Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unearthing Buried Treasure: A Savanna Green Lamy Safari

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!


Source

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.

Source
When you're trying to go incognito, you need an inconspicuous pen and I'm sure you'll agree the Savannagrün Lamy Safari fits the bill. Just try to find it in this picture:


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
While the converters have changed over the years and my newer ones will not fit the Savannagrün Safari, the cartridges have thankfully stayed the same. I don't have very many, being a bottled ink sort of person, but I was able to fish out a spare black cartridge from the rubble in my desk drawer to get her up and running. When it is empty - and these last a good, long while - I will just refill it with a syringe. Despite its sorry appearance, the nib still holds up well, and writes somewhere between a fine and a medium (when this was made the nibs weren't engraved with their sizes and I suspect they only came in one size).


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...

25 comments:

  1. I'm not a pen aficionado but I like that Graphika pic!

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    1. Thanks! It really is striking how close the colors are - olive green and savanna green aren't that far apart, it seems.

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  2. Usually, I'm not a fan of militaristic colours, but this green is certainly attractive.

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    1. Thanks! I suppose I already have a couple of typewriters in a similar shade - the Graphika, of course, and a Groma Kolibri. So I am not averse to it, especially as part of a rainbow...

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  3. Very nice green! Your interests range so widely - will you be setting up a darkroom and buying old cameras next, or having J erect you a 20-foot antenna on the balcony so you can set up your HAM radio gear? Perhaps a letterpress is in your collecting future? :D

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    1. This is it, I promise - writing instruments and sewing appliances. I like creating tangible objects, I suppose, whether it is a garment or a sheaf of text. I simply don't have any physical or mental space to take up further hobbies, not to mention cameras, radios, and letterpress are probably beyond my technical abilities too... but we'll see :)

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  4. Nice find!

    Even though I hate Lamy Safaris, that is a nice green.

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    1. Thanks! The Safari is not for everyone, and it took me a while to get used to the triangular grip too. But I don't mind it these days.

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  5. Congratulations on the Safari! I have yet to get one of any color, new or used. Then finding used fountain pens or typewriters in Florida is impossible.

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    1. It's quite a popular pen even among typospherians... I'm sure it's a matter of time before you try one out, since you are quite the fountain pen enthusiast yourself! They come highly recommended.

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  6. Nice find. I am glad to know the laws of physics include fountain pens. Having randomly lost mine, you randomly found another...equal and opposite reactions and all:)

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    1. I refuse to believe yours is lost - especially if it never left the house. It'll turn up one of these days, you'll see! Happens to me all the time - I once had an iPod shuffle buried behind couch cushions for an entire year... I had looked for it - somewhat halfheartedly, I suppose - but had never thought to shake out the couch.

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  7. Blessed with neither a pen osession nor especially neat handwriting, I still am enjoying my first Safari. It has been just over a year now and I use it daily. Mine's a matt finsh grey with a LH knib. I'm still enthusiastic about it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as the first, last or only pen you will ever need. Unless of course their colours catch your eye. Then you'd need to catch them all!

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    1. I didn't realize you were left-handed... interesting! Glad to know you are a fellow Safari fan. I am sure those limited edition colors are created specially to catch the eye of hapless collectors; I am just trying to resist :D

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  8. Nice Safari, Adwoa! I have one in yellow because I thought this was the original colour. Ah well, at least I have an Al Star in metallic green. Nice writers, these pens.

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    1. I love the yellow Safari! It was the first one that caught my eye way back when on Strikethru's blog, and I have yet to acquire it. Thankfully, they are not hard to find so perhaps one of these days...

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  9. What a great find! My spousal unit is a Lamy Safari fan and impressed with its V1.0 pedigree.

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    1. Thanks! I am rather stunned at how productive our flea market can be sometimes; this is the first time I have seen a Lamy of any sort there and it turned out to be a rather special one.

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  10. That is an awesome find! I have a Vista, black Safari, and coffee-brown Al-Star that I love. Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Vikram! The coffee-brown Al-Star is certainly fetching; do you find that you usually use brown ink in it? I haven't been matching my ink colors to the pens, but I occasionally try to.

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  11. It's always nice to get a good surprise when you're looking for something else. But you could have typed a line or two on that Graphika as long as you were there anyway.
    ;-]

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    1. The Graphika will be featured on an upcoming typecast, I'm sure; it is always within easy reach around here. :P

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  12. Being a pen enthusiast, I can appreciate Lamy for their quality while keeping it under $30. But my one and true love--fountain pen--will always be my Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler. There is just something magical about a pen that fills itself--like using a Selectric for the first time, and realizing that you'll never have to go for your own correction tape again.

    Thank you for the post. I love reading.

    Elliott

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Elliott. I have not heard about the Conklin Crescent Filler and will look it up. It sounds marvelous - I have a few piston fillers but the action you describe seems different...

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  13. Where did you find this beautiful color?

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