Monday, September 19, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: 2016 Lamy Safari Special Edition Dark Lilac

After years of waiting, Lamy fans and collectors got their long time wish in 2016: a purple Lamy Safari!!! After three green pens in four years—two of them called neon—Lamy gave in to the clamor for a purple Safari, and issued the Dark Lilac.

Dark Lilac is Lamy's Special Edition Safari pen for 2016. I have a Dark Lilac fountain pen, but the Dark Lilac Safari collection also includes a rollerball and a ballpoint pen. Dark Lilac not a 'limited edition' pen like the previous ones, but a 'special edition' Safari. I received the Dark Lilac fountain pen and its matching ink in this review at no cost from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Times Trading Company.

Dark Lilac Safari fountain pen in box. Times Trading, through its sellers in the Philippines (Scribe Writing Essentials, National Bookstore), includes an ink cartridge and a Lamy Z24 converter for every fountain pen purchase.

Lamy released the Dark Lilac Safari fountain pen in a packaging similar to that of the 2014 Neon Coral. Instead of the old plastic pen box, Lamy now uses laminated cardboard boxes with the year's color theme for their special and limited edition pens.

The announcement of the 2016 Safari surprised many. Lamy did a turn around in 2016, and created a special edition pen that is not glossy and bright (neon). Instead, the new Safari has a muted and subdued deep purple color in matte finish. But the surprise does not end there — with Dark Lilac, Lamy brought back the black clip and black nib that were installed in the early edition Safari pens. The black clip/black nib combination looks better on the Dark Lilac, instead of the shiny chrome clip and nib.

Lamy Safaris are student pens, and the starter pen of many fountain pen enthusiasts. Dark Lilac is still made from the sturdy ABS plastic – the same material used in Lego blocks, golf club heads, keyboard keycaps, inner walls of refrigerators, and the filament commonly used in 3D printers. Designed by Wolfgang Fabian, this pen was first presented during the 1980 Frankfurt exhibition, and has been in Lamy's regular production since then. Despite some fountain pen enthusiasts' low regard for this plastic pen, a number of fans around the world collect the Safari and its aluminum cousin, Lamy Al-star.

The Dark Lilac Safari's parts are: barrel, section (grip + feed + nib), converter, and cap. Safari fountain pens measure 5.5 inches capped, 5 inches uncapped, and 6.5 inches posted. It's a lightweight pen, and anyone can use it for extended periods of writing. The cap with the oversized clip is 2.5 inches long, the length from the nib to converter is 4.6 inches, while the barrel measures about 3 inches.

Lamy's proprietary piston operated Z24 converters are used to fill the Safari fountain pen with ink from a bottle, but T10 ink cartridges are also available.

Dark Lilac shares the same finial (top cap button) with those of previous limited edition Safaris: Lime Green (2008), Neon (2013), Neon Coral (2014), and Neon Lime (2015).

Some fountain pen users frown at the Safari's triangular grip, saying it is uncomfortable and annoying. This feature, however, is designed to make writing easier — it is meant as a guide for users to have a firm and secure grip on the pen. An anti-slipping brake near the end of the section prevents a user’s fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. I do not find the triangular grip uncomfortable at all. I actually do not notice it when I'm using my Safari pens.

Lamy's interchangeable nibs are very useful. A Safari fountain pen uses the same feed and nib as those on the Vista, Al-Star, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. Due to the color difference, my nib options for the Dark Lilac is limited only to a broad nib from an older Safari. I can still put a 1.1 stub or 1.9 italic nib on it, but again, the color difference will bother me. But that's just me. Any Lamy nib for the Safari, chrome or otherwise, will fit Dark Lilac.

Safari fountain pens bought in the Philippines have medium nibs, but other nib sizes are available: extra-fine, fine, broad, and left-handed. The Safari can also be fitted with an italic nib ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm.

Lamy Safari limited and special edition fountain pens from 2008 to 2016.

Lamy previously issued a purple pen in 2009: the Black Purple Al-star. It's more red than purple.

When Times Trading sent the Dark Lilac Safari pen to me, they kindly included a bottle of Dark Lilac ink, a matching ink color for the 2016 special edition fountain pen.

The 50ml Dark Lilac ink is in a Lamy T52 bottle that comes with a roll of blotter that can be used to clean the pen after filling, or to blot writing. The bottle has a small basin at the bottom, to allow filling when the ink level is low.

I am a blue ink person, and I don't usually use non-blue fountain pen inks, especially bright purple inks that stain converters. There are only two purple inks that I like and use: J. Herbin Poussière de Lune (PdL) and Diamine Damson — both muted and dark purple. But Dark Lilac ink is a happy surprise from Lamy. It is deep, dark purple, and has impressive shading and gold sheen. It flows well and smoothly, and does not stain fountain pen converters.

Lamy Dark Lilac ink. Impressive shading and sheen!

A single stroke of Dark Lilac shows its depth and beautiful golden sheen. It reminds me of a dark night sky filled with stars.

Double strokes of Dark Lilac. This is how dark it can be when used in wider or broader nibs. 

Swabs of the three inks make me think that Dark Lilac is PdL and Damson combined. It has the reddish hue of PdL, and dark blue from Damson: a purple ink I can use for writing notes and journal entries, a purple ink I can use for daily writing.

Who's the darkest of them all? Dark Lilac!

There is one more thing I like about the Dark Lilac Safari: the purple changes with the light, almost iridiscent. It can look dark and almost black in soft light, but changes to a brighter, happier purple under intense light. It's a different Lamy Safari, one I'd hold on to in my Lamy Safari collection.

If you want to get a Dark Lilac Safari, you better get one now. It's almost sold out, and to date, Lamy will not be making this special edition pen anymore. Go get yourself a Dark Lilac now!

Lamy Safari pens are widely available from pen sellers worldwide. For a global search of Lamy retailers, visit:

In the Philippines, the Dark Lilac Lamy Safari (and other Lamy products) is made available by Times Trading Company, through National Bookstore branches around Metro Manila. Lamy pens are also available at Scribe Writing Essentials stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. 
Their 6th store has opened in SM City Cebu in April. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, visit

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paper Review: Tomoe River Paper

After putting LIFE Notebooks in their store shelves last year, Scribe Writing Essentials has another Japanese paper product to offer: Tomoe River Paper. Tomoe River paper, or Tomoe River FP, is highly coveted and very popular among artists and fountain pen enthusiasts because of its high tolerance to inks. For a long time, I was a curious fan. My fellow fountain pen enthusiasts raved about it, pen sellers began stocking it, and more people were using notebooks filled with Tomoe River paper.

As a brief backgrounder, Tomoe River paper is manufactured by the Tomoegawa Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan. On their website, Tomoegawa Co. lists their product range from electronic parts, to display components, to functional sheets and specialty papers. Tomoegawa Co. collaborated with Sakae Technical Paper Co., Ltd. to release a number of stationery products including paper pads and loose sheets using Tomoe River paper. According to Tomoegawa Co., products using the Tomoe River paper are specially trademarked with the logo on the cover page.

Scribe offers Tomoe River paper in blank A4 pads and loose leaf sheets, in both white and cream. Tomoe River paper is unlike any paper. It is thin, and nearly transparent at 52gsm, which is almost half the thickness of regular copy paper at 80-110gsm. According to the Nanami Paper Co., Tomoe River paper was developed to be thin to reduce the thickness of bulky notebooks that use a lot of pages, while remaining strong and resistant to ink bleed-through and feathering.

Tomoe River paper is sheer, almost like Bible paper, and will crease or crinkle if one is not careful, but it is very suitable for fountain pen ink. Ink surprisingly dries faster in it, making it highly suitable for fast writing, and also for left-handed writers. It is also smooth, but not glossy. Writing in it is a completely different experience.

Tomoe River paper is thin, but holds fountain pen ink very well.
The writing guard provided in the pad is a useful tool to avoid unnecessary writing impressions on the other pages when you write on a page. The writing guard also has grids, although I find it a little too wide.

Now for the writing samples. If I wrote in a regular 52gsm paper, ink would seep through to the next page, considering the nibs on my pens are on the wide side. I used my inked fountain pens to test Tomoe River paper. Writing on it, as I mentioned, is a different experience. Tomoe River paper is simply a joy to write on. The paper is very smooth, and there is no feedback at all. I did not feel any snags and those slick spots I sometimes encounter in notebooks and other paper pads.

Writing samples in Tomoe River paper. No feathering even if most of these lines were written with medium, broad, and stub nibs.

Of all the eight pens I used to test Tomoe River paper, only one has a fine nib, the Kaweco Classic Sport. The rest have medium, broad, and stub (1.1) nibs. Not one of these pens' inks bled or feathered in Tomoe River paper. There is show through, though, and this is the only downside to this paper: I cannot write on the back side because of the show through.

The back side of the paper is clean, as there is no bleed though. There is some ghosting, though.

I recommend Tomoe River paper to anyone who wants to experience writing on excellent quality paper. Tomoe River paper pads and loose sheets are also reasonably priced at P1,550/pad or pack of 100 sheets.

Tomoe River paper is available in the Philippines at Scribe Writing Essentials. To get your own pad, visit any of Scribe's stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. Their 6th store has just been opened in SM City Cebu in April. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notebook Review: Life Pistachio A5

If you use fountain pens on a regular basis, you probably understand the huge challenge of finding suitable, fountain pen ink-friendly paper. When I shifted to full fountain pen use in 2008, the stationery market in the Philippines had a very limited selection of fountain pen-friendly paper brands to offer.

When Scribe Writing Essentials began offering fountain pen-friendly paper products, it was a joy to walk into their stores and see shelves filled with Midoris, Rhodias, TWSBIs, and just recently, LIFE and Tomoe River Paper. Scribe has kindly given me two samples of LIFE products to review, a soft-covered, ruled Noble Report in A4, and a ruled Pistachio notebook in A5, both with excellent, superior paper quality.

The LIFE Stationery Company was established in Tokyo in 1946. The company is dedicated to producing paper products of excellent quality, with all products done by hand. LIFE's stationery line features timeless, simple, and elegant designs, together with superior and excellent paper quality. The Notemaker Journal Blog has a beautiful feature on the story behind LIFE Stationery, if you want to read more about the company.

LIFE Pistachio notebook cover

The Pistachio is a sibling to LIFE's Vermillion notebooks, a simple, yet high quality notebook. Its light green cover has an old-school look, with a patterned border and spaces for information printed in bright green and dark red.

The Pistachio Notebook's pages with 7mm ruling in bright green.

LIFE's Pistachio notebook is available in three sizes: A5 (8.3 x 11.7 inches), B6 (4.9 x 6.9 inches), and A6 (4.1 x 5.8 inches). The A5 Pistachio is available with either ruled or grid inside pages, printed in bright green ink. The ruling is a bit wide for me at 7mm, while the grid is just right at 5mm. Each notebook has 32 sheets (64 pages) of stitched, rather than stapled, superior quality Japanese paper.

Pen and ink tests on Pistachio notebook. No feathering at all, and the green ruling is not bothersome at all.

This simple-looking notebook's most amazing feature is LIFE's high quality paper. It is smooth, and simply a joy to write on. It is also resistant to feathering and bleed through, which means I can write with my fountain pens (or any pens) on it. The paper is also acid-free, to preserve its contents for years to come.

Back of the test page. There is ghosting (show through), but there is absolutely no bleed through! 

See? No bleed through! Even if I wrote with my wettest writers (Pelikan BB and B), iron gall ink (Lamy Blue Black), and the notorious Noodler's Baystate Blue.

I recommend LIFE Pistachio notebooks to anyone who wants to experience writing on excellent quality paper. Aside from their excellent quality, LIFE notebooks are also reasonably priced.

LIFE Stationery products are available in the Philippines exclusively at Scribe Writing Essentials. The Pistachio A5 is sold at P185, and the A6 at P175. To get LIFE's paper products, visit any of Scribe's stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. Their 6th store has just been opened in SM City Cebu last month. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.
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