Inkpots collected over 40 years to be displayed

Jan 07, 2018, 08:15 IST | Benita Fernando

From shimmer to DNA-coded inks, Prof YD Pitkar's ink chest is nothing like you've seen before

YD Pitkar at Rachana Sansad College, Prabhadevi. Pics/Ashish Raje
YD Pitkar at Rachana Sansad College, Prabhadevi. Pics/Ashish Raje

A fountain pen's practical purposes might have been rendered outdated in today's cyber era, but its beauty continues to seduce some, such as Prof. YD Pitkar. The 64-year-old professor of architecture has been a passionate collector of fountain pens, inks and inkwells since the last 40 years. And, now, he is poised to share a part of his collection through a public exhibition at Rachana Sansad, Prabhadevi, where he teaches. Titled The Travelling Ink Pot, it will open on January 16.

The love of the ink pen started early on for Pitkar. "Today, children rarely train on a fountain pen. But, there are experiences attached to using it. For instance, the way you soil your fingers as you learn to use it. Or, the spattering of ink if you shake the pen too much," he says. His first job set his childhood spark on fire. In 1976, he worked for Chandrakant Patel, the architect who designed the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Fort. Working in the area meant that Pitkar had unlimited access to the stationery stores that dot the precinct. From here, he bought his first fountain ink pen, a broad nib Pilot, which cost him a princely Rs 200.

A Visconti ink bottle
A Visconti ink bottle

"My interest grew from thereon. I found out that there were more colours than just royal blue, black and green," says Pitkar, who even today carries with him a fountain pen — a zoom nib Sailor, with turquoise ink from Pelican. The exhibition will showcase unusual inks from around the world, such as an invisible one from Noodler's that is readable under UV light, and DNA-coded ink, an expensive customised version that uses plant DNA. There are also perfumed inks, which Pitkar says are suitable for love letters.

While Pitkar has given away his substantial collection of 200 pens, what remain with him are inks, inkwells and blotters. These will be on display, along with 12 books on fountain pens. His long-time desire, however, is to a see a museum of writing get established in the country. "In India, we have a long history of writing, and it is time we set up one along these lines. A stationery shop is not the same as a museum," he says.

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