Dr Sovan Roy rewrites the history of Fountain Pen making in India!
Dr Sovan Roy’s Magnum Opus to hit the stands soon!
Dr Sovan Roy is a scientist by profession. And, a distinguished one at that, if one were to consider the sheer number of papers published in the professional journals or his long and blemish-less record as a Government servant occupying progressively higher posts. But, it is not his profession or his achievements as a scientist that is of interest to us – rather, it is his passion that sets him apart, as he stands head and shoulders above us ordinary mortals.
For, Dr Sovan Roy’s passion is fountain pens – he has been collecting them, studying their intricacies, writing with them and compiling their history for more than three decades now, with a doggedness, forgive my generalisation, that only scientists are known to exhibit. It goes without saying that Dr Roy is no ordinary collector of fountain pens and that his painstakingly compiled collection is a treat to behold for connoisseurs. What is remarkable is the fact that all the pens, each one in Dr Roy’s impeccably catalogued collection, is one that has been acquired from the rag-pickers.
“I have never been enamoured by the shiny expensive pieces that can be bought over the counter” says Dr Roy with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “No, quite on the contrary, I have spent my time and energy rummaging through the ware of the so-called raddi-wallah’s, often paying a pittance for gems that would otherwise have been broken down for their material, thereby denying the future an invaluable instrument to build a bridge to the past”!
To Dr Roy, it is not so much the physical possession of a fountain pen that is exciting – to him, it is just a means to an end – for to him, it is the story that the particular pen represents that is of interest. It is the story of technology’s advancement through the development of the different filling systems, the use of materials and the crafting of nibs; especially in the context of the times, the socio-economic impact and the sheer entrepreneurial spirits that made such advancements possible, that fascinates. Often, such backgrounders are bolstered with the stories of the owners of the pens – how these men and women wielded the instruments through their personal trials and tribulations, that add colour to the pens, making each one an individual volume in a set – his collection becoming the Encyclopaedia Fountainpen-ica of sorts.
Dr Roy too was fascinated, like many of us are, with the history of Fountain Pen making in India. Being the quintessential scientist in search of the truth, he however, did not give up the quest, again like many of us, after reaching as far back as the Ratnams, and prodded on. This long and arduous journey, spread over many decades and many forays into the realm of the little known, is now ready to culminate into a fascinating story in the form of a book. A book that has already got the concerned historical circles buzzing with excitement.
Dr Sovan Roy has rewritten the history of Fountain Pen making in India and is about to unveil a story – backed by relevant facts, figures, documents, et all – that will bring to light a glorious tale of the triumph of an indomitable spirit against all odds, a story that will force many of us to look at our legacy of fountain pen manufacture in a new light.
The book is now ready and will be unveiled shortly. Naturally, it will be inappropriate to divulge any more details about Dr Roy’s magnum opus at this juncture.
Editor’s Note: Dr Roy has been kind enough to extend a generous offer to the readers of Inked Happiness and the members of Pen Lovers Kolkata. Interested Readers and Pen Lovers may please post a comment with your contact details so that the book can be made available to you at a specially discounted price.
Looking forward. Is the book out?
Would love to possess this book. Also a kind request. I am presently teaching in the Department of History, University of Calcutta. I would love to have Dr Roy speak on his book and the History of Fountain pen making in India to our students and fountain pen aficionados in the Department when the situation becomes normal for holding such a talk (or even on a virtual platform). As I don’t have his contact details I want to put my proposal across to Dr Roy through this post. It would be great to have a round table discussion as well whichever suits the speaker.