Reviewed on this page:

Persona   Safari      Joy  

Lamy Persona reviewed by John
The style of the Lamy Persona does not leave you indifferent -- either you love its Bauhaus minimalism or you hate it. I count myself in the former camp (whereas my wife is in the latter). The Persona is about the same length and width as the Pelikan M800 but seems a bit heavier. It is a very reliable pen; however the nib runs wide so my fine is more like a medium. It lays down a wet line with some variation in line width as well. The nib itself is extremely plain -- no ornate patterns or two-tone on it -- however its shape is very attractive and somewhat unusual. Another nice feature of the Persona is that the cap posts with a satisfying click. The clip is retractable, which, for some users, is a pain in the neck. Currently, is offering Personas at $99, which is quite a good value if you like the style of the pen.

Lamy Persona reviewed by KT Wong
I have two Lamy Personas … the first is a Palladium / Makrolon Persona II which I bought from Ashford, and the other is a Palladium Persona which I got from . My Persona came in a glossy metallic cardboard box which opens to show the pen sitting on a small piece of black velvet on black folded paper. You also get a box of cartridges and a converter.

The pen is quite large – it measures 14.5cm capped, 16.8cm posted. The domed cap contains a spring loaded clip which retracts into the body of the cap – which makes it look very neat, but also allows your pen to roll off the table! The clip has a corrugated ridge that needs to be pushed downwards to open it before you can clip it to your shirt pocket. It’s a rather counter-intuitive movement – most of my other pens with spring loaded clips will lever open with some pressure making it easy to clip on, but with some practice, you will get it right!

The Palladium Persona is definitely the more attractive of the two. The body has vertical ribs, which contrasts nicely with the nib section with its horizontal ribs. A plaque is attached to the “rear” end of the pen which the cap clicks onto so that it does not scratch the finish of the pen! This is an example of excellent design and I was most impressed. Other neat design features include the thread where the cap screws on to which is nicely integrated with the horizontal ridges, and the unique shape of the nib which follows the contour of the nib section.

The Persona II contains a Palladium cap and a Makrolon (a type of plastic) barrel, and is considerably cheaper. It sells for $125 if you buy it off Ashford. On this pen, the body is smooth but the nib section is ridged. It is also much lighter and so easier to write with.

Both pens come with 14K nibs, but the Palladium is gold, and the Persona II is white. I could tell no difference between the two. Both write very smoothly, but the nibs are rigid as a nail and the writing tends to look a bit characterless. Nevertheless, the pens are dependable once you break them in. The Persona II was very scratchy and flowed poorly when I first got it, but I persevered and it now writes a lot better.

I would recommend both these pens as daily writers.

Lamy Safari reviewed by John

Functionality is the name of the game with this pen. The body is done in a practically unbreakable plastic and looks the part. There are a few design highlights in the look of the pen. First, the section of the pen features a cleverly designed pair of flat areas for your fingers. This helps the pen to fit nicely in the hand. Another highlight is the clip of the pen. It sort of looks like an oversized paper clip and is actually sort of stylish (or at least clever).Finally, the pen thoughtfully has a pair of windows carved in the body which let you monitor ink levels whether you're using a cartridge or a converter. The weight and length of the pen are exactly middle of the road. While exceeding the very light weight of smaller Pelikans, the Safari is somewhat lighter than brass bodied pens like the Sonnet.


On to the nib. The steel nib is totally without ornament. The version that I have simpy has the words "M Lamy" lettered on it, but contains no other decoration. This seems to be a conscious design decision (rather than a cost decision) at Lamy since even higher end Lamy pens like the Persona contain little nib decoration. The pen is a smooth and consistent writer straight out of the box. It has makes a somewhat wet line, but not as wet as many other pens. This, however, is not to say that the ink flow is at any time inadequate. The nib itself is quite stiff, and, consequently, there is very little variation in the width or look of the line produced by the pen. The bottom line is that the pen does exactly what it was designed to do -- produce a consistent, smooth, and carefree writing experience -- without fanfare and without premium prices.

The downside to the pen is the severity of the design. The pen is fairly boring to look at in my views. Happily, there's something of a cure for this in the form of the aluminum bodied Al Star. Taking the body design of the Safari and cladding it in shiny aluminum dramatically improves the attractiveness of the pen while retaining the thoughtful design of the Safari. The only drawback is that aluminum is a lot less durable than unbreakable plastic and the Al Star is prone to denting with rough (or even not so rough) use. If what you're really after is the pure functionality of the fountain pen experience, there is no reason to pay any more than the $25 (or less) price for the Safari.

For more on the Safari, visit the Beginner's Guide section of the site.

Lamy Joy reviewed by John

All of the talk on the Zoss list and others about pens that give handwriting character created the irresistible urge to find out more about this for myself. I already had a Parker Sonnet in my stable and, as this was advertised as having a flexy nib, I spent some time with it concentrating on varying my writing pressure in forming different letters in hopes of attaining the nirvana of writing filled with character. Well, as anyone who's ever tried this with a Sonnet will surely tell you, it is not especially up to the task.

I then picked up a stub for an old Esterbrook I already had. The stub wrote smoothly enough (but less smoothly than a conventional nib), however the line variation required a microscope to detect. I also tried some of the italic nibs that come in Sheaffer Calligraphy sets. These gave lots of width variation but were not smooth at all -- at least from my upside down left-handed perspective.

The Lamy Joy was yet another attempt at Nirvana, and I'm happy to say its the closest to achieving the bliss outcome yet. The pen shares its cap and section with the Safari. Its barrel is a long tapered design, which is actually annoying since it makes the pen impossible to carry in a shirt pocket. Despite the tapering, it is possible to post the cap on this pen. The posted arrangement is odd looking as the diameter of the cap is much wider than the tapered end of the barrel. This annoyed me enough that I married the section of the Joy to the barrel and cap of a Safari - thereby creating a "Frankenjoy" but also improving the portability and, in my view, the aesthetics of the pen a great deal.

The 1.1mm nib that I have is steel and is up to the same quality as the Safari -- which is to say reasonably smooth, consistent, but not terribly flexible. In my limited set of experiences with italics, this is easily the smoothest and most trouble free.

The beauty is that you get terrific line variation with practically no effort. I've taken to using this pen every day to record journal entries and I find that using cursive italic, I get a lovely script at normal writing speed.

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