A short while ago I wrote a review of the Lamy Safari (you find it here) but I didn’t write much about the nib. The Safari/Vista/Al-Star is often mentioned as a pen for the newbie, but not for the advanced users. It is an affordable pen and as such good for a beginner that doesn’t want to shell out a huge amount of money on a pen.
I think their regular round nibs are good – not exceptional, but good. They write a bit on the broad side and are stiff, but still good quality nibs. As a more “advanced” user one might find them lacking some character, but they are still good and reliable. What is a well-kept secret, which I wasn’t aware of until I decided to try a Safari with it, is that their 1.1 mm italic nib is top notch. I had used the 1.9 mm almost every day for 1 year (mostly) as a highlighter.
It is nice, but since it is a little too broad for extensive and fast writing, I have seen it as a good and reliable nib that gives a good bang for the buck. So, when I decided to treat myself with the pink Safari a while ago I thought I’d might as well try the 1.1 mm italic and I am very happy that I did. It is a great little nib.
It is very smooth, but still gives a great line variation- maybe somewhere around 3:1 – and is very pleasant even for fast writing. It is stiff, but I don’t mind that since it is still very nice to write with. I have used the 1.1 mm italics very much recently and haven’t had any flow problems even when I’ve written fast and lengthy.
I’ve tried a quite broad range of italics – some customized and/or rather expensive - for everyday writing and the Lamy 1.1 mm italic is stands up very well in the competition – reliable, smooth, even flow and very, very cheap. If the nib should break it can be replaced for as little as £4 (~$6) ordered from the UK. And, if one wants the nib on another pen than the Safari/Vista/Alstar it also fits the Joy, Nexx, Studio, Pur, Linea…
The more I see and try Lamy pens, the more fond of them I become. I like their focus on function and reliability, their unadorned aesthetics. They produce quality pens to reasonable prices without outsourcing the production to dump the wages. No brand succeeds in covering everything, but I do think Lamy has reason to be proud over their ability to produce quality pens with a design of their own to the masses, rather than luxury items for the few. I’ve tried too many expensive pens that – despite a fancy pricetag and a nice exterior – are of inferior quality when it comes to writing and Lamy proves that one can both produce for the mass market and have an excellent quality control.