in Pens

Back to basics – still use my first Safari

with F nib and Noodler's Black, on a squared Moleskine cahier

Even given all of the pens and inks that I own, which is quite a large quantity of both, when I am working (as opposed to messing about swapping pens) the one that I most often find myself picking up is the one pictured – a Safari with an F nib, filled with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black. I’m fairly sure this was the first Safari that I bought; you can tell it’s an old one since they discontinued models with the black clip a little while ago.

Some people dislike Safaris, but apart from not liking the angled grip (which is fair enough) I can’t quite see the reasons.

  • Safaris are cheap. Well, not cheap-cheap but they’re not very expensive.
  • They’re also quite easily available, though if you want different nibs (see below) you’ll likely have to order over the net.
  • They’re light, yet surprisingly durable. This one is several years old and doesn’t have a single crack, and not even many scratches. Plastic construction doesn’t mean fragility – after all, look at Parker 51s, they have plastic bodies and are regularly in working order after 50+ years. This plus the price mean that they’re good for carrying in almost any circumstance – hiking, warzones etc.
  • They’re large enough to feel good in the hand and not get lost, but not so large that they’re silly.
  • They have slip caps, but the caps actually come off less in my bag than most screw cap pens I own. And if you’re working, and you pick up and put down your pen quite a lot, a slip cap is much more convenient and less annoying than a screw cap.
  • You can swap out the nibs with great ease, and new nibs are cheap, and there are many types – not only EF to B, but also italics from 1.1 to 1.9mm, and you can even get such things as broad and medium obliques. They’re also generally good quality – Lamy use the same nibs for Safaris and also some higher-end pens – although I’ve never been hugely impressed by the EFs.
  • They come in a variety of bright and pleasant colours, but aren’t over-ornamented. This makes it easy to have a selection with different nibs and inks and quickly tell which is which.

If it weren’t for the Safari, I probably wouldn’t have revived my interest in fountain pens at all, which does make me well-disposed to them in general, but if it weren’t for the simple “pick-up-and-write” usability of them I’d just be nostalgic and not a continuing user.