I am not comfortable writing with anything that is transparent or even remotely translucent. Ever since I have been allowed to write with a pen (class 4), I have been writing with a fountain pen and hence I consider myself an expert in judging fountain pens, the only qualification for expertise being the inability to write comfortably with a ball point pen. I gladly attribute my good handwriting to the smooth flowing fountain pens.
Very recently, while I was doing my usual research, (clicking random links and reading whatever I click) I ran into a news article (dated 1st October, 2009) in which the luxury pen maker Mont Blanc has announced a “limited-series” gold and rhodium Mahatma Gandhi special edition pen to commemorate the 1930 Dandi March. The pen costs about fourteen lakh rupees (Rs 14,00,000) and they are selling 241 pens to mark the 241 mile march.
Isn’t it ironic that the man who stood for the poorest of poor is exploited as a brand to sell pens to the richest of rich? If anyone really wants to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi, they should buy Ratnam Pens.
Mr. K. V. Ratnam was from a family of goldsmiths who were also involved in making lithographic blocks. He met Gandhiji during the swadeshi movement in 1921. Gandhiji advised him to make something that could be useful to the common man and that was inexpensive. That was when they started making pens. In 1932, the first pen was ordered by Nyapati Subba Rao Pantulu, one of the founders of The Hindu. It was made of silver.
Ratnam then made a pen from ebonite material and sent it as a gift to Mahatma Gandhi who wrote back to him commending it (scanned copy of the original letter that is displayed in the store, click for a bigger version). The pens retained their status and popularity even after independence and boasts of clients like Indira Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Shankar Dayal Sharma, S Kasturiranga Iyengar (founder of The Hindu) and Ramnath Goenka (founder of the Indian Express Group) and Jayanth Tadinada (pro blogger, gtoosphere) among thousands of others.
In the late 1950s, K. V. Narasimhacharyulu, the son of Ratnam went to Germany and on his return started a ballpoint pen manufacturing unit for the first time in India in Rajahmundry. Ratnam’s two sons continue to run the pen business to this day from Rajahmundry.
* Ratnam Sons have an extensive catalogue with ebonite fountain pens starting from Rs. 55 and the custom made Gold and Silver pens can go up to Rs. 30,000.
* They make really awesome customized gifts which can be ordered by phone and are shipped within a week.
* I recently bought yet another Ratnam pen and absolutely love it. (It is way better than the Chinese ‘Hero’ pens)
* My handwriting used to be very good but has declined after coming to IIT because I don’t take notes and use the computer for everything (may some of my school friends or family members can give a citation)
* This post is getting way too long to maintain the reader’s attention.