Monday, September 19, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: 2016 Special Edition Lamy Safari 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


  1. Thanks for the fine review. I've got to get one of those and the Lamy ink for the Mrs.

    1. Thank you, Bill! I love the Dark Lilac ink! Hope the Mrs. likes it.

  2. Great post. Always look forward to your reviews. I also added a Dark Lilac Safari to my collection.

    1. Thank you, George! The Dark Lilac Safari is a nice addition to our collections.

  3. This is an excellent review. I have this pen, but I wish I had bought it with a Fine nib, instead of the Extra-fine. I'm finding the EF is quite scratchy at times, to the point where it can dig into the paper. Apart from that, it's a lovely pen. Thanks for your review.

    1. Thank you! EF nibs can be scratchy at times. Did you try to smoothen it a bit?