Which is the Best Fountain Pen for Under £25?
Often the Lamy Safari is compared to the TWSBI Eco…and for good reason! Both are a tour de force in the budget fountain pen world. However, given that the TWSBI ECO comes in closer to the £30-35 mark and is uniquely a piston filler mechanism, it felt too far removed from the Lamy Safari for a fair fight! If you are interested in TWSBI on the whole, do take a look at ‘TWSBI - Inexpensive Piston and Vacuum Filled Fountain Pens’
Having enjoyed the Lamy Safari for some time now and being thrilled by the reintroduction of Lamy to The Hamilton Pen Company after a brief hiatus from Lamy to online stockists, it feels appropriate that the Lamy Safari be set against another relaunched brand: Platignum.
Platignum is a British Classic, having taken a brief hiatus from production, their relaunch in 2007 was met with much applause from all. Platignum created the first self-filling fountain pen in 1919 and then the spy pens in 1939 followed by the introduction of ink cartridges in 1965, Platignum established itself as a stationery staple early on and continued to have a long series of successes. Platignum continues to communicate values that dedicate time to things that truly count: to thoughts, feelings, beauty and culture. These values ring true to the relaunched brand, featuring fresh, bright colours and quality materials staying true to their British heritage.
So, Lamy Safari vs Platignum Studio…which is the better of the two budget fountain pens?
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen vs Platignum Studio Fountain Pen: Design & Manufacture
As perhaps the lesser known of the two brands (outside of circles with specific interest in writing instruments of course!) Let's begin with the challenger: The Platignum Studio.
Aluminium dominates the Studio although it is accented with brass screw threads, a rubber grip section and a steel pocket clip. The Studios (much like the Safari) are available in a range of elegantly bright colours punctuated with stylish black trims. The body of the Studio is a tapered cylindrical cigar shape which makes a bold statement and is comfortably familiar. Both posted and unposted this fountain pen sits well in the hand and feels balanced at 20g uncapped and 30g capped.
The lightweight nature of the design and build of this fountain pen makes it a wonderful daily use pen, a workhorse and also an ideal fountain pen choice for a first fountain pen. An enjoyable little quirk of design is the adorable nib motif of the pocket clip which ties in perfectly with the strong and yet playful colour options available. The Cap is a satisfying click on and off, the click is a welcome addition to the security of knowing that the cap is secured.
How does the Safari compare?
Firstly, it should be noted that the Safari and its derivatives, the AL-star and Vista lines, were designed with students and young writers in mind. Each model is reasonably priced and features ergonomic grips and an angular design which remains popular to this day. The Safari’s spring-loaded clip was a prominent detail and was considered quite ‘out-there’ at the time of its launch. It quickly became a popular addition to pencil cases in classrooms worldwide and its iterations feature a myriad of writing modes, colours and slight design elements that continue to make the Safari desirable. If you are interested in the background of the brand, please do enjoy ‘Lamy: From Pioneer to Prominent Global Brand. How German Design and Engineering Created a Household Name’
Constructed in the extremely resistant ABS plastic, the Lamy Safari is renowned for its colourful design options and recognisable plated sprung pocket clip. The Lamy Safari is uniquely designed with its ergonomically designed flat and curved sides with the distinct grip grooves in the grip section. Everything about the shape and feel of this pen screams the fact that it was targeted to young people…through its statement aesthetic and considered design features. Annually the Safari is refreshed with new colours and limited editions which when teamed with its reasonable price points makes this fountain pen very collectable. The safari is very lightweight, coming in around 10g unposted and 17g posted but as someone who always writes posted this is not something that I personally take umbrage with.
So who wins this category? I hate to be that person but as design is pretty subjective I'm calling this round a draw! Both fountain pens are fun, distinct and each have uniquely delightful aspects to them. The materials used in the Studio perhaps feel more sleek and classic and the vibrancy and contemporary feel of the Safari make Lamy stand out from the crowd a little more than with the Studio. Both are highly desirable and collectable, and both are objectively attractive pens in their own way.
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen vs Platignum Studio Fountain Pen: Nibs & Filling
The polished stainless steel nib of the Studio is only available in a Medium, however, the nib itself is a smooth ride that feels true to a medium nib. A common comment of the nib is that it occasionally skips and may feel a little drier than expected. The Studio is compatible with Platignum ink cartridges as well as having the option for a converter allowing for bottled ink to be used.
Similarly, the Safari also features a polished stainless steel nib, although unlike the Studio, the Safari is available in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad and Left Hand Nib options. It is often noted that each nib writes a little on the broader side so for small handwriting I personally prefer to ‘size down’. The nib is an amazingly smooth write with a moderate wetness which supports my preference. The Safari fountain pen uses Lamy ink cartridges which are available in a vast array of colours and shades which is great - I like to match my ink cartridge colour to the pen barrel! Furthermore, the Safari can be used with bottled ink by purchasing the optional Lamy Z28 converter.
This round had a clear winner for me: The Safari! Although the Studio nib is good, it is the smoothness of the Safari nib that takes it over the edge for me. Additionally, the variety in sizes available is also a draw…enough to forgive the fact it only takes proprietary cartridges.
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen vs Platignum Studio Fountain Pen: Value for Money
This is a surprisingly difficult category to consider. Both fountain pens represent great value for money. There is little more than a coffee and slice of cake’s difference between the price points - with the Safari being the slightly dearer of the two. For the price, the platignum has a solidity and weightiness that the Safari doesn’t quite match and the Safari has a superior nib.
Platignum Studio Fountain Pen - Red - £13.00
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen - Red - £18.90
Prices accurate as of January 2022
On balance, the Platignum Studio wins this round because of its lower price point combined with the feel of the pen in hand - although it was a close call!
Which is the Best Budget Fountain Pen Under £25? The Lamy Safari or the Platignum Studio?
There is no real answer here as both fountain pens have exceptional qualities that make them stand out as wonderful budget writing instruments that have character and heart. For their prices you get a heck of a lot of pen in both instances! Both write well and last a long time even with daily use and the expected level of hardships a budget pen experiences when compared to their more expensive pals.
Both fountain pens make for great daily pens as well as being ideal for use in schools/educational settings. In this instance, the Lamy Safari just about pips the post for me although ask me tomorrow and I may say Platignum … ask me again and it's Safari…then Studio - You get the picture.
My reason for selecting the Safari over the Studio is the smoothness of the nib and the fact I prefer a wetter ink flow. Additionally, the sheer vastness of colour options both in ink cartridges and in the actual pens themselves is appealing to the magpie in me who enjoys the satisfaction of collecting different colours and seeing them uniformly sat on my desk. The Studio is available in a good range of colours which makes it likely to suit most people’s tastes but the special editions and regular additions to the available colour palette brings me a little touch of joy that pushes the Lamy Safari into the Winners Spot.
Regardless of which budget friendly fountain pen suits you more, find the full range of Lamy products and Platignum products at the Hamilton Pen Company and also enjoy a variety of fountain pens across all budgets!