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  1. Dazzled by the resplendent allure of a Japanese ED (with the concept of a shut-off valve mechanism), the lust for an urushi lacquered pen vis-a-vis plain ebonite ones (seemingly susceptible to lose shine and colour over time) did keep growing on me for some time, before I took this plunge! I have come to know of an unfortunate experience with a Sailor KOP in Ebonite and have felt that without urushi, ebonite just fails to complete itself. These glamorous reviews from shuuemura and rubyeyespenlover should be banned and blamed altogether for pen-monetary crises, which I kept visiting again & again. These reviews did make me aware of huge dimensions of the Emperor more towards a ‘at rest desk-pen’, with a reassurance of writing comfort. I will keep this review unrated, since beautiful things in life do not need logic or mathematics to impart you with joy. So when I was dazzled for long enough, I asked Raul (Engeika/Pensindia) for an opinion regarding the Emperor vs Yukari Royale. Since most of our discussions these days refer to trade economics, Government taxation rather than any real pen discussions, he lazily took two to three days to check with Namiki and confirmed me back with the nib availability for both the pens. He gave me a discounted price (which I shall not discuss) for the Emperor model, more as a friend than a seller. I went ahead with it, because the production of Emperor pen without rings had been stopped by Namiki and it would become difficult to acquire a preferred nib-width. The beauty travelled from Japan and reached me via Pensindia Pune office in less than two weeks. Below links redirects to the same review on my blog with additional eye-candy The Namiki Emperor Review A JUMBO HISTORY OF 85 YEARS In early 1930’s, the Emperor existed in the form of No.50 Jumbo. It was decommissioned a few years later. On one rare occasion as referenced here, Nomura securities (estd 1925) had a specially commissioned No. 50 Jumbo pen made for itself, with Dunhill-Namiki engraved (with the classic M-shape logo) in 1936, for distribution among its employees to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the company. Wow! how many companies would do that today? http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DOvvGuEJKqs/VpH7jevYvYI/AAAAAAAAFq0/CsZeYqgPhiI/s1600/1DNomuraEmperor.jpg Pilot reintroduced the pen in 1985 to tap the high margin market, as referenced here. The task was left to Sakai Eisuke to create a No. 50 Jumbo prototype based on the 1920s model. The initial model had a 14k nib with the 14 KARAT NAMIKI <NIB WIDTH> REGISTERED PATENT OFFICE 50 inscription, which later got replaced with a 18k nib carrying a similar engraving. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-s6NfGjeSk8w/VpH7RGtu0QI/AAAAAAAAFqs/GB5ABo05-ZE/s1600/2Dkarat.jpg These days it comes with Namiki’s standard Mt. Fuji inscription. The finish of these Urushi lines is obtained by using non-oil lacquer for the final coat and a polishing method called Roiro Urushi Shiage (Non-oil lacquer finish) as per Namiki. It’s done by rubbing the pen in raw lacquer after a special charcoal polishing process. And if you look at the plain Urushi line of pens (vermillion & black), the artisan’s name would say Kokkokai. Kokkokai is a continuation of the original group of Maki-e artisans formed in 1931, under leadership of Maki-e master Gonroku Matsuda, who had joined Ryosuke Namiki back in 1926 as Chief Maki-e Designer. Matsuda is said to have designed for Montblanc too. URUSHI Urushi, as you know, is the poisonous sap of the urushi or lacquer tree (Toxicodendron Vernicifluum) which grows in Japan, China, and Korea and is primarily brown in colour. The sap of this tree polymerises to form a hard, durable, plastic-like substance, when exposed to moisture/air. Liquid urushi can be applied to multiple materials like wood, metal, cloth, resin, ceramics or ebonite as opposed to the best of synthetic lacquers. When it solidifies, Urushi turns into a very hard coating that is waterproof and protects the coated object from effects of fungus, ambient chemical reactions at surface due to heat or humidity or even from caustic acids. Colored urushi such as black or shu (red) are made by mixing pigments into cured urushi. With natural exposure to air and ultraviolet light (extended UV exposure ends up in discolouration), the urushi layers gradually increase in transparency and the material gradually unveils shades of original bright colours within. The birth of the maki-e decoration technique took place during the Nara period in Japan i.e from 710-794 AD, in which gold ''dust'' was decoratively sprinkled on the lacquer surface. So maki-e utensils, accessories and writing instruments have evolved to their present forms from thousands of years ago. Only direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight will cause urushi to deteriorate. Urushi's hardness and durability makes it an excellent protective coating for any object that will be used continously over a long period of time (Paraphrased from Kyotoguide). This all ends up with a versatile material and with a characteristic hardness, durability, imperviousness and resistance to abrasion. The elegance of ebonite is supposed to endure time and space with the urushi flair. PRESENTED BY NAMIKI The presentation is grand and velvety with a spacious wooden box, capable of packing your sneakers too, which is made out of traditional Paulownia wood. It is protectively packaged inside a cardboard box. The box has a violet thread running across two metal brackets to fasten the upper lid. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9i49GFleh2s/VpH8AAE7BbI/AAAAAAAAFrE/_zK1K3OQsuI/s1600/3presentation.jpg Resting inside is a bottle of Namiki Black Ink (Pilot Black Ink - 50 mL), an Ink dropper with a red bulb encased in a black cardboard box, a red velvety polishing cloth and finally the No#50 Jumbo resting on its bed. I did receive a nice surprise gift from Pensindia - it is a Pilot Somes single-pen pouch. Thank you! (PS : The Emperor would not fit inside this standard Pilot Pouch). http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2WKlYSJpjtU/VpH8ERxDtzI/AAAAAAAAFrM/xbk5oAk0wI0/s1600/DSC_7536.jpg The model number of the pen, in this case FNF-148S-<R/B>-<F/FM/M/B> indicates the launch price and colour within it. The 148 refers to JPY 148,000 whereas the third digit R/B refers to the red/black urushi. DESIGN - CLASSIC This Lacquer No.#50 model comes in two standard colours - Black & Vermillion (Urushi) with gold plated clips. A newer No.#50 Urushi model is available with two concentric rings on the cap, carrying a different model number. The ebonite feels substantial in hand from dual perspectives of dimensions but at the same time the pen does not feel heavy. The classical cigar or rather torpedo shaped geometry with Vermillion hue adores itself with light, which when reflected through multiple layers of urushi takes on a electric red tinge on an otherwise conservative scarlet red hue. The work and finish is impeccable and it does not show any signs of being handmade, whatsoever. The simplistic yet elegant design comes with a single golden accent, provided deftly by the traditional triangular shaped tension fit clip with a sphere to anchor into your shirt pockets, if you have that big a pocket. A marked absence of any other decoration like a clip band or ring or anything else on the entire pen, imparts a continued infinity to modes of convergence. Vermillion is considered as an auspicious colour throughout East Asia, where it’s culturally imbibed. It has four synthetic & natural shades as of today: Red-Orange[sRGB (255, 83, 73)], Orange-Red[sRGB (255, 69, 0)], Plochere[sRGB (217, 96, 59)] and Chinese Red[sRGB (170, 56, 30)]. The shades/hue of the pens in red urushi might vary from one other. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0DjoRXVscp8/VpH8UHvolGI/AAAAAAAAFrU/oMSLVGdluQA/s1600/DSC_7544.jpg The cap unravels itself after one and a half turns. It reveals the beautiful nib with the modern Mt.Fuji inscription which is incidentally 1.1 cm longer than the section itself. The seamless grip goes through a fair amount of taper starting from the barrel and ends up with a smoothly carved out bumper, emphasising continuity. The cap threads on the barrel are carved out with sculpted finesse and the grip section ends up with a small but discernible gap between itself and the barrel (common across the Urushi models). The barrel at the other end leads leisurely to the tail where you have the ink-shutoff valve. This picture thankfully captured the tail end, which your eyes might fail to notice, unless you know where you are looking for it. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zDgaI9nQ92M/VpH9FEL4wWI/AAAAAAAAFr8/FYWgzXkUHw4/s1600/DSC_7558.jpg I feel, the cap is itself a subtle piece art made from a single ebonite blank. It carries the valour and brevity of the overall smooth curved design with remarkable panache. The finish is impeccable, with the colours varying between bright and dark with the play of light. The clip is traditional triangular Pilot with a sphere at the end, inscribed with Namiki with the Isosceles Triangle within a Pentagon logo. There is a alphanumeric code inscribed on the upper base of the clip, where it delves into the cap. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-L1s1oI7rJsU/VpH8ms913sI/AAAAAAAAFrc/rv1zcJpmu6k/s1600/DSC_7559.jpg FILLING SYSTEM - The ‘Japanese’ Eyedropper A bit of history on it, there were these traditional non-self filling systems or NSF (without any filling mechanism - piston/button/plunger) and luckily enough fountain pens were compulsory during my junior school days. Since the squeeze converters/cartridges did not last long, we used to bank on fountain pens from Camlin & Chelpark which used to offer the capacity of the barrel itself. However, sometimes we did end up with ink inside the cap and sometimes a blue blot on pockets of our white shirts (our school uniform) due to ink burping & subsequent leakage. If I remember correctly, Surf made all the money those days, using this particular advertisement with an ink blot on white pockets in TV media. Seems the burping had mattered to the Japanese first, thanks to their costly Kimonos made of silk, when they had come up with an ink stop - plunger mechanism in early 1912. The term ED (Eyedropper) came into picture after advent of vacuum driven self filling pens with button, squeeze or plunger mechanisms. Now comes the ink-dropper with the red bulb to make an appearance. The section takes almost eternity (read seven complete turns) to reveal one of the most basic fountain pen filling systems. Most of the times, I fear the section would drop off due to my monotony and laziness during unscrewing the section. Once unscrewed, you can see the conical ink shutoff valve inside the barrel and a similar conical concavity with a crevice inside the section, to make the system work. The insides of the barrel & section are all black. With the dropper filled up with your favourite ink, you are supposed to be fill the barrel, until the visible internal threads. Leave the valve shut while filling the barrel, then unscrew one turn to allow air inside the chamber while writing and then close when finished. The entire rod is to be extracted completely, only when you are cleaning the barrel. It seems to be a delicate system, so one must avoid pulling the rod frequently. While using, you can unscrew the tail by 1 mm or so and start writing, although the feed might have a buffer comparable to a converter. After use, you can follow the instruction of screwing back the tail with the nib turned upside. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-38ZntEubEJ0/VpH80L-G8JI/AAAAAAAAFrs/hHEZLBvClT4/s1600/DSC_7560.jpg NIB - LORD OF THE NIBS The nib with this Emperor is 18k which weighs more than 2 grams and it came in four stock widths earlier - F, FM, M & B according to the enclosed booklet. It seems F and B nibs have run out of stock for Namiki/Pilot Office in Japan. The nib isn't anything short of grand, but believe me it takes time to get used to it. It’s longer than the section by more than 1 cm. Inscribed is the symbol of Mt. Fuji (also found in #3776 nibs), the upper part symbolic of the snow caps. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2GOBuk35mhg/VpH8vZhUZeI/AAAAAAAAFrk/QfublMrzLU4/s1600/DSC_7572.jpg The oval breather hole rests within the snow caps. Below the snow, etched are the Namiki Logo (Isosceles triangle inside a Pentagon), Namiki, gold alloy specs (18k-75%) and Nib width <M>. The nib is sharply curved compared to usual flatter Pilot nibs, at its shoulders & tines, as a continuity of the precision followed by Kokkokai artists, while making the pen. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gldtXZdK_9M/VpH9DGm_ZQI/AAAAAAAAFr0/j0aGj4KseZM/s1600/DSC_7573.jpg On the left the #50 nib carries the Namiki Logo Ste PP-F hallmark and on the right it carries the date stamp. Mine is a707, “a” as I understand refers to the machine/plant where the pen was made and 707 as usual refers to July-2007 manufacturing. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iuwzbWJ4Bao/VpH9pwLIaLI/AAAAAAAAFsU/KsE1WGTuDXU/s1600/DSC_7584.jpg The semi-lacquered plastic feed (red urushi) converges majestically with the overall design of the pen. The big fins ensure levelling ambient air pressure and give you a really worthy buffer (from underside the nib). You can write a few A4 pages with the shut-off valve/tail closed. When I filled the pen for the first time, the feed took some time to respond, but when it did, it was with a nice and consistent flow, and after that it was pure performance. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yw2qJX8g6ns/VpH9YIKs1LI/AAAAAAAAFsM/SDTrU1vB4Z8/s1600/DSC_7585.jpg PHYSICS OF IT – RELATIVELY SPEAKING This is in no way a daily carry pen designed for extensive use as a travel companion. For a daily pen, I assume that a Yukari Royale would fit the bill well albeit with a smaller nib. I take special care and limit the pen to home use only. The ebonite body keeps the pen warm & comfortably balanced for writing. The pen is in fact quite comfortable to write with, even for an extended period of time. The grip is temperate and soothing, showcasing the better qualities of ebonite, with urushi sustaining its demeanour. Posting the pen is probably an impossibility for me, given the size, finish or value of the pen. I really do not have any pen to compare it with, though I strongly feel that the Emperor deserves a place of its own. A slight disadvantage in my experience occurs when I change back to a m605 or a 3776, and I have a funny feeling of missing a nib altogether, for the first few moments. Figures for weight and dimension run below in case you need to compare it with a familiar pen. Length closed ~ 17.3 cmLength open ~ 15.8 cmGrip Diameter ~ 1.4 cmNib Leverage ~ 3.3 cmWeight (without ink) ~ 46 gWeight (without cap) ~ 30 g Capped, uncapped Emperor poses with an MB149 and Izumo Tagayasan with an apparent disdain for their great magnitude. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P2lOtIuz804/VpH9wDlNEgI/AAAAAAAAFsc/A3AqaJNd29I/s1600/DSC_7612.jpg http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_vhLzb4MxWQ/VpH928tQsvI/AAAAAAAAFsk/npW_61zR1go/s1600/DSC_7624.jpg ECONOMIC VALUE The Emperor retailed at around USD 1600 in the US, although you can find it at lower prices in Japan. Moreover, the production of Emperor without rings has been stopped now and Raul was kind enough to arrange one for me. Technically speaking, I bought the pen from Engeika’s Indian Arm - Pensindia. Logically the economic value should be equal to salvage value of the pen after a few years of use and I don't think the price will vary by much even after a few years use with proper care, given that someone decides to sell it off. Having said that, even though the pen is one of its kind and the lacquer finish is impeccable, you should give it a serious thought, before taking this kind of a plunge. It will result in a fair amount of money being locked up within the urushi layers! OVERALL The medium nib is graced with a wet flow. It’s neither butter smooth nor with any noticeable feedback, strictly speaking. You will right away know it’s a Pilot nib, in case you have used any of the Pilot pens with a Size#15 nib like a Custom 823 or Custom 845. And it does share its basic DNA with its cousins. I feel that some characteristic spring and softness comes naturally to the Emperor because of the size & shape of the nib, rather from its gold content. The verticals grow thicker even with a little bit of pressure. With a high buffer capacity of the plastic feed and its magnificent fins for pressure balance, the nib imparts a beautiful shading to the letters in Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo ink. The ink takes around 45 seconds to dry completely on Tomoe River paper. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VNBh6tN6-aM/VpH-L4gxzxI/AAAAAAAAFss/MRCp8CXFcjA/s1600/DSC_7656.jpg Thank you again for going through the review. Wish you a prosperous new year. You can find other pen and paraphernalia reviews here. SOME CAUTIONARY GUIDELINES FOR URUSHI LACQUER CARE I felt like including some pointers regarding care of urushi lacquered pens here, since it will help me more than the reader (most of whom are extremely knowledgeable). The points are derived from this FPN Thread. AVOID Ultraviolet light - direct sunlight, UV lamps, halogen lamps.AVOID Continuous exposure to visible light which can alter colour, transparency and appearance.Do NOT soak in water.Store in a dark place to prevent undesirable changes.Do NOT store the pen in an excessively dry or desiccating environment for long periods like inside the fridge, with silica gel etc.Do NOT use abrasive cleaners or polishes, use a soft cloth damp if necessary, to wipe the pen Do NOT have to apply anything to the surface of urushi: oils, stinky tofu, silicone or otherwise. REFERENCES Dunhill - Namiki Jumbo#1930s Gonroku Matsuda About Urushi FPN Thread on Care for Urushi lacquered pens
  2. Hello Everyone Its an intimidating task to write something about the famed Gem & Co. from Chennai, the creator and seller of some truly world class Indian fountain pens since 1920s. That's enough time for the world to spin a lot around its axis, witnessing rise and fall of different eras and trends, embracing changes with open hands but at the same time discarding some sweet little memories and moments to the endless flow of time. In another kind of world, Mr. M.C. Cunnan, and his business partner S. Venkat Rangam Chetty, started one store for writing instruments in the bustling Parry’s Corner area in Chennai. At that time India was under British rule, Chennai was Madras, and it was the capital of the whole Madras Presidency. Fountain pens were the means of writing, and business flourished. Gem and Company gradually became one of the largest pen stores in southern parts of India and were dealers in most of the famous brands of that time like Parker, Sheaffer and Pilot. They also carried out repair work on these pens. After a few years into the business, they decided to start designing and producing their own brand of high quality fountain pens. And thus the brand "Gama" was born. The 'Great' Gama Pahelwan was the stage-name of Indian wrestler Ghulam Muhammad. He defeated most of the big wrestlers from all around the world during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Gem and company decided to name their own pens in reverence of this amazing strongman, signifying both the strength and the performance of these pens. It was around 1940s that these pens were introduced in the Indian market. Initially these pens were made in England. Made of good ebonite material and having quality gold nibs, Gama brand quickly gained popularity among Indian fountain pen users and gradually became a big name for our fountain pen Industry. Long gone are those golden days, with advent of Ball point pens, fountain pen industry declined steadily. After Mr. Cunnan, his son Mr. M. Prabhat Kumar became the owner, followed by his son, the third generation in the family, Mr. Pratap Kumar. The shop stands at the same location witnessing the rise and fall of fountain pens, the workshop for repair and production stands a few blocks away. The number of skilled repairmen and shop workers going through steady decline, the number of people interested in fountain pens dwindling by the day. Mr. Pratap is a through gentleman, responding to queries and greetings heartily. Many models are not produced anymore, steel nibs has taken the place of golden ones, still Gem and company remains creator of some of the best fountain pen models from India. Presently GAMA pens are available online through ASA pens website, and either Mr. Subramaniam or Mr. Pratap can be contacted for customization. Today I am going to review GAMA Kuyil. The word 'Kuyil' in Tamil means Cuckoo bird. Most probably the name of this elegantly designed pen drew inspiration from the beautiful singing of the bird. This is a large, strong, beautiful looking eyedropper ebonite pen in matte black finish, with a reasonably smooth 'Indian' fine nib. 1. Appearance & Design: The pen came in a black velvet pouch with Gama written at the lower end. This pen looks very impressive. It is a flat topped rod shaped pen with slight tapering towards both ends. The top of the cap is a bit larger than the bottom of the pen. The cap has a chrome clip with the top finial flushed with the body, thus concealing the ring of the clip. There is no end ring at the base of the cap, but that actually matches the overall design of the pen. The clip is a flat sturdy clip with good springiness. The cap takes about two and half turns to screw on the body and there is no tightness.The section is glossy black finish and it compliments the brushed body. The section gently tapers towards the nibs and ends in a chrome coloured monotone no 6 nib. Just before the end, the section has a small flaring ring like finger rest for easy support of fingers. The section is quite thick in comparison to other ebonite pens. Branding in the form of the word 'Gama' is written on the barrel in italic script, and the quality of this engraving is very good. The words are put down with crisp margins. To compliment the brushed body, both the top and bottom of the pen is of glossy black surface. The Cap ends in a beveled edge which is again polished. The Gama Kuyil 2. Construction & Quality : The first thing I noticed with most Gama pens is the thickness of the ebonite. The walls of both the body and section is very thick. This makes the pens quite heavy in comparison to other ebonite pens, but at the same time the feel is amazing. It does the name Gama full justice as the pens appear very strong and tough. The brawny pens looks premium in hand. The brushed finish is very well executed and the feeling is great to the fingers. I didn't find any lathe marks or impurities in the ebonite, which is a common complaints with Indian ebonite pens. The cap has one minute breather hole, which is in line with the Gama branding on the barrel. The monotone nib has some simple designs and Gama written beneath that. No nib grade is written. The feed is a simple ebonite feed. The section screws on the body by about 4 turns, there is some tightness initially while turning and there is no leak if some silica gel is used carefully. Overall this pen will last a lifetime if used with due care and the brushed look would prevent scratches and marks appearing on body or cap on extensive use. 3. Weight & Dimensions: This is a jumbo sized pen. I think this is meant to be used un-posted, as the length gets ridiculous for proper gripping when posted, unless, obviously one has a giant palm. Its a bit heavy pen, but the balance is perfect. The section is very thick due to thick ebonite wall, but this doesn't feel uncomfortable while long writing sessions. I personally prefer pens with a section thickness of around 11.5 mm, but still didn't have much problem while using it for the last few weeks. From Left to Right: Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari, Gama Kuyil Length capped: 152 mm Length of uncapped pen: 138 mm Posted length: 180 mm (!!!!) Nib length: 24 mm Diameter of section: 16 mm- 13 mm Cap length: 70 mm Ink capacity- 3.5 ml 4. Nib & Performance: The pen comes with a friction fit Monotone #35 steel nib with Indian fine grade by default, which is between European medium and Japanese fine. Its a smooth nib with a hint of feedback which helps good control during writing. The nib had a bit of scratchiness out of the box, but these feeds take some time to get primed as well, so after using it for three days, it became very smooth and pleasant. One thing I stress here, Indian fountain pen makers can accommodate any International nib as per customer's choice these days, if requested at the time of order. So, one can get this pen made with other nib grades as well. Personally, I am a big fan of Indian smooth fine nibs and thus have many of the pens in their default states. There is no flex in the nib. I don't know whether golden nibs are still available with Gama, but they might have some left with them. 5. Filling System & Maintenance: This is an eye-dropper pen with huge ink capacity. I encountered no burping issues, but as a precaution I keep the ink level more than one third of the barrel. Even then, the ink capacity is very helpful for long writing sessions. There is occasional burping if there is large fluctuations in outside temperatures all of a sudden. Custom fitted Schimdt nib and feed can prevent these occurrences. I think the maker can accommodate other filling systems as well on request, though I personally haven't asked for any such changes in my Gama pens. 6. Cost & Value: The pen is priced at around INR 1200-1500 ( around US $38 ) according to customization. Its a fairly cheap pen with simple design but great appearance and strong built. One can use this cheap pen as a daily writer without compromising on the quality side. The Cons: The big size, thick section and weighty feel may not appeal to some users, particularly fans of slim pens. Eyedroppers are meant for advanced users as there is every chance of some leaking or burping, which may vary from particular copy to another copy. Only 'fine' nib grade by default is a problem that may require customization. 7. Conclusion : The hallmark of 'Gama' brand is the quality in materials and performance, in this respect the Kuyil is a great value for money pen. This one is a must have pen for every Indian fountain pen lover. One can contact ASA pens and Gem and company to check for availability and customization for nib and filling mechanism. Mr. Subramaniam from ASA pens have one particularly helpful option of 'fountain pen testing', under which he tests the nibs of particular pens before dispatch. So, if one is not sure about the Gama nibs, they can opt for the testing option I have six Gama pens at present and hardly faced any problems regarding Gama nibs. ASA website ASA Whatsapp no of Mr. Subramaniam - +91 9176607660 ASA email- asapens.in@gmail.com, unik.services@hotmail.com No of Mr. Pratap- +91 9884209055
  3. Some months back, I had written a review titled "Fountain Pen Revolution in India" There I had written that "...it is good that ASA is making its own revolutionary contribution in making of the high standard fountain pen in a substantive manner." And it is good to see that ASA is scaling up on the spiral. Some weeks back, ASA came out with its own branded FP by name Athlete. And it is a well constructed pen. It is an ebonite FP, and the capped surface is smooth. So, it gives a really nice feeling to hold it. The pen comes with ASA branding, with name of pen Athlete written on it, alongwith India and year of manufacture. Though in my opinion the imprint could have been more prominent athlete_1 athlete_3 The cap is threaded cap, as with all EDs manufactured in India. The Nib - The pen originally came with a steel #6 (35 mm) nib. Which in my opinion is not really the right size nib for this FP. The reason is that the curvature of the nib and the curvature of the section seemed to have a mismatch, leading to the nib times not touching. The exact issue can be seen wrt another custom pen made to order by ASA and hosted on its photostream Lil Kuyil Opened So I changed the nib with the dual tone Wality Fine nib - which I had couple of them in spare. (I am told that Wality has currently stopped making these nibs!).However going by some posts by other members of FPN - they have not found it an issue with the stock nib and their writing experience with the stock nib is good. Overall its a very well constructed FP, with a finger friendly grip. However the finger stoppers on section were not necessary - because that bump is sufficient to hurt fingers for those who hold their FPs closer to nib. athlete_2 Writing sample with original nib: ASA Athlete Writing Sample Writing sample with Wality dual tone F nib athlete_4 Ink filling- It is an standard ED fountain pen. And it can take a good amount of ink. Clip has good design, though its folded metal. Size of pen - it is just a few mm bigger than Lamy Safari. The size comparison pics are there on ASApens.in website. Outstanding feature: I think in its initial experiment with ED, ASA has come out successful. The pen has a long section - so that serves many purposes - Gives a good grip, but more importantly prevents ink burping. Usually the normal / usual ED pens would (1) throw out lot of ink when jerked, and also (2) burp out ink as soon as the ink reaches a certain level. In case of Athlete - possibly because of its longer section and a matching ebonite feed, both the issues of ink jerking out and burping out seems to be solved. I have been able to write on both these pens till the end of barrel. And it requires lot of jerking the pen for very small ink to come out. I hope in future ASA comes out with a transparent resin version of the same pen - which would be delightful to use
  4. I am wondering why eye-dropper pens seem to be so common from India? I that the main pen style used there or just the main type for export? Thanks for any info you can provide. Dave

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