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Lamy 2000

Lamy 2000 fountain pen and ballpoint set, c 2000

Back in 1966, when this multiple-award-winning design was introduced, there was something of a micro-vogue for things millennial: in the decade that followed, we got movies (2001: A Space Odyssey) and TV shows (Space: 1999), and pundits like Alvin Toffler and Marshall McLuhan squinted into their crystal balls in the attempt to discern what life might be like in another 25 years or so. Based on the prevailing trends in design and fashion, the Lamy 2000 was probably as good a guess as any as to what the fountain pen of the Third Age would (or should) be like.

Little did all those prognosticators know that the advent of the year 2000 would mean little beyond outbreaks of apocalypse cult hysteria, and an immovable deadline for harrassed software developers (anyone remember "Y2K"?). Indeed, the sticklers were constantly reminding us that the millennium actually began on January 1, 2001, and not 1/1/2000 as most people supposed. And, who could've known that the kinds of ultra-luxury pens we'd be lining up to buy these days would all be ostentatiously rococo, highly decorated, and often too-too trendy? And yet, the Lamy 2000 sails on serenely, nearly unchanged after almost 40 years of production, still carrying the torch for an older conception of modern design.

The 2000 was designed for Lamy by Gerd A. Müller (who may be most famous for his Braun electric shaver design), and reflected a revived postwar Bauhaus school centered in Ulm, Germany. Other products of the time that showed this influence included Olivetti typewriters, Bang & Olufsen hi-fi systems, and numerous household appliances from Braun, Gaggenau, and others. The famous tenet of Bauhaus design was "Form folgt Funktion" (form follows function); Bauhaus objects derive their style from their underlying technical design or manner of use, more so than from decoration or "artistic" conception. Here, the Lamy 2000 fits right in.

The 2000's barrel and cap are made from a lightweight, durable fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin from Bayer known as Makrolon (a breakthrough product back when the 2000 was new); they have a brushed texture that resists fingerprints and grime, as well as providing a secure grip. The texture also helps to make the seams virtually invisible where the filler knob and the point unit attach to the barrel. The material also ages relatively gracefully; I've seen well-used 2000s that actually look as though they are made of a fine dark wood (which, indeed, one of them is these days).

The point is of 14k gold, but is plated in platinum to harmonize with the pen's austere color scheme. It is largely hooded inside the brushed stainless steel section to protect it from shifting. In most of the 2000s I've seen, the points are suprisingly flexible for a modern-production pen (and particularly so for a Lamy), and Lamy offers a variety of nib grades including three different obliques.

The 2000 boasts a fixed piston filler in the German style, tracing its ancestry back to the Kovacs filler in the Pelikan 100; however, the Lamy can be easily disassembled by the user for thorough cleaning inside the barrel. Removing the point unit for cleaning reveals a small steel washer with a pair of "ears" that secure the snap cap.

Befitting a Bauhaus-inspired product, the 2000 has virtually no nomenclature apart from a discreet "LAMY" stamped in simple block letters on the side of the clip. That clip, by the way, is made from a solid billet of stainless steel; it is rigid, but is internally spring-suspended so that it can open to grip even the thickest jacket pockets.

Besides the fountain pen, the Lamy 2000 is also available in matching ballpoint, four-color ballpoint, and pencil variations should you have to make the occasional and regrettable departure from real-pen writing. You can also get the 2000 ballpoint in a special version made from African Blackwood.

Lamy Edition 2000 fountain pen, 2000

Hardly known as a player in the International Limited Edition Cartel, Lamy nevertheless couldn't pass up the opportunity to commemorate the (pre-) millennial year 2000 with a special run of its namesake product. The Edition 2000 is a bit of a visual pun; with barrel and cap of (very) solid stainless steel, it looks almost like a photonegative of the original black pen. There's a single band of Makrolon at the section joint, and the clip gets a nice mirror polish. The make and model are discreetly but impressively etched near the top of the cap. The Edition 2000's packaging is also a subtle rebuke of the typical exotic wood plush-lined suitcase-sized boxes in which many LEs come shipped: although regular production Lamys were shipped in modest plastic boxes and more recently in cool little hinged steel boxes, the Edition 2000 comes in a cardboard box. Mind you, it's a very nice and cleverly-designed matté black cardboard box, with a brushed steel plaque glued to the front, and a certificate of authenticity in an inside pocket, hand-signed by Dr. Manfred Lamy himself (the son of founder Josef Lamy, and the current director of the firm).

The Verdict

Here's one quality German pen that won't ask for special treatment. With the tough, ultra-light Makrolon plastic hiding fingerprints and small scratches, and the lack of vulnerable trim bits to brass out or fall off, the Lamy 2000 is one pen that you can take onto the plant floor without worry. In the boardroom, the "L2K" functions equally well as a sort of "anti-Montblanc," a pen that makes a statement by not trying make a statement, but just being a splendid writer and a practical tool. The Lamy 2000 is a very easy pen to live with, being one of the only piston fillers that can be completely disassembled for thorough cleaning inside the barrel and through the point and feed. Prices for the 2000 have been dropping lately, and you can sometimes find it for around $100. The Edition 2000 commemorative (which is now out of production) shares most of the characteristics of its black progenitor, but some may find it a trifle heavy for constant use.

Maker Lamy
Origin Germany
Production 1966-present
Type Piston filler
Point 14k, platinum plated, semi-hooded.
Construction "Makrolon" plastic barrel and cap, stainless steel section and clip. Snap cap.