Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Looking for Sultan Pens in Charminar area, Hyderabad and discovering them and other treasures-II

Once inside, I asked him if he had any ebonite pens…he said he had and opened the glass topped case and pulled out a mottled brown medium size ebonite pen with the name ‘Sultan’ in white on the cap and the barrel…I then told him I was searching for ‘Sultan Pen Stores’ to buy their brand of ebonite pens and I was pleased that I found this brand here…he said Hilal Pen Stores were the manufacturers of Sultan Pens and that there is no such shop called Sultan Pen Stores…I asked him whether he had any more Sultan Pen models or more specimens of the same model…unfortunately, no, he said, but promised that he’d make or get a thicker FP in a week’s time…so far so good…

He took out a red coloured Waterman’s India FP and told me that this was a rare piece and that he’d sell it to me…I inspected the pen and it was an Waterman’s India 65…all plastic body with a pump filler (aerometric filling system- as in Parker 51 and a lot of Hero imitations 616, 330, 329)…I have a Waterman’s India 63 with gold nib that Hari got for me and I felt that WI 65 was worth the effort…I kept it aside…I then spied a similar WI model and asked him to take it out…the pen looked good, but the sac inside the pump filler was missing…he then took out some dusty boxes from a cupboard inside and brought out 3 more WI 65 pens…and there was some problem with each, but he managed to put together 3 pens out of the 5…not bad…I took all three and then there was another WI pen, and this pen had a plastic body and steel cap with hooded nib and aerometric filling system…this model was named WI 71…this one was unexpected actually…as he was piling up the boxes searching for good pens…I started my own searches and happened to locate 3 Sultan pens…2 of them with ebonite body and steel caps and another with full plastic body with hooded nib…all are ED fillers…I managed to put together 8 pens by now…

I thought this was a good haul…and then came the surprise, at least for me…he showed me those old handle pens where you inserted nibs and dipped them frequently in inkpots to write…I don’t know who uses them these days, but I feel that Urdu and Arabic scholars still use them, because one of the two that he showed me initially was a calligraphic nib…he then proceeded to demonstrate the smoothness of the nib by writing in Urdu…looked fabulous…I was totally hooked…sensing my enthusiasm, he took out small rectangular boxes and showed me different kinds of nibs…nibs made in India, England, and USA…names like Resterbrook and Waverly and GC Law…he called them ‘patta’ (leaf)…he then showed me a nib with its tip curved slightly upward…According to Richard Binder, “the nib presents to the paper what appears to be a lower angle of elevation. This design, introduced by the Waverley Pen Company (British), results in smoother performance. It also offers more usable surface toward the end of the tip so that the nib works better for users who hold the pen at a high angle of elevation, and it is consequently well adapted to many left-handed writers”…I couldn’t resist and bought two sets of whatever was available with him…

I don’t know whether or when I am going to use them…but for a collector, these are antique pieces and moreover these handles are made of ebonite…I have taken a photo of these nibs in their holders with my laptop webcam… just for kicks…I need to take a more elaborate photo with writing samples… Shruti had taken the camera with her to Delhi and so I couldn’t take photos of the shop and its interiors and the genial owner Mr Nawaz (I hope I am right about the name)… I think he was pleased that someone came asking for fountain pens and that he was able to show the kind of pens that his shop used to manufacture and stock during the heydays of FP use…he sensed that I was a collector and that I was visibly excited on seeing those old Waterman’s India FPs and holders and nibs, but didn’t try to take advantage by quoting exorbitantly…I was happy with the prices that he quoted… he told me that he’s selling the pens at cost price and was happy that I didn’t bargain with him…


All handle pens with nibs

I must say he was a gregarious person with a booming laughter and proud of his pen-making heritage and happy that I was pleased with what he could offer me…he also showed me photos of his visit to Canada recently as a member of an Indian business delegation…

He pointed out to the photographs mounted on the wall of his father and grandfather, who started this business and said that they would have told me more about the holder nibs…sometimes I feel that an entire past generation is slowly leaving taking away its collective wisdom and practices with it…we come across some such evidence of past practices now and then and these holders and nibs are good examples…

jayasrinivasa rao

4 comments:

Pranav Shah said...

I actually went to this shop after reading this. I was greeted by the guy's brother. I did see the ebonite pen with the steel cap that you purchased. You hog, you should buy one and leave the others :) he barely had any old pens left.

There were only 2 handles left. There was an Islamic scholar present who purchased a handle and i let him take mine as well, coz i felt he had more use of it than me.

also i made the guy read this post, he was delighted.

JAI said...

Hi Pranav...

Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting and actually visiting Hilal Pens after reading this post. This makes me so happy. I actually intended to go there with a printout of these two posts, but I will have to go there on a holiday. Let's see... thanks for showing this post to the person at Hilal Pen stores...it makes my post popular...ha ha ha... Actually, buying more than one, if available, is actually a kind of unwritten understanding between 3 people, one of whom is my brother, also a pen-pagal...the other, you might have guessed...if you have read the other pen posts... BTW, are you a Hyderabadi? if so, where do you stay...let's keep in touch...thanks once again...

Jai

Anwar Shaik said...

Dear Jai ji, I love fountain pens too, and Glad to see your blog, Some day I will meet you to see yourgreat collection,
Namaste.
Anwar

winding river said...

Dear Mr Anwar Shaikh,

Thanks a lot for visiting my blog... and I am happy that you like my blog...you are always welcome to visit, but my collection is not great at all...just a small hobby...I visited your profile and saw that you are an artist...and also saw our blog...I liked your sketches very much...I feel honoured that an artist chose to visit my blog and praise it...Thank you, Anwar ji...