Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Madras

Contrary to that of the previous text, this story is well known and little can be added. My one and only point, then, is to illustrate it with some pictures of real pens.

India has always been a big market for fountain pens, and home to many small producers. In the 1950s Pilot wanted to increase its presence in this market and installed a factory in Madras (nowadays Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu). Initially, this plant only produced ink and assembled pens out of parts shipped from Japan. These were, mostly, the 53R model in celluloid. From 1955 on, the plant was able to manufacture complete pens.


Two Indian-made Pilot pens in celluloid. Pure eyedropper pens.


The feed, clearly visible on this picture, shows no seat for any shut-off valve, as is the case on most Japanese eyedropper pens.


The steel nibs of those celluloid eyedroppers. The engraving reads "PILOT / MADE IN / INDIA / -<2>- / HARDEST ". Presumably the hidden word is "IRIDIUM", plus the manufacturing date.

Technical problems associated to the durability of rubber sacs in the hot and humid local weather made Pilot to change their designs. Consequently, their sac based 53 and Super models were transformed in eyedropper pens. But contrary to the usual fashion in Japanese pens, these Indian-made Pilots had no shut-off valve.


Two Indian-made Super models.



The nib in detail. It is made of 14 K gold.

In fact, Indian pen companies produce mostly eyedropper pens—a basic and reliable pen, albeit not without drawbacks—the large ink deposit and the little need for maintenance is at the expense of occasional ink blops when the ink level was low.


The other unit is an Indian version of the G-300 model. On both cases, the nibs are made of 14 K gold.


Both cap and barrel are labeled as coming from India.


The Japanese version is a cartridge-converter pen, not labeled with any country of origin. Its nib is also made of 14 K gold.

Indian-made Pilot nibs are often dated with an F (foreign) before the digits showing the manufacturing date.

The Madras plant was active until 1978.

My thanks to Paco-san, Mr. Niikura, Mr. Sunami and FPN member Hari317.


Gama eyedropper pen (Gem Pens and Co.) – Indian-made royal blue ink

Bruno Taut
Machida, January 6th, 2014
etiquetas: India, Pilot

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