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Lamy Safari - Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

The popularity of the Lamy Safari in China has spawned a raft of similar models.

These have developed from sophisticated counterfeits, replicating as much as possible, to models inspired by the Safari, to models inspired by the imitations.

There is clearly some merit to the design which was launched in 1980 in colourful, but sturdy, ABS plastic, designed to appeal to 10-15 year olds. It even won an iF design award 14 years later, in 1994, and remains a bestseller today. Limited edition colours are produced every year and Lamy have produced a clear ink barrelled Al-Star, which still has the bright coloured body and a fully clear bodied variation, the Lamy Vista, but the core design remains untouched.

All Lamy pens are tested at the factory in Germany - you might notice a small amount of blue ink in the feed on your new Safari. 5 or 6 nibs at a time are tested on a revolving drum with paper by sound, as you can see in the video below. Those that fail the test parameters are removed, further tested and adjusted.

So when you can buy a pen which is a design icon, made in a modern European factory where it has undergone individual testing and is available in a huge array of colours, all for less than £15, why go to the trouble of making a clone?

This has not stopped Chinese pen brands attempting to create a cheaper imitation model of the Lamy Safari. Chinese factories are well known for creating imitation products, fountain pens included - if you are wondering why can China create such cheap fountain pens, Pen Economics has an excellent breakdown of the reasons why - a main point being that some production firms and factories are state owned, which means that these factories are running to provide work for the population. As employees are paid by the state, labour costs are essentially zero, plus factories like this will not have any pressure on them from shareholders to make a profit either, which allows for cheaper production costs.

There are a slew of Lamy Safari copycat pens available so we’ve put together a round-up of the more notable copies around;

Hero 359

Hero, formed in 1931, are a large established pen brand in China and have a history almost as a long as Lamy. They really surprised the fountain pen community when they launched the Hero 359 Summer Colour pen range, which was an almost identical design copy of the Lamy Safari, even down to the branding, lid clip and grip. Hero stated that they were able to use this design as the exterior design patent right of Lamy's Safari series had expired.

It is only a slightly cheaper than an official Lamy Safari and is not worth the small saving according to Jono at Pentorium’s review of the Hero 359, noting that the plastic body felt thinner and flimsier in comparison.

hero summer safari fountain pens

Yiren 566

The Nanchang Yiren Pen Company was established in 2005 and their Lamy-eqsue offering is the

Yiren 566 pen which, like the Hero, is an almost identical copy. This one, however, is much cheaper - but is it any better? Pens, Ink & Paper thought that the nib had surface level scratches, screwing out the head section felt friction-y and rough, and again the plastic felt cheap and flimsy. Plus, you have to wait for the parcel to arrive through ultra slow international mail, which can take 4-8 weeks.

Yiren 566 Fountain Pen

Jinhao 599

There are a few differences between the Jinhao 599 and the Lamy Safari, making it more of a design homage rather than a straight copy. The main differences with the 599 is that it has a flat metal clip instead of Lamy’s iconic wire clip, the barrel itself does not have the clear cut out to see ink levels inside the pen and the Jinhao is slightly smaller in size too. The three sided grip is the same as the Lamy along with the brightly coloured plastic body, but there are enough details to easily tell the differences between the two pen designs. Again, these are only sold by international sellers so expect a long delay in receiving your pen.

Lanbitou 757

An old Chinese Proverb states “A good memory is no match for a worn pen nib.” In Chinese, “worn pen nib” is translated to lan bi tou, which is how the brand name Lanbitou came to be. The Lanbitou 757 version uses the transparent design of the Lamy Vista, and is almost identical, with exception of the ink feed - in the 757 there is only one ink channel, unlike the feed in Lamy Safari which has two channels ensuring that the pen never dries out, even if left unused for months.

Lanbitou 757 Clear

Wing Sung 6359

Wing Sung was Shanghai's 2nd-largest pen manufacturer, which has been around for decades. The WIng Sung 6359 only started being produced in 2017, which copies the Lamy Al Star design, with it’s transparent grip, along with the classic wire shaped pen clip and the ink window. This pen is so similar to the Lamy pen even the nibs are interchangeable.

Wing Sung 6359 Pink

Pen, Inks and Paper put together an excellent comparison of the pros and cons between the Lamy Safari vs it’s design copies, the Jinhao 599 and Yiren 566.

As we know cheaper does not always mean better. Whilst there are a few other copies, nothing really beats the real thing. The original Lamy Safari fountain pen has a superior build, which goes through plenty of quality control tests to ensure you get the same standard from every pen in the Safari range, and still offers great value at just £14.95 here at Executive Pens Direct.


Counterfeit Lamy Pens

Unlike some Chinese brands simply making their own copies, there are also unscrupulous dealers selling counterfeit Lamy pens. You wouldn’t think that someone would make a counterfeit version of a £15 fountain pen, however the reputation of Lamy Safari pens and their limited edition colour range has opened an opportunity for the counterfeit market.

You can even find counterfeit pens through reputable sites such as eBay and Amazon, due to the fact there are multiple third party sellers of the same item and you are never quite sure where that specific sellers stock has been sourced from.

Desk of Lori wrote about her experience of a fake Lamy Safari pen which was purchased as a gift from Amazon, at a normal price that you would expect for a Lamy.

There are ways to spot these unscrupulous sellers - if you find a Lamy Safari Fountain pen for under £10, approach with caution because as the saying goes “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” and always check feedback for any specific seller online, but don’t forget that it’s possible to pass as the real thing to an untrained eye.

Goldspot have put together a great video comparison between a real and a fake Lamy Safari pen:

Benefits of Buying From an Official Dealer

We source our Lamy pens direct from the manufacturer at Executive Pens Direct. You can expect fast postage, with orders placed before 12pm usually dispatched the very same day in the UK.

You can be sure to get a quick response if you have any questions or issues plus all of our branded pens are covered by the manufacturer's warranty, so if anything did go wrong we’ve got you covered.

Plus, by purchasing from an official dealer like ourselves, you can be sure you are getting the real deal and not a poorly built fake.

We love the Lamy Safari Fountain Pen in Yellow - even better, it's on sale right now at £14.95!

or view our full Lamy Safari range:Lamy Safari Banner

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