Jump to content


Photo

Discovering some vintage Indian pens


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 shrujaya

shrujaya

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 303 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 12 July 2008 - 06:24

Dear friends…

I have posted a couple of items on FPs on this forum…though the posts are mostly like reviews, I posted them here mainly because there were photos accompanying the posts…this time around, I am writing about some FP discoveries that I made in the pilgrim town of Gaya in Bihar, India…Gaya is my wife’s hometown and this time around, I was visiting her parents and I was there for a week…ok, before going there, FP buff that I have become now, I was wondering whether there would be some shop in this town that would have some FPs…I wrote to my good friend (and fellow FPN-ian) Hari (hari317), informing him that I would be going to Gaya and that I’d be on the lookout for FPs there…promptly, in his next mail, he sent me the address of a pen shop in Gaya…let me tell you briefly about Gaya…

Gaya is one of the important pilgrim centres of India, for both Hindus and Buddhists…13 kilometres from Gaya is Bodh Gaya, where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, the third or fourth generation of the original tree is still there…Gaya is a university town and houses the Magadh University and the town used to be an important cultural centre some 30-40 years back…lots of things have happened over the years…neglect, political apathy, etc., and the town has receded to the background…

It was with a great deal of scepticism that I went to this shop, Sainani Pen Corner, on the third day of my stay in Gaya…I imagined it to be a big shop, bustling with customers, and would have undergone changes and would now be selling Indian Parker Vector FPs and left over Camlin FPs, the ubiquitous FP brands that one commonly finds in common Indian stationery shops… if I was not on the lookout out of the car window, I would have missed it, the look of the shop turned out be an anticlimax…it was slightly more than a hole in the wall…what we call here as ‘it didn’t look any bigger than a pan (cigarette shop) shop’… what could I find here?

Anyway, Shruti and I went to the small counter and there was this man (Anjani Kumar Sainani)…I asked him whether he had any fountain pens…he gave me a recent model called Montex…I asked whether he had any ebonite old FPs…I think, that cooked my goose…he realised he had a mad FP fan…he said that he used to have such pens in the past and maybe one or two are still left over and that he’d have to search…the shop was stacked till the roof with old dusty cardboard pen boxes…he then proceeded to show me some really old Indian steel nibbed FPs…names like Kingson, Olympic, Wilson … I had heard of Wilson, who used to manufacture FPs in India with their HQ in Bombay…I asked him the price and he told me that the price list is with his brother and that he’d let me know…and all these were steel nibbed ones…he told me he also has Swans and Waterman and Pilot gold nib pens…and that he’d have them in the shop in a couple of days…and asked me to come back two days later…and then he showed me a brand called Plato…with 14 kt gold nib…it was really good looking, red in colour with a broad band on the cap…vintage… almost 40 years old…and the price he quoted was too much…I didn’t have the heart to buy the pen, though good looking, at that price…that day, I could buy only a Kingson FP, as that was the only FP that he was able to quote any price…in the evening, I called up Hari and told him about my visit and the pens that I saw and the prices that were quoted…my heart was really after the Plato G-Nib pen…Hari told me that the Wilson steel nibs were ok, but the price for the Plato was way beyond even the most inflated rates that anyone would quote…and Hari also requested me to buy spare specimens (if available) of any pens that I bought or saw…and Hari, ever practical, also asked me photograph the Plato gold nib pen, even if I didn’t want to purchase it…this was real good advice…with Hari’s various advices in mind, I went there two days later, with hope in my heart and a reasonable amount of money in my wallet…

I had kept aside a couple of Wilson and Olympic FPs earlier, and when he saw me, he took them out and told me the price…I was stunned…it was too much…he then showed me Swan (Cambridge) steel nib FPs and an ebonite Wilson…and a mottled orange flat top/bottom Wilson (this looks like ebonite, but I am not sure), also steel nib…I was sorely tempted…but the price he was quoting for these steel nibbed FPs was too much…once an FP addict, always an FP addict…with a heavy heart, I started selecting the proffered pens…he had two mottled orange and two zany designed Wilsons…I took them all…he had two Swan Cambridges…I took them too…and the Wilson mottled brown ebonite, he had only one…I took that…so, I had purchased 8 pens, along with the Kingson, two days back…I mentally counted the money I had and decided that I couldn’t afford the Olympic FPs…then I remembered Hari’s advice on photographing the G-Nib pens, and I asked him to show me the Plato…and wonder of wonders…apart from Plato, he proceeded to display some more G-Nib pens…an Indian Pilot GN, an Indian Waterman, and another Plato GN with piston pump filler…I was stunned…I have posted the photo of the shop and I think you can understand my reaction on seeing these pens…but the price that he quoted for each of these was astronomical…he was not willing to even reduce 1 rupee…therefore, buying them was out of question…so, following Hari’s advice, I managed to photograph them in their various poses…and have posted them here…

But the bigger and important point is that at one point in time in the 1960s, international pen makers like Pilot and Waterman and Swan had set up shop in India and were manufacturing these pens in India…and they were manufacturing machine made gold nibs here in India… and many old timers have said that they were using these pens, albeit steel nibbed ones, in their school and early college days…it also speaks a lot that an obscure shop in an out of the way town like Gaya has old stocks of these pens…and as Hari said, during one of our ‘pen-cussions,’ the Sainani Pen Corner must have had its glory days…but, all that is history now…these pens are no longer manufactured here and all that we have are some left over FPs and these photos…

This post, in many ways, is a companion post to the one posted by Hari, where he had put up photos of Indian Pilot, Swan, and Waterman FPs that he had discovered in Chennai…I thank Hari wholeheartedly…as you can see, he has been with this episode right from the start…giving me the name of this pen shop to offering various suggestions during the purchase and discovery of these pens, and finally for uploading all these photographs, so that I could post them…

Friends…these are photos of the pens that I did not buy…I will soon have a smaller post where I will post photos of the pens that I bought…

This post is written and photos are posted, more with a sense of history than anything else…a kind of glorious chapter in the history of Fountain Pens in India…

I hope this entire narrative was not too tedious for your reading pleasure…

Thanks…

Jayasrinivasa Rao



Plato posted



Plato posted-2



Plato-piston with cap closed



Plato-piston with cap open



Indian Waterman's 63 posted



Indian Waterman's 63 nib side view



Indian Waterman's 63 nib front



Indian Waterman's 63 capped



Indian Waterman's 63 cap close-up



Indian Waterman's 63 cap and body engraving



Indian Pilot-nib side view



Indian Pilot-nib front



Indian Pilot-capped



Sainani Pen Corner, Gaya, Bihar, India

Edited by shrujaya, 12 July 2008 - 06:36.

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)...

#2 Carrie

Carrie

    FPN Chief Intelligence Officer

  • Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,041 posts
  • Location:Isle of Wight
  • Flag:

Posted 12 July 2008 - 08:21

Thanks for posting that, very interesting reading and photos. That Plato's not meant to look at all like a Parker is it laugh.gif

The Conway Stewart Forum for discussing vintage and modern pens.

l.pngp.png


#3 georges zaslavsky

georges zaslavsky

    vintageandmodernpenslover

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,637 posts
  • Location:France
  • Flag:

Posted 12 July 2008 - 13:27

very interesting post thumbup.gif that plato looks like an English made Maxima but with a vac filling system. Wondering if the plato has a parker nib.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time
Posted Image

#4 gary

gary

    Kalamazoo direct to you

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,656 posts

Posted 12 July 2008 - 14:37

Thank you for posting a fascinating, and well written, story of the FP addiction in a part of the world that I will never see in person.
You and Hari both are to be congratulated for preserving a part of your culture,and sharing those interesting pens with us.
gary

#5 Stanley Lyndon

Stanley Lyndon

    ...connecting the dots...

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 140 posts

Posted 12 July 2008 - 16:03

It would be nice if you can tell us how much he quoted for each in rupees. smile.gif
Pelikan M1000 Green with Medium Nib - PR Naples Blue
Omas Milord Arco with Medium Nib - Noodler's Apache Sunset
Conway Stewart Nelson II Red Stardust with Medium Nib - PR Plum
Sheaffer Legacy Palladium Black with Broad Nib - Noodler's Old Manhattan Black

#6 hari317

hari317

    Classic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 12,034 posts
  • Location:Mumbai, INDIA
  • Flag:

Posted 12 July 2008 - 17:51

QUOTE (georges zaslavsky @ Jul 12 2008, 07:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
... Wondering if the plato has a parker nib.


Hi, on the request of Jai I am posting the photos of the Plato nibs.

Georges, the nib does look a lot like the arrow parker nibs, but are made in India by Plato (a brand of Mhatre Pens and Plastics, Mumbai)



and another Plato pen at Sainani







Cheers,
Hari

Edited by hari317, 12 July 2008 - 17:53.


#7 shrujaya

shrujaya

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 303 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 13 July 2008 - 06:56

Hi Stanley...Mr Sainani quoted Rs.4500/- (around 110 USD) for the 2 gold nib Platos and the blue Pilot; and Rs.2500/- (around 60 USD) for the steel nibbed Indian Waterman's 63...These pens can be had for much less if and when found in other shops in India...this is a proven fact, especially with the Waterman's 63...and even with Indian Pilot Gold Nib pens...

Thanks for responding...

Jai



QUOTE (Stanley Lyndon @ Jul 12 2008, 04:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It would be nice if you can tell us how much he quoted for each in rupees. smile.gif


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)...

#8 shrujaya

shrujaya

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 303 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:01

QUOTE (hari317 @ Jul 12 2008, 05:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (georges zaslavsky @ Jul 12 2008, 07:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
... Wondering if the plato has a parker nib.


Hi, on the request of Jai I am posting the photos of the Plato nibs.

Georges, the nib does look a lot like the arrow parker nibs, but are made in India by Plato (a brand of Mhatre Pens and Plastics, Mumbai)



and another Plato pen at Sainani







Cheers,
Hari



Thanks for posting these pics, Hari...I wonder how i missed posting these photos...hope we find some alive and inking Platos for ourselves soon instead of pining over these photographs...ha ha...

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)...

#9 shrujaya

shrujaya

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 303 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:06

QUOTE (gary @ Jul 12 2008, 02:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you for posting a fascinating, and well written, story of the FP addiction in a part of the world that I will never see in person.
You and Hari both are to be congratulated for preserving a part of your culture,and sharing those interesting pens with us.
gary


Thanks Gary...for your encouraging response...in our own separate ways, we have been trying to dig out some forgotten facts and pens from the past...there are more such stories of 'extinct' FP brands and 'closed-down-due-to-lack-of-raw-materials' and 'closed-down-due-to-ball-pen-invasion' manufacturing units...i am tracking a couple of them...I will post their stories too soon...

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)...

#10 shrujaya

shrujaya

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 303 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:12

Hi Carrie...You are right, I didnt know this, but as soon as he saw these photos, Hari told me that the piston Plato is an imitation of a Parker model...I forget which one...hardened FP enthusiasts would be able to see a lot of similarities...lets be charitable, now that these pens are no longer being manufactured, and say that the iconic models 'inspired' these models...

Thanks for responding...

Jai

QUOTE (Carrie @ Jul 12 2008, 08:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for posting that, very interesting reading and photos. That Plato's not meant to look at all like a Parker is it laugh.gif


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)...

#11 Abhik

Abhik

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 476 posts
  • Location:Kigali, Rwanda;
  • Flag:

Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:38

Shrujaya (& Hari),
Plato reminds me of UK made Parker Duofold! Clip, cap-band even nib design!
Who used to manufacture this 'Plato' pens? Where?
Thanks for sharing! Good photos too!
Enjoy your new collection!
Abhik.

#12 hari317

hari317

    Classic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 12,034 posts
  • Location:Mumbai, INDIA
  • Flag:

Posted 15 July 2008 - 08:03

QUOTE (Abhik @ Jul 13 2008, 03:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Plato reminds me of UK made Parker Duofold! Clip, cap-band even nib design!
Who used to manufacture this 'Plato' pens? Where?


Yes it looks like an English Duofold maxima, The nib size looks smaller from the photographs. Plato was made by a company called Mhatre pens and plastics in Mumbai, now closed.

Regards,
Hari

#13 tknechtel

tknechtel

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 998 posts

Posted 16 July 2008 - 00:33

Jai, many thanks for your wonderful detailed account. That image of the shop and of the beautiful red pen make me wish I could be there! I really enjoy the writing and photos that you and Hari are posting about FPs in India, tracing that history while it's still available. Please keep them coming!
Tom

#14 shrujaya

shrujaya

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 303 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:14

Hello friends...

Continuing from where I left off...I had written about the pens that I found in Sainani Pen Corner in Gaya...and posted photos of pens that I could not purchase...well...I did purchase some pens...5, to be precise...these are 3 of these are actually almost 50 year old Wilson Fountain Pens...one is an Indian Swan FP, called the Swan Cambridge...and the other one is an obscure brand called KIngson...i bought it because of its brushed look...

My heart started beating faster the moment I saw the Mottled Orange Wilson...it is such a beautiful looking pen...it almost says, 'aint I cute?'... short and sweet...but the clip fix on the cap looks damaged or maybe it looks like that anyway...I thought this was an ebonite FP, Anjani Sainai told me that it was ebonite, but to me it didnt smell ebonite... Hari feels that this could be a celluloid model...all the same...the other one is what I call the Wilson Zany (for its zany design)...this is a highly individualistic pen, I feel...it has this 'I dont care how I look' attitude, but knows that 'i am cool, irrestistible'...I like this one instantly...and it has a rhomboid colour jewel on the clip...gives it character...I dont know what material it is made up of...again I only have a clue from what Anjani Sainani told about these pens..."my father used to tell me that if and when these pens are burnt, you get the smell of camphor..." When Hari saw this pen, he said it looks like celluloid, and he said he could smell a faint camphor-ish smell from the opened barrel...so, 'camphor' gave me the clue to guess that this might be a celluloid pen... the Wilson Brown Ebonite was indeed a rare find...it has this solid look about it...almost saying, 'dont mess with me'... in all these pens, the nib, feeder, clip (except mottled orange, which has a lotus engraved at the top of the clip!!!), and barrel are all stamped with the manufacturer's name...

The Indian Swan Cambrdige is a real find, according to Hari...he has, i think, 3 kinds of Indian Swan models, and this would become the 4th...i have asked him to make a separate post on Indian Swans...anyway, one can see the legend of the Swan on the barrel...looks great and gives character to the pen...the cap is simple with the name engraved on the edge of the cap lip...the nib too is engraved with the Swan name...

Finally...Kingson...this must be a really obscure, region specific pen company...because unlike Wilson, Swan, etc., the name 'Kingson' is something that one doesnt come across as easily... and I bought this only because this has a brushed look on it reminding me of the brushed Deccan ebonite that I have...the sticker on the cap is still intact...but the nib doesnt carry the 'kingson' name, but of a more popular nib manufacturer called 'Ambitious'...

And here are the photos...there are too many I think...

Regards...

Jai


All Pens-Group Photo-Capped


Wilson Mottled Orange-capped


Wilson Mottled Orange-barrel engraving


Wilson Mottled Orange-barrel detail


Wilson Mottled Orange-clip-lotus engraving


Wilson Mottled Orange-nib close up


Wilson Zany-capped


Wilson Zany-barrel engraving


Wilson Zany-barrel detail


Wilson Zany-cap band name


Wilson Zany-nib close up


Wilson Brown ebonite-barrel with engraving


Wilson Brown ebonite-clip with rhomboid jewel


Wilson Brown ebonite-nib close up


Wilson Brown ebonite-nib feeder with legend


Swan Cambridge India-barrel engraving


Swan Cambridge India-cap engraving


Swan Cambridge India-nib close up


Swan Cambridge India-uncapped


Kingson-brushed body surface


Kingson-clip legend


Kingson-nib close up

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)...

#15 tknechtel

tknechtel

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 998 posts

Posted 16 July 2008 - 15:53

Oh, Jai, that zany pen... I'm swept by waves of envy! What a wonderful-looking pen!

#16 EventHorizon

EventHorizon

    Donor Pen

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,002 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 16 July 2008 - 16:56

I was in New Delhi and Gurgaon earlier this year and it stinks that I did not have time to explore. I think that the next time I go, I will make time. I know Gaya is a far cry from New Delhi but I have to think there are more of these small shops.
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin in "Foundation"
US science fiction novelist & scholar (1920 - 1992)

There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man--with human flesh.
Frank Herbert, Dune
US science fiction novelist (1920 - 1986)

My Pens on Flikr

#17 sanyalsoumitra

sanyalsoumitra

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 469 posts
  • Location:Kolkata
  • Flag:

Posted 04 December 2013 - 18:25

Beautiful pens, nice to view. I feel like going off to Gaya this very moment!! Thanks for sharing.



#18 Hema

Hema

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 50 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 05 December 2013 - 03:54

Amazing pictures !! I am sooo drooling !!! Sanyal, so feel the same right now !! :)



#19 cjpandya

cjpandya

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 106 posts
  • Location:baroda, gujarat
  • Flag:

Posted 17 November 2014 - 05:07

Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing. Good to know that a few more of our indian FP's from the bygone era found their place in caring hands; Else they would have been lost in a pile of junk of the cheap ballpoints. The wilson zainy had my heart racing! :wub: