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Vintage Pen Review 1
Posted 03 August 2006 - 15:04
Vintage Pen Review – No.1
Conway Stewart 45
Source: ebay £8.50
Description: Black, peaked top, typical CS styling of the 30s-40s, about 5mm longer than a CS 55, similar girth. The nib is a Duro which, on this pen, has been taken from a ‘spares’ CS55 and so is not original (and so maybe incorrect). The body and cap are in good condition with only a few small nicks visible in close up, and the gold plating intact on the clip, band and lever. The lever was a little bent at its end and was straightened with no reaction. The cap has a single, medium gold plated band. ‘The Conway Stewart’ is clearly imprinted into the barrel in a script style lettering and ‘No.45’ imprinted beneath in a rather crude style.
Story: I was still looking for an everyday pen. I had bought ‘The Burnham’ from the dreaded ebay and it is very nice, practical and reliable. However the nib, despite being smooth and wonderfully flexible is a little fine for everyday use/abuse and the girth of the body a little thin for my taste. Enter the CS 55, I had two already. One spares and one in fair condition but the nib too broad for regular use. I spotted this 45 on the dreaded which was without the correct nib. I won it without competition and it arrived fitted with a GP steel nib. This turned out to be a very nice writer, but being a nib snob I continued with my plan of using the Duro from the spares 55. The 45 cleaned up with little problem, accepted a nice large, long sac and its new nib fitted perfectly. I looked proudly at my new pen which had begun its recovery.
In Use: The nib was already known to me, it being slightly broader than usual medium, a nice wet flow and smooth. It is very slightly toothy unless the pen is held a little more vertical than my usual position when it becomes particularly smooth, perhaps betraying the writing angle of its previous owner. I am keen to use the pen for a long period to alter its characteristic to become particularly smooth for my hand. (This may require speeding up with micro-mesh – not a task which I will take lightly!)
I believe the nib to be the long tine type from Andy’s recent post. There is no flex to speak of and so the nib may used in a robust fashion with reliable results, but then the fun to be had with line variation will have to be saved for another pen. However the nib feels like it is guiding the movement of writing and, if this was a comment on the handling of a car, it would handle ‘like it was on rails’. There is something very assured about it in use, no fear of wandering or spurious little flicks at the beginning or end of a stroke.
The tip is very slightly oblique which I put down to wear, although viewed sideways on there is an ample blob of iridium (or whatever it actually is). This makes it slightly directional in line width which I regard this as a virtue and I am determined to master its style.
I have the habit of gently rubbing the body of my pen under my bottom lip when idling to smooth and polish its surface. In the recent hot weather this action brought forth the slightly acrid smell of burnt rubber. To my delight the body and cap are BHR, and not black plastic as I had first thought, and the pen began to be very special. I had wondered why the threads on the body for the cap were twice as long as those on the 55, perhaps BHR requires more to prevent damage. BHR certainly responds to use (and polishing under lips!) and the pen has recovered with use to be almost immaculate. The gold shines and the black appears to have deepened. The BHR section and peaked cap top, which often turn brown with time, remain a satisfying black.
Due to the large sac possible the pen has a huge ink capacity, almost frustrating when looking forward to a colour change!
The body/cap material means the pen is light in weight and has a slightly rough feel to it, even though it looks perfectly smooth. This is a nice feature which makes it feel slightly unusual in use and works like a non-slip surface to sweaty fingers.
Faults: The lever action remains rough however, a little work in this area will be forthcoming (presumably the reason for the slight bend) and there is a tiny chip from the edge of the lever slot which corresponds to a small scratch on the edge of the lever. I can and will do nothing about these. Cap posting has left an area of tiny scratches on the body where the cap edge rests (again visible in close up only). I hope to remove these with micro-mesh when I’ve had more practice with it. Upon careful inspection a very slight kink in the clip may be detected, presumably from a straightening exercise sometime in its life.
Conclusion: Due to the replacement nib and minor surface markings I would not expect his pen to have a place in a collection of valuable pens. However for the mild collector who likes to use pens rather than look at them, this pen is a highly desirable example of an uncommon model. Any further nicks picked up in regular use may be put down to a patina from its working life and adding character. For regular use the pen is perfect. It is a good size and is very comfortable in use. It writes reliably and satisfyingly smoothly with no blobbing or skipping. I have huge respect for this pen, particularly as it is made from BHR and it has become my pen for regular use.
Posted 03 August 2006 - 15:14
Posted 03 August 2006 - 15:22
Posted 03 August 2006 - 15:25
I'll learn to reduce those in future!
Posted 03 August 2006 - 15:37
Posted 03 August 2006 - 16:39
Posted 29 November 2006 - 19:38
Posted 29 November 2006 - 22:41