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Maker: Esterbrook.

The Safari is a bit of a yeti in the Esterbrook bestiary; some people have seen pictures of it, but very few can claim a direct encounter.  It was something of a celebratory model for the company’s hundredth anniversary, but is was not particularly popular.  The lack of popularity is not actually that surprising, since the pen was made of plastic greatly inferior to the J series’s leading to unsightly scuffs, scratches and in the initial production a lot of broken caps.  The “second generation” Safari had a metal cap, which nicely addressed the last problem, but rather enhanced the others as the threads in the cap worked over the tail of the pen when posted.

Two versions of the Safari were made, one using cartridges and the other using a clever if somewhat cheap pneumatic system.  The two versions can be told apart by looking at the tail, with the cartridge version having a flat metal disc affixed to the end, while the pneumatic version has a fez-shaped blind cap separated from the barrel by a thin washer.  There is an objection to the latter version which I can’t actually endorse: “it has a very small ink supply.”  While it’s by no means a vast ocean of ink that it takes in, the volume is actually somewhat greater than the amount available in a Sheaffer Thin Model Snorkel and almost exactly as much as one could put into the Esterbrook J pens.

The tragedy of this pen is that it is, apart from the crummy-looking plastic, actually rather nice.  It is, I think, a good concrete example of what is meant by the notion of spending money to make money.

Production run: 1957 – c. 1960.

Cost When New: $3.95 in a 1959 ad (for modern value, try this calculator).

Size: 13.7 cm long capped,  15.8 cm posted, 12.4 cm uncapped. Measured with a common 1555 point installed.

Point: Interchangible “Re-New” points.

Body: Plastic.

Filler: Pneumatic, capacity approx. 0.9ml, or cartridge (the capacity of which I’m unsure, as my exemplar came with a Scripto “universal” cartridge in it).

Esterbrook Safari– yes, it is more of a salmon than a red.

Pneumatic left, cartridge pen right. I don’t know how I came to get one of each in exactly the same colour.



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