Just the other day while fiddling with my mobile phone, looking for a few old contacts, my eyes were drawn to one "Laxmana Rao Guider". After an initial lull in recollecting this name, It struck me that he was none other than Laxamana Rao - the current owner of the Guider Pen Works of Rajamundry, Andhra Pradesh (India), who is counted as one of the living masters of hand crafted Fountain Pens making in India.He is believed to be a pioneer in experimenting with pens so as to evolve new and newer models that would stand out from others. Incidentally, Rajamundry has been a hub of pens in India since the middle of 1940, i.e the Indian pre-independence era. I instantly recollected having acquired quite a few beautiful "Guider" pens, such as the Guider Raja, Super Jumbo, Marala, a small dappled acrylic and bringing up the rear was a real and fully functional miniature pen in ebonite. The Guider Super Jumbo is decidedly the biggest fountain pen that I have seen far as also the Guider "Nano" (self coined) being the smallest..
Introduction: To cut the long story short, I wasted no time in contacting him with a request to send me a few photographs of his pens with details. Mr Rao was very prompt to oblige and that is how I ended up ordering three beautiful Guider pens, viz- The Guider Onyx in Medium size, Guider Acrylic Raja also medium and lastly a Guider Celluloid, being the smaller of the three. I received the parcel yesterday (i.e 02.09.2017) in a neatly packed box which was heavily taped as though there was no need to open it.
A random view of the Guiders.
I had ordered three pens from Guider, but after unwrapping the parcel and opening the box, I found out to my pleasant surprise that there were actually four of them. The fourth one being a very cute Guider Capsule ebonite pen. On being contacted, Mr Laxmana Rao let me know that it was a gift from his side and that I need not make any payment for it. It was indeed very magnanimous of Mr Rao to have considered me worthy of a gift. Regarding the Guider Celluloid he also informed me that the celluloid blanks from which the pen was hand crafted was fifty years old and that they were imported from Japan by his father and by that analogy was a rare piece.
Today, I am going to write about the three pens that I had originally ordered, setting aside the Guider Capsule which I received as a precious gift from the legend which I feel warrants no discussion.
Appearance: All the three Guiders were real beauties to behold . It was the magnificent finish and the glistening polish along with a befitting design that did me. I examined the three pens from various angles and on each occasion they looked near flawless, devoid any apparent machining or tooling marks. Mr Laxamana Rao was indeed a master craftsman beyond any doubt.
From bottom to top: Guider Onyx, guider Acrylic Raja, Guider Celluloid and Guider Capsule.
The guider Onyx is in Green black with perfect ripples, seldom seen in the Indian Circuit. It is a medium sized ebonite pen. There are no trims on the cap except a broad clip in golden color. The Guider Acrylic Raja is also a medium sized pen in green with pearl white swirls which looks simply awesome .This pen comes with a beautiful Parker like arrow clip which has the name of the maker "Guider" embossed on it, two cap rings and a button jewel crown on the cap imparting a majestic look to it.
The Guider Onyx.
The Celluloid is in bright glistening yellow and is the smallest of the three Guiders. The cap has two rings and a broad simple golden clip with the name of the company embossed on it and is complete with a button crown jewel. The bottom has a black polished plug at the end which adds a beautiful contrast to the yellow barrel. The black barrel end plug perhaps acts as an ink stopper from the barrel since the celluloid pens are made from celluloid sheets and not rods unlike the ebonites.
Construction & Quality: The construction and the quality of all the three Guiders is per excellence. The materials used are ebonite, acrylic and celluloid , which are of high quality as is evident from the freshness and polish that these pens show. These pens have a beautiful glistening effect on them from all angles. Even the yellow celluloid is not an exception despite the fact the celluloid used is fifty summers old. All the three Guiders are very well built and appear pretty solid in appearance and can easily tolerate daily rough use and a few bumps here and there and promises to be great work horses .
A view of the Guider Acrylic Raja
Weight and Dimensions: The Guider Onyx is a light weight pen despite its medium to big size and feels perfectly balance in hand though posting makes it slightly top heavy. On the other hand the Guider Acrylic feels a trifle heavier which is probably due the acrylic material. Having said that, it is still a light weight pen and feels comfortable in hand. The yellow celluloid is the lightest of the lot and feels better balanced when posted.
Talking about dimensions, the Onyx is 152 mm in length when capped and 130 mm when uncapped. It's posted length is 179 mm with a cap length of 68 mm.The Guider acrylic is 145 mm with caps on and has an uncapped length of 125 mm. It's posted length is 167 mm with a cap length of 64 mm. Finally, the Guider celluloid is 133 mm capped, 115 mm uncapped. It has a posted length of 150 mm with a cap length of 59 mm.
Nib and Performance: The Guider Onyx and the Acrylic Raja came fitted with gold plated Medium, monochrome nib of Schmidt make which on dip test wrote out of the box. It lays down medium wet lines and is smooth with no appreciable feed back. The Guider Celluloid came fitted with a "Guider" etched" fine tipped nib which writes Indian fine with some feed back and is on the drier side. This nib needs some tweaking to make it a trifle more wet. The feed back is within agreeable limits and is not annoying.
The two bigger pens have molded , finned ebonite feeders which i thought are not the Sheaffer type, to be precise. The smaller Celluloid came fitted with a more traditional flat ribbed ebonite feeder.
The gold plated Schmidt Medium nib.
The Guider nib in the Celluloid.
Filling System: The Guider Onyx and the Acrylic Raja has a 3-in-1 filling system. Being so, they can be used as a simple eye dropper or can be used with a converter or a cartridge. Mine came fitted with a Schmidt 5 converter which is sturdy and does its job well and can take in 1.5 to 2 ml of ink. On the other hand , the Guider celluloid came as an eye dropper with about 2 to 2.5 ml ink capacity. As the two of the Guider pens came fitted with a German nib unit with a converter. As such, it can be presumed that there would be no issues of leaking and burping which , though could be an issue with the ED filler Celluloid, which only time will say.
A view of the cap tops of the 3 Guiders.
The caps in a vertical position.
Cost and Value: All the three Guiders are very reasonably priced pens, coming for Rs 2000/- a piece (29-30$), excepting the smaller Celluloid which has a price tag of Rs 1500/- (22-23 $) for the ED version with stock nib and Rs 2500/- ( 37-38 $ ) for a German nib unit with a converter. So, considering the price tag vis a vis their looks, quality, build and functionality, I would put my money on the deal any time and at the end of the day these beautiful Guiders are more than money's worth.
Hope you liked the post.
Comments and views are welcome.