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  1. I have just had an opportunity to ink up a fountain pen produced in India that only days ago came out of the prototype stage and is now available to the public in limited numbers. It is a stunning innovation in Indian pen design and manufacturing, and very well executed. Best of all, its price is affordable for the overwhelming majority of fountain pen enthusiasts. The pen is a Guider "Twins." Designed independently and placed into production by Mr. Lakshmana Rao, the respected head of India's Guider Pen Works, it features two nibs, each with its own ink reservoir, at opposite ends of a black ebonite body. For all its 6.25" (15.8cm) length, the Guider "Twins" is lightweight, a special quality of ebonite, which is the characteristic material of quality Indian pens, and widely used by American fountain pen manufacturers until they switched to plastic in the 1940s. Each reservoir holds approximately 1.35ml of ink. That amount -- 30% larger than what many cartridge converters hold -- is more than adequate for average writing purposes, while serving to mitigate against ink "burping," a well-known feature [not a bug; hat-tip to Microsoft] of eyedropper pens. ("Burping is generally explained as the result of heat from your hand being transferred to the ink reservoir, which expands the volume of the air pocket in the reservoir as the amount of ink draws down and the amount of air exchanged into the reservoir grows in size by replacing the ink.) The smaller volume of ink which each reservoir of the Guider "Twins," and thus the ultimate size of the air pocket, bodes well for overcoming the "burp" phenomenon. The body, caps and sections of the pen are all ebonite. The caps are flat. One cap, however, is topped by a round, flush disk composed of acrylic. (The disk on the one I acquired, shown above, is white; another version of the same pen sports a red acrylic disk.) Against a ground of highly polished, lustrous ebonite, this end piece lends a sleek, dramatic flair to the pen's design. It also serves a welcome functional purpose: to remind you, if you use many inks, that one end of the pen holds a different color or brand of ink. (Of course, it's up to the user to remember which end holds which color/brand of ink.) Filling each reservoir with a different color of ink is extremely useful not only to ink enthusiasts, but also to writers (like myself) who are now able to devote one end of the pen to writing first drafts, and the other end to mark up revisions -- without having to rummage through their fountain pen collections, trying to remember which pen is inked up with what color. With this pen, both colors are right at your fingertips. Of course, if you fill both reservoirs with the same color, you'll be carrying close to 3ml of ink -- nearly three times as much as a cartridge converter, with the added advantages that you'll be twice as likely not to burp as you write that long journal entry, love letter or next chapter of your novel. The Guider "Twins" nibs are iridium-point Guider nibs. Both nibs are fine, in both senses of the word: line width, and smoothness. Each provides a touch of feedback on Clairefontaine paper, but so little that it's not distracting. Fountain pen users familiar with micromesh and lapping film will be able to fine-tune their nibs with a few brief twirls of the tines. For the rest of us, these Guider nibs will be perfectly respectable "right out of the box." Here is a writing sample, made with two different inks: Two features of the "Twins" are of note: First, there is no clip. Something had to give in designing a pen with two nibs, and apparently it was the clip. That said, it is probably wise not to attempt to carry this peen loose in your shirt or blouse pocket. At 6.25", it is likely to fall out in a moment of rash movement (think: bending over to retrieve a paper clip), and it would be a shame to mar the highly polished finish of this pen. Rather, it would be best to carry it in a pouch (I am making one of leather at the moment), and even better, a pouch with a built-in clip that can be slipped over the fabric of a shirt or blouse pocket (a task beyond my current leatherworking skills). Another reason to acquire and use a pouch is that the designer and manufacturer have fashioned it from an ebonite rod that has been machined to be as perfectly round as possible. Set it down on its side, give it a gentle nudge and, absent a cap clip, it will roll -- and once it runs out of writing surface and gravity takes over, the next stop is usually the floor, and all too many of us are familiar with the consequences. A second thing to note is that the cap threads at each end are closely machined and not interchangeable, as a way to make sure you don't mix up which ink is where. Each cap is designed to thread easily and securely on its designated end of the pen. My suggestion is that if you inadvertently mix up the caps, be attuned to any possible resistance you may encounter as you replace the cap. If you sense resistance, try putting the other cap on that end, and chances are you will not meet resistance. Moreover, note that the caps unscrew when turned counterclockwise. When recapping, it is always good practice to first turn the cap in a clockwise direction until you hear a gentle "click." That means that when you then turn the cap counterclockwise, the threads will be properly engaged, and you'll be less likely to strip the threads. The Guider "Twins" just recently went into production and is available in limited numbers from FPN member Mesu. Her ad in FPN Classifieds displays the pen in higher-quality photos than I've been able to take. If I sound enthusiastic about this pen, I am. (Full disclosure: I have no affiliation with either Guider or Mesu, other than having previously purchased a Guider Marala through Fountain Pen Revolution, and this pen through Mesu.) I own a good number of Indian ebonite eyedroppers, including the ones just mentioned, and a Guider super-mini, a Ranga Duofold Model 3, a Ratnamson No. 15, and a Gama Supreme. The design of this Guider "Twins" pen promises to give Indian pen design and manufacturing a shot in the arm, and to boost Indian ebonite eyedroppers from a niche market to a real contender in the global pen market. Innovative design and attentive, handcrafted production make this a desirable pen in any collection.

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