I had already purchased a couple of leather pen cases from Ashish Wakhlu, and out of curiosity ordered a couple of Ratnam Supreme ebonite eyedroppers. After a small wait for production, the two pens arrived, for a total investment of US$75 including postage. They had a rough ride on the way from India, and were falling out of the envelope, but no damage done.
Today I went to a local scuba shop to buy a small container of silicone grease, so I could start the process of testing one of these pens. The attached photos document the process - grease on the threads, slightly overfill the pen to achieve priming of the nib, and a quick clean up before commencing writing. One pen held 4.5 ml of ink, and the second closer to 5ml, and the nib width variation was the main surprise.
The ebonite is not highly polished, and in some light looks almost brown instead of black. There are a few imperfections like small pitting and minor nicks, but they add to the pen's character. The clip and cap bands are poorly plated, so much so that they give an antique appearance to what is a new pen.
The overall contour is a pleasing cigar shape, and although this pen has a large girth, everything seems to be in proportion. Much of the length is in the cap, so it's not a long pen when unposted. It can be posted, but feels unduly top heavy in this mode.
This was a pleasant surprise. Although the nibs have considerable difference in width, both are exceptionally smooth writers, without any toothiness. They are sure to feel better after a little use. The nibs are marked "Genius iridium Germany" and are proof that an inexpensive steel nib can provide a pleasant writing experience.
Nothing could be simpler than an eyedropper pen, no mechanism to wear out, just one thread to keep lubricated. No signs of leakage problems, and very large ink capacity.
Cost and value
The expression 'you get what you pay for' is not always exactly true. At $37.50 each, I did not expect the same level of fit and finish as a Pelikan or Parker, so my comments above about plating quality do not reflect any dissatisfaction. These pens are solidly made, and appear to be exceptional value. They are still available in the For Sale section of FPN
I have strong preference for piston filling pens, but the Ratnam Supreme serves as a great introduction to eyedropper pens, for minimal outlay. The example with the finer nib will stay inked for regular use, and has been a lot of fun. If a hobby does not generate a childish grin, then it's not worth pursuing
Edited by Pjay, 01 August 2010 - 05:05.