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REVIEW: Varuna Rajan, Black Ebonite Bakul Finish


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39 replies to this topic

#1 QM2

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 20:05



VARUNA RAJAN
Bakul Finish Ebonite
Black with Rhodium-plated trim


When All Write Now announced that the Varuna Rajan would soon be released in black ebonite with rhodium-plated trim, it
seemed that my chance to try a large, handmade ebonite Indian pen was finally here. I received the Rajan at the same time
as the Double-Pen (see review), but while the Double is a fun novelty, the Rajan must be judged in the context of being a
“serious” pen, a daily writer. I was also curious about how the Varuna ebonite pens compare to their Japanese counterparts
– the Danitrio raw ebonite series, so lots of comparison photos between the two are included.



Looks and Design

The Varuna Rajan is a pen that I would describe as uniquely shaped: It is a flat-top with an elongated barrel that tapers
slowly and gradually towards the bottom. The barrel looks distinctly hand-made, and has an organic and whimsical feel to
it, its intriguing curvature resembling a sculpture.

The design decision to forgo any trim on such a pen, save for the minimalist clip, seems appropriate. However, I would go
one step further and suggest that the industrial-looking clip somewhat contradicts the artistic shape of the pen itself, and
possibly a different style clip might be more suitable here.



Probably the most notable feature of this pen, is the rough-finish black ebonite. Named "Bakul" finish for its resemblance to
the texture of the Bakul tree, this is a different look from the raw ebonite finish of Danitrio pens. Rather than being merely
unpolished, the Varuna rough finish is distinctly textured in a way that resembles actual wood grain, or sticks of vine charcoal.
This is a neat effect that accentuates the overall organic look of the pen.



I believe that the texture of the ebonite varies with each pen, and can be altered according to customer preference. Note that
on the particular model reviewed here, the section and end-cap of the pen have a rougher texture than do the barrel and cap.
This is a neat effect, and if you like the look of the texture on the Lamy 2000, you will love this. However, personally I would
prefer an even texture throughout the pen, and will probably exchange mine for a smoother-textured model throughout.




Size, Weight, Balance, Comfort

The Varuna Rajan is a large pen. The photos here compare it to the Danitrio raw ebonite pen (the Takumi model) that is
familiar to many. As evident on the photos, the Varuna Rajan is pretty much the same size as the Danitrio Takumi, which is
somewhat larger than the Montblanc 149.



Despite its size, the pen is light-weight, as it is made entirely of ebonite (including the feed), with the clip and nib being
the only metal parts. The amount of ink you put into this pen will be the biggest determining factor of the weight. For
those who like huge, light-weight, well-balanced pens, this is a dream.

The pen is quite comfortable for long writing sessions due to the pleasant, organic feel of the ebonite. The subtly textured
feel of the section contributes to this considerably. My one wish here, is that the section were curved rather than straight.
However, this is a personal preference, and I am not even certain whether a curved section would go well with the overall
design here. So perhaps from this standpoint, the straight section is best.



Filling System

Eyedropper. I have no way of measuring precisely how much ink the Varuna Rajan holds, but safe to say that the capacity is
enormous. If you like ED filling systems in your daily writer, this one is tops: the closure is extremely tight and secure, and
there areno problems with leaks or blobs. All Write Now makes certain of this.

Personally, my relationship with ED pens is unstable, so I cannot yet commit to whether I like this filling system or not. I
travel a great deal, and I am impatient, so whether I enjoy using an eyedropper really depends on my mood. But among ED
fillers, the Varuna pens I have tried were top notch.

For the ED-squeamish, these pens can also be fitted with a C/C system.



Nib

When purchasing these pens from All Write Now, the customer is given an option of steel or gold nibs. Personally I would opt
for steel here, as these nibs are of great quality and write perfectly: They are smooth and have a soft, somewhat vintage feel to
them. No problems with flow or drying out. With these characteristics, I am more than happy to stick with steel.



Note also that the Varuna feeds are ebonite (compared to the Danitrio Raw Ebonite models' plastic feed in the photo above).


Cost

A Varuna Rajan with a steel nib runs $40, which includes careful QC and hand-tuning by All Write Now. If you wish to turn
the pen into a C/C filler, there is an additional cost of $25.




Conclusions

Acquiring a handmade, quality ebonite pen need not require hundreds of dollars. I would recommend the Varuna Rajan to
anybody looking for a large and comfortable ebonite pen with enormous ink capacity. For ED-lovers on a budget, the Varuna
Rajan is the perfect alternative to the Danitrio Takumi. And now that these pens are available in classic black with rhodium-
plated clips, they are a better find than ever.


Edited by QM2, 02 May 2009 - 15:52.


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#2 jd50ae

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 20:09

Great review about a pen that has piqued my curiosity more then once.
Now I have to have one.
Thanks.

#3 QM2

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 20:26

QUOTE (jd50ae @ May 1 2009, 10:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great review about a pen that has piqued my curiosity more then once.
Now I have to have one.
Thanks.


Go for it! For $40 including QC you can't go wrong : )

I wanted to add that one thing I find appealing about the Rajan, is that, unlike many of the Indian pens I have seen out there, its style is not derivative of Western models. It does not seek to emulate the shape of the Parker 51 or the Sheaffer Flat-top, etc. The combination of the flat top and the curiously elongated barrel is really quite an unusual sight!





Edited by QM2, 01 May 2009 - 20:29.


#4 Brian

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 22:45

A great review filled with detail and thoughtful commentary. I like the premise of this pen, that it is meant to be a writer. The details like attention to proper sealing of the section, the textured finish, and choice of ebonite for the feed and body could not be better for a real FP nut. I like too that this pen has a steel nib to match its honest and straight forward presentation.

Thank you for the tour.

#5 darkgreen

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 10:24

Very interesting review: thanks! I had never contemplated an Eye Dropper pen before reading this. The texture of the body looks similar to the brushed black finish on the Lamy 2000: very pleasant to grip, warm and not slippery. In some of the photos, the texture seems to be fairly smooth but the detail shots of the section capture the attractive Bakul finish. The design of the Varuna is streamlined and robust. Seems to be a great value pen.
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#6 greencobra

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 13:00

An interesting pen for sure. My choice is the one in mottled russet but haven't pulled the trigger on it yet. Thanks for the review.
JELL-O, IT'S WHATS FOR DINNER!

#7 FrankB

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 13:52

A great review. Thank you.

Univer's review of the Vishal model Varuna and now your review have combined to give me insight into a pen brand that I otherwise would have know next to nothing about. I have and love several Danitrio raw ebonite pens, and these Varuna pens would make really nice companion pieces. Here is an example of how reviews can help build trust levels because I would have been dubious about the quality of the Varuna pens without some positive reenforcement. I think I will pull the trigger on a Varuna pen on Monday. thumbup.gif

Edited: By the way - AllWriteNow suggests using silicone grease on the section threads. Are you doing that?

Edited by FrankB, 02 May 2009 - 14:25.


#8 jlepens

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 14:11

QM2 you have talked me into my third Indian pen. I already have a Wality Parker style and a Brahmann green/brown swirl ebonite eyedropper, but the Bakul finish is too tempting. Steve should give you a thank you. You are a great sales person.

Great review.
Joi - The Way of the Japanese Pen
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#9 QM2

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 13:21

QUOTE (FrankB @ May 2 2009, 03:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
AllWriteNow suggests using silicone grease on the section threads. Are you doing that?


Mine came pre-greased from AllWriteNow . I have found this to be common practice among modern ED sellers: the ED pens that come with Noodler's inks are pre-greased as well, and I believe Danitrio's ED models are pre-greased.

I have not refilled either of my Varuna pens yet (the Rajan and the Double-End pen), but when I do rinse them out at some point in the future, I will need to re-apply the grease. I do not own any, so when it comes time to that I will have to see about it.

To tell the truth, I am not enamoured of the whole greasing the threads bit, and this is one reason I am ambivalent about ED fillers. I generally prefer FP-related processes to be as clean and neat as possible, and not to involve slimy substances...

I also wish that someone (Steve, are you listening?) would sell little ED kits for those of us who are just testing the waters. For instance, I want to try the silicone grease, but I do not want to have to go to the boat store and buy a tub of it. If someone were to sell little tiny jars of it, that would be lovely and I am sure there would be a lot of demand!

#10 ZeissIkon

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 14:28

QUOTE (QM2 @ May 3 2009, 09:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also wish that someone (Steve, are you listening?) would sell little ED kits for those of us who are just testing the waters. For instance, I want to try the silicone grease, but I do not want to have to go to the boat store and buy a tub of it. If someone were to sell little tiny jars of it, that would be lovely and I am sure there would be a lot of demand!


I've seen little pots (looked like 20-30 grams) of silicone grease at a couple online stores; the one I recall for certain having it is Writer's Bloc. That should be enough grease for several dozen refills if you aren't wasteful with it -- given the capacity of the typical eyedropper pen, that'd make it a multi-year supply.
Does not always write loving messages.
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Does not always sign big checks.

#11 QM2

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 14:31

QUOTE (ZeissIkon @ May 3 2009, 04:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (QM2 @ May 3 2009, 09:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also wish that someone (Steve, are you listening?) would sell little ED kits for those of us who are just testing the waters. For instance, I want to try the silicone grease, but I do not want to have to go to the boat store and buy a tub of it. If someone were to sell little tiny jars of it, that would be lovely and I am sure there would be a lot of demand!


I've seen little pots (looked like 20-30 grams) of silicone grease at a couple online stores; the one I recall for certain having it is Writer's Bloc. That should be enough grease for several dozen refills if you aren't wasteful with it -- given the capacity of the typical eyedropper pen, that'd make it a multi-year supply.


Thank you, I will give that a try. Yes, a dozen refills would indeed be a multi-year supply for the Varuna eyedroppers!

#12 jd50ae

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 15:26

QUOTE (QM2 @ May 1 2009, 03:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (jd50ae @ May 1 2009, 10:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great review about a pen that has piqued my curiosity more then once.
Now I have to have one.
Thanks.


Go for it! For $40 including QC you can't go wrong : )

I wanted to add that one thing I find appealing about the Rajan, is that, unlike many of the Indian pens I have seen out there, its style is not derivative of Western models. It does not seek to emulate the shape of the Parker 51 or the Sheaffer Flat-top, etc. The combination of the flat top and the curiously elongated barrel is really quite an unusual sight!


OK, I did.
Don't tell my wife.

#13 AllWriteNow

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 16:03

jdae and I have a deal
The pens are Free.
My silence is $40 + shipping.
smile.gif
Steve
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#14 jlepens

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 16:30

QUOTE (luckygrandson @ May 3 2009, 09:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
jdae and I have a deal
The pens are Free.
My silence is $40 + shipping.
smile.gif
Steve



roflmho.gif roflmho.gif roflmho.gif roflmho.gif roflmho.gif Well played sir
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#15 Inka

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 17:28

Another excellent review!
Thanks!
I was impressed with the Double-End Pen review you did when I'd first seen it, looked like a magic wand or baton and the first like it I'd ever seen.
Just from the pictures I knew the D-E P couldn't become a daily-carry pen, unless you have unusually deep pockets or a baton case with a belt loop.

This is a nice looking pen and I personally like the looks of the clip, even more so if it's solid all the way through as is the heavy-duty clip on my Levenger: Plumpster.
As for the looks of the straight section, I normally like the rounded ends better too but since my fingers never even touch the section the way I hold an FP they have no practicality.
The straight section on this actually looks like it belongs there, with the barrel fatter at the middle and the overall profile being both sharp and soft at the same time; it fits the pen design well.
I really prefer larger pens anyway and for what little they're asking for this one seems sweet for a hand-finished pen.

BTW, just curious about what would the cost be for one like this with a gold nib?
I'm growing rather fond of gold nibs, after getting and trying one just last week for the first time.
Nothing wrong with Stainless Steel nibs, all I've ever had were S/S and they're very easy to smooth [if needed], easy to polish [if needed] and rework [if desired].
“I view my fountain pens & inks as an artist might view their brushes and paints.
They flow across paper as a brush to canvas, transforming my thoughts into words and my words into art.
There is nothing else like it; the art of writing and the painting of words!”

~Inka~ [Scott]; 5 October, 2009

#16 rwilsonedn

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 20:38

QUOTE (ZeissIkon @ May 3 2009, 09:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (QM2 @ May 3 2009, 09:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also wish that someone (Steve, are you listening?) would sell little ED kits for those of us who are just testing the waters. For instance, I want to try the silicone grease, but I do not want to have to go to the boat store and buy a tub of it. If someone were to sell little tiny jars of it, that would be lovely and I am sure there would be a lot of demand!


I've seen little pots (looked like 20-30 grams) of silicone grease at a couple online stores; the one I recall for certain having it is Writer's Bloc. That should be enough grease for several dozen refills if you aren't wasteful with it -- given the capacity of the typical eyedropper pen, that'd make it a multi-year supply.

If you are anywhere near an ACE Hardware in the USA, you can get a little plastic pot with just under 15 ml of 90% Silicon Grease, no petroleum aditives, for a few bucks. That should be nearly a lifetime supply for most of us.
ron

#17 jd50ae

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 21:58

QUOTE (luckygrandson @ May 3 2009, 11:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
jdae and I have a deal
The pens are Free.
My silence is $40 + shipping.
smile.gif
Steve


Snicker Snicker..... ninja.gif
Our little ruse has worked. Pen is in hand......I think it is in hand.....WOW it is so light.....QM2 did a very accurate review,
Thanks thumbup.gif

Edited by jd50ae, 20 May 2009 - 22:00.


#18 donwinn

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 22:42

QUOTE (Inka @ May 3 2009, 12:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Another excellent review!
Thanks!
I was impressed with the Double-End Pen review you did when I'd first seen it, looked like a magic wand or baton and the first like it I'd ever seen.
Just from the pictures I knew the D-E P couldn't become a daily-carry pen, unless you have unusually deep pockets or a baton case with a belt loop.

This is a nice looking pen and I personally like the looks of the clip, even more so if it's solid all the way through as is the heavy-duty clip on my Levenger: Plumpster.
As for the looks of the straight section, I normally like the rounded ends better too but since my fingers never even touch the section the way I hold an FP they have no practicality.
The straight section on this actually looks like it belongs there, with the barrel fatter at the middle and the overall profile being both sharp and soft at the same time; it fits the pen design well.
I really prefer larger pens anyway and for what little they're asking for this one seems sweet for a hand-finished pen.

BTW, just curious about what would the cost be for one like this with a gold nib?


On the web site it states to please enquire about gold nibs. You could PM Lucky Grandson, and I am sure he would be happy to answer your question.

QUOTE
I'm growing rather fond of gold nibs, after getting and trying one just last week for the first time.
Nothing wrong with Stainless Steel nibs, all I've ever had were S/S and they're very easy to smooth [if needed], easy to polish [if needed] and rework [if desired].


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)
 


#19 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 09:46

nice pen smile.gif but I still prefer the Danitrio
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

#20 bbs

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 00:45

Thanks for that review, QM2, that's a nice-looking pen.

The only ebonite pen I've got is a vintage BCHR Blackbird, and much as I love it, I don't like its smell! Does the Varuna Rajan suffer from, ahem, body odour?

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