Lamy Safari Reviewed

August 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Lamy Safari and its success as a school fountain pen is well-known.  But lying behind this success is a combination of design and manufacturing quality together with features that make this an attractive pen from the outset.

From picking the pen up at just 18 grams in working order, the quality of the ABS moulding is immediately noticeable.  The Lamy Safari uses the same polymer that is used in the manufacture of  Lego bricks, offering the same high quality, and durable finish.  Its round-sectioned barrel is finished with facing flat sections and an ink level window.  Whilst the grip, also round in cross-section, has 2 asymmetric flat recesses to accommodate the thumb and forefingers in an ideal position for optimum control.  The stainless steel nib, shared with the Lamy family up to around £80 pens, offers excellent writing characteristics from its range of widths from extra fine through to 1.9mm square-cut italic calligraphy style.  There is also a left-handed nib available.

Filling the Safari is by conventional, proprietary ink cartridges or by optional screw-piston pump ink converter to allow use of bottled inks.  The best thing about the Safari is that it works reliably with a smooth performance which, particularly for the uninitiated, exceeds expectation for a relatively low-budget pen.  The Safari also uses a rubber o-ring as a final seal to its click-on cap contributing to the reliability of its initial ink flow.

Lamy Safari fountain pen with cartridges

Lamy Safari fountain pen with cartridges

The detail adds to the Safari’s difference.  The ability to change the nib with minimal cost and simplicity is well-known, using the Lamy slide-on mounting system.  This offers 2 principle benefits including, replacement of a damaged nib or selection of an alternative nib width or style. The cartridge has a small reserve ink supply in the final constriction at the top of the cartridge where, when you’re down to your last drop, a little flick of the end will release the ink from its designed-in air-lock.

By the way, when you get your first Safari fountain pen, please remove the cardboard spacer from the barrel – it’s only there to prevent premature puncturing of the sealed ink cartridge before use.  You’d be surprised at how many customer have complained at not being able to get their new pens working!

The Lamy Safari is currently on Special Offer at for £9.95 until 5 September.

Service vs. Tumbleweed

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cranleigh, like many high streets in the current economic gloom, is extremely quiet.  The tumbleweed almost rolls down the road some afternoons.  However, Cranleigh is relatively quiet even when other high streets are heaving with shoppers preparing for a holiday. This is why the retail shop for is in an ideal position.  With the majority of our sales being online, for those prepared to make the journey, we are able to offer attentive, personal service that buying a quality pen deserves. for pens at low prices, the shop to look out for!

For those who have discovered the almost therapeutic pleasure derived from pen selection, many have travelled some distance. Recently a couple came over from Woking.  This is not exactly the other end of the country excepting they came by bus requiring a change of route at Guildford just to visit the shop. 2 x buses x 2 and over an hour of travel each way.  They seemed to enjoy their excursion and think it well worthwhile.

What is waiting for those who make the pilgrimage?  A good range of pens, a selection of nibs and paper types, enthusiastic, informed opinion, and advice, with prices parallel to our online offering. Arguably, this offer could not be replicated in a bigger store elsewhere because our personal involvement cannot readily be scaled up to a busier shop. Our service is not just for the high-end pens, either.  In many ways greater satisfaction comes from helping first-time fountain pen users, particularly left-handed ones! in the Surrey countryside

Make a day of your visit to

Once in Cranleigh, we can recommend a selection of excellent refreshment stations and some other interesting independent retail experiences too.  Walkers and cyclists are well catered for with open countryside all round us.  So, why not make a day of your visit to

Love pens – hate computers but have to live with them?

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

We love our fountain pens but, let’s be real, we need the computer in business life for producing letters, spreadsheets and the general bumf of commerce.  To help things along and keep costs down, at we have started selling JetTec printer cartridges online.  Much is made of the unreliability of compatible cartridges but in our opinion, it’s like everything in life, ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’.  There are cheaper compatibles and remanufactured cartridges on the market but they’re not much use if they don’t work. Or worse, stop working shortly after installation, usually in the middle of an important document and usually late into the evening!

The JetTec ranges are products that we have offered on the retail side in our Cranleigh shop for a number of years and have great confidence in their reliability with the Company making much of their 100% Guarantee claim.  However, it’s not guarantees that you want, it’s the knowledge that you won’t need a guarantee to fall-back on – because it will work.

In our opinion, a stronger statement of success comes from the Queen’s Award for Innovation bestowed on the Company in 2004 for re-designing the Extra Life cartridge range for Epson and Canon printers.  The re-designing of the two brands works on two levels, creating a differentiator for the JetTec products and avoiding conflict with the notoriously litigious OEMs.  The redesign is such that JetTec have their own patents for their cartridges.  The remanufactured inkjet and laser cartridges are produced using equally advanced, state of the art cleaning, re-progamming, and refilling processes.

Canon inkjet printers - not affected by JetTec: Affected by loose screws!

Canon inkjet printers - not affected by JetTec: Affected by loose screws!

At we have been using JetTec cartridges in our Canon iX4000 inkjet printer since it was new.  The only problem experienced with the printer was when, unknown to us, a machine screw fell off a shelf above the printer into the paper feed hopper and was pulled into the printer.  A bit of deft work with the snipe-nosed pliers pulled it out without detriment to the print quality!

Next time you have a requirement to write a business letter, don’t be too ashamed of using your printer instead of your beloved fountain pen!

Cross Chinese Year of the Dragon Special Edition

August 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Every now and then one of the mainstream pen manufacturers creates a really special ‘Special Edition’ and unusually, it’s Cross this time.  Based on the Sauvage profile, the Chinese Year of the Dragon, 2012, is being celebrated with this beautiful, deep-etched, gold plated, lacquered pen.  Deep-etched through the black or translucent red lacquer to the gold beneath, the Chinese dragon drapes itself around the barrel, across the joint onto the cap with perfect alignment.  The pens are supplied in a sumptuous display case with an integral display plinth for showing-off the pen in a cabinet or in pride of place on the desk.  These pens are available in either fountain pen, rollerball or ballpoint.  However, there is limited stocks with only 800 units being made available in the UK.

Based on the Sauvage, The Chinese Year of the Dragon pen from Cross

Based on the Sauvage, The Chinese Year of the Dragon pen from Cross

The Chinese Dragon pen will be supplied with a dedicated 18ct gold nib on the fountain pen with converter and cartridge options.  The rollerball is designed using Cross’s unique Selectip rolling ball system with 2 alternative refill formats being available.  The ballpoint will use Cross’s proprietary ballpoint refill.  We believe that pricing will be at £300, £250 and £200 respectively.

Full details and final specification will be published on on the pen’s release and when stock is avaialble

We understand that the Dragon Pen will be released towards the end of September 2011.   Please email your interest and we will keep you informed as to progress.

Sonnet Surprise

August 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

The new Parker delivery arrived at  Opened, checked and oops! Ordered the wrong product code.  It’s a Parker Chiselled Carbon Sonnet fountain pen.  Haven’t seen one of these.  They appear to have slipped under the radar.  But this pen is something special.

Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon fountain pen and ballpoint

Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon fountain pen and ballpoint

We are late converts to the Sonnet, particularly the later, more creative interpretations such as the Sonnet Art Deco (Feminine Collection!).  The Chiselled Carbon Sonnet however, is everything the Art Deco represented but in a different design direction.  This is a more masculine treatment of the profile with gloss anthracite coloured PVD coating over a striated, chiselled design, interspersed with minute starburst crosses.  The finish has titanium particles in it which create a fine metallic sheen allowing the light to interact with the facets of the chiselling. The trim is nickel palladium plated while the fountain pen has an 18 ct gold nib with rhodium coating.

The 18ct gold nib is the proven Sonnet 7 series unit offering a smooth writing experience with just enough spring in the tip to add that little extra softness to the touch.  The nib is available in 8 width options from extra fine through to medium reverse oblique, although beyond the core fine, medium, and broad options, these may only be available to special order.  The ballpoint is in a corresponding style, in standard or slim versions, and uses the recently introduced Quink Flow ballpoint refill.

Together the Sonnet Chiselled Carbon fountain pen and ballpoint has proved to be quite an exciting ‘find’, one that seems to have passed-by a lot of pen enthusiasts, professional and amateur.

Buy pens now!!

August 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

“Buy fountain pens now!”  Sounds like a line from a ‘B’ movie about the commodity markets.  But there is truth in it.  We all love our pens and enjoy the privileges of writing with a choice of nibs, particularly those produced in gold with precious metal decoration.  The pen manufacturers have been maintaining prices remarkably well but one has already broken cover with unscheduled, mid-year price increases of 14% for their gold nibbed fountain pens coming into force at the beginning of next month. We are sure that the others will have to follow suit, either with an unscheduled price revision, or with a massive hike at the next scheduled revision. 

The background to this is the general economic upheaval and investors turning to precious metals including, gold, silver, rhodium and platinum, for security.  We have looked into this and suggest viewing a US based coin website where the picture is very clearly laid-out:

Cross have announced their price schedule for the European markets and, according to a customer in the Southern Hemisphere, are trying to lift prices even higher there.  So, if you have a major birthday to buy for or just a treat for yourself for Christmas, we would suggest a purchase earlier rather than later!

Pen related Top 10s

August 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

We’ve added some pen related Top 10’s to the website.   We’ve included Top 10 Pens and Why, Top 10 Need to Knows and Top 10 Pen brands by age.

It’s just a bit of fun but any throughts would be much appreciated!

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for August, 2011 at Penfountain's Blog.