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Conway Stewart Duro - review

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12 replies to this topic

#1 goodyear



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Posted 27 March 2007 - 11:03

I got this pen at the start of December, but due to a bit of to-ing and fro-ing (more on that later) I've been using it for a couple of weeks, now. The pen is a button-filler in the White Whirl finish, sporting their Fine Italic nib.

My first review of a pen, offered with the caveat that I am a definite non-expert and feel a bit of a n00b, loosely following TNS' schema. Images are links to much bigger (and heavier) files. Please excuse the fact that I'm not a product photographer. I was too lazy to dig out the tripod, and I really should buy a light tent...

Conway Stewart apparently make all their pens as they are ordered. I ordered mine through The Writing Desk, and it was in my hands pretty much two weeks later (I'm told the normal lead is about a week). The pen came in a monstrous box that is quite classy but really unnecessary. Over-packaging really does bug me.

This is the pen I had been lusting after since shortly after I discovered the world of fountain pens. I finally got to acquire it when I had a little bit of money as a birthday gift and my parents offered to make up the difference as a Christmas gift to me. It is the most expensive pen I have, currently.

user posted image

Appearance, Design & Finish. The pen is a flat-topped design, in resin of the pattern Conway Stewart calls White Whirl. In person it is a lively material with some sparkle hiding in the blue. It catches the light very nicely, and as usual the photos really don't show it at its best. The top of the cap and the blind cap are black.

The ball-ended clip is gold-coloured (I presume plate, I guess I'll find out when it brasses) and the cap-band is hallmarked 18ct gold. Fit and finish look grand to me, and I do have a tendency to notice imperfections. The whirl pattern in the resin is presumably unique. I wasn't immediately taken with how my example looks, but it has grown on me greatly.

user posted image

It's not a heavy pen at all, very comfortable to hold. I like the balance unposted. I have yet to find a pen I like posted, which is fine as I never post a cap.

Nib Design & Performance. The nib is a nice big, yellow-coloured 18ct Fine Italic (marked IF) with the Conway Stewart logo engraved. Line width is a little bit narrower than the 0.9-cursive side of my Binder Italifine. It is much smoother than the cursive nib, much more like a stub. I might choose it over Stipula's 0.9 stub, but it's a close-run thing. There's a bit of spring to it, and it's very pleasant to write with. Most of my pens have fine or extra-fine nibs; this point is fine enough and smooth enough that I can use it without much extra attention at all. I'm enjoying the little bit of definition the stub gives to my scrawl.

user posted image

When I first got this pen, I was having serious problems with the flow (which I posted about round here). I was only getting a paragraph or two before it dried up, and a shake would let it run for another paragraph or two. And within a couple of days of filling a shake did no good at all, even though it was well full of ink. I sent it off to Conway Stewart to be looked at, and it came back four weeks later (one day's transit each way) in a plastic tube in a padded enevelope (no paperwork, which surprised me, not even a compliments slip). I don't know if the problem was solved at that point, as they had replaced the IF nib with an unexpected M nib, so it went back in the post the very next day. Three and a half weeks later (again, one day each way) it was back with an IF point again and the flow problems seemingly solved. We got there in the end smile.gif

Now it lays down a nice even, slightly wet flow. I likey. The remaining slight issue is that it can be a little bit of a hard-starter at times. Not seriously, just enough to notice; completely liveable-with, but still just that little bit shy of being perfect.

Filling System. The pen is a button-filler, holding a fair amount of ink - certainly more than a converter-full. It's operated by a small, gold-coloured button hidden behind the blind cap.

user posted image

My first impression of the mechanism wasn't that great. I found it tricky to operate, mainly because the button is really quite small (more so than I expected) and was taking rather a lot of pressure to operate. However, when I sent the pen in to CS to have the flow/nib looked at I included a note mentioning how awkward I was finding it, and when the pen came back the mechanism was much easier to operate. I don't know if it was faulty or if they just slackened it off a bit to accommodate my feebleness biggrin.gif

The options for the Duro are button-fill or cartridge/converter. If I was buying it over I suspect I would go for the c/c (sorry), for two main reasons - the slight fiddliness of the button-filler, and the fact that I change ink colours more often than is good for me and flushing a sac like this just isn't as quick and easy as with a piston or a converter. But I went with the button because I saw it as the more 'classical' option, I guess, especially for my first really expensive (especially by my standards) FP.

Cost/Value. There's no getting away from the fact that this is an expensive pen. The Writing Desk have it listed now at GBP235, which to me is a fairly large chunk of cash to spend on a pen. But here we are at FPN, where we find that there's much more expensive out there, too! I have had issues with it, and some time spent on this forum will show you that I'm not the only one. I went ahead and ordered it in the belief (hope?) that Conway Stewart customer service (CS CS, heh) would be up to the task of putting any problems right, and they have done so - after a couple of goes around.

But is it worth what I paid for it? Depends how you measure... It's a pen I've had my eye on for ages, and it's a pleasure to write with. Costs a heck of a lot more than a biro, but writing with it is a heck of a greater pleasure, too.

Conclusion. Now that I've got it working right, I like this pen a lot. If you want one, I would perhaps recommend trying to find it for less than I paid.

user posted image
Mark Goody

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#2 PaulK



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Posted 28 March 2007 - 07:23

Very nice review. I am an owner of several modern Conway Stewarts but have stuck (only) to c/c fillers and use plain ol' fine, medium, and broad nibs. I think this is how I've avoided quality control issues.

I still shake my head in disbelief when I read of such an expensive pen having so many trips to the manufacturer. At this price range I (we?) expect nothing less than a fountain pen that has been completely tested prior to sale (by Conway Stewart), error-free customer service, and correspondingly exceptional communications. Stories such as yours have left a nagging doubt whenever I considered purchasing a button or lever-filler (again, having no problems with their nibs). I find the "wait" of transit and even the thought of receiving my problem back unrepaired/unanswered both frustrating and unacceptable. I tip my hat to your patience!

Thanks again for the review. Beautiful pen. Enjoy!!!!!


A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

~ Oscar Wilde, 1888

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#3 chibimie



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Posted 31 March 2007 - 17:02

Thanks for the nice review. I own a sepia colored Duro, purchased with a cursive italic M, and while the nib gives me nice width variation according to its stroke angle, like you I have had problems with a finnicky button filler. Ink flow has also not been as consistent as I would like. Sometimes the flow is too wet to give me any "shading" in the lines, and at other times the flow gets a bit balky. Still, it is a beautiful pen.

#4 auscan



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Posted 13 April 2007 - 10:14

Great review and a very nice looking pen. I have yet to purchase a Conway Stewart pen, I always wondered what their button fillers are like, now I know.
I always thought that the modern Conway Sterwarts trim was solid (not plated), Can anyone confirm this?

#5 Celticshaman


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Posted 14 April 2007 - 03:13

Well written review.I have yet to own a Conway Stewart as well.But someday i will.These reviews help immensely.


Edited by handlebar, 14 April 2007 - 03:17.

#6 andyk



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Posted 14 April 2007 - 22:37


Good review, I have a Cherry Red Duro and agree with most of what you have said. Mine has a medium nib which writes fairly wet.

However I had problems with the button filler, found it difficult to use and never seemed to hold much ink (but maybe I wasn't using it properly).After the last couple of fills the plastic on the barrel darkened (or so it seemed to me) which made me wonder is there was a problem with the ink sac (I assume it has one). whilst I like 'old style' fillers I often think that CCs are a lot less hassle.

The pen has now gone back to CS for them to check it out, bit worried that it might take 4 weeks, as Sheaffers turned round a couple of Balance IIs I sent them in less than a week (although it has to be said they replaced one rather than repaired it, but sent me the original back as well, so well pleased there).

Edited by andyk, 14 April 2007 - 22:37.

#7 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 10:28

I like this model a lot wink.gif thanks for the review.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#8 BillO


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Posted 28 February 2009 - 21:43

QUOTE (auscan @ Apr 13 2007, 05:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great review and a very nice looking pen. I have yet to purchase a Conway Stewart pen, I always wondered what their button fillers are like, now I know.
I always thought that the modern Conway Sterwarts trim was solid (not plated), Can anyone confirm this?

Conway Stewart trim is solid and hallmarked. The only exception is the clip, the gold is to soft for the flexing.


#9 krandallkraus


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Posted 04 September 2012 - 22:17

I can never quite decide. A Conway Stewart Duro or a new roof.
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#10 Montblanc owner and lover

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 23:37

make a roof with the pen ;)
A people can be great withouth a great pen but a people who love great pens is surely a great people too... Pens owned actually: MB 146 EF;Pelikan M200 SE Clear Demonstrator 2012 B;Parker 17 EF;Parker 51 EF;Waterman Expert II M,Waterman Hemisphere M;Waterman Carene F and Stub;Pilot Justus 95 F. Nearly owned: MB 149 B(Circa 2002);Conway Stewart Belliver LE bracket Brown IB.

#11 tenney



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Posted 05 September 2012 - 07:58

Very nice review.
i'd love to see comments comparing modern CS pens to vintage pens.
Glenn (love those pen posses)

#12 richardandtracy


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Posted 05 September 2012 - 08:47

I can never quite decide. A Conway Stewart Duro or a new roof.

Do the new roof yourself and use the money saved to buy the pen.



#13 NedC


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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:20

Speaking from experience, the roof. In the end you'll save enough to buy more than a few new pens.

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