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Finding some vintage Indian pens in Old City, Hyderabad


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#1 shrujaya

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 15:27

Finally...I was able to make it to old city on 17th August...this urge to go to Charminar was partly fuelled by the desire for fountain pens...and partly to have the delicious biriyani at Shadab...

so I set out, heart full of hope and a reasonable amount of money…I reached Charminar and it was only around 11.30 in the morning and the famous Lad Bazaar which would be overcrowded in the evenings was so wistfully empty…people were just about opening the shutters of their shops and only a couple of bangle shops were open… I wandered down the street looking at all the shop signs…

While negotiating my way through this crowd of shops, I finally happened to see an old fashioned shop… a man (whom I subsequently discovered was the owner) was sitting on the steps and selling Islamic books…I wondered whether the owners had changed their business…then I looked inside and saw a forward tilted showcase with pens…I felt relieved…but the shop was full of plastic decorative items, toys, books and other items…then the owner saw me standing in front of his shop and asked me what I wanted…I told him ‘ink pens’… he took a few more seconds to negotiate the sale of the book and stood up and said ‘aayiye saab’ and went inside the shop…I followed him…

Once inside, I asked him if he had any ebonite pens…he said he had and opened the glass topped case and pulled out a mottled brown medium size ebonite pen with the name ‘Sultan’ in white on the cap and the barrel…I then told him I was searching for ‘Sultan Pen Stores’ to buy their brand of ebonite pens and I was pleased that I found this brand here…I asked him whether he had any more Sultan Pen models or more specimens of the same model…unfortunately, no, he said, but promised that he’d make or get a thicker FP in a week’s time…so far so good…he took out a red coloured Waterman’s India FP and told me that this was a rare piece and that he’d sell it to me…I inspected the pen and it was an Waterman’s India 65…all plastic body with a pump filler (aerometric filling system- as in Parker 51 and a lot of Hero imitations 616, 330, 329)…I have a Waterman’s India 63 with gold nib that Hari got for me and I felt that WI 65 was worth the effort…I kept it aside…I then spied a similar WI model and asked him to take it out…the pen looked good, but the sac inside the pump filler was missing…he then took out some dusty boxes from a cupboard inside and brought out 3 more WI 65 pens…and there was some problem with each, but he managed to put together 3 pens out of the 5…not bad…I took all three and then there was another WI pen, and this pen had a plastic body and steel cap with hooded nib and aerometric filling system…this model was named WI 71…this one was unexpected actually…as he was piling up the boxes searching for good pens…I started my own searches and happened to locate 3 Sultan pens…2 of them with ebonite body and steel caps and another with full plastic body with hooded nib…all are ED fillers…I managed to put together 8 pens by now…I thought this was a good haul…



All 4 Waterman's India FPs - 63 (I already had this - courtesy Hari), 71, 65 and 65












Sultan Pens - capped


Sultan Pens - posted


Sultan Pens - nibs close up

And then came the surprise, at least for me…he showed me those old handle pens where you inserted nibs and dipped them frequently in inkpots to write…I don’t know who uses them these days, but I feel that Urdu and Arabic scholars still use them, because one of the two that he showed me initially was a calligraphic nib…he then proceeded to demonstrate the smoothness of the nib by writing in Urdu…looked fabulous…I was totally hooked…sensing my enthusiasm, he took out small rectangular boxes and showed me different kinds of nibs…nibs made in India, UK, and USA…names like Resterbrook, Macniven and Cameron-Waverly, Delia Indus (?), Mehra Leonardt, and Kumar Pens-G C Law & Co…he called them ‘patta’ (leaf)…he then showed me a nib with its tip curved slightly upward…According to Richard Binder, “the nib presents to the paper what appears to be a lower angle of elevation. This design, introduced by the Waverley Pen Company (British), results in smoother performance. It also offers more usable surface toward the end of the tip so that the nib works better for users who hold the pen at a high angle of elevation, and it is consequently well adapted to many left-handed writers”…I couldn’t resist and bought two sets of whatever was available with him…I don’t know whether or when I am going to use them…but for a collector, these are antique pieces and moreover these handles are made of ebonite… I think the owner was pleased that someone came asking for fountain pens and that he was able to show the kind of pens that his shop used to manufacture and stock during the heydays of FP use…he sensed that I was a collector and that I was visibly excited on seeing those old Waterman’s India FPs and holders and nibs…I must say he was a gregarious person with a booming laughter and proud of his pen-making heritage and happy that I was pleased with what he could offer me…










He pointed out to the photographs mounted on the wall of his father and grandfather, who started this business and said that they would have told me more about the holder nibs…sometimes I feel that an entire past generation is slowly leaving taking away its collective wisdom and practices with it…we come across some such evidence of past practices now and then and these holders and nibs are good examples…

Regards,

Jayasrinivasa Rao (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)...

#2 tknechtel

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 18:19

Shrujaya, thanks so much for such a detailed story of your treasure hunt! It makes me feel I was there, combing through the boxes with you and the shop owner. And those dip pens, with their carved handles, are wonderful! (Another item for Steve Braun to add to his store's inventory?)
Tom

#3 gary

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 13:59

Thank you for sharing the photos,and your story.
You are correct about part of Indian heritage passing away, but your efforts ensure that it will be remembered.
Best wishes,
gary

#4 hari317

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 15:47

Nice finds, the Sultan has a Senator Nib I think. I used a Mehra Leonardt office pen (nib) dip pen to hand write my Chemistry project report in High school. Leonardt still makes dip nibs. I am really excited at the prospect of getting to see these pens in person.

Regards,
Hari


#5 Memos Random

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 18:16

A very nice, HUMAN, story.
I like those dip pen handles very much. puddle.gif
What does ‘aayiye saab’ mean?

#6 Leigh R

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 22:26

The ebonite nib holders are amazing. I use dip pens often - so far my holders only come in silver, glass and wood. (Aside from the ubiquitous cheap plastic.) How do they feel in the hand?

Thank you for sharing,
Leigh smile.gif

#7 shrujaya

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 04:20

Thanks Tom, Gary, Hari, Leigh, & Memos Random...I woke up today and saw all these responses to my post on pens found in Hyderabad...I am so happy and overwhelmed by the warmth of the replies...

Thanks Tom...I try to spin a narrative out of my search and experience of locating the shop and the pens...I am glad you appreciate it...makes me feel proud of my writing skills...ha ha ha...

Thanks Gary...you're right...sometimes one stumbles upon such things and here they are...moreover, things which are 50-60 years old are common in India and are not given much thought...you might know of the perceived idea of history of India of over thousands of years...people have 100 or 200 year old things at home here...why bother about a 50 year old pen...he he he...

Hari...thanks...yeah, you can see them when you next come to Hyderabad...I thought the circular 'S' engraved on the nib stood for 'Sultan'...BTW what ink do you use for handle pens? the shop owner showed me camlin fabric paint and said that this should be ideal...

Thanks MR...'aayiye saab' means 'please come in, sir'...this is part of the respectuful welcoming of visitor/guest...

Leigh...thanks so much...I dont use these handle pens regularly...but from the sample that I wrote for this post, I find Mehra Leonardt, Waverly, Resterbrook, and Delia Indus (?) to be good writers...

Will hopefully get more to share with all of you...

Regards,

Jai (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)...

#8 hari317

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 14:49

QUOTE (shrujaya @ Aug 31 2008, 09:50 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
BTW what ink do you use for handle pens?


I use normal FP ink, but I have also used "Camlin Fount" (India ink for fountain pens like the Pelikan Fount) and Camlin Drawing ink (India Ink) with good results.

Best,
Hari

#9 penburg

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 17:52

Wow! Nice finds and great pictures. What an adventure!
<img src="http://img356.images...ostminipo0.png" border="0" class="linked-sig-image" />

#10 rdugar

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 22:49

Jai,

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story. One could smell the shop and imagine the ambiance smile.gif
It's fun and heart warming to read about family business owners who are proud of their history and and workmanship.

Has anyone done similar exploring in Kolkata? That's another old city with a lot of history, and sure to have old pen stores.

Regards

Rajesh

#11 shrujaya

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 05:15

QUOTE (rdugar @ Sep 2 2008, 11:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Jai,

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story. One could smell the shop and imagine the ambiance smile.gif
It's fun and heart warming to read about family business owners who are proud of their history and and workmanship.

Has anyone done similar exploring in Kolkata? That's another old city with a lot of history, and sure to have old pen stores.

Regards

Rajesh


Thanks Rajesh for your comments...I was really happy when I located this shop and spent close to 3 hours there...Hari has done two posts on Mumbai and Chennai pen shops and I have written on one pen shop I found in Gaya, Bihar and this one and the two Deccan Pen Stores in Hyderabad...I actually want to put together a post on Hyderabad pen shops... let me see when I can get it done...as far as Kolkata is concerned, I have links with Kolkata, but the people i know might not be too interested in this madness... only a true blue kolkatan FP enthusiast can do justice to this... Abhik, an FPN member, had mentioned names of some shops to me...so, the next time Abhik is in Kolkata, we can ask him to do the rounds for our benefit...

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)...

#12 shrujaya

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 05:17

QUOTE (penburg @ Sep 1 2008, 06:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow! Nice finds and great pictures. What an adventure!


Thanks...and I hope to undertake many such adventures...if only to bring to light some hidden FP treasures from this part of the world...and I am happy that you liked the photos...

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)...

#13 rahulg

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 12:41

Just thought I'd chip in with my two cents' worth on pen hunting in Hyderabad. After landing up near Laad Bazar at the Charminar, I sifted through shops in search of Sultan Pens, in an hours' time, I was thoroughly frustrated and the blazing sun made matters worse. The quintessential glass of falooda came to my rescue and a bit of asking about yielded the location of a certain Hilal pen stores, located between Machli Kaman and Charminar. After snooping around a bit, I chanced upon a couple of ebonite Sultan ED fillers, a blue Waterman India 71 aerometric filler, a Wality and an old Pilot FP. Unfortunately, the Sultans had replacement 'IP Germany' nibs, which are cheapie nibs, and were not the original Sultan brand ones. wallbash.gif Apart from these, he had a few imitation Hero pens (with HERB written in place of Hero), which did not interest us.
The Waterman had a bent nib, extremely sctrachy and the sac inside did not seem to well, it appeared as if the pen had been used and discarded, and just happened to resurface at the shop. The shopkeeper did not seem too informed and was more interested in selling off the pens. The Waterman was priced quite steep, for a used pen. Ergo, after a bit of loitering around, we left the shop with a heavy heart. bawl.gif
Just wanted to share it with you guys. Deccan pens, on the other hand, inspire so much confidence, I guess the shopkeeper's mindset and technical knowhow matters, but then again, that's just one of my quirks- I don't indulge in risky purchases. Sigh...

PS: Shrujaya, could you recall where exactly did you find the particular shop, any landmarks nearby? Thanks.

Edited by rahulg, 05 October 2008 - 12:48.


#14 Koshy

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:13

Shrujaya and Rahul,
Awesome finds near Charminar. Do these shops have any more pens left or have you guys cleaned them up. Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, I suspect might have a few shops still with some vintage pens. Kolkatta and Lucknow are two places worth exploring. Shimla, too having been the summer capital of Imperial India holds much promises. I intend to survey Shimla in the near future and will post my findings.
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#15 shrujaya

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:14

Hi Koshy...thanks for visiting and reading...

That visit to old city, Hyderabad was quite some time ago...it is almost three years since that visit...I am sure some more vintage pens would have surfaced...you surely should try your luck there...

I had an interesting time in a pen shop in Gaya, Bihar and I have documented that too here...

Regards,

Jai

Edited by shrujaya, 28 June 2011 - 08:48.

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)...

#16 rahulg

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 10:41

Shrujaya and Rahul,
Awesome finds near Charminar. Do these shops have any more pens left or have you guys cleaned them up. Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, I suspect might have a few shops still with some vintage pens. Kolkatta and Lucknow are two places worth exploring. Shimla, too having been the summer capital of Imperial India holds much promises. I intend to survey Shimla in the near future and will post my findings.



Hi Mr Koshy,

You could have a look at this older post, for pen shops in Calcutta.

Regards,
Rahul

#17 Dr.khizarraoof

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 14:06

I'm in hyderabad right now, can anyone guide me where exactly to go from charminar in search of these pens??

#18 shrujaya

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 11:32

Hi Dr Khizarraoof,

 

Thanks for your interest...the shop is at Gulzar House, on the road towards Charminar...the building is near the arch (kamaan) on the left side before you reach Charminar...

 

Happy hunting...

 

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)...