Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SOME OLD INDIAN FOUNTAIN PEN BRANDS - 11 - MHATRE WRITER

The pen under review here is again different from the ones described before...for one, it is an ebonite FP and it came as a pleasant surprise when I realised that it was an ebonite FP only recently...I was taking photos of this pen and I was unscrewing the section and maybe the slight resistance I encountered suggested that it was not the usual plastic FP and I thought I should smell and decide...it IS ebonite...and, then this pen doesn't have an obvious name, only a 'P' on the clip...nothing on the cap, nothing on the barrel...and the nib has 'MHATRE' and 'WRITER' engraved on it...

The other straightforward features are…it is a screw cap, ED filler…and yes, it is black in colour!!  A nice black, in fact…and it has a very nice arrow clip…and as usual, here are the pictures…




 

And as usual, I posted this first on FPN and my friend Hari responded thus..."Dear Jai, the "Writer" from Mhatre was a very popular inexpensive pen, even as far as in Madras in the late 50s-60s.  My mother had told me about how they used to buy a "writer" 'pena' (the Tamil word for 'pen') at the start of the school year for a grand sum of one rupee from the neighbourhood grocer.

She also told me an interesting anecdote, it seems the grocer used to sell a fill of ink for 3 or 5 paise.  So the kids would go to the shop on the way to school and get the grocer to fill their one and only pen with a 5 paise dose of ink.  If the ink ran out in the middle of school, a drop of water on the nib would last a couple of pages more.  Those were the hard days.

I would also like to recall the comments of Mr C G Bhargav who responded to my PLAZA post here and said that he has been living in Chennai for the past 50 years and he says (I quote from his response)..."and I remember Writer (I think in later years it was known as Mhatre Writer or something like that)..." If Mr Bhargav happens to see this post, he'd be happy to see pictures of a specimen of the Mhatre Writer... 

4 comments:

C.G. BHARGAV said...

I liked the black colour of this pen.
There is a famous tamil film song: "Karuppu thAn enakku pudducha colouru" (Black alone is the colour that I like). Also, one is reminded of the Santana song, Black Magic Woman in which he goes on to say "You got your spell on me, baby". Well this pen and it colour could cast a spell on anyone. As has been pointed out in the post, I did buy a plastic Writer pen (grey colour) in my VI standard and had it with me almost for three or four years. On a parting note, yesterday we went to Michael's to buy a frame for the 24"x18" Krishna picture which we had bought at Isckon. My son-in-law picked a black one, but I asked him to go in for the mahogany adding that black is a bit of a taboo! I went to Naidu Hall a few months back where I saw my favorite Revo ball pen in a black body. I picked up three!!

prakash said...

The picture of the Mhatre Writer brought back good old memories. As a school student in Madras, I remember vividly that the Mhatre Writer would, in the late 60s cost about Rs. 6.00. To compliment this a bottle of Bril ink would cost about Rs. 2.00. Quink Parker and Chelpark would cost more and not all shops had them either.
It is very true, that the provision stores or the stationary shops would fill up your pen for 3/4 paise. Blotting paper (normally rose in color) was another useful gadget to dodge spills. Many firms gave away blotting paper as compliments those days. Chalk piece was also another useful tool to absorb the overflowing ink...
The competitor for M Writer was another good brand called the Rajan. Rajan was cheaper than the Writer but was solid. The Writer was often black in colour and the Rajan green. Then, of course there were the imported or rather smuggled fancy Chinese pens like the cheap Hero and slightly better Youth. These had metal caps and flimsy squeeze convertor fillers. Interestingly these pens are still being made i China. I also rememeber most school teachers carried a pen called President. These pens were, normally red in colour and their barrels were bigger in size which meant that it could hold more ink.
Pens like Pilot and Camlin , Oliver etc came much later and the ball point revolution perhaps curtailed their growth.
The elite of those days owned Sheaffers Touchdown and Parkers Vacumatic. Owners of these pens would hunt for Quink Parker or Swan ink as they beleived that the cheap Bril ink would spoil the nib. Swan Mabie Todd another English brand was popular in the 40s and 50s. It is believed that many Indian brands including the Mhatre Writer copied the Swan.
Montblanc is perhaps the most desired pens of today but, I feel it is seen more as a status symbol rather, than a tool which gives writing pleasure.

Jay D said...

Thank you for the stroll down memory lane!

S. Jayasrinivasa Rao a.k.a. winding river said...

Thanks Bhargav Sir and Prakash ...

Your detailed responses have added more value to my posts ...

Dear Jay D ... I am glad you liked the posts on Old Indian FP Brands ... appreciation makes my efforts worthwhile ...