My Lamy Safaris and AL-stars and their associations.

Recently I have been taking stock of my fountain pen accumulation. This involved getting them all together and listing them on a spreadsheet, a sure sign of having too many pens.

They included twelve Lamy Safaris and AL-stars. I am not even a particular fan of these pens. What was I thinking?

My Lamy Safari, Vista and AL-star fountain pens.

But then as I looked, their stories came back to me, one by one. The charcoal Safari was my first. It was an impulse buy in Rymans in Golders Green when my wife had sent me to buy Sellotape. She was busy making a photo display for our church. I used that pen a lot.

Then the pink one was bought in Marlow, a pretty town on the River Thames. We had gone for a day trip with Joey, a Chinese student who was visiting us at the time. I tried unsuccessfully to enthuse her in fountain pens.

I bought the red one in a traditional fountain pen shop on another day trip, to Oxford. An aunt had sent me a cheque for my birthday to buy myself something pen-related. A Safari seemed just the thing. The helpful lady in the shop offered me a choice of nib too, in silver or black. I chose black. (At the moment, this nib has been borrowed by my Lamy Studio, whose own nib was ruined when it fell off a table).

The Lamy Vista, (Safari demonstrator version) was bought in the summer of 2014. I remember showing it to my brother when we met up to see the Eagles at London’s O2 Arena, in the final stages of the History tour. It was one of the most fabulous concerts I had ever seen, more poignant now as it included the late Glenn Frey, who passed away in 2016. My brother and his partner had generously bought me the ticket as a surprise.

I remember buying the black Safari in Harrods’ stationery department, from a pen cup rather than in the usual blister pack. It was probably my intention to use this with black ink. A black pen always looks smart.

I was thrilled to find the limited edition Dark Lilac Safari, when eventually it appeared in our local shops. I had been waiting for it to arrive. This was a great colour and so was the matching ink.

Similarly, the limited edition Petrol was a thrilling find, when it arrived in our shops quite some time after news of the colour had first appeared on the internet. I much enjoyed the matching ink colour, a dark teal with lovely shading.

The yellow Safari is still my favourite of the Safari colours. I was on the way home from Hampstead after an annual cardio check-up at the hospital. I popped in to have a look around Rymans and treated myself to the Safari “for being good.”

Turning to my AL-stars, the black was my first. I remember being excited to discover that an aluminium version existed and enjoying the touch of the cool aluminium body. I had this pen with me during a short stay in Tetbury, in the Cotswolds in May 2013 where we had been for a wedding. I found a stationery shop there with a display in the window of the same black AL-star as mine. Naturally I took a photograph of it.

“Snap!” A window display in Tetbury, 2013.

The Ocean blue AL-star was bought in Rymans Golders Green and has been featured in this blog before (here). The nib was particularly smooth.

The colour name is not to be confused with the lighter, Pacific blue version, which I ordered from Cult Pens and which came with a pack of cartridges in the lovely bright Lamy turquoise.

Being artistic on a cruise with the Pacific blue AL-star.

Finally, the rather unusual colour called Charged Green was another impulse buy, probably because the price was reduced. It was not a colour that appealed to me really but I decided to give it a go. However the accompanying cartridges were too light a shade to be useful.

Lamy AL-star in charged green.

I did not set out to be a pen collector. I think the fact that I passed up all the other colours of the Safari and AL-star and the LX models too, proves that I am not a collector. But as I get older, I am realising that it is not so much the merits of a pen in our ownership that make it important to us, but the associations that the pen has for us. I have shared mine here, not because they are particularly significant but to prompt you to reflect on what associations your pens have for you. Whether we see ourselves as collectors of pens or not, we are traveling through life collecting memories.

Suitably inked and awaiting memories.

9 thoughts on “My Lamy Safaris and AL-stars and their associations.

  1. Hello Rupert

    You are having a very productive “lockdown” producing a series of interesting blogs!

    I am also a fan of the Lamys, particularly the Al-Star version but recently I have been drawn more towards the TWSBI Ecos.

    Lamys require proprietary cartridges, although I have bought a “converter” which allows you to use normal cartridges in them.But it is still a fiddle, so I prefer the Lamy converters. However, they carry relatively small amounts of inks so, in this department, the TWSBI Ecos win for me.

    But I really like the design of Lamys, and their sleek metallic looks, The trouble is that they keep on bringing out new colours so, before you know it, you have amassed a dozen of them.

    I particularly liked your remark that “as I get older, I am realising that it is not so much the merits of a pen in our ownership that make it important to us, but the associations that the pen has for us”, That is so true. I can recall the occasion when I bought (or received) virtually all my pens, particularly those that came as gifts or were bought in some serendipitous little shop.

    In the last category is a great Cartoleria in Genoa (Mazzini) which I visited in a business trip and where I found a wonderful Delta orange Dolce Vita with a fabulous 18C nib. Or the moment when I found a Pelikan White Tortoise M600 in Stilograf Corsani in Rome, visiting after a business meeting… My favourite Lamy was bought at Rome airport on the way to Sicily: the local flights terminal had a pen store where I bought a Stub Demonstrator Lamy that I happily used during that holiday.

    Best wishes


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Philip. I have been enjoying more pen time during the lockdown.
      Yes, I too am a fan of the TWSBI Eco and have so far managed to avoid buying more than one of them! I also like the Vac 700 and the Diamond 580.
      You have some great stories there with your pen shop finds overseas. Buying the Delta sounds like a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Probably I have good stories of buying pens overseas because it has been my luck before (semi) retirement to travel a lot to Japan, Taiwan, Italy and the USA: the first three, especially, have wonderful pen shops and I tended to use my time off from work exploring pen shops (as well as doing more “normal” tourism!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, I loved reading about the special associations you have with your Lamys. I am 100% with you on the stories we attach to objects being an integral part of the object. My daughter would, I think, argue that you don’t need to keep the object, just take a photo and remember the special story, but to me it’s important that the object and the story stay together, perhaps because for me the stories of objects I no longer have are tinged with sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

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