Company Back Story
Airmail Pen Company (Est. in 1951) is one of the oldest pen companies in India. Renown for producing the best Indian fountain pens. They market pens under 2 brands – Wality and Airmail both manufactured in Mumbai. Wality Pens are generally not readily found in the northern part of India. Surprisingly, even in Mumbai the availability of the pen is limited to select areas of the city.
Initially, Airmail manufactured completely lathe turned ebonite pens, thus continuing with tradition, the 69 is a completely lathe turned pen made of swirled Acrylic. The feed is made of ebonite and requires heat setting of the nib for proper ink flow. The quality of the acrylic used in this pen is far better than the other Wality pens, which are known to omit a pungent odor.
My interest in Indian pens came about by accident. I was intrigued in eyedropper filling systems after I acquired the 2 Gold Starry pens. But my focus was now on Mabie Todd Black Bird eyedropper pens. Research on the eyedropper filling system quickly leads to inks and the necessity of eyedropper fillers because of the impact of weather (heat and humidity) on inks, then to Asian pens.
I paid $14 for the pen, which is a normal price for this pen. First impression, the pen felt solid, it’s a big pen but not too thick – just right. The section is made of the same acrylic as is the cap and the barrel. There is a large gold plate band on the cap with “Airmail Regd” engraved on it.
The clip is gold plate, with pyramided rectangle boxes running the length of the clip. The clip is attached to a gold plated ring and held in place by a blind cap.
It is an eyedropper pen. When I unscrewed the section it took 9 full turns to remove it from the barrel and the cap took 2 complete turn to remove. To prevent ink leakage, the threads on the section need a small amount of silicone grease to seal the pen or maybe the addition of a small O-ring.
It is called an “eyedropper” because you use an eyedropper to fill the reservoir in the barrel. If you don’t have one, a pipette or a straw if you are really cheap (wink-wink) will also work.
Generally the Wality nibs are known for bad behavior but this one writes well but needs to be heat set – ink drops form under the feed. But it still writes fine.
- Capped length 148mm,
- Barrel diameter is 13mm,
- The cap diameter is 15mm,
- Pen weighs in at 18g.
My only complaint which is not uncommon is how wet the pen writes – I need to heat set the nib. It is possible my ink flow issue is caused by the ink viscosity. This is expected at this price point. The tins on the nib are aligned and it writes well. Manually adding ink via an eyedropper (ok a straw who am I kidding) takes a bit of getting use to. I was hyper focused on keeping the open barrel facing up at all times while filling the pen. This takes some getting used to it, plus there is the fear of wearing the ink if a mishap occurs.
For this price, you can’t beat this pen. It is attractive, feels solid, writes well. Readily available on eBay in a variety of cool colors. And of course, it is wallet friendly!
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