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REVIEW: Varuna Double-End Pen (!)


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23 replies to this topic

#1 QM2

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:14



VARUNA DOUBLE-END PEN
Indian Ebonite Eye Dropper Two-in-One


As soon as I saw a photo of Varuna Double-End Pens, I knew I had to own one. First, the sheer uncanniness of this object:
it looks like a baton and disassembles into two separate fountain pens. Second, the logic of it: The "two pens in one" concept
allows the use of two different ink colours, which makes it a convenient pen to keep on your desk for editing and grading.
And finally the looks: the simple flat-top form is beautiful, and the pastel rings at the ends are an irresistible touch.



Looks

What fascinates me about this pen, is the graceful elegance it exudes despite its freakish anatomy. The black ebonite body
is smooth and glossy, looking like the polished surface of an expensive piece of furniture. Because the pens on each side
are flush with the middle piece, there are no visual breaks in the length; until the pastel-coloured rings at the ends, it
is one continuous, endless plane.

The pastel-coloured triple rings -- which I am guessing serve the purpose of indicating ink colour -- add visual interest
to the expanse of classic black. The rings on my pen are soft pink and lime green, though I believe several other colour
combinations are available. From having seen photographs of these pens, I assumed the rings were plastic add-ons. In fact,
they are painted into grooves in the ebonite. The shades of the colours are soft and unusual. They look particularly striking
set against the black.



Construction

The Double-End Pen is constructed of 3 main parts: two pens, and a middle connector section that functions as a shared
cap for both. This middle section is quite long -- nearly as long as the barrel of each pen.



Looking inside the connecting piece, there is a divider in the middle that separates the individual capping areas like a
partial screen. On each side is a breather hole.



When using one of the pens, simply unscrew the end-piece from the middle. The threads at each end of the middle section
are pen-specific, so the pink and the lime side are not interchangeable.

From what I understand, each pen is hand-turned individually on a lathe, including the process of making the triple grooves
for the end-rings and filing them with pigment. All the parts fit together perfectly.



Size, Weight, Balance, Comfort

When completely assembled, the Double-End Pen really does resemble a baton. Its presence is quite striking, and it takes
up a large portion of the surface area on my office desk! Here it is next to some office supplies for size comparison!



And here is an individual pen next to a Lamy Safari. These are full-size pens, both in length and in width.



Individually, each pen is fairly light-weight, as it is made of ebonite. The biggest determinant of weight is how much ink it
is filled with (and being an eyedropper it can hold quite a lot). The sections are dramatically curved, like sections on vintage
pens, with pronounced "lips". As I always explain in reviews, this is a major plus for me, because I hold pens very close to
the nib and the lip prevents my fingers from slipping.



Filling System

Each of the pens fills individually via eyedropper. The benefits of an ED system are mainly the huge ink capacity and the
lack of breakable inner mechanisms. The drawbacks are possibilities of leaking and blobbing. However, Steve Braun,
who is the seller of these pens, tunes each pen individually prior to selling, so with these particular products you should not
experience these problems. Some are reluctant to try eye dropper fillers because of the "extra fuss" involved, but since
this is a desk-pen anyway, it already invites ritual -- and so I feel that the ED filling system is very appropriate here.



Nib

The nibs on these pens are very attractive steel "Fellowship" nibs. They are decorated with an engraving of a dove -- a
symbol of peace. I do not know where these come from or who makes them, but they are quite nice and of high quality.
Mine write like F nibs, on both ends. I believe that these pens can also be fitted with 14K nibs, but I am more than content
with these "Fellowship" ones. It is worth mentioning that these pens are fitted with ebonite feeds that are individually
checked and finished by Steve Braun. Both ends of my pen write smoothly and display no problems.

Value

The Varuna Double-End Pens have just been introduced at All Write Now for $50. For such a unique, hand-turned pen
that is really two pens in one, I think the price is excellent.

Conclusions

Just in case I haven't mentioned it yet, I think the Varuna Double-End Pen is extremely cool! It is the Siamese Twins of pens
and a unique addition to any collection. How practical is an enormous baton-like creation as a "desk pen" used to edit manuscripts
and grade papers? Well, time will tell! But regardless, I am quite pleased to own this unique object and to use it ceremoniously
when appropriate occasions present themselves.

Oh, and if you want people to notice your pen, forget Montblanc! This baby is much more likely to get their attention : )

Hope you enjoyed the review,
QM2




Edited by QM2, 12 April 2009 - 06:58.


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#2 FrankB

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:28

Another great review. Thank you.

I think the word "eccentricity" is truely operative here. Yet, it is a good idea and one I have never seen. I have to admit the pen design seems well thought out. One question keeps popping up in my mind - how do you intend to carry this pen? Or will you carry it?

Edited by FrankB, 11 April 2009 - 21:28.


#3 QM2

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:43

QUOTE (FrankB @ Apr 11 2009, 11:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think the word "eccentricity" is truely operative here. Yet, it is a good idea and one I have never seen. I have to admit the pen design seems well thought out. One question keeps popping up in my mind - how do you intend to carry this pen? Or will you carry it?


Heh, I don't think that this one was meant to be carried around fully assembled, unless in a special carrier! It is most likely intended as a stay-put desk pen.

#4 MDI

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:43

I hear that if you buy several, they come with a quiver that you can carry behind your back!

And the middle part converts into a poison dart blow-gun. smile.gif
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#5 QM2

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:45

QUOTE (MDI @ Apr 11 2009, 11:43 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I hear that if you buy several, they come with a quiver that you can carry behind your back!

And the middle part converts into a poison dart blow-gun. smile.gif


Maybe Steve Braun can commission a quiver, why not : )

I don't think it would be enjoyable though to put ebonite in your mouth, so I don't suggest using the middle piece for that!

#6 MDI

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 21:46

What would be really cool is to have a desk pen holder consisting of several characters holding this pen across at different ends, curtain rod style. Or maybe a sword stand. That would get attention on your desk!
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#7 shrujaya

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:28

Hi...congrats on your new acquisition...these pens are actually called 'ruler' pens and were used by the Indian bureaucracy not too long ago...the pen doubled as a ruler! and its earlier avatar had a ball pen and an FP at either ends...the ball pen was supposed to use red ball point refill and the other end could be used to fill in blue or green depending upon who is using the pen...these pens are now only collectibles and nobody in the offices use them...Guider, Deccan, and Ratnam still make these in India...I have put up two posts on the 'ruler' pen in the photography section...one is made by Deccan, Hyderabad, and has FPs at both ends and is mottled green in colour and the other is made to order by Guider, which has a ball pen and an FP at either ends...
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 QM2

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:30

QUOTE (shrujaya @ Apr 12 2009, 12:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi...congrats on your new acquisition...these pens are actually called 'ruler' pens and were used by the Indian bureaucracy not too long ago...the pen doubled as a ruler! and its earlier avatar had a ball pen and an FP at either ends...the ball pen was supposed to use red ball point refill and the other end could be used to fill in blue or green depending upon who is using the pen...these pens are now only collectibles and nobody in the offices use them...Guider, Deccan, and Ratnam still make these in India...I have put up two posts on the 'ruler' pen in the photography section...one is made by Deccan, Hyderabad, and has FPs at both ends and is mottled green in colour and the other is made to order by Guider, which has a ball pen and an FP at either ends...


Thank you for the information.

Maybe a silly question, but why were they called "Ruler Pens"? Were there ever ruler markings along the body?



Edited by QM2, 11 April 2009 - 22:32.


#9 MDI

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:31

I thought it was because they rule!
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#10 QM2

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:37

Oh wait, maybe it's the length of a meter stick?
I am not in my office to measure it, but that might be it.

#11 shrujaya

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:38

Hi...congratulations on your new acquisition...this pen is actually called the 2-in-1 Ruler Pen...the 2-in-1 part is obvious though...it is called the 'Ruler' Pen because the pen also served as a ruler in Indian government offices not too long ago...it could be that the ledgers and notebooks didnt have margins printed on their pages and this pen was used to draw lines wherever required...it was a multi utility tool and it was available in all three possible combinations...both sides BP, both sides FP and one side FP and one side BP...now Guider, Deccan, and Ratnam manufacture this unique pen in India...it is more of a collectible pen than anything else...one can try and draw a line using this 'ruler' and get a straight line...that is why it is made as a desk pen...and therefore no clips, and therefore cannot be carried on one's person...but once it is empty, you can dismantle it and carry it... I had put up two posts in the 'photography forum' on these unique models that I had purchased...one from Deccan, which is a double FP model and the other is from Guider, which is the more conventional, BP-FP model... here are the links...

post on Deccan 2-in-1 Ruler Pen
http://www.fountainp...n...1&hl=Deccan

post on Guider 2-in-1 Ruler Pen
http://www.fountainp...n...7&hl=Deccan

Regards,

Jayasrinivasa Rao

(sorry for the repetition... the earlier response got in inadvertently before I could complete it...)

Edited by shrujaya, 11 April 2009 - 22:42.

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#12 QM2

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:45

QUOTE (shrujaya @ Apr 12 2009, 12:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
post on Deccan 2-in-1 Ruler Pen
http://www.fountainp...n...1&hl=Deccan

post on Guider 2-in-1 Ruler Pen
http://www.fountainp...n...7&hl=Deccan


Thanks for the links; I had missed those threads. These pens look interesting with the domed-top design as well.

I remember Hari (I think) posting pictures of a similar pen some time ago as well, and I had inquired about how to get one -- but I do not think it was possible at the time.

#13 MDI

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:45

Hmm, that actually sounds rather neat. Looks like you got yourself a piece of vintage memorabilia here QM2~
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#14 antoniosz

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 00:53

Very nice. I remember how excited I was when I found this in 2004. I changed the nib to a Waterman #7 Green nib and a John Hancock flexer.



Edited by antoniosz, 12 April 2009 - 00:54.


#15 Ghost Plane

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 03:09

Ooo! I like the fancy colors

#16 hari317

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 05:56

Nice review and photos.

QUOTE (QM2 @ Apr 12 2009, 04:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Maybe a silly question, but why were they called "Ruler Pens"? Were there ever ruler markings along the body?


QM2, no ruler markings for measurement, rather more like a straight edge to probably draw columns in ledgers. Large ink capacity and different ink colors required by clerks and accountants in the old days.

QUOTE (QM2 @ Apr 12 2009, 04:15 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I remember Hari (I think) posting pictures of a similar pen some time ago as well, and I had inquired about how to get one -- but I do not think it was possible at the time.


My post is here. My pen is from Ratnamson. They call it the stick pen and I paid around 150INR for my pen, a little under 3USD in today's rates.

You also get small sized double pens where you have nibs at both the ends with a common barrel with internal separator wall. I had a few of those in my student days.

Best,
Hari

Edited by hari317, 12 April 2009 - 06:22.

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#17 QM2

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 06:42

Hari, do you know whether any special stands or holders were ever made for these pens? -- to prevent them from rolling off the desk when not in use?

The local Indian pen prices are indeed very nice -- but alas those are not the prices for foreign buyers, including for importers like Steve Braun. The extra QC work done to the pens to prevent issues like blobbing, nib & feed problems, and other complaints that people often voice about Indian pens, should of course also be taken into consideration when comparing prices.




Edited by QM2, 12 April 2009 - 06:46.


#18 hari317

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 07:12

QUOTE (QM2 @ Apr 12 2009, 12:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hari, do you know whether any special stands or holders were ever made for these pens? -- to prevent them from rolling off the desk when not in use?


No, I am not aware of any such stands, however I have seen some old desks with a groove to place the pen in. Some desk pens do come with small projections to prevent roll off.

Complete Post is here.

QUOTE (QM2 @ Apr 12 2009, 12:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The local Indian pen prices are indeed very nice -- but alas those are not the prices for foreign buyers, including for importers like Steve Braun. The extra QC work done to the pens to prevent issues like blobbing, nib & feed problems, and other complaints that people often voice about Indian pens, should of course also be taken into consideration when comparing prices.


Well QM2, I am not privy to Steve's import prices and neither am I commenting on his sale price.

When I traced my post for the stick pen post, I saw that you had asked the prices. I sincerely hope you face none of the problems which you have listed above and even if you face I am sure Steve will fix it. I know your reviews come after some period of use so good luck!

Also I request to refer to Indian pens by the brand name rather than a broad Indian pens category. There are pens at various price points with corresponding quality. The cheaper ones of course do not get QA attention and if they are sold at higher than the intended price, disappointment will result.

Best,
Hari




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#19 QM2

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 16:59

QUOTE (hari317 @ Apr 12 2009, 09:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I request to refer to Indian pens by the brand name rather than a broad Indian pens category. There are pens at various price points with corresponding quality. The cheaper ones of course do not get QA attention and if they are sold at higher than the intended price, disappointment will result.


No offense was meant by this; I used the term "Indian pens" in the same way as FPN discussions refer to "Japanese pens," "Italian pens," German pens," and "Chinese pens", when attributing sets of both positive and negative characteristics to them.

I have seen posts complaining about the problems I mentioned earlier with regard to the following pen brands: Wality, Ratnamson, and Guider. In many of these posts, the resultant discussions attribute the problems specifically to the way fountain pens are manufactured in India today -- meaning, if I recall, the way the feeds are made and the way the ED system functions. It was these kinds of posts that have kept me and others away from Indian pens for so long. Please understand that I have no agenda or affiliation in this issue, and I do not want this thread to turn negative. Some of the Indian pens I have seen are very interesting, and I would like nothing better than to be confident of their functionality, regardless of who sells them.



Edited by QM2, 13 April 2009 - 08:02.


#20 goodguy

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 17:10

Super cool pen/s. I love it!!!
It would look so unique in my pen cabinet.
On the other hand not so practical to take this to a meeting having such a long thing sticking from your bag and it probably would break if not treated 100% with respect.

Thanks for sharing thumbup.gif

Edited by goodguy, 13 April 2009 - 12:05.

Respect to all






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