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An Iconic Nib - From Us To China To India


23 replies to this topic

#1 shrujaya

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:55

Dear friends,

Way back in the 1980s, when I was in school in Mangalore, a coastal city in Karnataka, India, fountain pens were still seen around with students and I remember we coveted the Hero FP with the hooded nib…the Hero 330…it was a foreign pen, you see…and it had a pump filler (as we called the aerometric filler during those FP lingo-ignorant days)…much better than the locally available ED fillers (mainly Camlin and Wilson) that we were compelled to use (and now rue our ignorant decisions to cast them aside…)…the pump fillers did not leak (so we thought) and they looked sleek with a hooded nib and wrote a fine line and all that…the fathers of many students in our school worked in the Persian gulf countries like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman, etc., and on their half-yearly visits to Mangalore some of them would bring back Chinese FPs as gifts for their children…and these guys would get a chance to flaunt them in school the next day and we would beg them to have us use it for a while…and one day one of them brought an entirely enticing and charming FP to school and we couldn’t stop drooling…it had a different kind of nib…an encircled nib…and it also had a retractable ball pen at the other end (if the ink is exhausted, you don’t break any sweat, you hold the other end, and you unscrew and let out the ball pen and continue writing…wow!!)… it was like an FP dream coming true…and for many many months this guy carried the most enviable FP in school…it was the Wing Sung 727…and the nib was so utterly innovative and charming that we marvelled at the manufacturer’s ingenuity and all that…and now in retrospect, I realised that that was my first introduction to the ‘conical nib’… FPs were only for writing at that time and we carried on with whatever we got grudgingly, longing for the fashionable use-and-throw Reynolds ball pen that some of my friends (the same sons of Persian gulf-based fathers) flaunted … ironic…

And now many years on and re-entering the quaint and wonderful world of FPs, I learnt many things…the nib on the Wing Sung FP that I saw then was actually ‘inspired’ by the legendary Triumph nib introduced by Sheaffer in the 1940s…and as many FP sites tell us, it was an innovative design and vastly improved the functionality of the nib…and my efforts at getting hold of the legendary Triumph has so far not proved successful…and the only Triumph kind of Sheaffer FP that I managed to locate in a small old shop happens to be an Australian Sheaffer…though I don’t feel entirely fulfilled with this Triumph(!), I thought this can be a useful starting point to look at how far the nib and its design has travelled…from USA to China and from there to India…

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The Australian Sheaffer Triumph…uncapped…it has a touchdown filler…

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Close up of the nib…it is smaller than the regular Triumph nibs…

A year or so back, on a visit to Deccan Pen Stores, here in Hyderabad with Hari, I saw the Wing Sung 727 again, and the sight of the pen took me back to my school days…and, mostly for nostalgia’s sake, I bought two, one in burgundy and the other in black…I filled the burgundy one with black ink and used it for a while…the writing is smooth and all that…and when I took it to my workplace and showed it to my colleagues, they were amazed at the shape of the nib, similar to my reaction 30 years ago when I saw it first!! Some things don’t change…here are some pics…

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Both Wing Sungs…one posted and the other uncapped…you can see the retractable ball pen outlet at the rear end…

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Wing Sung 727 – Close up of the nib

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Wing Sung 727 – Close up the feeder

Just as I was re-entering the world of FPs…I heard about Ratnam Pens in Rajahmundry and remembered having read about it in a magazine article…one of my colleagues told me she had actually been to their manufacturing unit while on a visit to Rajahmundry and had purchased a couple of FPs, but alas, she had misplaced them or lost them…I started hounding another colleague who was also interested in FPs and he finally managed to trace some distant cousin who lives in Rajahmundry and asked him to send two pens…he kept one for himself and gave me this ebonite pen with the conical nib…as soon as I saw the nib, I knew that it was the ‘legendary’ Wing Sung nib…I still had no idea that an ‘original’ existed…!! I remember I was slightly unhappy on being given a Ratnam FP with a Chinese nib, whereas my colleague kept the other open nib Ratnam for himself…again, in retrospect, I am pleased that I was given this pen…I hear Ratnam no longer makes this kind of pen…(I am not completely sure of this though…)…In fact, this Ratnam ebonite FP was my first conical nib FP, even before I bought the two Wing Sungs…


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The Ratnam ebonite FP with the Wing Sung conical nib…

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Close up of the nib…you can see that it is a two-tone nib…which is different from the one in the actual Wing Sung pen…which is a single-tone nib…

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Close up of the feeder…looks like ebonite…

And then on another visit to Deccan Pens, Abids, I came across a Brahmam ebonite FP with the Wing Sung conical nib…it looks like the 146, with a white dot on the cap and all that…again, this Brahmam FP also has a two-toned conical Wing Sung nib…

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Brahmam ebonite with conical nib…uncapped

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Brahmam ebonite – nib & cap

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Brahmam ebonite – feeder close-up

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Brahmam ebonite – the white dot on the cap…

The Swarna ebonite with the conical nib was totally unexpected…a friend of mine had seen my post on the Swarna Sumo and wanted a similar pen and asked me if I could help…I called up the Swarna people and requested them to send me 3 Sumo pens in different colours…they sent me 3 totally different pens…anyway, my friend was happy with one of them and took it…and I had the rest for myself, and one of them was this black ebonite with the conical nib…now, this nib is not two-toned as the Ratnam and Brahmam FPs…looks similar to the ones on the Wing Sung 727s…

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Swarna ebonite – uncapped

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Swarna ebonite – the single-tone nib

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Swarna ebonite – feeder close-up

It was after I got this pen that a pattern started forming at the back of my mind…and I thought of putting these pens together as examples of pen-fusions…Indian ebonite bodies with Chinese nibs inspired by an iconic American nib…the nibs are all Wing Sung nibs, but, I am not sure how these Wing Sung nibs came to the Indian FP makers…does the Wing Sung company sell conical nibs in bulk? Or were these nibs cannibalised from old Wing Sung 727s? Or is somebody else making these nibs with the Wing Sung insignia?
Anyway, keeping that part aside…if you had noticed, the feeder in each pen is different from the other…lets have all the feeders (Wing Sung and Indian ebonites) together in a combo photo…

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But I still didn’t have the Sheaffer Triumph to complete the picture…I was becoming desperate, I wanted to do the post, but felt it’d be incomplete with the Triumph…and then out of the blue I came across this Australian Sheaffer conical nib FP... I don’t whether this pen is also called the Triumph…and so, this Australian Sheaffer was the last one to become part of my ‘conical nib’ gang ironically…

I don’t know whether these examples of Indian ebonite FPs with conical Wing Sung nibs are examples of ingenuity or just fusions or attempts to make an Indian variant of pens with conical nibs… I felt I should put them together in one place…

The post has become too long, but I couldn’t help it…I hope this was not too tedious for your reading pleasure…

Thanks for visiting…

Shrujaya

Edited by shrujaya, 21 June 2011 - 09:36.

Writing and posting about fountain pens exclusively on www.jaisiri.blogspot.in ... recent posts on Hema Pens (Hyderabad), Haul at Majestic (Bangalore), and Asoka Pens (Tenali)...

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#2 pelman

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:58

Fascinating reading. Thanks for a trip down memory lane. I hope you get your American sheaffer triumph soon.

#3 Wolverine1

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 11:57

Shrujaya- thanks for yur post. Brought back a lot of memories for me. I grew up in Meghalaya in the 1980s, and both my dad and I had Wing Sung 727 pens!!!! I had two, and I took my ICSE and Pre-University exams with my two trusty Wing Sung 727 pens!!!!!
Thanks for posting the pictures, brought back a lot of good memories.

#4 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 12:08

Very interesting indeed. The mock snorkel on the 727 is a fascinating extension of the emulation. My sense of being in a dull backwater of the pen world is once again renewed!

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#5 WendyNC

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 12:19

What a delightful and informative post. Thank you!

I had noticed the different feeds and appreciate the group photo of them. I continue to be fascinated by the number of variations available on the FP theme.
I came here for the pictures and stayed for the conversation.

#6 rwilsonedn

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 15:34

Marvelous story-telling and a great comparison of the pens. Thanks!
Wing Sung apparently made many different pens with their conical nib, including some that have very precise semi-flex nibs, totally unlike the nail-hard rigidity of the Triumph. They still show up on eBay as NoS.
I do wonder, though, how the Wing Sung nibs became available to Indian pen makers.
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#7 Black Rose

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 17:12

What an interesting and informative read.

Thank you Shrujaya.
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#8 Flounder

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 19:19

Interesting feed on the 727 indeed! Does the extra channel extend into the sac?

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#9 shrujaya

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 08:19

Dear Pelman, Wolverine, Ernst, Wendy, Ron, Black Rose, & Flounder…

Thank you so much for visiting & reading my post and responding…it makes one’s task that much more fulfilling…when these pens came my way individually, they were just one-off pens…and as I said in my post, the idea of putting them together under one head came in gradually…and I am happy that you have appreciated the effort…

Pelman, thanks for your wishes…I do really hope I get my Sheaffer Triumph soon…

Wolverine…I am glad this post struck a nostalgic chord in you…

Ernst & Flounder…after reading your comments, I went back to my Wing Sung 727 to see whether the snorkel is mock or real…I saw an aperture on the snorkel and I tried inserting a very thin wire into the aperture and I was surprised to discover that the wire went up to the sac… thanks Flounder, for goading me in that direction…

Wendy…I am glad you appreciated the combo photo of all the feeders…I must thank my colleague Ravi in my college, an under-appreciated wizard on Ms Office applications, who helped me put together all the feeders in one frame…

Ron…I will keep my eyes open for the other Wing Sung conical nib pens…thanks for the tip…

Black Rose…thanks for the thumbs up! This will motivate me to write better…

Thanks to others too who visited…and read…

Regards,

Shrujaya
Writing and posting about fountain pens exclusively on www.jaisiri.blogspot.in ... recent posts on Hema Pens (Hyderabad), Haul at Majestic (Bangalore), and Asoka Pens (Tenali)...

#10 hari317

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 10:55

Very interesting post Jai.

India was a huge market for the Chinese pens, the nibs were available as spares, packed in boxes of one gross nibs each. during my school days from 1982 to 1994 the wing snugs were considered the deluxe chinese pens, you also had the LILY pen with the inlaid nib a superb pen, alas I cannot find the LILY pens anymore.
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#11 shrujaya

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:37

Thanks Hari for visiting and reading my post...

And as I expected you brought some additional information to the post...now we know how these ebonite pens came to have Wing Sung conical nibs...my thanks for that too...and now I have to embark upon Mission Lily...some old shop might have a couple of unsold pieces left...who knows...

Regards,

Jai
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#12 79spitfire

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 05:21

The Wing Sung pens (If I remember correctly) were made on ex-Sheaffer equipment, sold to them in the late 60s early 70s. The fitting in the feed where the snorkel would go is (I believe) Wing Sung's adaptation of the snorkel feed to an areometric type filler. The Aussie Sheaffer you have is a great pen, and writes very similar to my other triumph nibbed pens, a '46 tuckaway, and a Touchdown TM from the early 50s. I have one of that model,(the Aussie triumph) but made in Ft. Madison.

That's a nice collection you have there, very pretty. Use and enjoy them to their fullest, and good luck on your search for a Sheaffer triumph, they are out there, Sheaffer made millions and millions of them and they were shipped to all "four corners" of the globe!! :roflmho:

Edited by 79spitfire, 27 June 2011 - 05:22.

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#13 MalcolmH

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 05:27

A fascinating story...and so good to see those pens brought together.

A little piece of fountain pen history.

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#14 shrujaya

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:25

Thanks Spitfire and Malcolm for visiting and writing...much appreciated...

Spitfire...I thought that the Aussie Triumph was some kind of a 'afterthought' pen and something that has generally disappeared from the FP world radar...I am glad that someone else has endorsed it as a good writer...thanks for the support...and that additional info about the Wing Sung...I do hope to find my Triumph...soon...

Malcolm...I am glad you liked this post...just a small attempt to make my passion into something interesting for others to read as well...

Regards,

Jai
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#15 Abhik

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:36

Hello Jay! I just came across your fascinating account of conical nibs from Triumph to Guider & Brahamam!
I really liked your search for conical nibs! I have (still with me here in Kigali) two Wing-sung conical nib pens. I have never got a chance to buy a Sheaffer Triumph. May be some day!
Ratnam used Wing-sung nibs? I thought that for gold version they used their own nibs!
Thanks Jay
Abhik.

#16 hari317

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:46

Ratnam used Wing-sung nibs? I thought that for gold version they used their own nibs!


Dear Abhik, Ratnam and other Indian pen makers used the Wingsung conical steel nibs on their economy models. when making gold nibbed pens, they of course made their own 14K conical nibs. I had one such Ratnamson pen custom made:

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You can read more about my pen here: Ratnamson 42P

Best
Hari
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#17 Flounder

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 17:53

What a great thread. I've been googling to find out more about this 'LILY pen with the inlaid nib', no progress as yet. Does anyone have any further clues?

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#18 hari317

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 19:33

What a great thread. I've been googling to find out more about this 'LILY pen with the inlaid nib', no progress as yet. Does anyone have any further clues?


Have a look at ebay item no:230633221865 LILY 718.

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Hari
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#19 ParkerBeta

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 01:41

A wonderful thread and very interesting information! Shrujaya's description of the types of pens he used growing up, and how he and his peers in their ignorance actually pined for Reynolds ballpoints, perfectly describes my own attitudes at that age!!
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#20 shrujaya

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 05:33

Hari...sorry...I completely forgot about the Ratnamson custom pen with the conical Gold nib that you got made especially...it is a remarkable addition to this topic on conical nibs in India...how could I have forgotten it...we had discussed this pen and its nib when we had met and I really liked the clear and precise manner in which your complete name was engraved on the nib...I am glad you gave the link to that post on this thread...

Now that my memory is refreshed, I think Guider Pens in Rajahmundry too has made FPs in celluloid with the conical nibs...a couple of pictures are still available on their website...we get to see only the frontal side of the nib, and it looks like a conical nib...see here

It is indeed interesting to note that the Indian FP manufacturers took the trouble to actually fashion the conical nib out of 14kt gold...

Thanks for the ebay link to the Lily 718 FP...now I know how the pen looks like and will keep my eyes open...

Regards,

Jai
Writing and posting about fountain pens exclusively on www.jaisiri.blogspot.in ... recent posts on Hema Pens (Hyderabad), Haul at Majestic (Bangalore), and Asoka Pens (Tenali)...



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