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Madras pen shops


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48 replies to this topic

#1 hari317

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:11

Madras (now Chennai) is the largest metropolitan city in the south of India. It is also the capital of the state of Tamilnadu (which means Tamil land after the language spoken there). I visited Madras this June on a holiday and naturally went pen hunting. The pen shops in Madras (that I know of atleast) are concentrated in the Parry's area on NSC Bose road opp. Kurulagam(the Government run Arts and Handicraft emporium).

The most promienent shop there is the Gem and Company who have been in business for the last 80 years. I have visited this shop in the past and first came to know about it from my late grandfather who had purchased his Sheaffer vac-o-fill tuckaways from them.

Well, when I visited the shop this time, I was welcomed by Mr. Pratap Kumar who is the owner of this establishment. He is the grandson of Mr. M.C. Cunnan who started this store, and till a few years back the shop was being managed by Mr. Pratap's father Mr. M. Prabhat Kumar. Gem and Company have an illustrous past as one of the largest pen stores in the south of India and were representing major brands of the day like Pelikan, Parker and Sheaffer. They were also the authorised repair center for these brands and still hold a huge inventory of spare parts including parts for vintage Mont Blanc pens. They were also the main dealers for the Madras based Pilot pen company and their own brand the GAMA pen. The shop has been re-laid now, and I remember in the past when they had still kept installed wooden Pelikan pen display cases. Gem and company deals exclusively in pens, ballpens, inks and refills only and carry no other stationery items.

Gem and Co as seen from the entrance of Kurulagam:


Mr. Pratap Kumar at the counter:


The shop crowded with customers who still buy Fountain pens:


Sheaffer Shop display:


Pelikan Shop display; pls excuse the poor focus...


Some GAMA handturned acrylic desk pens:


Some mini ED GAMA celluloid pens:




A few shops away from Gem and Company towards Rattan Bazaar is a shop called The Pen Corner, they had the entire range of Wality pens and GAMA pens on display.


Krishna Mart is also nearby and I had bought my Madras Ebonites from them.


Adjacent to the left of The Pen Corner is a shop called KN Perumall Chetty, a fairly large shop.


They had some Ebonite pens at fantastic prices similar to the ones that I had picked up from Krishna Mart


These are the brief results of my survey of pen shops in the Parry's area, I am sure there are many other good pen shops in Madras, just a matter of proper exploration.

Cheers,
Hari

Edited by hari317, 30 July 2008 - 05:50.


#2 Abhik

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:40

Wow Hari! First Mumbai, then Chennai! Fantastic photo-survey! Next in line what? Kolkata- Delhi-Hydrabad?
Thanks for sharing!
Abhik.

#3 fatehbajwa

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:51

Hari, I am looking forward to you helping me find some Pen shops in Chandigarh!
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#4 Randal6393

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 13:02

Your pictures bring back a few memories to my mind. Never been to India but was in Singapore in 1975. The Indian market shops of that date looked much like the shops you photograph.

I bought my first calculator, a Casio, in one of the shops. The manual was in Japanese, which I did not read at the time. Which made learning the calculator quite an experience.

The shop personnel were always polite and knowledgeable about their products. Loved the trip there.

Have a good day,
Randal

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?
 


#5 tknechtel

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 02:09

Hari, four pen shops in one area! You make those of us who live in pen-shop-deprived areas very jealous! Not to mention some of those gorgeous pens - that wonderful elaborate transparent one with all the knobs is amazing.

Thanks again for your great photos!
Tom

#6 hari317

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 08:06

QUOTE (Abhik @ Jul 29 2008, 06:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow Hari! First Mumbai, then Chennai! Fantastic photo-survey! Next in line what? Kolkata- Delhi-Hydrabad?


Thanks Abhik, Maybe you or Bluemoon can tell us about Kolkata shops, its your hometown after all.

QUOTE (Randal6393 @ Jul 29 2008, 06:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Your pictures bring back a few memories to my mind. Never been to India but was in Singapore in 1975. The Indian market shops of that date looked much like the shops you photograph.


Randal I too prefer down to earth shops rather than all the bling, after all it is the goods and the personal attention that matters.

QUOTE (tknechtel @ Jul 30 2008, 07:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hari, four pen shops in one area! You make those of us who live in pen-shop-deprived areas very jealous! Not to mention some of those gorgeous pens - that wonderful elaborate transparent one with all the knobs is amazing.


Thanks Tom. No need to feel jealous, after all you have the whole world at your disposal through online shopping. Indian customs generally levies heavy duties on imports so the only way for most of us here is to buy from a B&M store.

Regards,
Hari


#7 rhk

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 17:57

Thanks a lot! I will visit Chennai again in December (now I am a proud PIO), and will certainly visit these stores. Thanks again Hari! Ruud

Edited by rhk, 30 July 2008 - 18:20.


#8 pretzie

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 08:56

Hi Hari,
thanks for the painstaking coverage... Do you know of any shops in bangalore which might carry Indian Ebonites?

Cheers

#9 hari317

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 09:07

QUOTE (pretzie @ Jul 31 2008, 02:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Do you know of any shops in bangalore which might carry Indian Ebonites?


Pretzie, there is only I shop (that I know of) in Bangalore that sells an Indian Ebonite ED called Jorden. It is located on Avenue Road, the road adjacent to State bank of Mysore. I do not remember the name of the shop, but there is a huge red colored pen logo that points to his shop. Do let us know what you found.

Fancier pens can be bought from William Penn whose brances are scattered all over Bangalore.

Regards,
Hari



#10 bluemoon

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 18:32

Sorry...Duplicate post.

Edited by bluemoon, 01 August 2008 - 18:34.


"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

#11 bluemoon

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 18:33

QUOTE (hari317 @ Jul 30 2008, 01:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Abhik @ Jul 29 2008, 06:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow Hari! First Mumbai, then Chennai! Fantastic photo-survey! Next in line what? Kolkata- Delhi-Hydrabad?


Thanks Abhik, Maybe you or Bluemoon can tell us about Kolkata shops, its your hometown after all.




Thanks Hari, for your excellent survey of both Mumbai and Chennai pen shops. They are really helpful.
I am really looking forward to do a similar survey for Kolkata pen shops, but nowadays what I am too busy with my job..
will do it as soon as possible.
I think most interesting will be a survey of the shops that sells vintage FP's... But almost all the shops that used to deal in
vintage are now extinct. The vintage pen business is now went in the hand of a few dealers who does not sell in shops...
still I will try.
Again thanks for the Survey... keep up the good work thumbup.gif

"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

#12 pankajwillis

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 17:13

Good stuff. I would be interested to know if there are any good MB shops/dealers in Delhi.

A merciful heart is the greatest of all possessions.

#13 petergly

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:57

I know it's over 18 months (almost) since this thread was initially posted, but it enabled me to do some quick pen-hunting while on a short trip to Chennai. I found Gem & Co, and Pen Corner, and spent a grand total of almost 290 rupee on 3 Gama and 1 Wality (69T demonstrator).

Many thanks for the information - it enabled me to spend an otherwise quiet Tuesday evening pursuing a hobby in a corner of the world I may not get to visit again.

Regards,

Pete Mac

#14 dandelion

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 11:13

Great photos - thanks for sharing a piece of the pen atmosphere in Madras! :)
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#15 hari317

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 15:42

I know it's over 18 months (almost) since this thread was initially posted, but it enabled me to do some quick pen-hunting while on a short trip to Chennai. I found Gem & Co, and Pen Corner, and spent a grand total of almost 290 rupee on 3 Gama and 1 Wality (69T demonstrator).

Many thanks for the information - it enabled me to spend an otherwise quiet Tuesday evening pursuing a hobby in a corner of the world I may not get to visit again.


Great! I am glad my post was of help.

Great photos - thanks for sharing a piece of the pen atmosphere in Madras! :)


Thanks!
Hari

#16 Ed Ronax

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 16:34

Great photographs, thanks.
And how can this be, because he is the Kwisatz Haderach.


#17 spotted and speckled

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 21:38

I was in Chennai about 2 years ago, and was probably with walking distance of the first shop. If only I had known...

Thanks for the photos Hari. It'll make the shops easier to spot next time!!
Much Love--Virginia

#18 hari317

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 17:59

Found this article on pen repair in Chennai, while looking for something else: Link

#19 Jopen

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 10:09

Really nice photo essay. Did really enjoy it. There is a lot of color and plasticity and shows the environment very well. Keep posting such outstanding things...

#20 Pauldavid

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:16

A big thank you to Hari! my mom and sister were in Chennai a few months back and they brought me 2 Wality 69Ts, a gigantic eyedropper and a standard sized GAMA thats my daily writer. Keep up the good work and thanks for uncovering these gems!
Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. - Robert Heinlein

#21 nightwing

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 20:52

Haha, didn't know Amitabh Bachachan endorses Parker pens! :clap1:

Great photos!

#22 Pepin

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 08:16

Man, these small shops seem to be packed with pens. No respite for the joyful eyes.
A man's real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.

#23 tonysingh

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 21:57

Does anyone know any shops in New Delhi which keep pelikan nibs?Please message me if you know of any.

#24 hari317

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 13:38

Does anyone know any shops in New Delhi which keep pelikan nibs?Please message me if you know of any.

Tony, I have not seen any shop in India carry and sell only the nibs. Your best bet is to try on ebay, martiniauctions.

#25 Penquin

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 18:05

I am a Chennai boy (man!) and I have loved shopping in these shops for years! Thanks Hari, for the nice pics.

#26 hari317

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 19:01

I am a Chennai boy (man!) and I have loved shopping in these shops for years! Thanks Hari, for the nice pics.


Nandri! Penquin.

#27 bk123

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 15:53

Does anyone know any shops in New Delhi which keep pelikan nibs?Please message me if you know of any.


Try at William Penn, Select City Mall, Saket
Phone number:01142658384
Cheers,
Binod

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#28 shubhangam

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 19:31

I just stumbled onto this thread!

Can anyone tell me where I could find some of the more 'exotic' inks in Kolkata? Have managed to only get the regular parker etc. and Lamy inks in the "Just Linc" stores...

Thanks!

#29 rahulg

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:13

You could order Private Reserve and Noodlers ink from William Penn online. Other than that, you might have to visit one of their B&M outlets in other cities – they unfortunately have not opened a store in Calcutta, yet.

#30 hari317

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:43

You could order Private Reserve and Noodlers ink from William Penn online. Other than that, you might have to visit one of their B&M outlets in other cities – they unfortunately have not opened a store in Calcutta, yet.


William Penn are not carrying Noodlers the last time I checked, has it changed now?, they do carry a subset of the PR range though. Best source for "exotic inks", even for us residing in India is proobably the writing desk in UK, due to VAT discount, the price shipped is quite attractive.