Monday, November 24, 2008

About fountainpens

This is about a different but interesting hobby,viz.,collection of fountain pens and ball pens.

My interest for collection of pens might have come from the nonavailability and low affordability for pens which students of late 40s and 50s faced.In the early years of my student life, even though Lewis waterman had patented the modern fountain pen as early as in 1884, we were carrying ink bottles to the class rooms. We were using a steel nib attached to the end of a pencil like rod for writing. This instrument was known as "steel pen" and "pen holder'". Writing was done after dipping the nib in the ink in the open ink bottle. In fact, the students' desks of those days used to have round holes at the edge for keeping ink bottles so that they will not easily fall down. Small cute ink bottles of different shapes and colours were available. Fortunate students of the class used to display their fountain pens to the envy of less fortunate ones. Possessing a pen was a dream for many of us.

Looking nostalgically back, there were several brands of pens, mostly foreign makes, in use. Blackbird, Waterman ,Parker,Swan, Standard,etc.were common. Later in the 60s two brands,Hero and Youth were available. Pens without filler mechanism were the common variety. Pens with filler pumps of different types were convenient.But their "tank capacity" was less than the ones in which ink was poured into the barrel. While filler pens are leak proof, others, mainly made in India in those days,were often leaky. We used to roll a piece of paper on the neck joint of the pen to prevent fingers getting soiled. Another way to prevent leak was to apply soap inside the neck groves of the pen! The common brands of Indian pens were the Olympic and the Writer. Common replacement nibs were Signature,Alloy and Iridium.Pens with transparent barrels were not available.So, in the class rooms, while taking down notes, often the pen would go dry . The student sitting next was then poked on his side to make him spill some ink on the desk[a crime if caught] from his pen. "Ink transfusion" was done by dipping the nib in the ink spilled on the desk. The process of spilling and dipping continued till the other pen also went dry. This used to happen even in my post graduate days.

The interest for pens continued in my official days also. Working in a bank there were several colleagues who shared interest in pens. Most of us were using only fountain pens throughout our long career. Even though different varieties of ball pens, jotter pens and roller ball pens flood the markets people like me still stick to fountain pens. I get a student like pleasure in filling ink in pens and getting the fingers soiled in ink in the process! Unlike the present day computerised environment a lot of paper work was involved in the bank in the past. The need and scope for using ink pens and inks of various colours were also there giving us a lot of satisfaction in parading our writing instruments on the table!
Sometimes I wonder at the countless pens and ball pens I had purchased during the last 50 plus years. While most of the cheaper ones were used ,spoiled and discarded the better ones of the lot are still with me. The collection includes high end brands Mont Blanc,Sheaffer, Waterman,Parker,Cross, Pelicano, PiereCarden, Christian Dior etc. and other lesser brands like Hero,Pilot,Writer,Flair and many others. Indigenously made pens like the famous BRAHMAM pens of Andra pradesh including the gold nibbed one are there. What makes the collection priceless to me are the nostalgic memories connected with them and the persons who had fondly presented a few of them to me.Some of the pens like a Parker51 and a Parker45 have been in use with me for about 50 years. Similarly several others also.
It is a pity that the young generation,wedded to the computers, are not getting exposed to the wonderful world of fountain pens. The young ones in my family are amused at my needless effort to fill ink in my pens instead of using a" throw away "ball pen. There is still a ray of hope for pens. The schools in the state are now a days persuading students to use ink pens for improving their handwriting. Fountain pens which had vanished from shop shelves are slowly making a reentry.

1 comment:

raju said...

Have you heard of Pen Doctor? This is an exclusive shop for all problems connected with pens. Problems are diagnosed, treated and expert advice given. The shop is on Palace Road, Trissur and quite old and reputed.Opp. Model Boys school) I beleive some former President of India consulted the doctor on pen problem while in office.