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I have talked about the Deccan Advocate before. I’ve also talked about how great of an experience I had buying my first Deccan Advocate. Here’s a much more critical review, having bought 2 more Advocates since my first. The brown one was bought in 2017, olive in 2018, and the teal in 2020. Design and Appearance: The Brown and Olive rippled ebonite Advocates are pretty much the same. Slight variations have crept in, but that’s understandable since they’re hand turned, likely without any calipers. The olive one also has a cap band, which was later scraped in the next editions. But the teal ebonite one has been redesigned. Why, I don’t know. Maybe a new penmaker? Anyway, this one is slightly bigger, and without most of the subtle curves that make up the previous Advocate. They’ve also moved the section flare up by a few millimeters, and that does bother my grip. I consider the previous Advocate one of the best Indian pen designs, but the new one is trash, in my opinion. It’s lost its almost perfect design. YMMV. Quality and Construction: No complaints here, all three pens feel solid. The teal one does feel more substantial because of the larger and girthier size. Quality of the materials used is decent. Indian ebonite feels solid, but it definitely lacks the refinement of Nikko and SEM ebonite. You can see random pits, discolorations and flecks of other colors. Some like this sort of inorganic trait. To me, its okay. You get what you pay for, is the best way I can put it. Finishing: Ah, here’s where things go for a ride. The brown one was decently finished, had a few lathe marks and unpolished spots. The olive was beautifully finished. I’ve sanded and polished both these pens, so the finish you see in the photos isn’t what you’re likely gonna get. The teal one was horrible though. Heavy lathe marks, irregular finishing, and just terrible overall. To get it to a smooth polished finish would be too time consuming, considering I have to sand these by hand without any power tools and my buffing wheels are back in India. So I just gave it a brushed finish. So this is something you’ve got to keep in mind if you’re considering getting an Advocate now. Writing and Writing Comfort: All three of my Advocates have Kanwrite nibs paired with Indian ebonite feeds. Kudos to Kanwrite, these nibs are stellar. I’ve faced some inconsistency issues with Kanwrite nibs before, but the ones on these pens are great. All three are decently smooth with some tactile feedback. They also have good flow. I’ve inked the brown Advocate (M) with Daytone Extra Fine Scarlet, olive Advocate (EF) with Camlin Blue old batch, and the teal with Dayton EF Bottle Green. All three pens are eyedropper only. Takeaways: The price one pays for these pens is acceptable. The old ones were really inexpensive. The ones sold now are almost twice the price, but the design change is a bummer for me. But what’s total BS is you never really know if you could get these pens. Unless you visit their store in person, or get someone in Hyderabad to get one for you (there’s still no guarantee you’d get the pen you wanted), there’s really no way you would get one like you’d get a Ranga, ASA or Lotus. They don’t take commissioned pieces (not that I know off) and have a non-existent online presence. Would I buy any more of these? The old ones, yes. They’re well balanced for me, kind of the perfect girth and proportions for a pen with a #6 nib. The new ones, no. But they’ve got a few made in this woodgrain ebonite that isn’t in production anymore, so I’m eyeing one of those, though it’s the redesigned version.
It was in the November of 2017 that I visited the Deccan Pen Stores in Ameerpet in Hyderabad. It almost felt as if I had finally entered my place of pilgrimage. The gentle and kind face, accented by senile wrinkles, of Mr Haleem Siddiqui welcomed me. He was about to leave the shop for prayers but after seeing me enter and ask for their own pens, he decided to delay his prayers, much to my denial. He showed me a very limited selection of Deccan pens and I saw my pen almost instantly. We talked about the shop and about pens in general. He told me that there was a recently finished Deccan Advocate that cost 30000 INR and housed a gold nib. And then he told me that he did not see many teenagers who were crazy about fountain pens. I promised him I would be back another day and also visit their Abids branch. I’m still waiting for that day… Now let’s get into the pen. Design and Writing Comfort: The pen is a different design than many. It is a flat top Deccan Advocate and a design that I had never quite seen. It looks good and is an oversized pen. The section is concave. The pen is made of ebonite and is quite light. It is a really good pen in the hand and feels really comfortable. I have started using it in school and it is a joy to write with it for hours. I have reached that point of loving to write with this pen, that I get upset when teachers do not give any notes. It is a good companion during Accountancy and Business Studies. It can be posted but becomes absurdly long and back heavy. Being ebonite, the pen does feel warmer and softer to the touch than acrylic or resin. Looks and Construction: The pen is completely handmade. And as I said, made of ebonite. Mine is the Dark Brown Rippled version and looks really beautiful. Coupled with the imperfections of the ebonite, this pen almost looks and feels organic. Like something that could grow in the soil. This pen falls a bit back in construction and finishing. The section has a few rough-cut marks that could be felt. You can kind of see these marks in the third picture. Also, the end of the cap tends to scratch the barrel. You can see that in the fourth photo. The clip wiggles in its place but now I have slightly glued it and has been solid ever since. The biggest problem was finishing. The pen was so poorly polished. It had tool marks all over. Once I reached Abu Dhabi, I ordered some Novus #1 and Novus #2 polish and some nail buffers and polished it to a mirror finish. That’s when I could truly appreciate the beauty of ebonite. The beautiful ripples can be seen here in this photo. Filling Mechanism: The pen is a simple eyedropper and there is nothing more to it than that. Since it is a huge pen, it holds a ton of ink. However, I would like to share something interesting here. I asked Mr Siddiqui if I required silicone grease for this pen. He replied in positive and greased up my pen for me. When I told him that silicone grease was scarce in UAE, he told me how I could make some of my own grease. He told me to melt some coconut oil and candle wax together in a ratio of 1:2. Then a thick paste would be formed and after cooling, it could be used as grease. I haven’t tried this but since he is a pen expert, I am willing to take his word for it. Writing: I originally had a Kanwrite flex nib in this pen and after heat setting the nib and feed, the writing experience was of perfect ink flow, but the nib was really scratchy. It would write really smooth at a high angle but not at a normal angle. So I ended up grinding the nib to a scratchy italic. I hated the nib and threw it away. I now have some experience grinding nibs and have a #6 JoWo medium nib with a stub/italic grind. Its quite in between those grinds I believe. Coupled with and ebonite feed, the writing is really nice, wet and perfectly smooth with ample line variation on Rhodia 80gsm paper. The nib was a single tone gold and I removed some plating to make it two-tone. This was done using an electric eraser. I use this pen in school just for the fun writing experience and comfort. My friends, every now and then stare into my books and admire the line variation and of course, my Deccan Advocate. Final Thoughts: At the price of 950 INR, I must say, its quite worth it considering it is a handmade pen from one of the oldest pen shops in India. Yes, it does have its share of problems but not any that cannot be corrected. I would place this pen much higher than the Pilot Metropolitan and Lamy Safari/Al-Star/Vista. It doesn't however reach the level of my TWSBI ECO, ASA Nauka or my Platinum 3776 Century. But it is a nice addition to anyone's collection who prefers large pens. (The photos were taken with a Nikkon D5300 in natural light. I must admit this was a very difficult pen to photograph considering I am a total newbie to photography.) Thank you for reading my review and hope it was useful. I look forward to another review but I am out of pens now Regards, Adit Sreesh Kamath
Very recently I acquired an Indian ebonite fp in black with matte finish from ASA Pens, India. This is a hand crafted pen using the age old traditional methods involving the right blend of imagination and craftsman ship.It is a big big pen in keeping with the traditional Indian ebonites. This is my first review in FPN and being so, there is every likelihood that shortcomings & inadequacies will creep in here and there which I sincerely hope will be overlooked and excused by the gracious readers . Here it goes: 1. Appearance & Design (7/10): Black matte finish in ebonite with a traditional look archetypal of the Indian hand made FPs, that is to say it is big and stout with a vintage appearance. On the barrel, the name of the company "ASA Gurushikhar" is inscribed which i appears to have been done in a jiffy and deserved a better execution. On the barrel ,name of the manufacturer and the model is inscribe on the barrel. The ASA" Gurushikhar is a well crafted pen which is minimalist in design. The top and the bottom are flat with practically no embellishments barring the chrome clip which is sturdy and functional and slightly springy. The pen is widest on the middle of the barrel and then tapers down to wards the bottom ever so slightly which makes it look pretty classy. The cap is almost parallel with out any appreciable tapering neither up or downwards. The interface of the cap and the barrel is curved in wards ( the bottom most part of the cap) and is mirror polished as are the top of the cap and the bottom of the pen. The section is polished which tapers down towards the nib unit with an outward curvature at the end of the section.The finish to my mind could have been a trifle better. In fact, many could mistake it for a Gama Kuyil since iit bears a striking resemblance to the later in terms of looks, design, size ,build and the clip even. So, sensu stricto Gurushikar has not much to offer in terms of any uniqueness .But over all quite impressive at the first blush. Views of ASA Gurushikhar . 2. Construction & Quality (7/10): It is a well built pen and appears pretty tough, solid and ready for taking the rigors daily rough use and could well be the EDC, provided the big size is agreeable to the user .The ebonite material appears to be of quality, though on a closer examination one could find some minor defects here and there by way of dings and pits on the body of the pen which doesn't mar the looks of the pen at all. In fact, these aberrations and the rough (matte) surface lends it some aura of looking "vintage " .The polish (smoothing) on the barrel could have been a shade better. Never the less craftsman ship is worth writing home about considering that it is a hand tuned pen. close up view of the barrel with the brand name engraved . 3.Weight & dimensions (7/10): As has already been said this is a big sized pen but weighs pretty much light in the hand.This is probably is the characteristic feature of the ebonite material. So, being light in spite of its size makes it ideal for long hours of writing. I use this pen un posted as it gives me the feeling of a perfect balance in the hand. Using it capped may give you the feel of a top heaviness thereby spoiling the right balance. But I guess people with large paws may differ from me. Readers will excuse me for not giving the exact weight since I do not have a weighing machine . The dimensions as measured with a ruler and a tape are as follows: Capped Length = 15.2 cm Uncapped Length = 13.5 cm Posted length = 17.6 cm Widest circumference at the mid barrel = 5.1 cm circumference of the cap base = 5.9 cm Comparison of size, from bottom to top-Lamy vista, gurushikhar, deccan advocate. 4. Nib and Performance (9/10) : The ASA pen e shop site for this pen has no options for choice of nibs or color variations. I ordered this pen with a request for a "M" nib and Mr Subramanium obliged ( the perfect gentleman that he is ) with a "M" JOWO nib of size #6 which is the ideal size for this pen.. The nib , perhaps is the brightest spot of the pen . The nib is a steel one in mono tone. "hot knife in the butter" is the most apt expression to describe the smoothness of the JOWO nib. It writes medium ,approximately 0.5 to 0.6 mm and lays down wet lines which is the way I like it. I tested the nib on my daughter's exercise book and the result is not far behind the best with the exception that in this case there is some degree of feathering.The nib is nail hard without any flex what so ever. Another highlight of this pen is the use of finned feed like the "Sheaffer" NOS type, which supplies uniform quantity of ink to the nib and makes it burp free. The "Gurushikhar" is a brilliant writer to say the least. A view of the nib and the feed. 5. Feeling System & maintenance (8/10) : The ASA "Gurushikhar" has a 3-i-1 feeling system, meaning that it i can take a converter, international cartridges and can also be used as an ED . For me, it came fitted with a Schmidt K2 converter and is top notch. It easily pump in 1 to 1.5 ml at a single go.The converter functions optimally without any trouble. With converter and cartridges maintenance is minimal. I am yet to use it as an ED (and why should I). 6. Cost & Value (8/10) : The "Gurushikhar" is modestly priced at 2500 INR, where in one gets a sturdy, well built and above all beautifully hand crafted fp, fitted with a K2 converter and A JOWO nib, that writes butter smooth. Therefore weighing all the pros and the cons , I feel the "Gurushikahar" is more than its money's worth and at the end of the day it appears to be a good bargain. 7. Conclusion : (7.7/10) : The ASA Gurushikhar has all the elements to be a much sought after pen (except for the monotony of the design which is characteristic of Indian Ebonites) with a slight modification here and there such as, if fitted with dual cap rings in golden tone at the base and a more suitable clip other than the one fitted with. Why I say this is because the same clip is also found in ASA Revolution, Patriot, Gama Hawk, Gama Kuyil etc (pl correct me if I am wrong) and therefore a separate identity is sought for ASA "Gurushikhar" All in all a good pen at a reasonable price which happens to be a champion writer.
DECCAN ADVOCATE The review is simultaneously at my blog here. Deccan Pens have been into existence since 1928 when they opened first outlet in Hyderabad at Abids and has been one of the oldest fountain pen manufacturing company in India. The firm was started by Sabih Akhter Siddiqui who used to sell fountain pens door to door with the help of DURO agency which used to produce fountain pens in 1920’s. Today Deccan Pens has 32 year old manufacturing unit and they only make fountain pens. The review is simultaneously at my blog here. They have now 3 stores at Secunderabad, Ameerpet, and oldest one at Abids. Deccan Pens have been covered and reviewed lot by HARI, SHRUJYA, & JAISIRI. And this particular review is about one of the largest selling pen from Deccan stable which is “DECCAN ADVOCATE". There have been lot of iterations of Deccan Advocate over many years. Deccan Advocate – In the Wild I must thank Rakshit who lives in Hyderabad and he helped me in getting this pen. He also is a fountain pen connoisseur and you can check his blog here. I got this pen almost 7-8 months back and have been using this only for past 2 months. So the review is about my experience with the pen for past 2 months. DESIGN & BUILT : 05/05 Deccan Pens are notable for impeccable built quality and this Deccan Advocate again stamps their authority of quality built pens. Advocate currently comes in two variants : Round End and Flat End. The model that I am reviewing is the Round end one in green ripple colour and I was told that it is difficult to get hold of the round end advocate and I was lucky enough to get this one. Deccan Advocate – In Broad Day Light The pen is made of high quality ebonite and is available in black, matte black , mottled brown, rippled brown and green ripple and also olive brown ripple. My pen is extremely well made though it was religiously inspected by Rakshit before he bought this one. The ebonite has no perforations its solid without any specks and perforations. The quality of rod is really great. Deccan Advocate The pen is a simple and elegant cigar shaped pen with slight tapering towards the bottom end. There are no bands or trims used on this pen. Only metal part or thing you will see on the pen is clip apart from the nib. The pen is very well executed and polished though you might see some marks just below the threads which is due to cap being capped and uncapped regularly and has not received thorough cleaning and polish from my side. The grip section is made of same ebonite material and is in concave shape. The length of grip section is 22 mm and this I beleive is quite good as it helps in good grip on the pen. Deccan Advocate – Capped Deccan Advocate – Uncapped Deccan Advocate – Round Ends The pen cap opens in 6 turns which I am not happy with but its still acceptable as most of the Indian pens take almost around 5 to 6 turns to open. The cap has chrome finish clip which gives you a look of look of something between matt and polished finish but it is not polished with some sorts of coating. Deccan Advocate – Cap Clip Deccan Advocate – Cap Clip Side View The cap clip narrows down to bottom and is quite sturdy and can easily fit in to shirt pocket firmly. Deccan Advocate – Inner View of Cap The thickness of ebonite is thinnest near the bottom of the cap or what we call as cap lip which you can see in above picture. As the cap tapers at the bottom but it is still sturdy. Below are the few images showing the comparison of pen with other pens: Deccan Advoate vs Lamy Safari vs Jinhao X750 – Capped Deccan Advoate vs Lamy Safari vs Jinhao X750 – Uncapped Deccan Advoate vs Lamy Safari vs Jinhao X750 – Capped (Lateral Side View) Overall, its a beautiful, cigar shaped elegant pen which has impeccable built quality. Its a quality finish from Hyderabad. Yeah I must tell you that there is no branding of any kind on pen anywhere be it clip or nib or even barrel. BALANCE & SIZE : 3.5/05 The pen is around 140 mm including the nib when uncapped and I don’t see any reason to post the cap at back and also I prefer to write with cap unposted. The pen is very much balanced when writing unposted but becomes bottom heavy when cap is posted at back, moreover it becomes uncomfortable at 184 mm when cap is posted at back, thus it is unbalanced. The pen length is 155 mm when it is capped. Below are the images showing the comparison when writing posted and unposted : Deccan Advocate – Writing Unposted Deccan Advocate – Writing Posted What I find most comfortable about the pen is the grip section which is at 9 mm and is in conical shape. It provides perfect grip. The length of grip section is also substantial at 22 mm. The pen weighs around 30 gm with cap and around 20 gm without cap (with ink filled). Deccan Advocate – Weight of pen with cap Deccan Advocate – Weight of pen without cap Few specifications are as follows: Length capped: 155 mmLength uncapped and posted : 184 mmLength uncapped and unposted : 140mmLength of grip section : 22 mmBarrel Dia Avg – 14 mmCap Dia – 16 mmSection Dia (Avg) : 9 mmWeight with cap : 30.4 gmWeight without cap : 20.53 gm NIB & INK FILLING MECHANISM : 04/05 Nib currently being used on this pen is 35 mm (#6) Gold Finish Steel Nib and this is a stock nib and there was no other option of the nib on this pen. The nib is famous ambitious fine nib which is friction fit and it writes very well and is paired with good wet ebonite feed. Ink flow is quite good. Deccan Advocate – Nib Unit Top View Deccan Advocate – Nib Unit Side View Deccan Advocate – Nib Unit Underside View The nib is set just a bit inside more, thus what you see is less of 35 mm nib because the grip section is bit flared up as visible from image below. Deccan Advocate – Nib set inside deep The filling mechanism is via eyedropper and it holds approx 3 ml of ink. It has not burped on me even once. Deccan Advocate – Eyedropper Fill Mechanism Below are the images of my handwritten review which shows you the writing sample: Deccan Advocate – Handwritten Review – Page 01 Deccan Advocate – Handwritten Review – Page 02 Deccan Advocate – Handwritten Review – Page 03 CONCLUSION : 12.5/15 I recommend everyone to have at least one Deccan Pen and buying ADVOCATE is the best pen to get hold of at reasonable price of otherwise expensive Deccan Pens. Well yeah i did not like the combination of chrome clip with gold finish nib. I bought this pen for Rs. 1000 (approx 16 usd) which does not include shipping as it was bought by my friend who paid for Shipping. What I Like: Classic Cigar Design Well Finished Very Good Quality Ebonite Lot of Ink CapacityWhat I don’t Like: Eyedropper only Only one nib option Combination of Silver chrome clip with Gold color nib Deccan Advocate – Close Up Comments and feedback are welcome. Regards Vaibhav Mehandiratta