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Wality, Serwex, Airmail & Deccan India Pens


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14 replies to this topic

#1 coffeetoofull

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 06:59

All the India fountain pens I've ordered perform beyond expectations. These pens, while being relatively inexpensive by Western and Eastern pocket books, are manufactured to an equally high standard in India. The pens in this review consisted of different nib types, which never failed to please. Only occasionally was a damp paper towel or tap water required to begin an ink flow from a pen left capped overnight.

______________________________________
As I continue these posts on India and their fountain pens, I find it both fascinating and curious that after such a long history with the fountain pen that India's fountain pen industry remains stagnated and fragmented without any real government or private support. I make this rather broad statement after a first hand study of the Central Business Districts (CBDs) created in The Republic Of South Africa (KwaZulu, Natal) for its indigenous peoples. These zones are created principally for trades/light industry. The CBDs create warehouse districts with tax incentives, special waivers for energy, subsidized labor, and assistance in procurement of machinery with training. They are not created to optimize efficiency, but to enhance employment, while adhering to ethnic standards in a better environment. The results are staggering with higher standards, quality control, creative marketing, and government assistance in shipping.

Another idea, for the small independent pen manufacturers of India in exporting their products to the world, would be to ask their friends, who abide throughout the world, to act as sources of distribution within that country. Or, maybe the government of India or it's business council would implement such a distribution plan on behalf of the small pen manufacturers?
___________________________________________
The reason I purchased the Airmail & Wality pens was because they reminded me of "Airmail stationery" and/also of writing letters on that type of stationery to far away places with those marvelous stamps.

The plastic/acrylic finish to the India manufactured pens on this post do not compare to the high standards exhibited in some other countries, but then again neither does the price. The Airmail, Wality, and Serwex pens have imperfections to the plastic which include some minor exterior bubbling and light scratching, but in no way detract from the purchase and enjoyment of the pens. By US standards, these pens are completely affordable, while representing fine writing instruments whose style, form, and function are, now, historically unique to India. This is a marketing point which India and its pen manufacturing business should begin to exploit, or either decide to openly compete with the other world manufacturers by machine tooling to their standards.

In my selection of pens, I chose the fountain pen colours of red, green, brown, and black, since they typify the colours of India to me. I have a medium size man's hand which measures 6" from the back of the palm to the tip of my second finger, which accommodates all but the Deccan Advocate pen below. My favorite size and design being the hand made Guider Marala ebonite pen and nib. It is easy to handle without tiring the hand and with enough weight to cooperate with the use of nib.

The appointments on the Airmail and Wality pens are applied without any notice of imperfection. The gilt embossed barrel inscriptions on all the pens, except the Deccan and Marala, are easy to read and in proper ratio to the pens, but not too well defined.

It is surprising how an ounce difference in weight and/or a quarter inch in length can make in the function of the pen and/also appearance to the eye. The following weights and measurements may be of interest.

Weight (no ink in barrel) & length comparison:
1. Wality 58SL Fountain Pen green - .6oz - capped 5 1/2"
2. Airmail 67T Fountain Pen orange - .5oz - capped 5 1/2"
3. Airmail 44 Fountain Pen red - .5oz - capped 5 1/4"
4. Serwex Special 101 Superior gray - .4oz - capped 5 1/2"
5. Guider Marala - .80z - capped 5 1/2"
6. Deccan Advocate Ebonite black - 1.05oz - capped 6 1/2"

Diameter Measurement of the Grip area & Barrel
1. Wality 58SL Fountain Pen green - grip 9mm - barrel 11mm
2. Airmail 67T Fountain Pen orange - grip 8mm - barrel 11.5mm
3. Airmail 44 Fountain Pen red - grip 9mm - barrel 10.6mm
4. Serwex Special 101 Superior gray - grip 8mm - barrel 11mm
5. Guider Marala (cap 14.2mm) - grip 10mm - barrel 12.5mm
6. Deccan Advocate Ebonite black - grip 10mm - barrel 12.7mm

Ink Capacities
4. Serwex Special 101 - 3ml
5. Guider Marala - 2.5ml
6. Deccan Advocate - 4ml
______________________________________________
BROWN GUIDER MARALA FOUNTAIN PEN
Posted Image


India Pens Tested
The pens have modern or old style nibs. They were tested on Midori, Moleskine, or Rhodia paper. The pens were inked with the following inks: Private Reserve Chocolat - sepia colour, wet heavy ink; and De Atramentis Sherlock Holmes Night Blue - dark dull blue colour, light weight ink. I did not change or adjust the nibs on these pens during my tests - tested as shipped.

Again, all the "Fine" nib India pens tend to write somewhere between a Fine and Medium western nib with a generous ink flow. If you are writing in a Moleskine you might try the faster drying or heavy inks. The heavy wet inks tend to offer a more consistent script with less spread, but appears on the verso of the page.

The Serwex and Airmail companies both pre-grease their pens. This grease does tend to have a bit of color to it. It is easily replaced by wiping it off and replacing it with some silicon grease before use. Never use petroleum jelly as it will destroy the pen.

1. Wality 58SL Fountain Pen green
I found the Airmail and Wality Fine nibs to be a bit stiff but providing the exact line dimensions of a Fine nib without skipping, while not failing to start.
Wality 58SL Fountain Pen green, Fine nib:
nib logo 'Special Wality' with scroll, gold plated modern style nib, less flex - smooth reply to papers; definite Fine line nib; overall small nib and pen; performs best on Midori and Moleskine papers with light weight ink; Fine nibs perform well for maximum control in small size pens. Overall the pen is on the small size for me, but it performs well for a medium man's hand.

Wality 58SL Fountain Pen
-Swirled/Mottled plastic body and cap
-engraved gold tone fine nib
-gold tone clip, ring, and end jewels
-Screw on cap
-Eyedropper filled
Available in: Blue, Red, Green, Brown Purple (all colors are "swirled")
Posted Image
2. Airmail 67T Fountain Pen orange
Nice attention to detail in placement of clip and cap. Made with mottled plastic bodies for sturdy construction.
Airmail 67T Fountain Pen orange, Fine nib:
nib logo 'Special Airmail Tipped Fine', gold plated old style nib, less flex - smooth with nice flow, definite Fine line nib; thick glass barrel provides safety and balance, even when posted, nice length and size for medium hand.

Airmail 67T Fountain Pen
-Swirled/Mottled plastic cap
-engraved gold tone fine nib
-Screw on cap with metal clip
-Clear/demonstrator body
-Eyedropper filled
-The Airmail 67T Fountain Pen orange clip has an arrow embossed pointed upward on the facing side of the pointed end.
Available in: Blue, Orange, Red, Green, Purple (all colors are "swirled")
Posted Image
3. Airmail 44 Fountain Pen red
Airmail 44 Fountain Pen red, Fine nib:
nib logo 'Special Airmail Tipped' with scroll, less flex - smooth, modern style nib, gold plated nib, definite Fine line nib; overall small nib and pen; performs best on Midori and Moleskine papers with light weight ink. Overall the pen is on the small size for me, but it performs well for a medium man's hand.

Airmail 44 Fountain Pen
-Swirled/Mottled plastic cap and body - light scratches not apparent on India plastic
-engraved gold tone fine nib
-Screw on cap with metal clip and band
-Eyedropper filled
Available in: Blue, Orange, Red, Green, Purple (all colors are "swirled")
Posted Image
4. Serwex Special 101 Superior gray
Along the side of the clear barrel is a gold foil imprint of the company name and product name. The cap has 2 cap bands which are silver. The silver clip seems to be manufactured inferior pressed steel. The second Serwex I've received. The 2nd pen's nib writes with a true fine and is stiff with no bounce and less flex; it is friction fit into the section. It writes relatively wet, remains ready for all day use, and begins flow with ease. The Serwex Special 101 is not a stock pen for sale by Fountain Pen Revolution, but is included for free with a pen order. It's 'Broad Nib' is the 'old style', which is found on most of the India pens. It is the oldest type of nib manufactured in the world and performs, as good as, if not better than some modern nibs. I did not find myself always trying to find a "Sweet Spot" to prevent skipping or to create a uniform line.
Serwex Special 101 Superior gray, Fine nib:
nib logo 'Iridium Point' with scroll, gold plated old style nib, Fine to Medium line with smooth nice flow, performs well on all types paper; nice length and size for medium hand. Notice the new Mont Blanc cap look alike style.
Posted Image
5. Guider Marala
The Guider Marala has certain minute inclusions from the turning lathe which add to the handmade quality and appearance.
The modern style Fine size nib provides some softness and occasional light tooth. the line dimension is closer to a Western medium. FPR will, also, smooth the nib to your requirements. Most all of the Inida pens have ebonite feeds and the Marala is no exception. I have not researched the difference of ebonite pens appearing on these pens. I suppose certain styles are preferential to certain types of nibs. It is not a design flaw to receive one of these pens. Mr. Rao sometimes drills two holes in the cap. If you decide to fill the holes, do not be surprised if you uncap the pen too fast and find ink on your fingers.
Guider Marala Ebonite black, Fine nib:
nib logo 'Fine India', gold plated modern style nib - smooth reply with little to zero tooth; fine to medium line - towards medium near cleaning; performs well on all types paper; best size and function for my hand. I usually ink my pen every 10 days.

Guider Marala Fountain Pen - black, brown, green
-Eye drop filled
-Fine nib = a western medium nib
-Ebonite body and cap
-Length capped: 14cm (5.5")
-Length posted: 16.8cm (6.6")
-Width at section: 1cm (0.4")
-Ink capacity: 2.5ml
-Available colors: Black

6. Deccan Advocate Ebonite black
The Advocate is a large fountain pen and bulky for a medium size man's hand, although the new Advocate has been reduced in width from .50" to .40". The barrel is a long tapered shape with the name 'Advocate' engraved in cursive on the cap. The super large #30 gold plated steel Fine nib never seems to dry while providing a constant ink flow with a nice Fine line. The tines were perfectly adjusted and no tooth was present. It has a silver clip attached to the side of the cap. The cap tightens securely with nice deep threading. If you were to post this pen it would be 7.6" long and difficult for any size hand to manage. The pen without the cap is well balanced and easy to grip, but, again, this is a pen for a large 6.5" plus hand. The slight smell of ebonite which usually dissipates over a short period of time overwhelmed my senses, due to the size of this pen.
Deccans seldom experience 'dry out' sense the cap is made with a machined inner cap and vent hole that does not vent the nib area when the cap is closed.
Deccan Advocate Ebonite black, Fine nib:
nib logo 'Iridium Point' with scrolls; fine finish to modern style nib; large nib size, one inch length and one third inch width; iridium tip, modern style 14k nib made by Deccan, grip area further away from paper; less flex - smooth with even flow, Fine to Medium line; this is a large pen meant for a person with large hands, otherwise I'd advise its use as a desk or signature pen.

Deccan Advocate (old model)
- Eye drop filled
- iridium tip
- Eastern Medium nib (Fine)
- Screw on cap
- Ebonite body
- Length capped: 16cm (6.3")
- Length posted: 19.4cm (7.6")
- Width at section: 1.2cm (0.5") - New model (0.4")
- Available colors: Black, Green, Brown

Summary:
As tested over the past weeks, the Guider Marala remains my favorite pen and nib. All of the other pens are great travel and work pens and provide different writing experiences, while the Deccan Advocate in size alone dictates other considerations. In comparing or analyzing these India pens with other pens of the world, one must keep in mind, that the manufacturing standards are created for the market and customers of India.
DECCAN ADVOCATE FOUNTAIN PEN





______________________________________________
India Pen Manufacturers
1. Airmail & Wality pen company is located in Bombay.
Airmail Wality Pen Company Pics - Previous FPN post, "A visit to the Airmail Pen Company, Mumbai, India a very pleasant experience", by hari317.
2. Serwex & Marala Pens - see Previous India Pen Posts by coffeetoofull, below.
The Serwex company was founded by R.K. Mehra in the 60s and is located in Old Delhi, Nai Sarak road.
4. Guider Pen Company - Rajahmundry, India, since 1946. Hand made fountain pens by craftsman using 70 plus year old equipment and techniques.
3. Deccan Pen Company is owned by seven brothers.
Advocate fountain pens manufactured by Deccan Pen Stores, Hyderabad & Secunderabad.
______________________________________________
Previous India Fountain Pen Network Posts by coffeetoofull
1. Guider 'Marala' Ebonite India Fountain Pen / India's Handmade FP Industry - Edison, Dunhill
2. Serwex 101 & Guider Marala India Fountain Pens / Entry Level Serwex, A Great Bang For The Buck
3. Barrel Threading, A Look At The Minutiae, How much cap closure is enough? The Art of Thought
________________________________________________
Other Links Of Interest Concerning India Fountain Pens
1. Writing With A Wality 69 L Piston Fill - Writing: The medium steel nib is pretty much a nail. On polished paper it is fairly smooth with a bit of tooth if rotated off its sweet spot. On copy paper it's fairly scratchy.
2. Glimpses from the history of writing with the fountain pen in India:
Fountain Pen Of A Bare Footed Postman - Dr. Sovan Roy (A Child In India With A Fountain Pen)
3. The Return Of The Ink-Stained Finger - Samir Chopra
4. "Black Giant" FPN by ashishwakhlu

Edited by coffeetoofull, 03 November 2012 - 01:33.


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#2 uncommonfirings

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 15:32

Excellent review ... thought-provoking and interesting. Thanks!

#3 majorworks

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 16:47

Great post with lots of great info and pictures! I have two Varuna pens, a Rajan and a Gajendra. Both are very good writers. I also have a Ratnamson Supreme that I enjoy using. There is something very pleasing about them all!
Happiness is an Indian ED!

#4 coffeetoofull

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 18:34

Great post with lots of great info and pictures! I have two Varuna pens, a Rajan and a Gajendra. Both are very good writers. I also have a Ratnamson Supreme that I enjoy using. There is something very pleasing about them all!

I prefer pens and watches which are mostly hand made. There's more presence and natural feeling in their use. It's nice to know about the India pens you enjoy. I haven't had the opportunity to try them.
Thanks for the very kind reply. Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull

Edited by coffeetoofull, 02 November 2012 - 18:37.


#5 Muncle

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 04:23

Great post, very interesting to read.

I've been very happy with the pens I've been getting from India too. I feel like they've been unheard of for the longest time. Thanks to FPR for working to get more awareness spread.

The nice thing about them too is that they are so affordable, I've just given some away. But I don't worry about the build quality of them like I do cheap Chinese pens. They are still sturdy, and great for beginners (provided they get used to the idea of eyedroppers)

#6 coffeetoofull

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 15:14

Great post, very interesting to read.

I've been very happy with the pens I've been getting from India too. I feel like they've been unheard of for the longest time. Thanks to FPR for working to get more awareness spread.

The nice thing about them too is that they are so affordable, I've just given some away. But I don't worry about the build quality of them like I do cheap Chinese pens. They are still sturdy, and great for beginners (provided they get used to the idea of eyedroppers)

Hi:

I sincerely hope that India can capitalize on their unique manufacture of hand made pens. I believe their pens offer a wonderful alternative to the ready made pen. Thanks for the kind reply.
I was informed that the India fountain pens, which I've posted on FPN, all had Iridium tips and that the process was somewhat hazardous.
I thought it was interesting to read some detailed information about India pen tips on one of the posts you started.

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull

Edited by coffeetoofull, 05 November 2012 - 17:00.


#7 robofkent

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 09:45

I'm really in to Indian pens at the moment and have ordered a number of Serwex and Airmail/Wality Fps! They are a refreshing change to tacky looking Chinese pens and the dullness of the current pens on sale in the UK shops!

#8 ville900

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:54

Hello,

Where can I buy the Guider Marala online and for how much?

#9 hari317

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:52

Hello,

Where can I buy the Guider Marala online and for how much?

Have you seen the Guider website: http://www.guiderpen...bonitepens.html

their contact info is available on the website.
In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

#10 Lince

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:47

What an excellent review. For what I paid por a Serwex with flex nib, is is a superb pen.

#11 manp

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 13:47

I didn't know that Airmail had an Ivory 69 model.

 

AIRMAIL-69G-1.JPG

 

AIRMAIL-69G-2.JPG

 

AIRMAIL-69G-3.JPG

 

AIRMAIL-69G-4.JPG



#12 deepak23

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 17:11

I have most of the pens (the Airmail in black) listed here. The Advocate (in mottled green) is my current long writer and is a wonderful pen. The Airmails are reliable and decent writers. 

 

Somehow all my Guiders (Marala, Raja and the Acrylic Raja) have scratchy nibs and leaking feeds. I couldnt fix it, not could the local pen doc Shyam Bhat. Surprised to find praise for the nibs. Need to talk to Mr. Lakshman Rao...


A lifelong FP user...


#13 SmoovD

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 17:38

Excellent post. I very much enjoy using my Airmail and Camlin pens. Carrying an Airmail 67T today. My only issue being the quality of the nibs. Fortunately to swap the nib is a breeze.



#14 Alexandra

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 18:01

I have a Serwex 162 which is a pleasure to write because the standard nib is smooth and has just a bit of flex to it. The nib needs to be dipped in water at the start of each day but apart from that it out performs its $5 price tag.


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#15 PDW

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 20:28

coffeetooful, in your fascinating, excellent review could also have mentioned that the Airmail 67T has a spiral moulded into the inside of the clear barrel - you can see it in the pictures - and it's hypnotic to see the ink moving round as you write.

 

Of the cheap pens, my experience suggests buy Chinese (X450. X750) for usability and Indian for character/fun.

 

(edited to clarify)


Edited by PDW, 07 January 2014 - 12:26.







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