It’s been a long time since I’ve done a This Just In post, and even those last few stretched the meaning of This Just In. It’s time to return to my original intent with these posts, my first impressions within days of a new pens arrival.
The Lamy Aion Dark Green arrived on Monday, I inked it up Tuesday morning, and this post is being written on Thursday evening. Which means, don’t take this as anything resembling a thorough review, or even that my impressions won’t change.
So on to the pen…
The Lamy Aion wasn’t on my radar until I saw the Dark Green, and I immediately wanted it. From the picture it seemed like it could be another thin Lamy pen since there wasn’t anything else in the photo for scale. But the beautiful green color made me do some research.
The Aion reviews that I found were mixed, but seemed weighted on the negative side of the scale. In reading the reviews I found that many of the complaints were actually things I like in a fountain pen. The most common complaint was that the pen was chunky. Merriam-Webster defines chunky as “heavy, solid, and thick or bulky.” I don’t consider those as negative traits, unless taken to an extreme.
The Dark Green is a 2021 special edition, although it’s priced exactly the same as a basic black (or silver) Lamy Aion. Previous special editions are Blue (2019) & Red (2020), both of which can still be found new if you search hard enough. This is a good indicator that I didn’t need to rush the purchase. But I wanted the green, so while I didn’t need to rush, I wasn’t going to dawdle.
The Aion was designed by Jasper Morrison, a British designer of many non-pen products. I was a little concerned that he might do something weird with the design in order to make his mark. While there are design complaints, such as chunky it’s a minimalist, but otherwise valid design.
It was rolling out in the US and several places has it in stock so I could have ordered one, but I did hold off ordering for a bit. Of the retailers I watch, Anderson Pens was the last to list it for sale, which was about the time I decided to buy one. As I mentioned before, it arrived on Monday.
The Lamy Aion arrived in basic packaging and included an ink cartridge, a converter, a marketing/instruction pamphlet and warranty pamphlet. I ordered mine with an extra-fine nib.
As is my current practice, I popped the included ink cartridge onto the Aion. By the time I grabbed a piece of paper the ink had reached the nib, and was ready to write.
Speaking of the nib; it isn’t the same that’s used in the Safaris, AL-Stars , and other Lamy pens. It will fit the feed of those fountain pens (except the Lamy 2000) so the nibs are interchangeable. The Aion nib starts tapering in to the point further from the barrel.
Writing with the Lamy Aion
I was shocked with how smooth the extra-fine nib is. It’s terrific. Despite having an aluminum gripping section the pen doesn’t slip in my hand. The section feels like it has an ever so slight texture to it, although it isn’t visible.
For some reason, it takes me a moment or two to settle the pen into my grip as I get ready to write with the nib in the right position. I’ll probably get used to it over time. I use a Penwell Traveller at my desk. I soft cap the pen in the Penwell when I take a break. Since the pen is in the same orientation when I place and remove it, this isn’t a problem when I’m at my desk. It still takes me a moment if the pen has been capped and on my desk in a pen case. It’s a problem I have with hooded or small nibs. But the Aion’s nib is neither hooded or small, so I’m not sure why I have to concentrate when first holding the pen.
The inner cap only reaches about half-way down from the top of the cap. If insert the pen at a slight angle, something I do a lot, the edge of the pen catches on the inner cap. It doesn’t appear capable of bending the nib itself, but it is annoying to have to straighten the barrel on half my capping attempts.
I like pens on the chunky and heavy part of the spectrum, so it’s not that all those reviews are wrong, but I love writing with the Lamy Aion. And I love seeing the color on my desk when I’m not using the pen. I don’t post my pens, and the unposted pen is plenty long enough to be comfortable.
The nib is a smooth, consistent writer. I haven’t experienced any hard starts or skipping.
I’m impressed with the Lamy Aion Dark Green and I love it so far. Granted, it’s only been three days. I ordered a 14k gold oblique-medium nib with the attempt to use it on this pen if it was comfortable. Well, it’s comfortable, but the Aion’s steel nib is so good that I’ll probably be forced to find another pen for the oblique-medium.
This pen is definitely a keeper, it needs a little more time in my hand to earn its place as a core pen.
A few years ago Paul, from the now-defunct Gorgeous Ink blog, wrote about upgrading a Lamy Safari (as I remember it) to a 14K gold nib. That was when I first became aware that Lamy made gold nibs for pens other than the Lamy 2000. That memory ramained lodged in a brain crevice since then. I’ve always liked Lamy Safaris, but I never seemed to bond with one. I’ve rediscovered them lately, and I’m now a bit infatuated with them. My memory of Paul’s gold nib broke loose from the crevice, and I decided to check out Lamy’s gold nib options.
In addition to the standard nib sizes (extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad) Lamy also has medium oblique and broad oblique 14k gold nibs. Since an oblique is my favorite grind, I was on board with a medium oblique. A broad would be far too big for my writing style. The Lamy obliques are a bit harder to find at retail, but I was able to order the last 14k medium oblique nib from JetPens.
They showed as out of stock after I ordered one. It did come back in stock a couple of weeks later, with one in stock. Maybe it was sooner, I didn’t check daily, but it was long enough for me to believe the “Only 1 left in stock” notice was legitimate, and not an attempt to compel a FOMO purchase. (FYI: Lamy does not make steel oblique nibs.) I’ve been using the nib since it arrived on January 16th.
The nib shipped in a small plastic bag that could easily be lost in the packaging. It’s just the nib, no feed or housing is included. I included some ink cartridges in the order, so it was wrapped with them. This made me a bit squeamish as I tried to remove the tightly wound and taped plastic wrap without damaging the nib that I could not see. Lamy calls it a Z55 nib and it can be used with almost any Lamy fountain pen except the Lamy 2000. There are probably other models that it won’t work with, but it fits most Lamy fountain pens that I’ve seen available in the United States.
The nib is three-times the cost of the Lamy Safari fountain pen that I’ll be putting it on. This makes the cost justification a bit tough. It’s even harder because I’m not a gold nib snob. I like steel nibs just fine, and I don’t choose gold over steel when both are available. Well, I did on one recent fountain pen, but that’s another story. And for the record, the gold nib bump of that upgrade was more than the cost of this nib.
My justification is simple and summed up in three points.
I’m curious and want one (I could stop here).
Obliques are my favorite grind and were my gateway into using medium nibs more. Obliques are rarely a factory option, so there’s almost always an added cost for obliques.
I don’t have to send a pen away for a nib grind, and then wait for its return.
I consider the Lamy 14k oblique medium to be a fair value at $100 when compared to other options, since the gold nib bump is often more than $100, even if the original nib is removed from the pen before the sale. While some nib grinders may charge less, an oblique grind is going to cost $40 or more, plus shipping from my preferred nib workers. While that’s less than $100, it does make the Lamy gold nib feel like a better value.
Before I could ink it up, I had to put the nib on a pen. JetPens has a written guide describing a couple of methods to swap the nibs, and Goulet Pens has a video showing the tape method, which is the method that I use. I like the tape method because it makes it nearly impossible to drop the nib, and the risk of accidentally bending the nib is minimal.
With the nib in place, I popped in a Lamy Violet ink cartridge as the first ink. The nib was ready to write as soon as I was.
Writing with the Pen
It’s a medium nib, so wider than my usual everyday writer. I’ve been using medium nibs more and more recently, so I’ve gotten used to them.
I find the flow to be generous, almost a little too generous for my tastes, proven by the occasional smudge. I can’t make any direct steel vs. gold comparisons, but this gold nib is wetter than my Lamy steel medium nibs. On the other hand, there’s some nice line variation due to the ink flow. My issues with the oblique medium nibs are no different from regular medium nibs, especially western ones. I have to write bigger and slower than normal, otherwise, even I can’t read my writing Since all the e and o’s, among others are just balls of ink.
But I’ve gotten used to medium nibs, and have begun to enjoy them. Oblique nibs are a natural fit for my hand, and enjoy using them more than a regular round medium. The oblique medium will be primarily used for longer, sit down at a desk, writing sessions.
Overall, I do like the Lamy Medium Oblique 14k gold nib. It’s a nib style I like a lot, which is a huge plus. I am curious about getting a Lamy Steel medium nib ground to an oblique, so I can compare them. That probably won’t happen, since I have no reason to get a second Lamy oblique nib, beyond that curiosity.
I should mention that the Lany Violet ink cartridge leaked out into the pen case. I couldn’t find where it leaked, so I assume it came through the nib. Everything seemed secure and I don’t blame the nib, but since I don’t know the cause I can’t rule it out. There’s been no leaking since I moved the nib to another Safari.
I like the feel of writing with the gold nib slightly more than a Lamy Steel nib. But, I have to admit this could be my brain trying to justify the purchase. It’s also partly due to the oblique being more suitable for the way I hold a fountain pen.
I like oblique nibs, and my current preferred nibmeister charges $40, making the gold nib a $60 up-charge (me justifying the expense). I like the feel and consistency of the gold nib. While I’m not planning on getting any additional Lamy gold nibs, I am happy that I have this one, and don’t regret the $100 cost. This quickly became a lie, by the end of this month, I ordered another oblique medium gold nib, and an extra-fine gold nib. The more I used the nib, the more I liked it.
I ordered four fountain pens in early December. I had money left in the pen budget and flashed back to the corporate world of use it or lose it, so I placed several orders. These are three of those four fountain pens. The fourth fountain pen, a gold nibbed Diplomat Aero, was massively delayed by USPS and just recently arrived.
These fountain pens all arrived 7 to 10 days before Christmas, but I didn’t ink them up until Christmas day. On to the pens…
Sheaffer 300 Matte Green (Fine)
As much as I love the Sheaffer pen colors and designs of the last century, I find the current designs either boring or heavy on colors that I don’t like. That changed when I saw the Matte Green 300 on the Anderson Pens podcast. I had to have the pen. The real-life pen lived up to expectations set by the video.
I had another Sheaffer 300 in metallic grey with chrome trim about 6 years ago. Eventually I gave it away after consistently passing over the pen whenever I was picking a pen to ink up. Since green is my favorite color, this pen won’t get ignored.
Despite being a sub-$70 pen ($82 MSRP), the Sheaffer 300 arrives with a classy presentation. A slightly oversized clamshell box is held in a cardboard sleeve. The sleeve has a cutout so that the Sheaffer logo printed on the clamshell box can be seen. In addition to the pen, the box contains a converter, a blue cartridge, and a black cartridge. There’s also an instruction/warranty booklet. The Sheaffer 300 uses Sheaffer’s proprietary filling system.
To avoid wasting ink I’ve been trying to use any included ink for my new pens. While I do praise Sheaffer for including a choice between blue and black ink cartridges, I was swearing at them for giving me two cartridges to either use or waste. I picked the black cartridge for the pen’s first ink. The blue might end up in the trash bin, or remain in the box until it dries out.
I inked up another two pens before returning to the Sheaffer 300 to use it. The fountain pen wrote well, a nice smooth true-to-size fine steel nib. Then I noticed my left hand was covered with ink stains (I’m a righty). I couldn’t see any ink inside the cap, or extra ink on the nib or section. Then I noticed even more ink in my left hand. While hard to see on the matte green in subdued lighting, there was a coating of ink on the outside of the cap. So, I cleaned the cap under the faucet and scrubbed the ink off. While cleaning the cap, I noticed water flowing through the cap from around the clip. Since it isn’t watertight, it certainly isn’t airtight.
There’s an inner plastic cap that is held in place by a metal screw at the top of the cap. After cleaning the cap, and verifying that the cartridge is secure the pen was ready to use again. The nib and section were secure, as was the cartridge. I haven’t had a problem since. I never confirmed what the problem was, so I can only guess. Whatever it was, it hasn’t returned and the pen has been leak-free. So the problem is moot. I did inspect the Sheaffer 300 thoroughly the day it arrived, so it certainly didn’t arrive covered in ink.
Using the Sheaffer 300
The snap-on cap is easy to take off and replace. There’s a nice solid click when the pen is capped. There’s just enough resistance when removing the cap. All this gives the Sheaffer 300 a nice, solid feel. Although I don’t post my pens, this one is designed to post and does so securely. The end of the pen has a shallow lip that the inner cap snaps onto. It almost makes me wish that I did post my pens. It’s a nice attention to detail.
I’ve been using the Penwell Traveler. The Sheaffer 300 is held firmly in place by the cushion. If I forcefully push the cap into the cushion, I can uncap and use the pen with one hand. Despite this, I typically soft-cap the pen during use. The ink stays wet on the nib and doesn’t evaporate. This includes the time I walked away and left the pen soft-capped for a couple of hours.
The nib has been more prone to evaporation when I pause while writing. The ink will dry off the tip of the nib in under a minute, causing skipping on the next stroke of the nib. Skipping after a pause is a bit annoying. It’s January, and the heating has dried the air in my apartment, which has no doubt affected the pen. Even my previously problem-free pens have been drying out quicker than usual.
In my original Sheaffer 300 review, I mentioned that I found the nib too short and stubby, unlike the classic Sheaffer nibs that I love. I have the same opinion of the nib six years later. I mean stubby as in a visual sense, not the nib grind.
Speaking of the nib grind, I got a fine nib. A medium nib is also available. Both options are steel only.
The nib is a smooth writer and very enjoyable to use. I mentioned skipping after pausing a minute or more, but other than that the writing experience has been problem-free. I’m extremely happy with this Sheaffer 300. Unlike the original, now passed on grey version, this green model will get noticed and won’t be passed over.
Lamy Safari USA Independence Day (Medium)
The name is a bit unruly, so I’ll stick with calling it the Lamy Safari USA.
Based on the name I assume it came out before July 4th. An internet search turned up reviews from 2019, so this pen is at least a year-and-a-half old. Yet, it didn’t come to my attention until November or December when I saw it on a Pen Chalet sale page. I eventually picked it up at the sale price. The price dropped even further during a year-end sale, so clearly, this model wasn’t moving.
While patriotically named, and with special packaging, nothing about this pen screams “USA”. It would fit in as a patriotic purchase in any of the other 27 countries with red, white, and blue national flags.
I’ve owned many Safaris and AL-Stars over the years, but currently have only three safaris remaining, including this one. The others have a matte finish to them, making them appear less like plastic pens. The Safari USA is shiny plastic, and in my opinion, makes it look a little cheap. Still, I do like the bright colors.
The Lamy Safari USA arrived in a custom red/white/blue cardboard box, rather than the typical flimsy Lamy slotted box. While more substantial than the typical Lamy box, it is still a small, simple box without a lot of wasted space. Both easy to store and easy/cheap to ship. Some Amazon reviews mention that the buyer received the pen in the typical Lamy box, lending credence to other Amazon reviews that claim to have received a counterfeit pen.
Compared to the textured plastic of the two Safaris that I already have, the smooth, bright plastic of this pen makes it look cheaper. Although, it isn’t any different than other glossy Safaris that I’ve owned.
I bought this fountain pen with a medium nib, the only option that was available to me from Pen Chalet. It may be that this was the only nib option offered by Lamy. The pen included a blue ink cartridge for the proprietary filling system. No converter is included.
As is my current practice, I popped in the included Lamy ink cartridge. The ink had reached the nib by the time I was ready to use the pen.
I do have a supply of other Lamy nib sizes but decided to stick with the medium nib for now. I always like to use a pen before making any changes, this way I know who to blame for any out-of-the-box problems.
Using the Lamy Safari
The Lamy Safari USA is just like every other Safari that I’ve used. I find the triangular grip a natural, comfortable fit for my hand. I’ve had good out-of-the-box experiences with every Lamy I’ve owned, except for the flagship Lamy 2000, and this pen did not disappoint. It performs well and has been free of skipping and hard starts. It’s also nice and smooth.
I’ve been using the Penwell Traveler recently. The Lamy Safari stayed ready to write, even when soft-capped for a couple of hours. The pen fits securely. Although, it is not so secure that it can be uncapped without having to hold the cap in place.
While they’ve never completely pulled me in, I’ve never had any complaints about Lamy Safari fountain pens and I can understand their popularity. That said, but I wouldn’t have bought the pen if it wasn’t on sale while I was in the mood to buy a pen.
Retro 51 Lincoln (1.1mm Stub)
With Retro 51 winding down operations I decided to look into any available fountain pens. I’ve had two of their fountain pens in the past and was disappointed in them both. The first, a Double-Eight, was poorly built and quickly fell apart with normal use. The second was this same model(Review). While the build quality was better than the Double-Eight, the nib was much too wet for my tastes.
I came across some comments that Retro 51 had changed their nibs. Details, such as when they made the change, and what the changes were, were lacking but I decided to risk it and hope a current model would be better.
Against better judgment, I ordered a Retro 51 Lincoln with a 1.1mm Stub nib. A 1.1mm stub nib is not suitable for me. It’s much too wide for me. But, I’ve been trying other nib styles and have found them fun to use, if not as an everyday writer. I was already placing an order with Pen Chalet, and the only option they had available was the 1.1mm stub, so I ordered one.
The Retro 51 Lincoln fountain pen arrived in generic Retro 51 packaging. A converter and two black cartridges are included, along with an instruction pamphlet.
I removed the cartridge from the barrel and popped it into the pen. The ink made it to the nib by the time I was ready to use the pen.
I noticed a rattle in the pen as I used it. My first reflex was “poor build quality again”, but then I realized there was probably a second ink cartridge in the pen. I opened the pen and the second cartridge fell out. It was stuck in there when I took the first cartridge out.
Writing With The Retro 51 Lincoln
I don’t have much to say here. The 1.1mm stub is too wide for me, but I knew this going in. That said, I do find the nib to be true to size, with a nice even flow.
The Lincoln is not an oversize pen, but the metal barrel does give it some heft. I find heavier pens more comfortable to use for extended writing sessions. I do like the feel of the Lincoln. The gripping section is smooth plastic. I suppose this could get slick in summer, or with extended writing sessions, but I haven’t had any issues in the dry indoor air.
I have experienced some hard starts, but I blame this on the dry, indoor air more than the pen. Even usually problem-free pens have been drying out faster than normal when I pause my writing, I’ve had to keep my pauses under 1 minute. Any longer and I’ll probably get skipping on the first stroke when the nib returns to paper.
I’ve been using the Penwell Traveler with the Retro 51 Lincoln. The pen fits securely. I can unscrew the cap with one hand. I can also leave the pen soft-capped for a couple of hours and the nib stays ready.
Of these three fountain pens, the Sheaffer 300 Matte Green is my clear favorite.
The Retro 51 Lincoln has an antique brass finish that I love. I do regret my nib choice a bit. The 1.1mm stub is not an everyday nib for me, but the pen looks good enough to use every day, I’d like to carry it in my Nock Co Fodderstack XL along with its rollerball sibling. I may try a nib swap, or since it’s only a $50 pen, look for an extra-fine nibbed version.
The Lamy Safari USA will probably get the least use. I like the colors, yet as I mentioned, Safaris never seem to pull me in.
I know there’s been some talk of counterfeit Lamy Safaris, but I never paid too much attention. I tend to buy new pens from authorized or at least well-known retailers, so I didn’t have any reason to look deeper. I figured there couldn’t be a big market for counterfeits of a low-cost pen. (Low-cost knock-offs are another story, I’m talking about pens that claim to be Lamy.) Two unrelated events happened one-day last week which triggered a two hour time sink into (what must be) counterfeit Lamy’s on eBay.
The first was a review of my remaining accumulation to see if there were any other pens I can sell-off. I came across my two remaining Lamy Salaries, a Petrol along with a Dark Lilac. I made a mental note that one of them could go. It would probably be the Petrol, but there wasn’t any rush. An hour or two later, I came across a Reddit post of someone wanting to buy a Lamy Petrol. So, as usual, I started by looking for recent eBay sales. The Petrol was a 2017 Special Edition. While not limited by numbers, it had a limited manufacturing timespan and the authorized retailers sold out long ago. So I didn’t expect to find many recent sales.
I was utterly wrong.
Let me digress a bit and define my two Lamy pens. The “Lamy Safari Petrol, released in 2017, is a distinctive teal color. The “Lamy Safari Dark Lilac” was released in 2016 and is a purple color. All the authorized retailers I’ve seen have called the pens by their quoted names. Ok, back on track.
A search for “Lamy Safari Petrol” on eBay resulted in a mess. There were 55 listings, 54 of which were for new pens. Many of the listings were for multiple pens. There were all variations on the name, such as “Lamy Safari Petrol Blue,” “Lamy Safari Petrol Purple,” and even one “Lamy Safari Petrol Black.” Most (maybe all, I didn’t check every listing) sellers of the new models were in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China. Many were priced at one-third the price that the pen cost from an authorized Lamy dealer back in 2017.
Recently completed sales did include a couple used pens that seemed legitimate and sold for twice the cost of recent “new” sales.
I did find a couple “safari petrol” listings that avoided all mention of Lamy and didn’t say Lamy on the pen barrel. So those sellers probably met the letter of the eBay law by not misrepresenting anything in the listing. They even used a lower case “s” for Safari. They were called limited editions, but that’s not a lie since there’s a finite number made at any one time. So I’d consider these knock-off trying to pass as Lamy. But, the rest all clearly claimed to be real Lamy pens. I’m not an expert on Lamy, so while it’s possible they were all legit (and a couple did seem legitimate), I find it impossible to believe that many were not counterfeit.
Like I said, I was wrong. There’s a significant market in counterfeit Lamy Safari pens. While I only looked at eBay, there are claims that Amazon has a similar problem.
Some people may be happy buying a look-alike pen at a lower price and may know what their gettings. Plus, I’m sure it harder to sell legitimate models, either used or new old stock at a reasonable (i.e., profitable) price. If I do decide to sell either of my Lamy Safari pens, I doubt I would list them on eBay.
I inked up my Lamy 2000 with Omas Turquoise ink back on February 2nd. I wrote it dry today so it lasted just over a month. The Lamy 2000 has a fine nib which was very scratchy when I received it, as I mentioned in my review. But the nib has since been tuned by Mike Masuyama.
The ink performed well in this pen, no skipping or hard starts. Unfortunately the ink is, well, turquoise. It’s not a color I like at all but I did use it enough to write the pen dry. (The ink was included with my Omas pen.) It was loaded into the pen because its line number in my ink spreadsheet was picked by random.org. I wanted to give the ink a chance so I picked a good pen for it rather than put it in a pen I also wouldn’t want to use.
Considering the light color it provides good coverage on all colors of paper.
The ink flow is on the wet side from this nib. It’s also slow drying and I did have a few accidental, careless smudges.
The ink was easy to clean from the pen. Piston fillers aren’t a favorite of mine when it comes to cleaning, at least when I’m cleaning it for storage and want all ink traces removed. But it was a quick process to remove all traces of this ink from the Lamy 2000.