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Ranga Psp Zayante



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Introduction and first impresions

Indian pen companies, such as Ranga, Airmail, ASA, have been around for decades, yet, until recently, their pens hadn't been readily available outside of India. Despite their growing popularity, they are still not part of the mainstream fountain pen market. You won't see them exhibited at pen shows, they're not available from any of the major stationery retailers, and there is still a lot we don't know about them. However, thanks, in large part, to the efforts of fountain pen enthusiasts from India, we are beginning to learn more and more about Indian pens and pen companies. We have now read factory tour reports, seen photographs, read about their history. We have seen videos of pens being made by master craftsmen with decades of pen making experience under their belt. We are slowly beginning to see reviews at pen blogs, YouTube, FPN. Finally, we now have a small number retailers who carry Indian pens and make them readily available them to enthusiasts around the world.

 

Peyton Street Pens (PSP), based in Santa Cruz, CA, have been selling pens through their online store and eBay for about ten years. Most of their business is focused on selling restored and new-old-stock (NOS) vintage pens, but, for the last four years, they have been working with Ranga, an Indian pen company with fifty years of experience making writing instruments, on bringing some of their pens to the US market.

 

Peyton Street Pens offers several ebonite fountain pen models, some of which are equipped with interesting value-added options, such as vintage nibs and the convenient “blow filler” and “ink tank” filling mechanisms. More recently, following a successful collaboration with Ranga and carrying their main popular models (3/4C/5/Bamboo), PSP decided to develop the Soquel, an elegant pen fitted with NOS Eversharp flex nibs and an aerometric filling system. Soon thereafter, PSP released the Zayante, a medium-size ebonite pen with the JoWo nib mount.

 

Most of the Indian ebonite pens available today are quite large. I suspect a lot of customers prefer oversize pens, but I, personally, find large pens to be unwieldy. It was, therefore, a really nice surprise to see PSP develop the Zayante. Peyton Street Pens has made the pen available in a number of attractive finishes and with a myriad of nib choices, including custom-ground italics. I had a feeling I would like the Zayante very much, so I decided to give it a try.

 

The screw-in JoWo nibs are fairly common these days and can be found on pens by the likes of the Edison Pen Company, Franklin Christoph, Bexley, and a number of smaller custom shops. The stainless steel nibs are rather rigid, but offer predictably good writing performance. However, I decided to buy the Zayante without a nib unit and, instead, source a 14k JoWo gold nib from a third-party supplier (PSP does not carry JoWo gold nibs at this time). I enjoy the sensation of writing with a gold nib and rarely buy pens with steel nibs. It's very much a matter of personal preference.

 

Appearance & Design (8/10)

The Zayante is a an utterly modern pen with a vintage character. It is a premium, hand-made writing instrument that manages to combine beauty, versatility, functionality, and value in ways that are rarely seen these days. It is a fountain pen that emphasizes the pleasure of handwriting over excessive ornamentation, precious materials, or grandiose themes.

 

The pen is meant to be substantial but not oversize. The instant I held it in my hand, I knew it was conceived with writing comfort and pleasure in mind. The Zayante is shorter than most stock Ranga models, has a semi-overlapping cap, and a long and (very) slightly concave section. The pen has only a small step-down from barrel to threads, and another small step down from the threads to the section. As a result, the Zayante has very gentle, graceful lines. This type of design should easily accommodate a variety of grips and hand sizes. In my opinion, it's a welcome departure from most current Indian ebonite pens, which seem to value physical size over functionality and comfort.

 

Ebonite is an inherently gorgeous material, and the Zayante is clearly meant to bring out the visual appeal of the mottled and ripple patterns in either smooth or matte (“bakul”) finish. The small grooves in the cap and barrel are the only decorative elements here. On request, they can be colored for an additional visual effect. I think that making the material the first-class citizen here is absolutely the right design decision. Adding additional ornaments of any kind would have taken the focus away from the material and disrupt the Zayante's elegant lines.

 

There is a sense of unity about the design where even the smallest visual details play a role. The finials are gently rounded off, and complement the smooth, flowing lines of the pen. Similarly, the sine-wave shaped, gold-colored clip, like the other design elements, combines gracefulness and functionality. The cap posts easily and securely.

 

Finally, the pen's name comes from a Coastal California river and rural neighborhood in which Teri Morris, the pen's designer, grew up; the word “Zayante” coming from a native American language.

 

Construction & Quality (8/10)

The pen is made out of Indian red ripple ebonite, by hand, by a master craftsman with decades of pen making experience. I can make out four separate pieces: the section, the barrel, and cap, and the cap finial. The clip is the only metal part here.

 

The quality of construction is top-notch. Honestly, I cannot find any manufacturing flaws or imperfections. There are no visible defects or blemishes in the material, either. The threads are cut perfectly. The cap closes threads in smoothly and can be easily tightened shut (in about 2 ½ turns). Both cap and section threads are smooth but tight, as they should be. The section is drilled out perfectly for an international cartridge or converter to fit snugly and securely.

 

Given the pen's relatively modest price, I had doubts about its quality, but the Zayante has put all my worries to rest. In terms of construction and quality, this pen is every bit as good as the popular, and much more expensive, Japanese and American hand-made pens.

 

Weight & Dimensions (9/10)

The Zayante is lightweight and very well-balanced. The cap can be posted without disrupting the pen's overall balance. The best comparison I can make is with the Pelikan M800. The Zayante is similar in size, slightly lighter, but with a significantly longer and more comfortable section. This is my ideal pen in terms of size, weight, shape, and ergonomics. I wish more manufacturers would build pens with such a long section. Whether you use the tripod grip, or the death grip, you will find this pen comfortable.

 

Here are detailed dimensions:

Closed: 143mm

Uncapped: 129mm

Posted: 174mm

Barrel Diameter: 14mm

Section Diameter: 11-12mm

 

Nib & Performance (9/10)

I opted out of the nib choices offered by PSP, and, instead, bought a Medium 14k gold JoWo nib. I thought that was the most reasonable course of action, particularly since PSP does sell the pen body itself, without a nib and converter. The gold nib is excellent. Compared to the stainless steel variant, it is significantly softer on paper. It also transmits fewer vibrations from the surface of the paper and acts as a more effective shock absorber. Also, in my experience, the gold nib has greater latitude in flow adjustment. The sensation of writing with the gold nib is, in my opinion, worth the premium price.

 

Ink flow with a converter was moderate, about 6/10, which is to be expected from a well-tuned nib. However, I prefer a more generous flow. At first, I decided not to make any flow adjustment to the nib or feed. Instead, I switched to using the pen as an eyedropper, which has, naturally, contributed to an overall increase in ink flow of about 8/10. I have, so far, gone through two full fills of the pen and have not experienced any ink flow issues related to the changing amounts of ink and air in the barrel, and no burping, either. Clearly, the JoWo feed has ample surface area and is able to regulate flow well.

 

The JoWo nib was not perfect out-of-the box. The tines were slightly misaligned, which required an adjustment. I chose to make very small, incremental adjustments over the course of several writing sessions, but now the nib performs on par with a Pelikan M800 and a Montblanc 146 nib.

 

Filling System & Maintenance (10/10)

The Zayante gets full marks in this category. How can it not? It is what Ranga calls a “3-in-1” because you can fill this pen in three different ways: (1) cartridge, (2) converter, and (3) eye-dropper. My preference for all of my ebonite pens is eye-dropper. I love the large ink capacity and the simplicity of operation. Maintenance is a breeze due to no moving parts involved. All you need to do is flush the pen with lukewarm water and apply a small amount of silicone grease on the nib and section threads. Easy and effective.

 

Cost & Value (8/10)

The cost of the pen alone is very low relative to material and build quality. Let's not forget that you're getting a pen made by hand (well, with a simple lathe, really), by a highly skilled craftsman, from a reputable US-based retailer. It's crazy what a great deal this is.

 

However, the gold nib unit cost me about $70 extra. Even then, the total cost was less than the least expensive gold-nibbed pen currently available from a typical US retailer, such as Goulet Pens.

 

Conclusion (Final score, 52/60)

The shopping experience is a big part of our decision to buy a pen, and PSP has a really decent online store. The photographs are very detailed and make no effort to make the pens appear more glorious than they are or to hide any flaws. The buying process is simple and effective. Customer support is very responsive and offers detailed information over email. The pen arrives in a neat box, packaged really well, with ample instructions.

 

I do wish, though, that PSP would introduce gold nibs as a standard feature for all of their Indian-made pens. I do realize that it would add significant upfront cost for them, and perhaps not enough demand to justify it. Currently, some pens are available with vintage gold nibs, some with NOS Bock nibs, and some only with steel nibs. The stock is a bit uneven in that regard.

 

Judging by how well the collaboration between PSP and Ranga has evolved, I think we can expect great new products and product options in the future. In fact, a new Ranga/PSP model just came out, the Monterey. Well, I think I still have some money left in my pen budget this month. The Monterey does look like a great pen. Decisions, decisions.

 

I think that PSP has something truly special here. Having developed a successful collaboration with Ranga, not only have they brought premium Indian pens to the mainstream US pen market, but they have also offered some spectacular original designs and great value-added options.

 

If you are thinking of buying an Indian pen, admittedly, there are less expensive options out there. The Fountain Pen Revolution has some great deals available. But if you want a truly spectacular Indian pen backed by great customer support, look no further. Peyton Street Pens should really be congratulated for a job well done for the pen community.

 

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Edited by akustyk

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Please, visit my website at http://www.acousticpens.com/

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Gloucesterman

Nice review, although I wish you simply mentioned the price of the gold Jowo nib.

 

Recently got a similar brown ebonite pen from Teri/PSP with a 1.1 cursive italic nib. I love the pen and the service was superb. Although I use it with a converter it has given me both the flow characteristics I want and the convenience to be able to easily change ink colors a lot more often.

“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”

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Nice review, although I wish you simply mentioned the price of the gold Jowo nib.

 

Recently got a similar brown ebonite pen from Teri/PSP with a 1.1 cursive italic nib. I love the pen and the service was superb. Although I use it with a converter it has given me both the flow characteristics I want and the convenience to be able to easily change ink colors a lot more often.

 

Thanks! My apologies for leaving out the price. I thought it would be more informative to keep the price relative, but, you're right, it's simpler to mention the figure. I paid about $70 for the gold nib. I edited the review to include this information.

 

I am glad to hear about the cursive italic nib. I am actually considering buying one from PSP in the near future.

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Gloucesterman

 

Thanks! My apologies for leaving out the price. I thought it would be more informative to keep the price relative, but, you're right, it's simpler to mention the figure. I paid about $70 for the gold nib. I edited the review to include this information.

 

I am glad to hear about the cursive italic nib. I am actually considering buying one from PSP in the near future.

Well $70.00 for a 14k gold nib sounds reasonable to me. Thank you for the updated information.

 

BTW, the cursive italic need needed only a minor tweak to be totally smooth. Sometimes I can be a fanatic about "smooth" and what others find to be acceptable I want "smoother".

“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”

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BTW, the cursive italic need needed only a minor tweak to be totally smooth. Sometimes I can be a fanatic about "smooth" and what others find to be acceptable I want "smoother".

 

Yeah, I know what you mean, though I've found that an overly polished italic can be a hard-starter, so I usually prefer a nib with a bit of a tooth. In my experience, only Sailor makes nibs that can be incredibly smooth while being perfect writers, as though "grabbing" the paper instead of "gliding" over it.

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Excellent review. The Zayante is a very handsome pen that I've been eyeing for a while. The problem is, I can't decide which colour to get!

 

I've lost count of how many pens I've bought from Teri, and each experience was perfect: one of my favourite sellers of all.

Edited by wastelanded
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809
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Not to add to the well-deserved acclaim for Terri here, but if you like the idea of interesting ebonite pens, you should try one of the PSP blow-fillers. I know the idea sounds a little strange, and some people would have reservations about filling their pen in public. But in fact the filling system is bulletproof, high-capacity, and simple. And the pens are of course first-rate.

ron

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Not to add to the well-deserved acclaim for Terri here, but if you like the idea of interesting ebonite pens, you should try one of the PSP blow-fillers. I know the idea sounds a little strange, and some people would have reservations about filling their pen in public. But in fact the filling system is bulletproof, high-capacity, and simple. And the pens are of course first-rate.

ron

 

Teri definitely deserves the acclaim. The blow-filler idea is very enticing to me, so I might try one of these soon. By the way, I just ordered the new Monterey. I will write up review and post after I've had sufficient experience with the pen.

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Please, visit my website at http://www.acousticpens.com/

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I have a green ebonite Capitola that is a lovely thing, and one of the PSP flat tops that's like an ebonite No Nonsense Pen. Both are great writers for an amazing price.

"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809
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aswinsainarain

Beautiful pictures. I am finally tempted to get hold of one of those ebonite pens in brown and black, which till date I thought was dull.

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Beautiful pictures. I am finally tempted to get hold of one of those ebonite pens in brown and black, which till date I thought was dull.

 

To me, Ranga, Deccan, and ASA hand-made ebonite pens are every bit as good as those made by the Japanese or American custom shops. Ebonite feels great in the hand, and it looks awesome. The matte finish is particularly beautiful.

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Please, visit my website at http://www.acousticpens.com/

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aswinsainarain

 

To me, Ranga, Deccan, and ASA hand-made ebonite pens are every bit as good as those made by the Japanese or American custom shops. Ebonite feels great in the hand, and it looks awesome. The matte finish is particularly beautiful.

Oh yes. These pens are fantastic. I think I have probably 10 or so of these Indian handmades in Ebonite and Acrylic. Love Ranga, GAMA and ASA. I have some pics here: fpensnme.wordpress.com. Never liked the brown + black versions (a look thing), but after your pics, I will get a couple :). A little titbit: I was at Gem and Co. who make the GAMA pens last week, and the owner of the store tut-tutted at the over-complication of a fountain pen by not sticking to the uncomplicated eyedroppers :D. A well-built eyedropper for me anyday!

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Beautiful pictures. I am finally tempted to get hold of one of those ebonite pens in brown and black, which till date I thought was dull.

 

I was thinking the same thing: the pen in this review looks much nicer than most brown/black swirls, more polished. The finish is far more appealing to me.

"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809
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