(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
My first fountain pen was a Lamy Safari in metallic blue. I pretty much hated it. The grip was uncomfortable; the steel nib was scratchy; I didn't like the cartridges. I doubt I would have stuck with fountain pens had I not bought a Pelikan later that year and discovered the joys of a gold nib and a piston fill.
I refused to consider any more Lamy pens for a long time after the Safari. I believe it was Brad's review of his Lamy 2000 that convinced me to try the brand again, but that was almost a bust. I ordered a Lamy 2000 Makrolon through Massdrop, and when it arrived it had a bum nib. One tine was longer than the other, and there was this big divot on the top of the nib. Fortunately, Massdrop is an authorized Lamy dealer, so I was able to get a replacement nib. Now the pen writes like a dream, and it's one of my favorite pens.
When I first saw shots of the Lamy Imporium, I was mesmerized. I loved the guilloche patterns, the clean lines of the cap, and the nib–oh, that nib! The black exterior with the gold center was just too cool. Then I saw the price. $520 for a Lamy? No way. Plus, initially I was told the pen wouldn't be sold in the US (that turned out to be incorrect). I quietly resigned myself to no Lamy Imporium.
But then Black Friday arrived, and I happened upon a sale at Pen Boutique. The Lamy Imporium was reduced plus Pen Boutique was offering an additional 20% off! I got my pen for around $320, which seemed considerably more reasonable.
The Imporium comes in a large, heavy box wrapped in tissue paper inside a white cardboard outer box. The box is black/gray with the Lamy name on top. The lid is hinged and when you open it, the pen is centered in the middle with a ribbon to keep it in place. The ribbon doesn't work. My Imporium had made its way to the outer edges of the box during shipping.
Underneath the presentation board is a cartridge, a cleaning cloth, and a booklet about the Lamy Imporium. It's nicely packaged, but in all honesty, a huge box like this seems unnecessary. I know the more expensive pens all come in big, heavy boxes (think Visconti and Omas), but Lamy could have crafted a much smaller, elegant box.
I'm not exactly sure what the Lamy Imporium is made of. Lamy states that the pen has been "partially galvanized" and "refined" with a black matte PVD coating, but what has been galvanized is never stated. I think that the underlying body of my pen is steel, but there's also a titanium version.
Regardless, it's a beautiful pen designed by Marco Bellini. The barrel and grip have contrasting horizontal and vertical guilloche patterns.
The screw-on cap is smooth with a gold-plated clip that nicely matches the cap's shape. The clip is spring loaded and opens and closes easily.
The only branding is the word "Lamy" on one side of the clip.
The barrel sports a gold ring where the nib and grip meet and a gold disc at the bottom.
The Imporium is a solid pen in the hand. It weighs 47 grams capped. It is 141mm/5.6 inches in length capped; 121mm/4.8 inches uncapped; and 169mm/6.7 inches posted. I write with it unposted (posted it is a bit ungainly), and the guilloche pattern on the grip helps to keep my fingertips from slipping on the coated metal surface. The ribs on the grip are rounded, and I don't find them to be at all uncomfortable.
The 14K EF nib is spectacular, writing more like a fine. Lamy describes the nib as "PVD-refined bicolour gold" that provides "a uniquely soft writing experience." I will say the nib writes smoothly and has unique feel. There's no flex, of course, but it has a bit of give when you press into it.
The pen is a cartridge/converter filler. I suppose a piston converter would have made the Imporium prohibitively heavy, but at this price point you sort of expect a piston.
I have a crazy affection for this pen. It grabbed me the moment I laid eyes on it, and I can't explain that rationally. It's just a black and gold guilloche pen. Big woo. But I think it's absolutely fantastic.
- The Lamy Imporium is incredibly solid and well made.
- The nib on this pen is fantastic. Not only is it unique with the black and gold contrasts, it writes beautifully.
- I love the design of this pen with the guilloche patterns and the contrasting smooth cap. The gold accents add just the right amount of elegance.
- Even though the pen is heavy, it is well balanced. The guilloche design makes the grip easy to hold.
- If you don't like the black and gold, there's an all-black, stealth version and a titanium version.
- Obviously the biggest negative about the Lamy Imporium is the cost. It is super expensive for what you get. I would never have bought one at the full price.
- Some may find this pen too heavy for comfort.