My Experience With a Counterfeit Lamy Safari

*UPDATE* I've made a minor correction to this story after learning some new information about the box that my pen came in.  Thank you to Chase for pointing this new information out.

Have you ever had one of those moments, where there is a sequence of puzzling events that are explained all at once by a sudden epiphany?  That phenomenon is basically what describes my experience with my charcoal Lamy Safari.

If you've read my review of my Lamy Safari, you'll recall that it was a gift to me by a very gracious family member (Josh) for Christmas.  He had just gotten a Safari of his own and rekindled his love of fountain pens similarly to how I did.  When he found out that I was a fountain pen fan, he was kind enough to buy me one to help me get back into the habit.  It certainly worked; though little did we know, that this pen would have quite an effect on several future events, which I'm about to tell you about.  Grab some popcorn, you'll be here a while!

My new Safari was still in its typical Lamy box with the slotted holes in it.  I couldn't wait to get home and open it up and try it out.  When I finally got home, I cracked open the box and found two things that I wasn't expecting: the Lamy cartridge was a blue-black instead of the regular blue that normally comes with the Safari, and there was a Z24 converter included in the box as well.  I was excited because I like blue-black more than blue, and I thought I was going to have to buy a converter separately like everyone else I knew, (including Josh, who didn't receive one with his pen).  I immediately called him and told him the good news, and he was happy, but a bit miffed that he hadn't gotten one with his pen.  He bought both pens on Amazon, but from different sellers, so we assumed that mine had come from Germany which is why it included a different cartridge and the converter.

Since I didn't have a bottle of ink yet, I went ahead and popped in the cartridge and began using my new Safari.  I got a Fine nib, and right away I noticed the pen was writing very wet.  I knew from watching Brian Goulet's videos that German nibs tend to run wetter, so after some time I realized I needed to pick up an Extra-Fine nib.  I placed an order from Goulet for an EF nib and a bottle of Noodler's Dark Matter.  After they arrived, I went to put my new nib on my pen and noticed right away that it fit very loosely.  I gave the sides of the nib a good squeeze and it was still very loose but I was still able to write with it.  Right away I noticed that the line produced by this new EF nib was much, MUCH thinner than that of the F nib I'd just been using.  At this point I was a bit puzzled, as the difference was so pronounced that I thought I'd possibly gotten a dud.  So I emailed Goulet and described the problems I'd had, and they were very quick to let me know that this was not a typical experience with a Lamy EF nib, and sent out a replacement to me right away.

When I received the new EF nib, I unfortunately experienced the exact same issues.  In fact as I was refilling my pen, the nib was so loose that it actually fell off into a completely full 3oz bottle of ink.  You can bet I lost my cool when that happened...I had to empty the bottle into another clean container, fish the nib out, and then carefully transfer it back into the bottle with a 6ml ink syringe.  After that fiasco, the nib still wouldn't stay on the feed at all.  I did some Googling and found one other person who had a similar issue and he said to gently use some rubber pliers or a couple of hard surfaces to slightly bend the fins on the nib in to tighten it.  After several minutes of trying not to overly bend the nib, I was finally able to get it to stay on the feed.  That was one hurdle defeated, but there was still the issue of it writing much drier than I'd expected when compared to the F nib.  So I consulted Brian Goulet's videos again and he suggested that I very gently apply pressure to the nib while writing to spread the tines a bit to increase ink flow.  I was able to get the tines opened up enough to where it felt like it was writing wetter.

I'd finally gotten my pen set up the way I liked it, so I happily used it for a few months.  Over time I noticed that the Z24 converter that came with the pen had a black ring right below the piston knob that started to come loose.  It didn't affect the functionality, so I didn't worry about it.  Despite all of these issues I'd ran into,  I wasn't deterred from accumulating inks, other pens and a full-on obsession with the hobby.

I had a bunch of ink samples I wanted to bring Josh, so we met up and exchanged inks and tried each other's new pens.  I happened to pick up his Safari, and immediately, alarm bells went off...this pen felt COMPLETELY different than my Safari.  It was heavier, sturdier and had an overall feel of high quality.  I pointed this out to him and he agreed they felt quite a bit different.  We ultimately surmised that it was because one of the pens could have come from a different country of origin (Germany vs. U.S.), and didn't think much of it after that.

Over the next couple of weeks I kept thinking back to Josh's Safari and I couldn't help but fixate on the differences.  One big thing I noticed was that the cap on my pen spun freely while capped, and his did not.  This had bothered me about my pen from day one, because it never really felt like the cap fit it well.  It just so happened that around this same time, I was browsing Instagram and I saw a post from @InkJournal teasing a new story for their blog about the differences between real Safaris and fake Safaris.  When I read this, it hit me - could my pen be a counterfeit??  'Surely not,' I thought.  But I couldn't help but to look further into it.  It was at this point that I came across a thread on FPN (Fountain Pen Network, for those who aren't familiar) that detailed another pen fan's experience with a fake Safari they purchased from, you guessed it, Amazon.  As I read over the details he gave of his pen, I knew immediately that Josh had unknowingly purchased a counterfeit Lamy Safari.

Everything I'd been experiencing with this pen began making sense now.  The light weight feel, the spinning cap, the blue-black cartridge, the included converter...all of it matched perfectly with what I'd been reading on FPN.  I couldn't wait to get home so that I could compare the box and the pen to the pictures I'd seen.

(Updated w/new info)  What I thought was a laughable counterfeit box, turns out to be a counterfeit version of the old packaging that Lamy used.  I've found several reviewers online who got their pens a year or two ago that have a box that matches the bottom box.  I at first thought that the seller may have gotten his/her hands on some old Lamy packaging, but after further inspection it seems they've produced a pretty decent fake of it.  One thing that I noticed from the pictures I'd seen online compared to this one - is that it appears that the slits in the box are cut differently.  If you notice on my grey box, the edges of the slits in the box have a positive texture.  They stand up, and if you run your finger over them you can feel the edges sticking up - almost as if it was cut from the inside out instead of the outside in.  I've included a photo below of the legitimate old Lamy packaging, and you can see that there are no positive edges on it.  You'll also notice that on both the legit old grey packaging and my new black box from my Al-Star, the base of each slit has a horizontal line on it.  The counterfeit packaging does not.  This leads me to believe that they have produced a really good fake of the old packaging.

Top: Legitimate Safari box; Bottom: Counterfeit Safari box

Legitimate "old" Lamy packaging.  Notice that the base of each of the slits has a horizontal line on it, similar to the photo below of the new Al-Star box.  (Photo via

Inserts for the Safaris - Bottom is the counterfeit; notice the fairly convincing German barcode sticker. "Unverb" translates to "Recommended retail."

Another aspect that sets the counterfeit Safari apart from the legitimate one is the instruction booklet that comes in the box.  The legitimate booklet is simply a warranty card with Lamy's contact information.  The counterfeit booklet has quite a bit more information in it.  It features instructions on how to fill a cartridge converter pen, as well as how to fill a piston pen.  It also has illustrations of different nib sizes on it.

Top: Legitimate booklet; Bottom: Counterfeit booklet

Piston filling instructions.  Bottom: Counterfeit

Counterfeit booklet: cartridge converter instructions & nib size comparisons

The body of the pens appear very similar, however once you hold them in your hand you can tell the difference immediately.  The biggest red flag for me was the weight difference.  The counterfeit Safari weighs considerably less than the real Safari, and just has a cheaper feel.  The matte finish on the real Safari is considerably better than the counterfeit.  The counterfeit is quite a bit smoother, and actually has more of a brown tint instead of the correct charcoal grey.

Top: Counterfeit Safari; Bottom: Legitimate Safari. Notice the finish on the counterfeit has a smoother texture, where the legitimate pen is textured.  The counterfeit pen also has a brown tint.

Top: Counterfeit; Bottom: Legit. Notice the center of the letter "A" - the small triangle of what would be the negative space on the letter A is quite a bit smaller on the counterfeit.

Top: Counterfeit with a legit EF nib from Goulet; Bottom: Legit pen & nib. Notice the subtle differences in the edges on the grip and the space between the nibs and feed from the body.

Top: Counterfeit feed; Bottom: Legit feed.  The counterfeit feed has a thinner girth and an overall different design - hence the issues I had getting the legit nib to fit it.

Left: Legit pen; Right: Counterfeit pen.  A good example of the different textures on the finish.

Left: Legit finial; Right: Counterfeit finial.  The "X" on the counterfeit finial is shallower and shorter from edge to edge.

Left: Counterfeit pen; Right: Legit pen.  Notice the edge of the circle on the end of the pen is slightly thinner on the counterfeit. (Sorry it's a bit out of focus!)

Though the body of the pen is fairly convincing as a fake, once you experience the nib and compare it to a legitimate one, it's a totally different story.  Unfortunately, this skewed my view of all nibs for quite a while and I made several choices on nib sizes that I likely wouldn't have made if I'd known what I know now.  The "Fine" nib on the counterfeit writes more like a real Lamy Medium nib, and because of this I'd obsessively chosen EF nibs on other pens that I bought, thinking that it was my only choice since German F nibs (or what I thought was a real German F nib) wrote such a wide line.  Luckily with a lot of trial and error, I've learned the true nature of both German and European nib sizes and now know what I like.

As I mentioned earlier, because I had so much trouble with the counterfeit nib, I ordered an EF nib from Goulet.  After all the fits I had getting the thing to fit on there, once I had I was extremely pleased at how different the EF nib felt.  It wasn't scratchy and didn't hard start like the F nib did.  Upon closer inspection, the counterfeit F nib had a number of things wrong with it, including an off-center nib slit, and one nib tine being longer than the other!

Left: Counterfeit Fine nib; Right: Legitimate Extra-Fine nib.  Notice the nib slit on the counterfeit is off center from the breather hole; the left tine is longer than the right one, and the breather hole is farther forward.  The stamped nib size and "Lamy" name are in a different ink color as well.

Something else that I didn't even notice myself until I read the FPN thread was how far forward the breather hole is on the counterfeit nib.  From this angle, you can see that if you draw an imaginary vertical line starting at the "fins" of the nib, it *should* line up perfectly with the breather hole.  On the counterfeit nib, it doesn't; it's quite a ways further forward.

Of course a counterfeit Safari wouldn't be complete without a counterfeit Z24 converter to go with it.  This was of course my first converter, so I had no idea that it was a fake; I was just excited that I got one with my new pen and didn't have to buy it separately!  Over time, the converter started to feel flimsy and even began to deteriorate in places.  The black ring just below the piston knob randomly came loose one day while I was cleaning it.  Luckily it didn't affect the function of it, but looking back now, it should have been a red flag, as most true Z24 converters never have this issue.  The piston action on the fake feels...wobbly...and and not smooth.  Now that I have experienced a real Z24 converter with my CopperOrange Al-Star, I can certainly tell a difference.  Another red flag for the converter is how loosely it fits into the pen; it takes little effort to pull it off of the feed.

Left: Counterfeit Z24 converter; Right: Legitimate Z24 converter.  Notice the flat edges of the red plastic are thinner on the fake.  The piston rod is also quite janky looking compared to the real deal, and the knob itself is a bit wider.

Top: Legitimate Z24 converter; Bottom: Counterfeit Z24 converter.  The fake has a wider negative space in the letter "A" and the piston knob itself is a bit wider.  The plastic looks cheaper as well.

Left: Legitimate converter; Right: Counterfeit converter.  The ring cannot be removed on the legitimate (without breaking the glue free with a considerable amount of force).

I think that has covered the major differences between this pen and a real Lamy Safari.  My hope with this post is that I can help others be aware that there are sellers out there on eBay and even Amazon who sell counterfeit pens as if they were the real thing.  Keep in mind that this is different than companies like Jinhao who sell "look-alike" pens and market them as just that: look-alikes.  They don't sell them under the false pretense of being a real branded fountain pen.  My pen unfortunately was the latter.  I was fortunate to eventually be enlightened on the situation, and be able to remedy the false information that I'd learned from using this instrument.  I'm better for having experienced this, and now will be extra diligent in urging people to use a legitimate retailer such as Goulet Pens, Anderson Pens, JetPens or Pen Chalet (or others).  The few extra dollars that you pay will be worth it when there is an issue and you need to utilize their customer service.  From my experience, the customer service at all of these retailers is top notch; especially Goulet (who doesn't love a hand-written note with their order?!).

If you've taken the time to read this thank you for hanging with me!  I hope that it has at least been interesting and given you some useful info.

You'll be pleased to know that the seller of this pen is no longer listed on Amazon; however I did find a seller with a very similar name that is selling pen related items.  Josh has reached out to Amazon detailing what happened and is currently awaiting a response from them.  **UPDATE** Amazon let us return the pen for a full refund with little effort or explanation.  Kudos to their customer service for that!

If you're interested, here are the links I referenced for details on counterfeit Safaris: (you'll have to use the translate function in your browser; I recommend Google Chrome)


Nib Tuning by Pendleton Brown


After hearing tons of people rave online about how awesome their Lamy 2000s were, I decided that would have to be my next big pen purchase.  So I grabbed one from Goulet Pens and excitedly inked it up only to find, like many people, that my nib was horribly scratchy.  In addition to the scratchiness my EF nib was writing more like a M - very bold for my taste.  I debated sending it back to Goulet, but knowing that most Lamy 2000 EF nibs have these types of issues, I knew that would likely result in a new EF with the same problem.  So I decided to look into some nibmeisters.  

Brad Dowdy over at The Pen Addict had good success with his 2000 from Mike Masuyama.  I shot Mike an email and he let me know that he was about 11 weeks backlogged. As much as I wanted to have my pen worked on by him, I just didn't want to wait that long.  I considered Richard Binder as well, but I'd heard that "Binderized" nibs were notoriously overly wet and wider than what they should be, so that scared me off a little.  Then I remembered Pendleton Brown's name being mentioned on some of the Goulet Q&A videos, so I went over to his website and saw tons of great information on his services and pricing.  I shot him an email and had a response in a couple of hours.  

Pendleton explained that the Lamy 2000 EF nib has so little tipping on it because the iridium is more expensive than gold right now.  In his words, "they are practically 'painting' the F and EF nibs with 'iridium' right now."  Despite that, Pendleton was confident he could get my nib working much better; so I dropped it in the mail to him and requested that he put it in the expedited queue.

Just a few days later, I had an email in my inbox from PB letting me know my pen was finished.  He sent some awesome pictures of him writing with it, all adorned with the distinct PB smiley faces.

PB) - PB's smiley

I PayPal'd him my payment and it was in my hands two days later.  I opened up my pen, gave it a quick cleaning, and loaded it up with Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrun.  The first stroke on the page was like using a whole new pen - the overly wet, bold line was now a nice EF/F line, and the scratchiness was better.

Though the scratchiness is markedly better, there is still some "tooth" to it.  I mentioned this to PB and he replied that light force is best when using the Lamy EF & F nibs.  I admittedly have a fairly heavy hand when I write, though I don't feel like I push down like I would with a gel pen.  I also noticed that the act of writing sometimes caused the nib tines to misalign - I asked PB if that is a common thing with these Lamy nibs, and he said he thought that the nib could be sliding around as I write and that he could fix it free of charge if needed.  In all honesty, I was not ready to send my new pen back off to be worked on again - I've been dying to use it all week.  It's also not as bad as I'm probably making it sound as I write this - it's still a very great writing pen, and not at all a displeasure to use.  So I plan on using it for a while and if I have any further issues with it, I'll drop it back in the mail to PB.  Despite the headache this pen has caused me up front, I still consider it my 2nd favorite pen, next to my Pilot Custom 74.  Keep an eye out for a full review soon!

All in all, I am very happy with Pendleton's service - he is very professional, realistic, informative and always took the time to wish me a good week or a blessed day.  I will most certainly utilize him in the future for nib work.  His prices are very reasonable - $45 for general smoothing/adjustment, and an additional $20 to expedite.

Pen Review: Lamy Safari

Pros: Affordable, nib options, color options, durability, converter add on
Cons: Some folks do not like the triangular grip (I personally like it!), nib issue?

The Lamy Safari is a great starter pen for fountain pen beginners; coincidentally, this was my first fountain pen after a several year break from them when I was in college.  I definitely regret not rekindling the love sooner!  The Safari is affordable, durable and comes in a variety of color options.  The safari comes with a Lamy proprietary cartridge, but you can purchase a Z24 converter to use bottled ink.  The charcoal Safari is the most popular option, but Lamy has many colors to choose from, and they typically do a Limited Edition color every year or two.

Lamy has their own proprietary nib design, which is very triangular and squared off.  It's different than any other pen out there, which I like.  It's a very modern design.  One thing that some folks do not like about the Lamy Safari and Al Star line, is the triangular grip section of the pen - this was actually designed back in the day to help school children learn the proper method of holding a pen.  I find it makes it more comfortable to write - though some people, especially left-handers who write "hook handed," find it uncomfortable. 

There are 6 nib options to choose from: extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1mm and 1.5mm stubs.  The charcoal Safari comes with a black-colored nib, and you can buy replacement nibs in both the black color, or the standard steel color.  The stub nibs, however, only come in the steel color option for some reason (ahem, Lamy...).

When I got my Safari (thank you, Josh!) it had a fine nib.  I assumed this would be perfect for me since I was used to writing with a Pilot G2 0.7mm gel pen.  When I inked it up for the first time it wrote very thick, which surprised me.  I would later learn that Lamy nibs are German made, and they run about a size larger than a Japanese nib.  I used it for about a week and decided an extra fine would be better suited to my writing style.  I ordered it from the fine folks at Goulet Pens. When it arrived, I was disappointed to find it fit very loosely on the feed to the point where it was about to fall off as I wrote.  It also wrote a starkly finer line than the fine nib, which was too far in the other direction for my taste.  Luckily, Goulet happily exchanged it for me, and even sent a couple ink samples for my trouble.  When I received the new nib, the fit was better, but still loose, and it still wrote very dry and thin.  After some research I determined that this sometimes happens with these replacement nibs, and that it was safe to attempt to squeeze the sides of the nib together to get a better fit.  After doing that, this also increased the space between the nib tines, and the pen began writing better. *note: please do this at your own risk - it IS possible to overdo it and throw the tines out of alignment, so proceed with caution.*  I did noticed the pen was still a bit dry compared to writing samples I'd seen online, so I exerted a little it of pressure to open the tines up on the page (again, proceed with caution when doing this) and that was all the nib need to start writing perfectly.

Don't let this deter you from this pen - one thing I did notice in my research was that most of the issues with dry writing Safaris were ones with the black-coated nibs.  I believe the extra thickness from the coating may decrease the space between the tines, causing it to write dryer.  Since this is a steel nib, exerting a little bit of pressure to widen it out should do the trick.

The Safari sells on Goulet Pens for $29.60 and has the option to add a converter for $4.95 (a must-have!).  It is a fantastic pen for the price with many ways to customize it to fit your style.  I highly recommend this pen for both beginners and avid users!