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An example of vintage Indian craftsmanship


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#1 bluemoon

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:24

In the '40's, as I have heard, there were a few craftsmen in Kolkata, who made wonderful custom pens. A company, 'GOOPTA',
utilized their service, producing some of the best pens ever made in India. I knew all those, seen a few examples, but never had a chance to acquire any of them. Then an FPNer (Hari) shown interest in these pens, and I started searching for them.

Here came the harder part. I was amazed to know that these are exceptionally hard to find. Being handmade, the numbers built were very less, and here people prefer them more than an original Duofold, because they are much more sturdily built.
I saw three 'Big Red' and a 'mandarin' last month, but none of these.

Then a few weeks ago, a dealer shown me the body of this pen, i.e he had only the body and the cap without nib, feed, clip, button, J-bar or sac. But these are much easier to find than the body, so I bought it, and started searching for the other parts.

This is an exact replica of a 'Big Red', and it is in unused condition. This is the best example of these pens I have ever seen.
As it is a Duofold replica, I started looking for the rest of the parts from a duofold. The button, J-bar, feed I found quite easily(trashed Duofolds are not very hard to find), but perfect nib and clip is not something very easily and cheaply found. Still I managed to find an excellent nib & clip. I found the clip only yesterday, so didn't have time to photograph it.

So now I have a complete pen, an excellent example of vintage Indian handicraft... and I completed this with a lot of effort from my part..... so this pen is special for me embarrassed_smile.gif ... now about the performance.

Size:
The pen is 14.1cm long capped, 17.5cm posted, in a word, it is an exact replica of a Duofold Big red. If you don't look for the imprint, it is impossible to differentiate from the original. So, for me it is beautifully balanced uncapped, and the weight is quite right for me.

Nib/writing performance:
I installed a comb feed ( I find them more reliable) from a Duofold, and a Duofold senior nib. The nib has a reverse
oblique/italic ( I don't know the name properly) cut, and I don't like italic/oblique nibs, but thankfully, for me, it lays down a very wet medium+ line. Nothing less than what you expect from a Duofold. I am using this pen at home for more than ten days, and it never hesitated to start or skipped.

Filling system:
The filling system is a button filler, very reliable and quite good ink capacity.

The only difference of this pen with a Duofold is that is does not have the two breather holes in cap. But I have not found any problem because of this.

The cost of this pen is irrelevant here, as I don't think a price/performance comparison is applicable here. This is a very special pen for me.

I photographed the pen with a junior for size a colour reference. I was having difficulty to photograph the nib, so I photographed it separately.


I hope you enjoy the story and review, and please excuse me for my awful photography.

Attached Images

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Edited by bluemoon, 15 November 2008 - 06:59.


"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

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#2 Abhik

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 07:40

Bluemoon a nice finding and a good review! I have few questions though! Did you find all parts from GOOPTA's or this is some kind of Frankenpen?
What kind of nib it used to use? Where in Kolkata they had their manufacturing unit?
You have also mentioned 'Mandarin', is this from Parker or from GOOPTA's?
I really like this kind of enthusiasm reflected by you, dear friend Hari , Jai among others.
Thanks for sahring.
Abhik

#3 bluemoon

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 08:05

QUOTE (Abhik @ Nov 15 2008, 01:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Bluemoon a nice finding and a good review! I have few questions though! Did you find all parts from GOOPTA's or this is some kind of Frankenpen?
What kind of nib it used to use? Where in Kolkata they had their manufacturing unit?
You have also mentioned 'Mandarin', is this from Parker or from GOOPTA's?
I really like this kind of enthusiasm reflected by you, dear friend Hari , Jai among others.
Thanks for sahring.
Abhik


Thank you Abhik.

This is a handmade pen without any marking. GOOPTA made similar pens ( I think those people who made these also worked for GOOPTA), with imprint 'GOOPTA PERFECTION. MADE IN CALCUTTA'. Those are very hard to find. I am looking for one for Hari, if I find one, I will share.

This is a replica of Duofold. I found the body and cap, and fitted original Parker Duofold nib, clip, feed, J-bar and button.
Though similar 'GOOPTA' hardware could be found.

In Baranagar, as far as I know GOOPTA had their factory.

By 'Mandarin' or 'Big Red' I mean original Parker 'Mandarin' or 'Big Red'. The red Jr. in the first picture is a perfect red Parker Jr.

Regards,
Sas








"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

#4 shrujaya

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 14:45

That is a real find...or 'finds'...you had to find so many things...good looking too...that classical Big Red... and your story is an example of perseverance... and you didnt let up...keep hunting for more...

Jai
Writing and posting about fountain pens exclusively on www.jaisiri.blogspot.in ... recent posts on Hema Pens (Hyderabad), Haul at Majestic (Bangalore), and Asoka Pens (Tenali)...

#5 AJP

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 15:02

Bluemoon:

That is a great review/story.... great find. It got me to wondering some time ago I came across a "look a like" and posted a pic here on FPN no one could identify it. Your review had me dig it up... any chance this pen might be a GOOPTA. I actually have two.



Interested to hear your thoughts.
"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” - Robert McClosky

#6 somnath1077

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 06:55

Bluemoon,

A very interesting review. Is there some place where you can get these pens? I live in Chennai currently but I'm actually from Kolkata. So i'd be really interested if you can buy them in Kolkata.

Somnath.

#7 hari317

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 07:01

QUOTE (bluemoon @ Nov 15 2008, 11:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I hope you enjoy the story and review, and please excuse me for my awful photography.


Nice work Bluemoon, enjoyed your story immensely. It is nice that you could find the parts easily in Kolkata, here in Mumbai anything with Duofold written on it will demand a huge premium.

Is the pen made of celluloid or Red HR? I have seen some similar vintage examples from Ratnam (but did not pick it up at that time, finance and ignorance) but they were of red celluloid.

Best,
Hari


In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

#8 MYU

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 16:14

Thanks for sharing this with us, bluemoon. It's amazing how accurate the size color replication is. I wonder if they have a large cache of Parker nibs that they installed in these, or if there were variations on nibs used.

Incidentally, is "Goopta" a last name in India? I'm well familiar with "Gupta", which is curiously similar.

~Gary

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#9 jd50ae

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 16:17

Thank you for an interesting story. Now, if I could just find someplace to acquire one.

#10 bluemoon

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 12:52

Thank you Jai.

AJP, for last two days I am having some trouble with my internet connection. The images are not loading.
I will let you know as soon as I can see the images. One thing may give you an idea, Vintage Indian handmade replica pens were exact replica, including the weight. The weight should be same as the original one. It is nearly impossible to differentiate between the replica and the original except the imprint. Their build quality is comparable, if not better, to the original ones.

Thanks Somnath. I don't believe they are available in any shops. There are few
dealers who may help you. But they are not easy to find ( this is the first one I have seen in last two months), and they are
not cheap. These may cost you more than the amount an original 'big red' costs in Kolkata. When you are in kolkata, give me a shout,
I will try to connect you to some dealers.


Hari, this is made of red celluloid. I heard RHR ones are nearly impossible to find in good condition. Yes, its not very tough to find Duofolds/parts
here, but they are certainly not cheap (at least for me crybaby.gif ).

MYU, 'GOOPTA' is indeed a surname here. Gupta/Goopta is just spelling variation. As far as I know, 'GOOPTA PERFECTION' was owned by the Goopta's.
Goopta used their own nibs, marked 'GOOPTA PERFECTION' . The handmade Duofold replicas can be fitted with both GOOPTA or Parker hardware.

Thank you jd50ae.

"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

#11 dandelion

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 15:53

Thanks for sharing this! An interesting review and a very fine pen!
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#12 bluemoon

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 10:34

QUOTE (AJP @ Nov 15 2008, 08:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Bluemoon:

That is a great review/story.... great find. It got me to wondering some time ago I came across a "look a like" and posted a pic here on FPN no one could identify it. Your review had me dig it up... any chance this pen might be a GOOPTA. I actually have two.



Interested to hear your thoughts.


Sorry for the late reply...

This may very well be a unmarked GOOPTA or a Indian handmade pen, it is tough to say from the photos.
It may also be some other no name/unmarked pen.
But I have never seen a GOOPTA with a band in the blind cap, and their nib/clips were marked 'GOOPTA PERFECTION'.


"This is my prayer to thee, my lord---strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. "


Rabindranath Tagore.

#13 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 10:48

Looks Interesting.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#14 Rob R

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 18:14

Nice pen. I wonder if the button filler has the same ?bar? inside as the parker's. I have a junior that I had to replace the bar inside. Got it from Canada.

thanks.






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