My apologies for such a long gap between entries. No excuses are offered, suffice to say that over all that time, there has been a huge amount of work, the loss of more than one dear friend, and not a little international travel; and it’s the latter which leads me to my latest post.
On a recent trip to the UK—entirely for the pleasure of seeing family and friends—I sought out a stationery shop that sold good, fountain pen friendly paper, in order to complete a gift I had in mind for my oldest friend. A brief internet search showed precious-little in the area of west London where I was staying, but one company lept out of Google at me. And I was extremely glad it did…
Bureau Direct Ltd
89-91 Scrubs Lane
UK Tel.: 020 8834 4700
From Overseas: +44 20 8834 4700
Or just e-mail them directly at email@example.com
Their store, as is so often the case these days, appears to operate primarily online, but they do have a great little bricks and mortar premises, which just so happened to be about 5 minutes drive away from my old high school. So, dismal memories of my days in school uniform notwithstanding, I jumped in the crappy little rental car and headed off to visit the Bureau Direct team.
My thanks go especially to Mishka who found me an A5 Clairefontaine Age Bag notepad with less than the usual number of pages (so that it would fit into a specific leather cover) for my friend’s gift, then pointed me in the direction of the newly arrived, and much awaited, Lamy Aion fountain pens. She sold me one on the spot (the olivesilver), which my mother insisted she buy me as a gift (thanks mum!!). I loved it from day one, and soon hit the web site looking for another in black, but their stock had disappeared. Then on the very last day of my trip, they had a few more in, and I made a flying visit to collect my second Aion; because, yes, they are that good. Mishka, being the lovely person she is, also included a Lamy two-pen pouch. Thank you!
Now, I have to be fair, I say “she sold me” but if I was being honest, and Mishka would probably agree, she really didn’t have to work very hard to make the sale. But the lady does her job well, and so did everybody else I spoke to at Bureau Direct; they are well worth a visit online, or more personally if you’re in the area. Heartily recommended.
Now to the pens…
I have liked everything about the Lamy Aion, including the packaging. The pen’s box comes in a simple cardboard sleeve, and a cut-out in the flip-over lid, reveals a tasteful Lamy logo.
Inside the box, the pen nestles in a folded cardboard tray, with a small card under the clip, describing color and nib size. To protect the finish, the pen is slipped inside a transparent plastic sleeve. To save on photo’s of packaging for this review, I’ve included both pens in one box, and my two-pen pouch is included at the top of the next picture.
The Aion comes with one Lamy blue ink cartridge, but the converter has to be purchased seperately.
I have to admit, I am not a Lamy fan. The look of that damn paper-clip stuck on the cap of the Safari, and all those bright, gaudy colors does not appeal to me at all, but the Aion is something else. This pen exudes quality design and manufacture.
The Aion range includes ballpoint and rollerball versions, but only the fountain pens are reviewed here. Apparently they were designed by the famous industrial designer Jasper Morrison, of whom I have never before heard. But I’m sure he’s never heard of me either, and will still be pleased to hear that I think he designs great looking pens.
The pen cap and barrel are made from a seamless brushed aluminium, available in the black and olivesilver pictured here.
Both the end of the barrel and the cap, are gently rounded to a fine central point.
The clip is a tight, springy, shiny chrome, with subtle Lamy branding at the top.
The grip however, differs from the cap and the barrel, and is made from a comfortable, non-slip, anodized aluminium, which provides an attractive as well as functional contrast. However, this also provides my one minor complaint about the Lamy Aion, and even then it’s only about the olivesilver model. When filling from bottled ink, you should be careful about dipping the pen too far into the bottle. The olivesilver grip picks up the ink, and its lightly textured surface needs thorough and immediate cleaning to avoid any stubborn marks near the nib.
Both of the pens I bought had medium steel nibs. The Aion only comes with a steel nib, but they’re also available in extra-fine, fine and broad—none of which I could find anywhere in London. In fact, of the six or more stores I tried, I couldn’t even find anybody else that had a Lamy Aion in stock, much less a choice of nibs. Again, kudos to Bureau Direct and their buyers, who (at the time of writing) still have one pen left on their shelves.
Both nibs were as smooth as any steel nib I have ever used, straight out of the box. In fact they were better than any I have had straight out of the box; and only my Edison Collier is better, and that took some considerable adjustment. Nibs and feeds on both pens were aligned—if not perfectly—then very close.
The feed kept up with even the fastest scribbling, and provided a juicy, wet, medium line from both pens.
The Lamy Aion is not a small pen, in fact it’s one of the largest models I own. Uncapped and unposted, it’s at least 5-6ml longer than the TWSBI Eco, and is about 10-12g heavier, though the extra weight is in no way tiring for long periods of writing.
Lamy T10; 1.53ml
Lamy Z27; 1.08ml
I’ve already said that both nibs were smooth, and very much so, with only a touch of feedback on the Rhodia 80gsm, Ice-White notepad I used for the scanned samples.
I filled the black pen with my favorite daily black, Sailor Kiwa-Guro Nano (Ultra Black) Carbon ink, and the olivesilver with Sailor Jentle Blue. Both produced a clear, wet, (generously) medium line. The olivesilver has a tendency to start with a dry first stroke of the pen, but this isn’t every time, and it is literally just the very first stroke. If you repeat the horizontal bar of an uppercase “T” for example, the pen responds beautifully. To me, this is hardly worth mentioning, and the black Aion has never misbehaved in any way.
I like large pens, and I’m happy with a generous ink-flow, so the two Aions have gone straight into my everyday carry list, and I’m extremely happy with both of them.
There’s no line variation to speak of, and the Lamy steel nibs don’t give very much with additional pressure. But if you’re happy with that generous, smooth, medium line, then the Aion will please you too.
Price and Summary
Here, I’m going to give you some plain facts, just as I pulled them from the internet…
Bureau Direct, United Kingdom
47.50 GBP (Great Britain Pounds), my purchase price from Bureau Direct, London UK. At an exchange rate of 1 GBP = 1.69 CAD (Canadian Dollars), this makes each pen approximately…
Goulet Pens, United States
71.20 USD (United States Dollars). At an exchange rate of approximately 1 USD = 1.28 CAD, this makes each pen…
Stylo.ca, Quebec, Canada
92.00 CAD for each pen.
Obviously Lamy is a European company and Great Britain is still in the European Union (for now), so there are shipping and supply considerations to North America which aren’t true for Britain, not to mention our friends in customs. Plus, I have seen only limited stocks of the Lamy Aion on most web sites (US, Canadian and European). If I had to guess, I would say that this pen, at this price point, and at the start of the Christmas season, is going to be very popular.
It’s already extremely popular with me.