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  1. Guider Pens are hand turned by Guider Pen Works, Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India. The company was started in 1946 by Mr. G Subbarao. At present his son Mr. Lakshmana Rao looks after the business. They still turn the pens by hand and the pen materials are acrylic, ebonite and some celluloid which it is claimed is in stock since 1950s. I bought an Emerald and pearl green swirl acrylic medium pen. It is offered in eye dropper filler but Mr. Lakshamana Rao, the gentleman he is, agreed to do a cartridge/convertor version of the pen for me. So my ‘Guider Acrylic Medium’ is a cartridge/convertor filler with a fine nib. Design and Workmanship The pen is in emerald and pearl green swirl with the pearl green having a mother of pearl sheen and white lines rippling through. This gorgeous acrylic makes it very attractive and the high gloss polish adds to the beauty. The golden clip is Parker like Arrow with Guider embossed on it. There are two golden cap rings and a jewel of same acrylic on the cap. The cap is screw type and opens in very convenient 21/2 turns. The barrel is rounded at the end without any end-cap or rings. The barrel threads are generous so that the ink does not leak as the pen can be used as an eye dropper filler too. The Section is made of the same acrylic. It is straight with a flared edge. The pen uses an ebonite comb feed and #3 nib in a nib housing which is screwed into the section. Size of the nib is in perfect resonance with the pen but it is steel coloured, an absolute no-no with a golden trim. 4/5 Dimensions and Weight Weight 25.7 gms Length capped 144 mm Length uncapped 128 mm Length posted 169 mm Section Diameter 12 mm Barrel Diameter 17 mm Cap Diameter 19 mm It is a medium sized pen but due to acrylic, is light weight. The balance is excellent when posted but feels awkward when un-posted. The size and diameter of section and the balance as well as weight is ideal for long hours of writing. 4/5 Nib The nib is steel while rest of the trim is golden causing a clash which takes a lot away from the looks. The nib is not smooth but toothy with a lot of feed back. However the feed and nib combination is good as it lays a wet and uniform line. I had to change the nib with a FPR 2 tone medium nib to make the glaring design flaw go away. The nib leaves a lot to be desired. 3/5 Filling System The cartridge convertor filling system is very handy as it takes any International size cartridges. The twist convertor, very obviously of Chinese origin, holds 1.1 ml of ink and offers you a choice of any ink of your choice. The pen can be used as an eye dropper filler too. 5/5 Price and Value for Money The cartridge/convertor filler version of the pen was supplied for Rs 1,200/- (approximately US$18) excluding shipping. It is a value for money pen for its design, feed, quality of acrylic and finish. The nib malady can be easily treated by a nib switch. Or you can order the more expensive German nib and cartridge/convertor from the manufacturer. 5/5 In my opinion, there are not many hand turned pen makers left in business and each piece they create is an artefact or let us say a sculpture. Guider make their pens in the old fashioned way by hand on machines imported from Germany more than 70 years ago.For serious collectors and even fp lovers it is a must have. Overall Score: 21/25
  2. RATNAM TARPODA Ratnam Tarpoda Ratnam Tarpoda (Big Size) was one amongst my mass-order purchase through my dear friend Pradeep who was travelling to Rajahmundry last year. I have bought lot of pens from different manufacturers and I have varied experiences across the three brands of Rajahmundry. For those who don’t know, Rajahmundry is one of the major city of Andhra Pradesh in India. And city consists of few of the oldest fountain pen manufacturers in India like Ratnam, Ratnamson, and Guider. Ratnam Pen Works ( KV Brahmam & Brothers) is the first “Swadeshi” Fountain Pen Company of India and was established in 1932. It was started by Kosuri Venkat Ratnamand is currently being run by one of his two sons, Siva Ratnam. They also manufacture handmade gold nibs including conical shape gold nib. Most of their pens are made of ebonite, however they also make silver metal pens and also gold plated silver pens. I have yet to see acrylic pen from them. The review is about their big size ebonite pen , Ratnam Tarpoda. DESIGN : 3.5/5 Here the pen is in simple, classic shaped design with rounded finials. The pen tapers down down to rounded bottom, while the cap also tapers but just slightly to finial which is shaped like parabolic dome. It bears lot of resemblance to one of my previously reviewed pen Ratnamson 302, which is a pen from different manufacturer, though in this case the cap finials tapers more towards top. Ratnam Tarpoda – Uncapped Ratnam Tarpoda – Dome Shaped Top and Rounded Bottom The grip section is made in black ebonite unlike the body which is made in olive ripple ebonite which is famous by name of White Tiger because of the resemblance to skin of white tiger. Ratnam Tarpoda – Capped Ratnam Tarpoda – Uncapped and Unposted Ratnam Tarpoda – Uncapped and Posted The barrel is cylindrical and tapers both ways, towards the grip section and also towards the bottom end. The grip section in black ebonite gradually tapers towards the top with flared end at the top. The grip section is short and I end up gripping threads which actually are not sharp and rather they are smooth and provide good grip. The cap is adorned with dual bands and has a stiff ball end type clip. The trims used are gold and I believe they match with the ebonite. And it opens in 4 1/2 turns. Ratnam Tarpoda – Cap with Ball end Clip and Dual Centerbands The barrel is engraved with the branding which reads “RATNAM PEN, MADE IN RJY, INDIA”. And it is filled some sort of gold paint which I believe is not neatly done as their is spillage of gold paint on barrel which eventually will wear off with time. Ratnam Tarpoda – Branding Overall it is a classic, no nonsense, elegant cigar shaped design and you cant go wrong with that. Ratnam Tarpoda – Classic Cigar Design Finishing can be improved a little. And most importantly the turns to open cap must be minimized. BUILT & CONSTRUCTION : 3/5 The quality of material used is good and is sturdy. There is no discolouration of material. The built quality is just at par with like of Ranga or Deccan pens if not better, especially finishing. I think Branding on barrel can still be improved. What I really liked was the alignment of cap with the barrel when it is closed in such a way that the ripple effect of ebonite carries to the cap from barrel. Ratnam Tarpoda – Ripple Pattern Continuation from Barrel to Cap Its a handmade pen and yes there are certain anomalies like cap finial doesn't align in line with the tapered profile of the cap. But again what do you expect from such an inexpensive pen. Ratnam Tarpoda – Cap Finial not aligned with cap Ratnam Tarpoda – Cap inner View As far as the quality of band is considered they are better than what I had on Ratnamson 302. But yes they still need improvement. Ratnam Tarpoda – Cap Center Bands One thing I really did not like was provision for 2 breather holes in the pen, otherwise it is well built HANDMADE pen at this price point. BALANCE & SIZE : 5/5 The pen is vary well balanced in both the scenarios when writing with cap posted or unposted. Yes, when cap is posted at back, the rear becomes heavy and will suit the one with large hands but it doesn’t becomes unbalanced at all. The cap posts securely and it post deep. Below are the 2 images showing the length till which the cap posts, outer limit shown by thumb. Ratnam Tarpoda – Cap Posts Deep Ratnam Tarpoda – Thumb shows the length till which the cap posts Below are the two images showing the length of pen when writing with cap posted and unposted. Ratnam Tarpoda – Writing Unposted Ratnam Tarpoda – Writing Posted Being ebonite it is light weigh and no metal is used here. Ratnam Tarpoda – Weight in gms including cap Ratnam Tarpoda – Weight in gms excluding cap Few Specifications are : Length of pen (closed) – 150 mmLength of pen (open and unposted) – 125 mm (including nib)Length of pen (open and posted) – 165 mm (including nib)Length of Grip Section – 15 mmMaximum Dia of Cap – 16 mmMaximum Dia of Barrel – 14 mmMaximum Dia of Grip Section – 12 mmMinimum Dia of Grip Section – 10 mmWeight of Pen with Cap – 28.24 gms (inked)Weight of Pen without Cap – 17.82 gms (inked) Below are the few images showing the comparison of pen with others: Ratnam Tarpoda vs Lamy Safari vs Pilot MR vs Jinhao X750 – Capped Ratnam Tarpoda vs Lamy Safari vs Pilot MR vs Jinhao X750 – Uncapped ans Posted Clearly it is not that much a big pen and hence it is comfortable for most of the users. NIB : 2.5/5 Nib used is #5 friction fit with ebonite feed. Nib is Dual tone and is well articulated with certain engraving which reads ” GENIUS IRIDIUM GERMANY”. The nib on this was better than what the Guider puts on their pens but yes not to my liking and thus I ended up grinding the nib to medium Italic and it was nib which got grind easily unlike Wality nibs. Ratnam Tarpoda – Nib unit View – Top Ratnam Tarpoda – Nib unit View – Side Ratnam Tarpoda – Nib unit View – Underside The problem is that the nib is available only in fine and no other choices. INK FILLING MECHANISM : 4/5 The ink filling mechanism is via an Eyedropper, well you can use syringe also. Ink capacity is around 3.5 ml which is substantial. Ratnam Tarpoda – Pen taken apart Ratnam Tarpoda – Eyedropper Filling Since its an ED pen, there is a noticeable increase in the inflow when the ink level goes below 3/4th and that is when you will have to refill otherwise it will burp. Its like it will gives you warning before it burps. This pen though has not burped on me at all and yeah I ensure when the ink level goes below I refill it. Below are the images of my handwritten review and the writing samples: Ratnam Tarpoda – Handwritten Review – Page 1 Ratnam Tarpoda – Handwritten Review – Page 2 Ratnam Tarpoda – Handwritten Review – Page 3 Ratnam Tarpoda – Handwritten Review – Page 4 CONCLUSION : 18/25 I recommend this pen to every collector. Its an handmade pen from first pen manufacturer of India. Also will recommend to the likes who love fiddling around with their pen and know how to live around and ED pen. I bought this pen for Rs. 1000 (approx US $16 ) which included shipping last year and I believe the price might have gone up. What I Like: Classic Cigar Design Handmade Very Good Quality Ebonite Good Balance and Size Good Ink Capacity A piece of History Value for MoneyWhat I don’t Like: Eyedropper only Only one nib option Branding HOW TO BUY: They can be easily approached via WhatsApp ( Mob No. +91 98489 18904). They will send you pics and prices and you can select whatever you like. Pay via bank transfer and they ship once the payment is received. You can also check out his Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/Ratnam-pens-314421885386511/?fref=ts The review is simultaneously posted at my blog. For more reviews check my blog here : LINK
  3. Continuing with Mr Lakshmana Rao’s experiments in acrylic…the ones being shown here are the standard size which is called Raja in local FP parlance (I heard the name Raja being used to describe the standard size by many Andhra Pradesh based handmade FP manufacturers during my interactions with them) … these are beautiful looking pens and the blended colours of acrylic gives each pen a unique look…in that sense, no two pens look alike…I picked up the blue and red first and then picked up the amber one too…somehow liked the golden shimmer… I had mentioned I Part-3 that the White and Red Jumbo FPs seem to be made from acrylic rods…and responding to the post on Red Acrylic Jumbo, Hari mentioned that ‘acrylic is also available as thick sheets which are then cut into square sticks and then rounded on a lathe’… I think these pens below must be made out of acrylic tubes …the end plugs are for that reason I think… must do some research on this…or better, ask the pen maker himself… Mr Lakshmana Rao has tried different things in terms of design…the blue one is flat topped and flat ended…the red has rounded ends…the amber one has a metal cap jewel and rounded barrel end…the final group photo tells us that all colours are more or less available in these three designs… here are some photos… http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/1-Maharaja_zps300cc9e8.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/2-Maharaja_zps1568a630.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/3-Maharaja_zps2dec6093.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/4-Maharaja_zpsfd884706.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/6-Maharaja_zpscde0ec02.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/7-Maharaja_zps5ea259c5.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/8-Maharaja_zps9be42e83.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/9-Maharaja_zps377860f4.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/10-Maharaja_zpsc2791fbc.jpg Thanks for visiting and reading… Shrujaya
  4. This is the third part of my narration of my meeting with Mr Lakshmana Rao and the new pens that he had made…I posted the first two ones almost immediately, and wanted to give some gap before I posted the rest…but I suddenly realized that the gap has become too huge… Here is the Guider Acrylic Jumbo in Red… the White Super Jumbo in acrylic and the current one are both Mr Lakshmana Rao’s experiments in acrylic with big size pens…one can say that this is his ‘Acrylic Phase’… the earlier two posts on Guider Acrylic Kid and White Super Jumbo showcased his size related experiments…and it is not that he has not made pens in Acrylic earlier…one can say that he is a traditional ‘ebonite pen maker’… and only occasionally dabbled in acrylic… I liked it as soon as I saw this pen…it is similar in shape and size to the Guider Black Ebonite Jumbo… here are the photos… http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/1-GuiderRedJumbo-capped_zpsee8f9096.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/2-GuiderRedJumbo-uncapped_zpsbd2e6f39.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/3-GuiderRedJumbo-posted_zps537e6c2e.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/4-GuiderRedJumbo-clip_zps685dfbe5.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/5-GuiderRedJumbo-nib_zpsedabbf1f.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/6-GuiderRedJumbo-section_zps918d67d5.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/7-GuiderRedJumbo-feeder_zps8b3b4c4d.jpg http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/8-GuiderRedJumbo-capcloseup_zpsb6c71b67.jpg One can see the increase in translucency as one reaches the cap lip…the dark red becomes lighter… http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/9-GuiderRedJumbo-acrylicrod_zps49fb83e1.jpg This was something new to me…this is an acrylic rod…Mr Lakshmana Rao had brought this with him to show me…the present Red Jumbo was made from one such rod…I always thought only ebonite came in the shape of rods and had to be bored to make pens…and acrylic and celluloid came in the shape of tubes…and therefore one had to seal the ends with ebonite or any other suitable substance to make the tubes into pens…so when Mr Lakshmana Rao showed me this, I was surprised and asked him and he told me that acrylic is available as rods too…and when I saw the pen I realized what he said…there are no stoppers at the barrel end and cap end… this is true of the White Super Jumbo too… maybe these rods come in single colours and it is easier to make single colour pens with these rods…but when it comes to swirls and whorls, one has to go to the sheets and tubes…this is my understanding…I may be completely wrong… http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/10-GuiderRedJumbo-acrylicrodandredjumbo_zpsccf45ee7.jpg Red acrylic rod and the Red Acrylic Jumbo… http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/11-GuiderRedJumbo-withblackjumbo_zps9a330891.jpg With the Black Ebonite Jumbo http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/12-GuiderRedJumbo-withblackandwhitejumbo_zps6cb1b387.jpg With the White Acrylic Super Jumbo and Black Ebonite Jumbo http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn280/bambli_mass/13-GuiderRedJumbo-allguiderjumbos_zps6af840fb.jpg A group photo of all the Jumbos that Mr Laksmhana Rao had brought with him…you can see Jumbos in mottled green and mottled brown ebonite too… Thanks for visiting and reading… Shrujaya

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