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  1. Four and a half years after my last visit to Madras (Chennai), came a chance to visit the city again, in the middle of January this year for one week. I was desirous to meet up with my pen purveyor, the soft spoken, genial and humble L. Subramaniam of ASApens. He enthusiastically agreed to show me some of the pen shops that he himself frequents. We spent some good and fruitful time discussing pens, meeting a pen and watch collector and seeing the pen shops. Of course, we visited Gem and Co at Parry's. The Gem and Co. trio: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010458.jpg along with Subramaniam standing on the far right: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010460.jpg The display cases: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010453.jpg Subramaniam checking out a displayed newspaper clipping about Gem and Co. http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010452.jpg The Madras High Court as seen from Gem and Co: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010451.jpg Of Course, Pratap showed off some of his beauties, this set of perfectly machined acrylic desk pens: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010456.jpg http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010457.jpg Also some rare to see sights for the casual pen collector: Vials of genuine nib tipping balls from WC Heraeus, Germany, wish I could show you folks their nib retipping setup... http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/20140111_161501.jpg http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/20140111_161449.jpg Some apparently original Parker USA repair equipment: Nib knockout block: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010445.jpg Vac wrench with a serial number: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010450.jpg Over the years, the shop had accumulated a pile of junker Parker pens. Pratap apparently decided to use up at least some part of this pile to make a batch of bodies matching the Parker Vacumatic caps in his possession. http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010461.jpg http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010462.jpg http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/hari317/Madras%20pen%20shops/Jan2014/P1010467.jpg There is more, but maybe in a later post. Cheers! Hari
  2. hari317

    The Gama Supreme

    Gama is the house brand of the Gem and Co, an exclusive pens store in Parrys corner, Chennai. South India. You can read more about the shop here: link. Gamas are typically short, thick pens. My grandpa and particularly my uncle had told me about the gundu (Tamil word for fat) Gama pena when I used to pester them with questions about the pens that they used in their days... I think the name Gama has also come from the common word for strong, after the undefeated Indian wrestler Gama Pehelwan. link The pen in the review is called the Supreme and its construction befits the name Gama. It is a very big and strong pen and is very well engineered IMO. Available in two colors: Green, brown Ripple: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9117.jpg http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9119.jpg http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9123.jpg ED pen: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9126.jpg Well made in-situ inner cap: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9124.jpg Thick construction for long life: Barrel walls: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9127.jpg Section walls: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9128.jpg The names are deep engraved on the barrel, perhaps by using old pantographic machines... http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9129.jpg http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9130.jpg The pen comes with a Standard Indian no 10 (35mm) IPG nib, I switched the nibs out with my favorites, Indian no 10 on one and Indian no 12(40mm) on the other. http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9131.jpg http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9132.jpg http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9133.jpg Some comparison of the Supreme with other Indians and one German in the stable: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9134.jpg L-R: Brahmam, Deccan White MP, Gama, Gama, the puny 149. With some foreign heavyweights: http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9135.jpg L-R: Gama, Gama, DT Sho Genkai, DT Mikado and the 149. I know, this pic makes the 149 seem like a 144. The writing: The pen is very well balanced, i have used it for fast jotting during review meetings as well as extended writing over the last week. It has performed really well for me. http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9136.jpg http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t543/hari_317/GamaSupreme/IMG_9138.jpg Dimensions: Capped: 158mm Open: 148mm Posted: 180mm Cap Dia: 19mm Barrel Dia: 17.5mm Section Length: 22mm Section dia: 15.5mm tapers to 13.4mm Nib exposed length with the stock no 10 IPG: 22.3mm These are fully handmade pens and I have observed some piece to piece dimension variations. Cost, and most important answer to the question which most of you ask me, where to buy this from: The pen is sold by Gem at a very reasonable price considering the workmanship, materials and the size. If you cannot visit Gem and co personally, Chennai based ASAPENS (link1 link2) are doing an excellent service of making Indian brands available at Indian prices widely. My several transactions with them have been flawless. NAYY. I hope you enjoyed this review. Cheers! Hari
  3. I laid my hands on a new pen sold by Gem and Co in Madras. The pen appears to be a homage to the legendary Skyline pen. The Skyline was a popular pen in India with several clones already made by Indian pen companies like Wilson etc, some of which are documented here: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/146528-indian-celluloid-pens-with-a-theme/ The pen is petite. Closed: 133mm Open: 122 with nib Posted: 153mm Section dia: 9mm tapers down to 8mm and flares up to 9mm again at the base of nib Barrel dia: 11mm steps down to 10mm for cap Cap dia: 13mm The pen is very nice to look at and gracefully shaped like the original, but is offered in Ebonite in 4 colors, I bought a set of these pens, one in each color. http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0044.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0043.jpg The clip is spring loaded with a lever at the top which can be depressed to open the clip up. The clip is good, but I found the tension a bit floppy. It is easy to re-tension the clip by unscrewing the cap top finial and bending the washer towards the clip. http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0046.jpg The Stock pen: The stock pen comes with friction fitted yellow steel nib marked Gama, 5 year point and an extra long ebonite feeder. http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0047.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0054.jpg I am not a very big fan of the stock nib, it is an acceptable nib, but requires some tuning to get it to write the way I like(YMMV), so I decided to fit in a Schmidt nib unit instead. My first attempt, with the black pen, was a disaster . There is very little space. The wall thicknesses come out to 0.25mm in some places. http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0055.jpg I did not give up and decided to proceed with extreme caution the next time, i decided to hack the green one. Success! http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0048.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0049.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0050.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0051.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0052.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0053.jpg Stock Vs Modified: http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0056.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSkyline/IMG_0057.jpg There is not enough space in the section as well as the barrel to accept a converter. I am using the modified pen in ED mode with Pelikan black ink. It is my sole pen at work today. Gem have priced this pen very attractively (I purchased from owner of asapens). In my view, it represents a very good value for money, beautiful ebonite pen, despite some shortcomings like a slightly less springy pocket clip and the lack of an inner cap (whether it has any detriment on performance remains to be seen, I have only just begun to use the pen). Cheers! Hari
  4. hari317

    The Gama Saral

    The Gem and Company in Chennai, India is a pen shop in business for over 80 years now. In addition to selling third party pens, this shop manufactures and sells their in house fountain pens under the brand name Gama. Previously, I have documented their following models: Supreme part 1 Supreme Part 2 Kuyil Padpad/Raja Kambar part 1 Kambar part 2 In addition, some information about the shop itself can be found in the following links: Visit report 2008 Visit report 2014 This Gama "Gundu pena" (fat pen) was always popular among the FP user folks of Chennai, in recent times the owner of gem and co and their dealer ASApens.in have been very active in bringing out a slew of new models to fit varying hands, tastes and sizes. The Saral is, I think, their latest offering. Saral means "easy" in Hindi. It also can mean "simple" depending on the usage. I think translated into English, the Saral would be called "The Gama Simpleton". My first impression was "simple form, functional pen". Cylindrical cap, functional spring steel ball clip, simple tapered barrel to allow the cap to be posted, barrel length is sufficient to use unposted, ebonite for keeping the weight light, and hard wearing brushed finish. The dimensions of the pen are as under: Capped: 148mm Uncapped: 132mm(including nib length) Barrel dia:14mm Cap dia: 15.6mm Section dia: 12.5mm at barrel threads tapering to 11mm just before the nib base flare. Posted: 177mm The pens came to me without the nib and feed fitted, I wanted to do my own fitting to it since I rarely use the stock nibs anyway. Closed http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9887.jpg Opened http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9888.jpg Section removed:The ends of the cap and barrel are polished. http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9889.jpg 800 and JoWo nib units installed: http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9890.jpg http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9891.jpg Size comparison with an old M800: http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9892.jpg Finally a group photo of the all Gama models in my collection: http://i1269.photobucket.com/albums/jj582/hari-317/GamaSaral/IMG_9886.jpg L-R: Kambar Mk-II, Kambar Mk-I, Postable Kambar, Supreme Flattop, Supreme Cigar, Kuyil, Hawk, Eyas, Raja, Saral and Popular. I did not know what will arrive in the post, when the Saral was described to me. However when I received these pens on Friday, I found that I like the simple lines of this pen very much, enough to consider making me carry one as the sole carry on the two day out of town trip that I will go on Monday morning. Cheers! Hari





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