There has been a resurgence of posts recently on the venerable Lamy 2000, making the timing of this article some what suspicious, however the idea behind it actually came in January when fellow members of the United Inkdom review group, Scribble Monboddo and Ania M realised they were both doing pieces on the pen and could possibly combine them in to a meta review. Being an owner myself, who was I to pass up the opportunity.
In addition, another of my pen club friends, Rupert Arzeian, has also been posting over time on his ever increasing Lamy 2000 pen collection (not just fountain pens for him), and so I find myself trying to work out whether to review a pen I have owned for around 6 years or to cover my views on it and it’s significance. I decided to go for the latter.
Note here I will only be covering the ‘classic’/’original’ Lamy 2000, launched in 1966, not the much newer version made entirely of stainless steel (2000M), which was released in 2012.
The key thing about the Lamy 2000, or Lamy 2K as it is more often referred to, is it’s place within the fountain pen pantheon. It is considered a style icon. A landmark pen. A work horse. A must have, and with the latter in mind it is one of those pens many people who enter our hobby feel they have to get just because it is the thing to do. Mine was a late birthday present at the October 2017 London Writing Equipment Show, though I had been considering getting one for a while. To show how things have changed, back then in the UK this pen could be got for £129, or with a little patience, reduced to £99. Now you’re talking ~£210-£240, though I did find two places with it reduced to £146 and £155, quite possibly their stock bought before a price rise the tail end of last year.
The thing is, a lot of the rivals for the 2K, such as the Montblanc 146, Pelikan M800, Aurora 88, are considered flagship pens and are considerably more expensive, however the Lamy is not with the Imporium taking that spot and costing close to £400. Same was the case with the Persona when it was around.
It is hard to argue with the 2K being a style icon. It was always intended to be by design. It was the reason Lamy hired Gerd A. Müller, who had designed the famous Braun Sixtant electric razor, to create the 2000. A tradition they carried on across at least another dozen models involving ten or more different designers and design studios. Gerd and the Lamy engineers took obvious inpsirations from his previous work while using modern materials such as brushed stainless steel and Makrolon®, an industrial polycarbonate by Bayer. It is interesting to note that an early prototype used Bakelite for the body (page 30 Thinking Tools, Lamy).
Some do say that there was influence from the last generation of their previous mainstream pen, the Lamy 27 30n, however as can be seen here (yes I did end up getting a rather nicely working, though slightly scruffy example for this article, well that was the excuse). Sure this has a push to close cap, a piston filler, a hooded nib (strictly speaking semi-hooded), and an ink window (though different style), however when next to each other you can clearly see the size difference, never mind the fact they are actually shaped differently where it matters, including the smooth seamless sides to the 2k compared to the light step on the 27. This is before the materials. Certainly the piston mechanism may have been carried across, but little more. In some respects the 27 was a tired design that had gone through some 17 plus iterations covering five variants in a 10-20 year life span (I’m not sure if it was still being made when the 2K was launched in 1966).
I often hear this pen spoken about in a similar manner to the basaltic resin Visconti Homosapiens. The pens may be different in size and filling mechanism, but they are both considered true work horse pens. Tough, reliable (well with the Lamy anyhow), pleasant to use, comfortable in the hand, decent ink capacity, and quick to uncap.
In addition the 2K will be compared with the Montblanc 146, which is around 20 years older, but that is twice the price and has really suffered from hype and being seen as an object to demonstrate wealth and be seen rather than to use, much to the chagrin of those who buy them to write with and cherish. While it is subjective, when I took the photos of the two pens next to each other I noticed how there was something a little 60s/70s about the 2K, however the 146 looked very dated when alongside.
I mentioned earlier that this was one of those pens collectors felt they had to buy because everyone else seem to have one. When I first started going to the London Pen Club, both there and on line there seemed to be the need to own a Platinum 3776 (especially with a SF nib), a Jinhao X450 or X750, a Franklin-Christoph (model did not matter, and this was also with many UK based enthusiasts) and the 2K. It is interesting to note many of those pens would be short term ownerships, with them being passed on/around, however a lot of the Lamy 2000s were kept by their original owners.
Nib wise there is quite a range from EF through to BB, plus oblique options. All 14k gold. However, do not expect the bounciness of the regular Lamy gold nib (sold as Z55, Z56, or Z57 depending on colour and if there is a breather hole), one of the most underrated on the market and a personal favourite. This is a short item with little metal for flex or line variation, so while not pencil like, it is still more of a rigid experience. There is one other thing to be aware of, especially if you’re considering a fine or extra-fine. These small nibs do have a sweet spot. Not too much of an issue with a medium, broad or double broad, but if you rotate your pen (like many of us do) then with the thinner tipping nibs you can lose smoothness of the writing experience and then the ink flow. This seems to be the main complaint with the 2K which I hear and read.
Colour wise, Henry Ford would approve as you have black. Only black. We have been given a number of reasons for this, but it seems to be a mix of innate darkness of the raw material, dark dust from manufacturing that sticks to the pen, and streaking caused by the fibres. In reality there have been three other colours, all limited editions. First off in 2013 we had the red, a very limited edition of just one set for a charity auction, which raised over $25,000. Apparently it was meant to be very hard to make. Then in 2019 we had the Bauhaus in dark blue, which from many angles still looked black, but when the light was right looked stunning. This celebrated 100 years of the Bauhaus design school/philosophy and was some what expensive at €350/£350. Part of me regrets not buying one, but it was just too much. Finally in 2021 we had the brown for an even more expensive £490.
So what are my views on the pen. Well mine has never failed me, does not suffer from ink evaporation (at least not noticeable for months) and is actually a tad too thin for me. Net result mine was hardly used before I started on this article. Now I did bring it out and re-ink it (Lamy black of course) and used it for a month. I quickly adapted to the size and used it quite happily as a note maker. It is quick to grab, uncap, and write with, though I do still find it becoming uncomfortable if I use it for too long due to putting too much pressure on the section with my fingers (a common issue for those of us who prefer wider pens when using thin ones). My pen has moved from a partial regret, part of my collection I can/will not sell as it was a present, to a keeper though at the same time one that will not see that much use, at least not at the moment. Sure if I get bored of my present quick note taker (which will happen at some point) then the 2K will certainly be an option to replace it.
So back to the question in the title. Is the Lamy 2000 over hyped. Simple answer, no. When Gerd Müller worked with the Lamy engineers to produce a working and manufacturable design he managed to produce another classic for his design portfolio. The pen is timeless, a design which has not dated, and which has survived on it’s own merit.
Note I bought my copy of Thinking Tools: Design as Process – On the Creation of Writing Utensils: 50 Years of Lamy Design (ISBN – 978-3899862560) back in 2017. It is basically the information boards from the 50 year celebration of Lamy 2000 exhibition from 2016, bound up in to a book with a foreword by Christoph Niemann. While listed as being in German, from the photo earlier in this piece you can see it provides both German and English alongside each other, almost certainly as it would have been by each item on display. As a result it is a some what dry tome, but does provide a lot of interesting information and background.
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