|How the Safari was found (a reenactment)|
I had a vague notion that the Savanna Green Lamy Safari was desirable because it was rare, having been one of the colors offered many years ago and since discontinued. What I was delighted to find out, however, was that Savanna Green was THE first color of Lamy Safari ever!
According to Lamy's website, the Safari model was first introduced in 1980, at an exhibition in Frankfurt. After years of selling high-end pens, Lamy decided to manufacture an everyday pen to be used by school-aged children. The Safari was made to be virtually indestructible:
"The robust fountain pen made of olive green ABS plastic in an avant-garde style is the outcome of extensive research work in the field of youth psychology and of close cooperation with designer Wolfgang Fabian and the Mannheim Development Group under the direction of Prof. Bernt Spiegel."
Looking at the promotional materials for the first Lamy Safari, it is easy to see why this would have appealed to schoolchildren. The name and subdued camouflage color - olive drab, I suppose it is called these days - call to mind exotic adventures in far-away lands; surely, a pen Tintin himself would have carried to the Land of Black Gold.
In addition to the savanna green Lamy Safari, there was also apparently a charcoal black version and a terracotta orange color in that initial production. As both savanna green and terracotta orange were discontinued in the mid '80s, the latter is just as rare as the former - if not even more so - and highly sought after.
It is easy to tell these "true vintage" Lamy Safaris from the newer models because the paint is textured, and almost all new Safaris are glossy, with the exception of the charcoal version that was never discontinued since its introduction and is also textured - or perhaps we might call it "crinkle finish" in typewriter parlance.
Thankfully, I was never obsessed with collecting a Safari in every color, even though I came close to contemplating it during my feverish phase a couple of years ago. I quickly realized that I did not have enough hands - or enough time - to write with all my pens... so I turned my acquisitive tendencies elsewhere. I love looking at Safari rainbows on Flickr, though, even if I have to remind myself sternly not to get carried away!
Still, if the universe is kind enough to throw a Safari color I do not have at me out of the blue, who am I to resist? The best thing about a phenomenal fountain pen find is that not only is it relatively inexpensive, it is also a whole lot easier to carry than a typewriter or sewing machine. And finding space for it at home is also a breeze. After a good deal of rinsing and soaking, it has cleaned up very well and writes beautifully for a 33-year-old.
The nib is terribly scuffed and the ABS body is also showing signs of wear, but I like to think it has merely been well-used and I don't intend to switch out the nib for a newer one, even though I do have a few spares. Gives it character, I say. This model does not have W. Germany stamped on the bottom, which from what I read is an indication that it was from the earliest production run.
|Four generations of charcoal Lamy Safaris - Source|
So, there we have it, the story of my Saturday surprise. Now that I know there may be fountain pen treasures lurking in those ubiquitous piles of old jewelry, I will certainly be taking a closer look. It is unlikely I will be able to gather my own Safari rainbow from flea market finds, but I can always dream...