The classic fountain pen, subsumed in a world of cheap plastic throwaways, marks an online comeback
The fountain pen, it once appeared, had died. Like it happened in the rest of the world, in India too everyone moved to plastic throwaway pens and inexpensive ballpoint and gel pens. The fountain pen, although excellent to showcase one’s penmanship, was seen as clumsy and cumbersome.
But the fountain pen now seems to be making a return of sorts in India, with the internet coming to its rescue. A number of websites have sprung up which are a gold mine for connoisseurs looking for customised handmade fountain pens. Not only do they retail and customise fountain pens, they also answer queries on maintaining and restoring old pens.
One such website, Fountain Pen Network, serves as an online forum for fountain pen collectors and devotees across the world. Members of this forum also sell fountain pens from their collections and even answer queries on these wondrous old marvels for the calligraphically inclined. The Fountain Pen Revolution, in comparison, retails such pens only made in India. These include Gama, Deccan and the vintage William pens. Another website, ASA Pens, established in 2012 by a Chennai-based couple, started off as an advisory forum for fountain lovers on how to keep their pens in fine fettle. Today, it’s an e-tailer of customised fountain pens.
Describing how pens are customised, L Subramaniam, who along with his wife Aparnaa founded ASA Pens, says, “[Users] give us a sketch with measurements. Once the sketch is shared, finer points like clip and band design, filling system and nib width are decided. A prototype is typically ready in a week’s time, which is then shared with the user. Once he or she is okay [with it], we go about finishing the pen.” Made mostly of ebonite and acrylic, these pens cost between Rs 600 and Rs 4,000 apiece. Subramaniam also offers to alter the length of such pens on the customer’s demand or need.