As with many fountain pen enthusiasts, my first fountain pen was a Lamy. I received the Lamy Al-Star as a gift after expressing interest in writing with fountain pens. It doesn’t get used as often as my Platinum 3776 Century. Read on to find out why.
Dimensions: 140mm (length), 13mm (diameter)
Place of Manufacture: Germany
Price: $47 (retail), $37 (most retailers)
The Lamy Safari is one of the most common starting pens. Being inexpensive, coming a reputable (debatable) manufacturer, and being fairly durable, it lightens the learning curve. The Al-Star and the Vista are variants of this design, with the nib and feed remaining the same. The Vista is transparent while the Al-Star is made of anodized aluminum.
Fit and Finish
The Al-Star has somewhat better tolerances than the Safari. It suffers some of the regular issues such as a hit-or-miss feed and nib as well as some general quality issues with the body. For example, the plastic has a few ridges from the molding and the LAMY engraving (or perhaps pressing) on the body has irregularities in the corners.
The pen comes in all normal Lamy Safari nib sizings. This fine nib is a European fine and puts down a line equivalent to a Japanese medium.
The pen does not have much flex.
The converter is a Z24 that can hold around 0.6 mL.
As a first fountain pen, the Lamy Al-Star has some merit. It has a solid construction and the pricing makes it almost acceptable to drop it nib-first on the ground when you’re still learning your way.
With European nib sizing, it can be a bit hard to get finer lines and the irregularities and inconsistencies with Lamy production can make one pen lovely to use and another pen a prop.
For beginner pens, I’d personally recommend the Sailor HighAce Neo. While quality of construction is about the same, the quality of the nib is a bit better and it comes in at a lower price.