Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

29 January 2016

Gama (II). A Stick

On the previous text I presented the brand Gama, produced by the stationery shop Gem & Co. in Chennai. The models I showed were all eyedropper with steel nibs and very classical looks… save one I left for another Chronicle.

Some Gama pens. One sticks out...

The first look of this particular model is surprising—it looks like an ebonite blank ready to go to the lathe. It is almost perfectly cylindrical, and only under close inspection the line between cap and body can be seen. The ends are almost perfectly flat, and, contrary to the rest of the pen, they are polished. This feature is shared by other Gama models—the Raja and the Kuyil, for instance.

The stick. Note the band name engraved on the barrel end.

Inside, we find a gold plated nib engraved with the brand name, although it was manufactured by the Indian nib brand Ambitious. The feed (diameter of 5.0 mm) is made of ebonite. The pen is an eyedropper and the whole barrel works as ink deposit. On the outside, a subtle engraving informs us of the pen brand, but you really need to look for it.

The section is polished, as is the case of both ends of the pen.

The cap has no clip, keeping the clean lines of the pen unaltered. It cannot be posted in any way as the pen has a constant diameter all along. These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 152 mm
Length open: 141 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 19.5 g (dry)
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (the body is not completely hollow)

The writing quality is more than acceptable on this particular unit. The line is quite wet although occasionally the flow becomes irregular, but without interruptions or blobs. It seems, though, that there is not much consistency on the quality of the nibs and some adjustment is often needed. The quality control is still precarious in many an Indian good.

The nib --gold plated steel-- and the feed --ebonite--. The nib inscription reads as follows: "(G logo) / GAMA / FIVE / YEAR POINT / (logo of the nib company Ambitious)".

I do not know the model name, albeit it takes a number of features from the desk model Ezhuthani. The pen cost around EUR 16.

My thanks to Paco-san.

Gama in black ebonite – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku & Nakano, January 21-29th, 2016
etiquetas: India, Gama

26 January 2016

Gama (I)

The city of Madras, the old name of present day Chennai, has already shown up on these Chronicles as the home of the Indian manufacturing plant of Pilot. That center closed down in 1978, but that did not mean the end of pen production in the city.

The stationery shop Gem & Co. from Chennai produces its one line of pens under the brand name Gama. The company started business in the 1920s as importers of pens and pen parts from Great Britain, and around 1950, the brand Gama was launched.

Today, Gem & Co. makes mostly eyedropper pens in ebonite. Some other materials such acrylic and vegetable resin are also used. Occasionally, high-end models implement German nibs by JoWo, and can be inked with cartridges and converters.

It is indeed not clear how many different models there are currently on production. The basic reference as of today, seems to be the website if the stationery merchant Asa Pens. On it we can check some of the Gama models, but the selection is likely to be driven more by the current stock than by the actual catalog of the manufacturer. It is also possible that being Gem & Co. a small company, models and variations were subject to small productions and quick changes.

Four of the pen models by Gama. From the top, the first and the third are made of ebonite; second and fourth, of plant polymer. All of them are eyedropper pens.

The model named Forever, nonetheless, seems to be a stable pen within the catalog. This is an ebonite eyedropper pen, with a steel nib. It is a fairly large pen –146 mm long when closed— that holds about 2.5 ml of ink in its barrel.

The Gama Forever in blue and black ripple ebonite. Steel nib in size 6. Ebonite feed.

On the other end, we can find a very small pen: 69 mm long (closed) and less than 6 grams in weight. This is also an eyedropper made of ebonite.

The very small model of Gama pens. The total length is 69 mm. Again, an eyedropper made of ebonite.

Two other pens shown on the pictures of this text are eyedroppers, but they are made of some kind of plant polymer (vegetable resin, some call it) that has a very distinctive smell. These come with steel nibs of sizes 5 and 6.

A Gama pen made of plant polymer. Eyedropper, size 6 steel nib. This pen has an ink window that can be a source of ink leaks.

Finally, there is another pen, black in color, about which I will speak extensively on another text.

My thanks to Paco-san.

Gama, black ebonite – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku and Nakano, January 21-23, 2016
etiquetas: Gama, India

09 December 2015

Sri Lanka

Just a short travel note today. Some months ago I traveled to Sri Lanka, where I did some stylographic scouting.

I went there thinking I was going to find Indian pens, mostly ebonite eyedroppers. After all, Sri Lanka and India are close neighbors with a history of commercial ties. And on top of that, Sri Lanka has never had any production of fountain pens.

What I found was very different: no Indian pens in sight, but Chinese ones made by Hero. Model 336 was often the only fountain pen available at specialized shops. Its price was LKR 150 in Colombo and between LKR 200 and LKR 250 in Jaffna. Hero ink was also available for a mere LKR 50 per 62 ml ink bottle.

Hero ink at a shop in Colombo. Their price was LKR 50 per bottle (62 ml).

My stylographic shopping.

The exception to this Hero rule was the occasional Pakistan-made Dollar pen model 707. This is a very light piston filler with a steel nib. This nib is not even tipped, and the writing point is made out of bending the nib itself. All in all, the Dollar 717 is a very basic pen and its price does indeed reflect this: LKR 70 (in Colombo).

The Dollar 717. Its price in Sri Lanka, LKR 70. Less than EUR 0.50.

These findings show something we all know—the rapid expansion of China all around the World. Chinese capital for Colombo Port City and Chinese pens for the Sri Lankan market obey to the same principle.

(At the time of publishing this text the equivalence between Sri Lanka Rupee and Euro is LKR 100 = EUR 0.60).

Pilot Vpen – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 10th, 2015
etiquetas: Sri Lanka, China, India, Pakistan, Dollar, tinta, Hero

14 January 2014


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

02 July 2013

Brazilian Pilot

In 1954 Pilot opened a manufacturing plant in Brazil, and some marketing efforts followed. Many an example of the ads of Pilot products on local media were reproduced on Pilot Times, the internal communication magazine of the company.

Ad published on Folha da Manha on March 8th, 1955. It was reported on Pilot Times on its March 1956 issue.

As reported on Pilot Times on May 1956.

Those ads show ink, and Super pens as the primary products for the local market. Some reports speak of some pens made in Brazil (the Super 77 model is mentioned as such by Lambrou and Sunami on their book Fountain Pens of Japan). This was not an exception as Pilot had open manufacturing plants in other countries (India, Burma, and Thailand) in 1953.

As reported on Pilot Times on November 1958.

All in all, these Brazilian ads show that there should exist vintage Pilot pens and memorabilia in flea markets, antique shops and in the hands of local traders in Brazil and neighboring countries. But not many of those seemed to be known.

Platinum pocket pen, Yamada Seisakusho soft nib – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Machida, July 3rd, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot, Brasil, India, Birmania, Tailandia

28 May 2013

Kokuyo Ink

Kokuyo stationery products are ubiquitous in Japan. Nothing seems to be easier than buying any of its notebooks or erasers or filing folders... However, for the fountain pen aficionado, Kokuyo did not seem to have much to offer save a collection of notebooks with very good quality paper.

But that was not the case at some point. And that makes a lot of sense as the company now named Kokuyo S&T Co. had been founded in Osaka in 1905. Along its more than 100 years of history, the fountain pen has been a primary tool for a very good part of it. So, catering that marker was only natural.

The picture shows one such example—a bottle of Kokuyo kk55 ink for fountain pen. According to the price, JPY 24.00, it should have been in the marker in the 1950s.

The Campus notebook shown together with the bottle is one of the most poular products of Kokuyo. It was first marketed in 1965 as spiral-wire bound notebooks, and in 1975 there changed to adhesive bound, as we know them today. The paper of these notebooks works very well with fountain pens, regardless of their inkflow, for a very affordable price. But very fancy they are not.

コクヨkk55インキ. Kokuyo kk55 Ink.

In 2011, Kokuyo S&T Co. acquired 51% of the share of the Indian company Camlin, since then renamed as Kokuyo Camlin Ltd. This Indian company does produce fountain pens and fountain pen inks, under the brand name Camel.

NOTE added on May 30th, 2013: More pictures of Kokuyo ink on the blog by Kamisama-samama (aka Paper):

Sailor Ballerie pocket pen – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, May 27th, 2013
etiquetas: Kokuyo, tinta, India, Camlin, papelería