The Ranga Pen Model 4C
Spurred by the excellent reviews that FPN member Vaibhav Mehandiratta has provided of various handmade Ranga pens, Empty of Clouds took the decision to acquire at least one Indian ebonite pen, and it turned out to be a model 4C.
Here is a far poorer quality review by a man with no talent for either words or photography. Please forgive.
The 4C is a big pen by the standards of early to mid 20th century pens, and is a classic cigar shape.
Capped length – 15 cm
Nib tip to barrel end – 13.5 cm
Maximum diameter – 16 mm
Most of the pens EoC has owned up until this point have been vintage, so to give a comparison an Esterbrook J is around 12.6 cm long (capped), 11.2 cm uncapped and 12 mm at the widest barrel point.
The Esterbrook is unusable by EoC when uncapped. The Ranga 4C however is not!
Here is an ugly picture of an ageing hand holding the Ranga. For those interested in numbers, EoC’s hand measures 21.5 cm from tip of 2nd finger to fold of wrist – so, quite a big hand really, and yet the pen is quite comfortably supported.
As many know the Ranga pens are handmade from ebonite turned on a lathe. The premium orange ebonite used for this pen, while finished well, still retains several inconsistencies in the material. Most notably these show up as dark flecks or a kind of very faint patterning. Whether this is tool artefact or a property of the material itself is hard to determine. This may be of concern to those whose experience thus far has been restricted to flawless expanses of resin or acrylic.
Despite this issue on the finish the pen feels super smooth in the hand. It is light but by no means insubstantial. The threading throughout is tight and smooth. The cap takes just over 2.5 turns to remove, while the section requires just shy of 10 turns!
There is a step between the barrel and the threads for the cap, but it is small enough to have not presented EoC any issues with use or comfort.
Not really much to say here. This pen came fitted – by request – with a 1.5 mm Jowo #6 stub, which simply screws into the section.
This is the same standard nib unit used by many of the custom pen makers (Franklin Christoph and Scriptorium spring to mind), so those who have pens from those sources can swap their nibs around with the Ranga should they so wish.
The nib is very smooth, and far crisper than expected for a stub. It has thus far proven to be a joy to use. Here is EoC’s very first outing with the nib. Paper is Rhodia, Ink is Diamine Delamere Green.
Fill ‘er Up!
As with many Ranga models that employ the Jowo nib units, this pen comes fitted with a Schmidt converter. Fairly standard, well known to many, and so far reliable. For those going for the real Indian pen experience, the converter can be left out and the pen can be used as an eyedropper. EoC has not tried this yet, but when he spoke into the open end of the barrel there was an echo! So expect it to take a goodly amount of your favourite writing fluids.
Speaking of eyedroppers, the section threads came pre-greased and those 10 turns mentioned earlier should give reassurance that leaks are probably unlikely to occur around the section threads.
Value for Money and Communication
As with many things in life value has a very personal aspect to it. This pen is not in the cheaper range for Ranga pens, or indeed any other Indian maker’s pens. However, it is a significantly better price than some of the established Western makers.
EDIT: There was an ordering problem that has since been resolved.
This is a big pen, and a good one too. So far it has proven to be exceptionally comfortable to use. Although EoC is very partial to pointed dip pens, he has found the 1.5 mm stub on the Ranga 4C to be a joy to use in an everyday setting. The imperfections in the material, considering the way it is made, add a certain degree of character perhaps, but it is not the glossy perfect finish that others may have alluded to.
The only downside was the final cost, coming in at US $100.
It is early days for EoC and the Big Orange Pen, but it's looking very promising right now!
The above represents an honest review. EoC has tried to fairly represent what was liked and what could have been better.