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Conway Stewart No.489

vintage conway stewart flex 1930s england iron gall

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#1 Lunoxmos


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Posted 10 June 2019 - 05:26

The pen that I'll be reviewing (or discussing) today is:

"The Universal Pen

Conway Stewart London



I have had this pen for a bit over a month now, have used it everyday, and have found it to be a reliable writer.

I managed to pick this pen up after doing some antique shop hunting, and managed to get it for only $23AUD. On that note, I think it is actually much better to go vintage pen hunting in person rather than online. It's more fun that way, not knowing what you'll find, and you probably end up with a nicer price, provided you're willing to do some relatively easy restoration work.

This pen was made in England, in the late 1930s, so this is when fountain pens were generally moving away from the olympic-split style flex from the earlier period, and started featuring what I see as being *stiffer* nibs (though they still can produce very admirable amounts of line variation).

It is made from a hard rubber, judging from the fact that what used to be black rubber has now faded to a dark brown, and also if you were to rub your finger on a patch of the pen and smell it, it should smell like old tires.

It has a no.1, 14 carat gold nib, with what I see as a medium point (there's no markings in terms of size), and produces nice amounts of line variation.


It also has an ebonite feed.


Note how wide and deep the feed channel is. This means that this pen is an extremely wet writer (almost a firehose). This was very typical of vintage pens, requiring larger amounts of ink to accomodate for "flex writing".


Also note the cutouts on the side. This allowed for any ink that had leaked out to be held, without dripping down the nib and forming blobs on the paper. I believe this was an attempt to mimic the spoon feed design from earlier Waterman pens, which were incredibly successful, and which was mimicked by many other pen companies.


It also has a sac, very typical, and was filled via a lever on the side of the barrel. Also very typical.



The pen itself is quite light, and is 131mm long capped, and 161mm posted. 

This pen can be posted very comfortably and securely, though whether you do so is all up to personal preference.


a few notes:

No, this pen is not for sale.

This pen has been put through its paces, and has proved it's reliability by non-stop writing for 2 hours in English Exams, and a further 1.5 hours in that afternoon. It is VERY reliable.

The iron gall ink used in the pen is wholly appropriate, due to many inks of the period being iron gall inks. Do not worry about the pen's current condition; it is part of a rigorous maintenance schedule, and is flushed out every single week. In addition, the ink used is formulated to be gentler on pens, and the pen itself, containing no metal parts excluding the gold nibs, easily stands up to it.

Edited by Lunoxmos, 10 June 2019 - 05:40.

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#2 PaulS



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Posted 10 June 2019 - 08:06

Hi - it sounds as though you are a hard task master  -  solid two hours and a further one and a half - don't think I'd have that sort of stamina. :)


The plating on the lever looks very bright and original which is a good bonus, and the price sounds very reasonable, so all round a good purchase.


Quite agree that hunting in the wild is perhaps the most enjoyable means of finding pens  -  siting at home and being a cheque book collector doesn't provide the same level of anticipation or excitement, but then again good pens are becoming more difficult to find in the wild.

Your pen looks to have minimal oxidation, so probably best to leave it alone and just allow its patina and age to live on. 

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: vintage, conway stewart, flex, 1930s, england, iron gall

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