The Fountain Pen (oota kalam) of Ratnam Pen Works was once wellknown to many people across the country and many people used to use it for years together. But, from some years past the usage of Fountain Pen has been slowly come down because of the radical changes in the pen industry in the country.
But now, Ratnam Pen Works (Ratnam Sons Pens) of Rajahmundry, a pioneer of the Indian pen industry, is making endeavors to bring back the past glory to the Fountain Pen. The company is now getting orders from foreign countries.
Founder of Fountain Pen Kosuri Venkatratnam had met Mahatma Gandhi in Wardha in the 1921 when the latter asked Ratnam to produce something which would be useful to the commonman in the country. Ratnam then discussed the Mahatma’s advice with some persons close to him and at their behest started the Pen Industry, which became a full-fledged industry in 1932.
The industry was housed in a small lane in the cultural capital Rajahmundry. Elbonite (rubber) was used to make the pen in various categories to cater to the needs of the customers. These Fountain Pens cost from `100 to `2.2 lakh. Scaling variety pens cost between `100 to `5,000, pure silver pens with gold nibs range from `2,500 to `15,000 in which 14-carrat gold is used and a pure gold pen costs `2.2 lakh. A silver pen takes 15 days to manufacture, while a gold pen takes 30 days to manufacture. Some pens are engraved with the photos of Bharat Matha, Mahatma Gandhi and the National Flag.
Fountain Pens were used by Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, former Presidents of India Dr Babu Rajendra Prasad, Dr Sarvepalli Radha Krishnan, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed, Zakir Hussain, VV Giri, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, former Prime Ministers Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Indira Gandhi, US President Eisenhower, German Chancellors Arbhalnon and Thomson and Russian President Kruschev, Maharajas of Mysore, Jaipur, Rewa, Pithapuram, Vizianagaram, Indian Express founder Ramnath Goenka, The Hindu founder Nyapati Subba Rao Panthulu, Chintamani and many other towering personalities across the globe, along with many Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh.
The pen industry is registered in the Books of Records in Indian and Image Book of Records in Nepal.
Present chief of Ratnam Pen Works K V Ramana Murthi has the distinction of having manufactured the world’s smallest pen -- 3.5 cm long and weighing just 1.7 gms, with a 14-carat gold nib along with a dip and ring band. The fountain pen is used for a variety of writings -- artistic writings, italic writings, etc.
Speaking to TNIE, Ramana Murthi said now the company was producing elegant and customized fountain pens for the world market. The main demand was from the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, he added.
“As pioneers in the Indian pen industry, we are endeavoring to bring back the past glory to the pen”, he said. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to us after using our Fountain Pen, he said and added that many great personalities had visited the Ratnam Pen Works, he added.