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In a paperless world, meet the Ranga family that keeps fountain pens alive

Kandan, the second-generation owner of and crafter at Ranga Pens, talks about what it takes to sustain a premium business through ritual and reverence 

Published: 26th August 2021 04:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2021 01:46 PM   |  A+A-

The pen making techniques are similar to that of the Japanese method. (Photo | Shiba Prasad Sahu, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Nearly 60 kilometres from the city, in the quiet lanes of Perumal street in Thiruvallur, sits the unassuming shop of Ranga Pens — one that has been home to some of the finest pen-making in the country for over 50 years. While they have a history of delighting their limited yet regular local clientele, their work also has a significant global audience.

“We supply worldwide; we have loyal customers in a hundred countries,” reports MP Kandan, the second-generation owner of the store. A result of a reputation built on good materials, the best of techniques and a lifelong dedication to the craft of pen-making, he says, adding that it all started with his father, MS Pandurangan, and his enormous gift. 

“My father had been working at a different store. But, he’s a master learner. At the age of 13-14, he was able to set up his own shop. It’s a penance kind of work. People need to dedicate their life to pen-making; only then they can learn,” elaborates Kandan. Such was his father’s devotion to the craft that till today, he doesn’t concern himself with the business-end of things. He wouldn’t even know the price of the pens we sell, remarks Kandan. 

When it comes to such enthusiasm for the work, Kandan is no different himself. He joined his father at the age of five to learn the craft. While school and college education and work in the outside world had occupied his days, none of it could keep him away from the family trade. The 37-year-old now runs the show. It was under his supervision that Ranga Pens found a place for its wares on William Penn, one of the most celebrated luxury pen brands.

Ask him how they have managed to hold on to such success for this many years and he credits the quality of their products. “The materials, the mix and models that we have to offer are huge. Our pen-making techniques are similar to that of the Japanese method,” he points out. These are qualities they have managed to preserve since his father began making these pens on a foot-powered lathe that demanded far more concentration and did not use electricity. For the sake of posterity, they still have those machines in their workshop, he shares. Today, they use the hand chasing method to cut threads for the pens; something that is done only in Japan otherwise. Pandurangan and Kandan are the current mastercrafters, building pens from scratch for every customer.

Their premium pens have a select audience. “Doctors, advocates, chartered accountants and artists buy our pens. There are others who value our craft and so seek out these products,” he points out. Besides what’s sold through their website and the many dealers they have in other countries, the store gets only a handful of customers every month. But, for an exclusive store like this, it’s big business in itself.

The write address
Ranga Pens are available for sale on the website: rangapens. You can also find them on William Penn’s website com and at Makoba Pens & Gifts. For more details, call: 9444357967.



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