Meet K. Varghese from Kerala who has a penchant for collecting pens

The retired professor of Botany at St. Stephen’s College, Pathanapuram, boasts a collection of over 3,000 pens using 15 different colour inks of 54 brands

From ceramic pots, glassware, plants, trophies and books, people decorate their living room shelves with a melange of items. But what makes the glass cabinet at K. Varghese’s house at Pathichira, near Mavelikara, Alappuzha, elegant is the display of an assortment of pens of various brands.

Mr. Varghese, a retired professor of Botany at St. Stephen’s College, Pathanapuram, boasts a collection of over 3,000 pens using 15 different colour inks of 54 brands such as Mont Blanc, Sheaffer, Parker, Balenciaga, Swiss Military, Montegrappa, Pilot, Philippe Moraly, Cross, Waterman, Quil and so on. He has amassed the pens, which include a huge bunch of rare and costly fountain pens, over a period of 40 years.

The sexagenarian says writing with a fountain pen with black ink gives him enormous joy. “I started showing an interest in pens during my college days. A priest named Geevarghese was the first to give me a pen, a Parker, as a gift before I was about to attend a degree exam. I was intrigued by its quality. My interest in pens gradually evolved and later turned into a passion,” says Mr. Varghese.

After joining St. Stephen’s, Mr. Varghese started scouring pen shops and street markets for writing tools. Pens not available here were sourced from overseas with the help of friends and relatives. On average, he spends ₹5,000 every month to buy pens.

Calligraphy pens

The collectables include a Parker 21 with a gold nib, a Balenciaga, which is currently valued at ₹1 lakh apiece, and a diamond-studded Parker. The Parker 21 is the oldest in his collection. The pen, used by his grandfather, G. Pappy, was handed over to Mr. Varghese by his father, P. Kunjukunju. He also possesses 30 calligraphy pens.

Mr. Varghese puts the total value of his pens at ₹15 lakh, but not a single one is for sale. “Earlier, I used to collect stamps and coins too. But with the postal mail disappearing, I shifted my focus entirely to pen and books. Today, those who know me gift me pens on special occasions. Whenever it comes to my turn to present gifts, I give my friends pen and books,” he says.

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