History of Indian handmade fountain pen started somewhere in 1921 when Mahathma Gandhiji advised then K V Ratnam a family of goldsmiths to make something swadeshi that reached the masses. Upon pondering for many more years, K V Ratnam and family started making India’s first completely handmade fountain pen in the current city of Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh in the year 1932.
I have personally been to their unit – The Ratnam Ball Pen works in 2012-13 and had an opportunity to interact with Mr K V Ramana Murthy. The place is a bit rundown and glows with the old world grandeur. The structure is easily a century old with thick walls and roof covered with earthen tiles. When you enter the premises, you can see the wall decorated with letter from Mahathma Gandhiji written with the Ratnam handmade ebonite fountain pen. One will also find photos of many high profile politicians decorating the walls visiting the Ratnam Pen works in Rajhamundry. It feels nostalgic to be in that place in front of those rusty counters gleaming with the hand turned Ratnam fountain pens. Behind the counter sits the heir to this legacy Mr K V Raman Murthy. I also remember meeting one Mr Shiva. I don’t exactly remember the persons role but his number is saved in my phone. I vaguely remember seeing their lathe machine in the neighboring room. There were heaps of ebonite rods all around and the smell of burning sulfur was intoxicating. Oh I forgot to mention, the burning sulfur smell reaches you as soon as you approach the street, telling you your closer to the place where history witnessed making of India’s first ebonite fountain pens. I also remember seeing two Ratnam pen manufacturing units opposite to each other, mostly managed by the two brothers independently. First hand, I did experience the world’s smallest fountain pen. On my return journey, I picked up about a dozen of these hand turned Ratnam pens and became part of history by getting Makoba in their billing records.
Do share below your comments and experiences of using a Ratnam fountain pen. If you own one and would like to share a photo and describe it, it would be wonderful.
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“Indian Ebonite fountain pen journey started from Ratnam Pens around 1932. And the saga continues…..”