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Ranga Handmade Ebonite Aeromatic Filler Pens


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#1 Osmaroid

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:26

I saw these pens advertised at a very attractive price last November and decided to try a couple, especially as one I chose was a hooded nib version - I had only seen one other hooded nib pen in ebonite and it always struck me as a delightful, if somewhat anachronistic, partnering of a material used for pen manufacture at the start of the 20th century with the streamlined appearance of a mid 20th century icon that really relied on sophisticated injection molding technology! So, I took the plunge and ordered a normal nibbed version with threaded cap and the hooded nib version with slip cap.

Imagine my surprise when, 4 days after placing my order, I received a PM that my pens were being made to my specification and would be shipped in about 4 days! This truly is a bespoke service, and that for 2 pens totalling under $50 including shipping! The pens arrived 17 days after my first PM, pretty good service for manufacturing by hand and shipping from India. Then came my next surprise.

Appearance 4.5 / 5
Upon removing the outer paper packaging, I came across a totally unexpected sight - a container hand sewn into a heavy cloth outer packaging layer. Undoing the stitching, a wooden case was found, the case containing the the two pens in two channels routed out of its base. On the lid was a round hole at one end with a brass tubular insert in it - I assume that this is to act as a pen holder when the lid is closed, although I would file the lower opening of the insert before so using it as its edge is pretty sharp and could mar a pen.

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The pens themselves are handsome and understated. The conventional nib pen in black ebonite has a plain, flat ended barrel and a plain cap that tapers to the barrel at its open end with no decorative cap rings. The clip is gold colored with the name "cruiser" imprinted and with a rounded, flat edged black jewel. The hooded nib pen is in mottled green ebonite and capped it looks the same as the black pen. Uncapped, we see that the cap is a push fit and that the nib is hooded. The line of the hooded section is smoothly tapered and gently rounded into the tip - much like the Parker 51 itself. But seeing it in mottled ebonite is something that I find very pleasing. All in all, a pair of pens that would grace any user, with none of the bling so often evident in Chinese pens of similar cost.

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Note that the white, diagonal marks near the cap/body junction are reflections and are not real (this is my first attempt at macro pen photography using a point and shoot - I guess I'll use my SLR with macro lens next time.)

Construction and Quality - 5 / 5

Much of the construction can be seen above. These are of simple construction with conventional aeromatic type fillers. The black cap screws smoothly onto the barrel, and the barrel unscrews smoothly from the section to reveal a solid looking, well made aeromatic type filler - not at all the flimsy type seen on so many Chinese pens, even ones of good reputation. The same can be said of the green hooded pen, except that the cap is a firm push fit. I have no idea whether there is a breather tube and do not intend to disassemble one to find out! The only slight aberration was that the nib is not quite centered on the tip of the hood - something that is easy to correct. All in all, very good construction for pens made the "old way" - individually turned on a lathe.

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Weight and Dimensions - 5/5

Each pen measures about 5.35 inches long when capped with a barrel diameter of 0.44 inches. Both pens measures 6.4 inches posted. The weight of each is between 14 and 15 grams (sorry about mixing unit systems, but my postal scale has too low resolution in oz). All in all, each pen is comfortable to hold and use (I have large hands, by the way).




Nib Performance - 4 / 5

Both nibs are gold colored steel with well formed iridium tips. The conventional nib has the somewhat faint imprint of two birds and the name fellowship, the hooded nib is of the tubular form used by the Parker 51 and has no markings. I found the hooded nib to have a commendable performance "out of the box" with no perceptible tooth and a very smooth performance, especially for a pretty fine nib. The conventional nib was almost as good but with a hint of tooth. Neither was up to the performance of, say, my Pelikan M605 or my Sheaffer Imperial 827 NOS, both of which have glass smooth movement with no perceptible friction. However, these are much much less expensive pens and still perform as well as or better than pens many times their price.

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Filling System and Maintenance - 5/5

I covered the filling system above - it seems very well made - and see no problem with ongoing maintenance as such simple pens should need very little. I will point out that I have only dipped the pens, so do not know yet whether the aeromatic type system fills reasonably full or not.

Value - 5/5

At $18 per pen plus $12 shipping, I consider these pens to be solid, well made bargains.

Conclusion and Overall Rating - 4.7

What can I say - these pens belie their actual cost. They are well made, comfortable to use and, most importantly, fine performers. I must admit tat I have quite a few Indian handmade pens of quite a few makes, and nibs as good as these on such pens are the exception rather than the rule in my experience. I do not believe that I got the "one good one from the batch" either as both pens exhibit similarly good behavior.

#2 stuartk

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 15:01

I just purchased a pen from Ranga on Ebay. It's very obvious that these are made-to-order (bespoke) items.

In this day and age of mass production, it is very nice to know that I am getting a pen that is made just for me, and that I'm in contact with the people who are making it.

#3 akrishna59

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:32

glad to know that you are satisfied with these pens. they are custom made and that adds to the charm of owning them.

rgds.

krishna.
ladies and gentlemen write with fountain pens only.

#4 carlosjaviercontreras

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 19:31

Thanks for the review.

The hooded one seems like a very special pen, but both are filled with personal touches. A two-slot wooden case with a hand sewn fabric outer seems to me like an analogue soothing device in nowadays digital madness.

Enjoy them in good health!

Regards,

Carlos Javier.
Mi blog "Mis Plumas Fuente" contiene evaluaciones en lengua Castellana, muestras de escritura y fotografías originales de las plumas en mi colección.

Visítenos en http://misplumasfuente.wordpress.com/

#5 tonybelding

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 21:19

These are of simple construction with conventional aeromatic type fillers. The black cap screws smoothly onto the barrel, and the barrel unscrews smoothly from the section to reveal a solid looking, well made aeromatic type filler - not at all the flimsy type seen on so many Chinese pens, even ones of good reputation.


Hmmm. . . Maybe there's something that doesn't convey in the photos, but to me it looks just like the aerometric fillers in my Wing Sungs.

#6 Osmaroid

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 00:25

I am traveling right now, but will check my Wing Sungs.when I get home in a few days. What I was referring to was the many Chinese fillers I have where the metal tube has ceases/wrinkles at the end of the slot probably caused by poor tooling and or thinner metal. No sign of that in these pens.

#7 Inkwisitor

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 15:02

Nice review of a manufacturer that is new to me. I like the simplicity of the design and they do seem to be very good value.
"The cultured man is the man whose interior consciousness is forever obstinately writing down, in the immaterial diary of his psyche's sense of life, every chance aspect of every new day that he is lucky enough to live to behold!" - John Cowper Powys

#8 Brian

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 22:54

Thanks for this interesting review. I like the fact that India still produces fountain pens and understand that this was originally linked to M. Gandhi who exhorted to his countrymen that they should be self sufficient in the products needed by the emerging India of the early 1900s. Maybe someone who is knowledgable about the history of India will chime in on this.

The pens and the treatment of the products make this a special package. Congratulations.

#9 akrishna59

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 05:20

Thanks for this interesting review. I like the fact that India still produces fountain pens and understand that this was originally linked to M. Gandhi who exhorted to his countrymen that they should be self sufficient in the products needed by the emerging India of the early 1900s. Maybe someone who is knowledgable about the history of India will chime in on this.

The pens and the treatment of the products make this a special package. Congratulations.


the pen that you are talking about is the ratnam which is still handmade in andhra pradesh state in india. they are beautiful pens and have been used by many indian statesmen in the past glorious days of the fp.

rgds.

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ladies and gentlemen write with fountain pens only.

#10 knitknitfrog

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 08:06

I love the look and sound of the hooded nib pen - could you link to the seller please so I can investigate buying one for myself please?

#11 akrishna59

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 08:18

I love the look and sound of the hooded nib pen - could you link to the seller please so I can investigate buying one for myself please?



pls. try the sales / marketplace forum here on fpn. he posts under the name 'mpkandan'.

rgds.

krishna.
ladies and gentlemen write with fountain pens only.

#12 knitknitfrog

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 08:40

Thanks :)

#13 ebakken

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 03:47

Ordered mine in Black yesterday based on this review and the photos. I'm hoping to travel to india in the coming year and hope to find a way to visit a pen crafter while there and pickup a second one.

#14 rwilsonedn

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 19:19

Hmmm. . . Maybe there's something that doesn't convey in the photos, but to me it looks just like the aerometric fillers in my Wing Sungs.

I have one of the hooded version, which I find to be a delightful writer, by the way. It is also beautiful, a sort of striated matte black finish to the ebonite. But what I wanted to say is that yes, the entire nib, feed, collector (an Indian pen with an ink collector!) and filler assembly appears to be from a high-quality Chinese factory. It all works very well, and certainly makes for a unique pen.
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