28 August 2018

Orange is the new black!!

Pulled out this pen from the collection. I had bought this from a store in Washington DC about ten years back. I remember that I was taken in by the orange and black color of the body. Moreover, I liked the silver rings which gave it a sturdier look I thought.

This was one more of the pens that I had to take to the pen show in Atlanta and get the nib changed to fine tip. (it came with a medium).

I have not used this for almost a year. I am going to bring it out in October to mark the Halloween colors!

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19 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – another new one from China

This is a heavy set pen. Like many fountain pen lovers, I like the pens to be heavy set. The nibs one the other hand needs to be fine for me. One thing I am realizing is that the Chinese medium nibs are not as broad as in America or Europe. But they are not as fine as in Japan either. (Clearly a medium in Japan is a fine in Europe or US).

Thanks to Raji and Karthik for letting me borrow one of their plates when we went for dinner at their place a few days back. I thought it would make for a good composition for a picture of the pen.

13 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – newest in my collection

A couple of years back, I was looking for a Wingsung Hero pen. It was a pen I used to use in the early eighties. Eventually, after not being able to source it from anywhere in India (or for that matter US), I had eventually found somebody in China to send it to me. For all of two dollars and thirteen cents.

Ever since then, I have become a big fan of some of the pens from China. I am finding out about new brands and boy, they are inexpensive. Of course, shipping takes a lot of time but it is worth it. I have not made friends with some of those folks in China.

This pen had caught my eye in of those emails from them for the bright fiery colors of red and black. I finally have it in my hand as of today. But I will have to wait for some time before I can use it. It has a medium nib and now I have to find out a fine one to retrofit it.

What should I use – red ink or black ink?

6 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – one from 2013

I had run into Ryan Krusac in 2013 while perusing pens at the Atlanta Fountain Pen Show that year. I got to know about him and his family. He lives in North Georgia (I believe near Chattanooga area). His passion is making pens and he does a great job in the craftsmanship of each and every one he makes. That year, I bought this wooden body pen from him. The wood came from local forests of North Georgia mountains. Originally this had a medium tip nib. Ryan was kind enough to mail me a fine tip a few days later which I fit in and promptly started using. I go with black ink for this pen.

I was going to take the next pen picture a week later but this Sunday, while cleaning the pool after the long bike ride, I noticed the pine cone next to the tree trunk with bright sunlight falling on it. I knew the exact pen that would go great with that backdrop. Ran inside to get the pen and the camera.

And yes, much later I remembered that I completely forgotten to finish off the pool cleaning 🙂

Miriam, since you liked the previous pen picture… this picture is for you!!

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1 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – Unbranded sky blue

This is one of my favorite fountain pens. I carry this with me on a daily basis. I had bought this in April, 2011 at the Atlanta Fountain Pen Show from a gentleman from the New York area who makes pens from different materials. The sky blue color and the rich veins of indigo had caught my attention. I switched the nib out for a fine tip and today use it with turquoise blue ink…

11 January 2018

“Pen, pen, pen… Pilot pen”…

I have completely lost the moral platform to lecture the girls on all the shopping of clothes they have been doing this trip. I had found out about this place in Kolkata – “Pen Hospital” a few months back. Almost a hundred years old, it is a very small shop in a very crowded Esplanade corner in Kolkata. The owner specializes in fixing fountain pens and has a stack of vintage and new fountain pens. Both used and new.

After dad and mom went off to sleep, I managed to convince my brother to hit the road again and go back to Kolkata to check out the shop. An insane amount of traffic later, I finally hit pay dirt when I found the shop. It is not often that I come across somebody who really knows a thing or two about old fountain pens and their history.

Picked up a few pens – which are incredibly inexpensive by US standards. The crowning glory was the Pilot 51. A few days back, when my father in law and I had gone to the other pen shop, he had mentioned about the Pilot 51 pen. That was an iconic pen in his days. It was somewhat of a folklore when we were growing up. In fact many Bengalis might even remember our old rhyme “Pen, Pen, Pen / Pilot Pen / Siri thekey nemey elen / Suchitra Sen”!!!

My mom used to have one of the non-classical versions of Pilot pens that her teacher colleagues had gifted her in 1972.

The Pilot 51 is an all time classic. One of the few pens with vacuum system for filling ink, it has a very unique nib too. It is a pity that these pens used to be made in USA and I cannot find them in USA any more!! The best part of the pen that I got? The nib is an original 1946 vintage!!!

1 January 2018

Fountain Pens from Kolkata!!

Managed to escape from family for a couple of hours in Kolkata and check out some pen shops. This is the city where I had grown my passion for fountain pens and colorful inks (started with two Wingsung Hero pens I had bought in Garia). I brought my father in law too. I did not have time to go to the “Pen Hospital” where one can pick up some really old time classics. Instead settled for a couple of Sheaffers including a Ferrari 300 series from William Penn. I even got the pen shop owner – Jeet – to take a picture with me to celebrate his first sale of the year!

Roger, I can’t wait to show you the pens!!

10 June 2017

Sudipta Chattaraj will be very proud of me!!

A couple of months back, when I had posted my fountain pen collection, my friend from elementary school days – Sudipta Chattaraj – had reminded me of the WingSung Hero pens that we used to use in our childhood.

I still remember how I got my first WingSung pen. I was in Narendrapur in 11th grade. I had gone to one of my seniors Sanku Mallik (who was the topper in our previous batch) to get one particularly tough trigonometry problem solved and noticed his very nice pen (later found out to be a WingSung pen). I also noticed that he, rather undramatically, solved the problem like he had been having trigonometry problems for breakfast from right about the time he was three and a half years old or thereabouts.

Thoroughly convinced that having a Wing Sung pen and doing trigonometry easily could not just be a matter of correlation – that there must have been a cause and effect relationship – I made it my life’s mission to get myself one such pen. That Sunday, armed with a gate pass, I slipped out of the residential campus and a short bus ride later started hunting for a WingSung pen in the shops of Garia. And finally got one!! A red-brown colored one!!

Not terribly sure it ever improved my trigonometry but I do remember going back later and getting a blue colored one too. Calculus was also particularly tough that semester!!

I used to cherish those two pens. Many a letter had been written with those two pens. Many a test paper saw me getting stuck with those two pens between my fingers!!

Sudipta had suddenly reminded me of those two pens. Like I search the world over for my old friends, a similar search started for those Wing Sung pens. Unfortunately for me, Wing Sung pens do not have Facebook accounts. Nevertheless, I was able to finally contact a guy in remote China who said he could get me one. I insisted that it had to be the model 233 (that was the only model that had that orange color window to check on the ink level).

What do you know? For the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee, I am a proud owner of a brand new WingSung Model 233 pen!!! Exactly the same color as the very first one I possessed – back in 1983!!

Previous owners of a WingSung pen probably remember the unique nib shape that is integrated into the body, that small orange window to check ink level, the small hole in the back to even out the pressure to keep the ink flowing and above all – the unique press clip cartridge system to fill in ink. Absolutely the cleanest way of refilling ink from an ink pot I have ever found.

I can also tell you that the pen is writing even better than most pens I have at hundred times that price!! But that might have to do with the priceless nostalgia too!!

23 April 2017

This year’s addition to the fountain pen collection…

Some of you who are close to me personally or professionally are aware that I use fountain pens almost exclusively for writing and also maintain a small collection. I wrote with my first fountain pen in fifth grade (1977) and in spite of all the messiness of ink all over my fingers, I have always preferred the feel of the ink-and-nib mechanism over the rolling-ball or simple gel mechanism.

While finding fountain pens became difficult over the years and certainly after I moved to the US of A, what became really difficult was getting the right paper that would neither bleed (most standard paper do) nor prevent the ink from drying (too glossy surface).  At the same time, it had to be smooth enough that the pen did not pick up any fibre from the surface that would muck up the capillary gap in the tongue of the nib. As a result, I normally stock up on writing pads once I find them to be fountain pen safe and almost always use a fine point nib only. I do have a very small cache of broad, italics and extra fine nibs for some calligraphic writing. (I am not very good at it though).

Annually, I add a few pens during the Fountain Pen Show in Atlanta. This year I went for some dual-toned bodies with bright colors. The total collection is starting to get close to the half century mark.

Missed my partner in crime Roger Whitney this year…