ¥398 (~$61; £41; €56).

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

Unfortunately I didn’t see Lamy’s wood cased pencils, the Lamy plus and 4plus – you can see one here, anywhere.

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

 

Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

The most unusual pen I saw there was probably the red Lamy Safari with a yellow clip, a special edition for China. At ¥398 (~$61; £41; €56) it was a bit too expensive for me, but then again, they were being offered on eBay for $299, so I guess it will be worth ¥398 or more to some people. Special edition Lamy Safaris are not uncommon. There is usually a colour of the year, but there are also themed editions and editions for specific countries or geographic areas, like this red/yellow China one.
Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai Lamy at Raffles City in Shanghai

 


Price: December 2015

Exchange rates: January 2016

You can read more about the China edition of the Lamy Safari at KMPN.

Lamy scribble

This is my second blog post about pencils that The Pen Company sent to me [1]They send pens to several bloggers. You don’t have to pay for the pens, but are expected to write a blog post about the pens.. The original blog post can be found on their blog.

 

Me and Lamy, Lamy and I

You might not have guessed, because of the lack of Lamy posts on Bleistift, but Lamy is one if the stationery brands I feel strongly connected to. It all started about 1985 when I got my first Lamy Safari fountain pen. From that point onwards I only used Safari fountain pens in school. After I left school I didn’t use fountain pens on a daily basis any more and temporarily lost my link to Lamy. I did buy the occasional Lamy pen, though, until finally, in 2008, I rediscovered Lamy as one of my favourite brands after I got a Lamy 2000 fountain pen.

Lamy scribbles
The 0.7 mm version (top) and the 3.15 mm version (bottom) of the Lamy scribble.

 

Volker Albus, architect and designer: Just think of his Scribble writing set for Lamy. Seldom have the central functions and haptic requirements of such a twist action pen been translated so precisely and at the same time unmistakably into an aesthetic vocabulary.
Studio Hannes Wettstein (2011, p. 151)

Lamy and pencils

I was quite excited when Lamy’s wood cased pencils came out in 2010, even though, for my taste, they are a bit too soft for daily use. I have also bought a few of their mechanical pencils and I have been tempted on several occasions to buy a Lamy 2000 or  Lamy scribble mechanical pencil. So, naturally, I was very excited when I received two Lamy scribble pencils from The Pen Company, the Lamy scribble 0,7  [2]Germany, like most European, African and South American countries, adopted the comma as their decimal mark. Mechanical pencil and the Lamy scribble 3,15 Mechanical pencil. Because of its width I’d actually call the 3.15 mm version a lead holder, but I’ll go with the official name here, according to which it is a mechanical pencil.

 

The design – the process

First computer designs and prototypes of the scribble were created in 1997 by Swiss designer Hannes Wettstein, one of Switzerland’s most important designers [3]see NZZ: Suche nach den Archetypen von morgen, 7 July 2008. This was followed by two more prototype series in 1998 that lead to the final drawings in 1999. I’ll write more about the design later in this blog post. Overall, the development time of the scribble took less than two years.

Scribble 0.7
Lamy scribble 0.7 mm cap

 

The design – the colours

The current version of the scribble features what I tend to see as a classic colour combination: black and silver. It is a colour combination that I associate with simple design that follows functionality. Interestingly enough many of the great black and silver products I can think of feature a similar distribution between the two colours: lots of black and a bit of silver – and they also try to avoid unnecessary design elements that don’t contribute to the products function.

Black and Silver
Black and Silver (Braun, Lamy 2000, 2x Lamy scribble, Leica – unfortunately I couldn’t fit an iMac into this picture as well)

Another version of the scribble was available until 2010. Instead of fittings with a palladium finish it featured fittings in black chrome [4]I’d like to thank Lamy’s Marco Achenbach for this information..

 

Hannes Wettstein's early sketch of the scribble
Hannes Wettstein’s early sketch of the scribble

 

 

The design – the shape

The bulge in the middle of the short shaft makes SCRIBBLE a highly ergonomic tool. Its ergonomic quality is further enhanced by the flat surfaces, which are cut into the shaft. These flats also prevent the pen from rolling away.
Studio Hannes Wettstein (2011, p. 222)

With 10 mm – 13 mm [5]depending on where you hold this pen diameter the grip section of the scribble certainly has a wider than average diameter. I read in the past that wider grips on pens relieve writing stress and fatigue. I have to emphasise that I didn’t see any such claim from Lamy or Studio Hannes Wettstein, but after having used the scribble for a while I found that writing with another mechanical pencil with a much narrower grip felt much less comfortable, compared to the scribble. Even though the grip section is quite wide the tip is rather slim. This makes it possible to write using with a more acute angle.

 

Lamy scribble 0.7
Lamy scribble 0.7

 

The design – awards

It doesn’t come as a big surprise that such an excellent pencil won several awards.

In 2001 the scribble won the Design Plus award in Frankfurt and in 2002it won the  if award in Hanover.

 

Lamy scibble 0.7
Lamy scibble 0.7

 

The 0.7 mm version

The 0.7 mm version can hold up to 6 leads (if you wiggle the pen a bit to get them all in). It also features a small eraser under the cap that comes with a pin / clean out rod. Each click will advance the lead by about 0.9mm, which is suitable for a 0.7 mm lead.

 

One of the grooves on the body of the 3.15 mm version
One of the grooves on the body of the 3.15 mm version

 

The 3.15 mm version

The 3.15 mm version has three grooves along the body of the pen. I first thought they are there to support rotating the pen to use up the lead evenly, but they are not close enough to the tip for this, so I assume the grooves are there to visually distinguish the 3.15 mm version from the 0.7 mm version version of the pen. The pen comes with a 4B lead. a bit soft for my taste and unfortunately Lamy only sells refills in 4B, but you can get harder leads from other manufacturers. I assume that slightly thinner leads, like Caran d’Ache’s 3 mm leads will also fit. As far as I know Lamy does not offer a suitable sharpener. So far I have sharpened the lead using a KUM Automatic Long Point sharpener.

 

Scribble 3.15
Lamy scribble 3.15

 

Clip and mechanism

Both pens feature a sheet metal clip that can be removed. With 0.65 mm the sheet metal clip is thicker than that of your average pen. Most clips are bent on the corners to give the illusion of volume, but the scribble‘s clip is really that thick. According to Simon Husslein from Studio Hannes Wettstein designing and producing this clip was quite a challenge. I certainly believe that as I was not able to find another pen in my collection with such a thick sheet metal clip.

The lead holding mechanism seems to come from Schmidt. It is featured on page 12 of their catalogue – it’s the second mechanism from the left. The mechanism works very well, but my exposure to lead holders is limited, so I can’t really compare it.

There is also a ball point version available. This seems to be an afterthought that was designed in December 2000. The body is based on the 0.7 mm version body, the one without the grooves.

Lamy scribble 3.15
Lamy scribble 3.15

Hannes Wettstein post scribble

Hannes Wettstein and his studio later also went on to develop the studio for Lamy, which makes him one of the few select designers who designed more than one pen for Lamy. Hannes Wettstein died in 2008, but his design lives on. Current products by Studio Hannes Wettstein are created by Simon Husslein and Stephan Hürlemann and are very close to Wettstein’s design DNA. Look at this Braun watch for example.

 

Lamy scribble 3.15 mm and 0.7 mm version
Lamy scribble 3.15 mm and 0.7 mm version

Conclusion

It didn’t take long for these two mechanical pencils to become my current favourites. There are other pencils that I like for their design, but I love the scribble because it’s so comfortable to hold (the grip diameter is surprisingly comfortable and the weight distribution is very good, too) and looks so good. It’s just a shame there’s no 0.5 mm version available, but my understanding is that as users of the scribble Hannes Wettstein had architects and designers in mind who want to liberally put their drawing lines on a blank canvas. A thin line just isn’t suitable for that purpose.


I’s like to thank Simon Husslein from Studio Hannes Wettstein for answering all my questions about the scribble patiently. All the information about the design process came from Mr Husslein.

You can find more information about the Lamy scribble at Pencil Revolution, Jack the Scribbler (ballpoint version) and Dave’s Mechanical Pencils.

Only slightly related: There’s a great article on the Fountain Pen Network: Lamy 2000 and the Origins of “Lamy Design”

The quotes in this blog post have been taken from the following book:
Studio Hannes Wettstein. Seeking Archetypes. 2011. Lars Müller Publishers, Zürich.

References

References
1 They send pens to several bloggers. You don’t have to pay for the pens, but are expected to write a blog post about the pens.
2 Germany, like most European, African and South American countries, adopted the comma as their decimal mark.
3 see NZZ: Suche nach den Archetypen von morgen, 7 July 2008
4 I’d like to thank Lamy’s Marco Achenbach for this information.
5 depending on where you hold this pen

Lamy Safari at Staples UK

Possibly of interest if you are in the UK: My local Staples in Preston is selling Lamy Safari fountain pens for £5 / £8 (depending on the colour). I assume other Staples stores around the UK have similar offers.

Why are fountain pen sales rising?

 

Nick Hewer (Image © BBC)

Today an interesting article appeared on the BBC News web site: “Why are fountain pen sales rising?“. You might remember that Nick Hewer from the Apprentice is using Lamy fountain pens (see my blog post from last summer where you can see him using a Lamy Joy). He is being mentioned, too, and there are also links to other fountain pen related articles.


Nick Hewer (Image © BBC)

The photos of Nick Hewer using a Lamy Safari have been taken from series 8 episode 2 and 6 of The Apprentice UK. I believe that the use of these images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.