I recently bought my first Ebonite-bodied pen. It is not the first Indian-made fountain pen that I have bought, but it is the first one that I have bought that was not at the low end of the price scale. The pen is the ASA Gama Revolution (link to vendor's page; as I understand, "ASA" is the name of the vendor and "Gama" is the name of a line of fountain pens made by said vendor).
I had to wait a few weeks, during which time I assume that the pen was being made, but once it was dispatched by air mail, it arrived in about a week. It came with plenty of packaging: from left to right: outer envelope, bubble wrap, plastic envelope, velvet pouch, cellophane envelope, and inside this last, the pen itself.
Ordinarily, I would not have much use for a velvet pouch for a single pen, but as I have heard that Ebonite pens are bleached by exposure to light over a long period, I expect that I shall be using this one to hold the pen when it is out of use.
It is a large pen. In fact, I would call it a very large pen, though I know that there are larger ones. This should be evident from the two photographs that follow, in which I have placed it between a Platinum Century 3776 and a Lamy Vista.
The dimensions, as given on the vendor's Web site, are as follows:
Length, capped: 148 mm
Length, posted: 170 mm
Average barrel diameter: 14.5 mm
Average section diameter: 12 mm
Average cap diameter: 16 mm
I got the pen with a medium nib. The nib, according to the vendor, is made by JoWo. It is plated in two colors. To my eye, this is rather unfortunate. The photographs on the vendor's site show the pen with a uniformly chrome-colored nib, which seems to me to harmonize much better with the black body and the chrome-colored clip.
The nib, as I understand, may be unscrewed from the body for easy replacement, though I have not yet removed it myself.
An interesting thing about the feed is that you can actually see right through the vents to the underside of the nib. I have tried, with only partial success, to show this in the photo below.
The pen is advertised as having a "3-in-1 filling system." This means that it can be used with cartridges, with a convertor, or with the barrel filled in eyedropper fashion. This option seems to add quite a bit to the price, as fountain pens of similar materials and design are offered by ASA at significantly lower prices. Having heard of the phenomenon of "burping" to which eyedropper-filled pens are prone, I chose to pay a higher price to have the option of using a convertor. The convertor (on the left in the photo below), said to be made by Schmidt, is slightly larger than a standard convertor (on the right), though I don't know if its capacity is any greater.
So, how is the pen to use? I will start with the feel of it. Ebonite looks and feels on casual inspection like plastic (or perhaps I should say, like other plastics), but on closer attention seems somehow less hard to the touch than plastic, even though it is assuredly a rigid and unyielding material. To me it feels somehow more hand-friendly than most other materials. So that's one attraction.
The cap is not made for quick removal: it requires two and a half turns to remove and to replace. So this pen is not well suited for jotting down short notes.
The pen is fairly lightweight, weighing 24 grams with the cap on and the convertor installed and filled, 16.5 grams without the cap. The pen is not unwieldy with the cap posted. I myself tend to prefer to post, and tend to prefer a weight over 20 grams, but I find myself inclined to use this pen unposted.
The grip section is wider than those of most pens. I have never yet felt a grip section to be too wide, though I have had many pens whose grip sections were too narrow for my comfort. But for me this pen is right at the limit. I can hold it comfortably enough, but at times I find myself wishing that it were just a bit narrower. Those with smaller hands (mine are of medium size as adult male hands go) will almost certainly find this pen too thick for comfortable use.
I find the nib to be reasonably smooth—nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to complain about. Likewise, though not particularly springy, it yields enough to make for comfort in writing. In sum, good but not outstanding.
As far as starting ability goes, I have found the pen, so far, to be fairly compliant. If I have used it previously in the day, I can count on it to start laying down ink either immediately or within a few millimeters of the first stroke of the point. If it has been unused overnight, then a stroke or two is required to get it to start. I have never yet had to shake it or tap it to get it to start, though I have not yet left it unused for days at a time.
I have left the topic of the appearance of the pen for the end. The plain, nearly featureless design and polished finish are among the distinctive features of the pen. If you don't find these to be attractions, then this pen can be of no interest to you. Gama makes other Ebonite pens with a matte finish. That finish was not an option with this model, but that was fine with me.
It is my impression that Ebonite never has that "spanking new" appearance that most new pens have. At least, this pen never had it, and no amount of rubbing with a soft cloth seems able to give it such an appearance. Ebonite just doesn't get that shiny: it seems to look a bit "used" by nature. This, to my mind, agrees with its peculiar feel, so that the pen can seem on very first acquaintance as if you have already had it and used it for a long time.
I don't know if it is universal among Ebonite to have tiny flaws in the finish, but this pen has them. That is a feature that pushes the pen from hominess toward shabbiness.
What is more, the pen lacks symmetry. This is plainly visible in the clip, which is of a shape that recalls those of Pelikan pens, but its thick part extends further to the left than to the right. What is more, the cap does not align perfectly with the body. Both asymmetries can be seen in the photograph below.
In summary: The pen has a distinctive design and material and is agreeable to write with. But in consideration of the flaws in its appearance and construction, I am not convinced that it is a particularly good value,