I considered the Churchill to be the my favorite Conway Stewart design during my first few years or collecting pens. Its stepped clip grabs your attention without being ostentatious. It has an imposing size but remains practical even to those with smaller hands. It has a classic early 20th century design. And, it has a nice respectable name. I decided that if I could only have on Conway Stewart, it would be the Churchill. I ignored other CS designs like the Marlborough for the most part. In fact, I bought the top pen in the image below with the sole intent of reselling it for a small profit to help fund a Churchill purchase once a fairly priced one turned up.
Half a decade later, the Marlborough is now my favorite pen design and I own a second one (bottom picture). The size is perfect for me. It rests comfortably in my hand unlike many modern oversized pens that make me feel like I'm writing with a marker rather than with a fountain pen. It maintains the same level of vintage inspiration as the Churchill does especially with that lovely knurling on the cap. It also preserves its link to British heritage with the name Marlborough as a potential reference to Churchill's ancestor the Duke of Marlborough. Most importantly, I have simply found myself writing with this more than the Churchill.
The Marlboroughs I own are numbered 20 (top) and 03 (bottom). 20 has an F nib while 03 has a factory IF nib. They have different characters with 20 having more expressive mottling and 03 having restrained striations parallel to the length of the pen. Celluloid is the hottest material in the market, but, while I enjoy Arco Bronze as much as anyone else, ebonite has a special place in my heart as it evokes the strong wood that make up homes and furniture that have stood the centuries-long test of time.
Rose ripple is a particularly attractive color. A pair of oxblood loafers allows a man to express himself beyond the sea of black and brown oxfords while maintaining an acceptable amount of formality. These Marlboroughs do the same for me when I use them out in the open in meetings. The color pops up just enough for people to take a second look without distracting them from what they're doing. This all made me want to learn more about this finish. I looked for catalogues of ebonite manufacturers online to see which of their rods resemble the rose ripple color the most. Stumbling upon, the German ebonite manufacturer SEM's catalogue, I saw that they had a few reddish ebonite rods. Their ponceau rods as shown below seemed to perfectly match the color of rose ripple. When I reached out to them, they confirmed that they provided the modern incarnation of CS with many ebonite rods. They said that ponceau does correspond to rose ripple while their night blue and cumberland colors correspond to CS' blue ripple and woodgrain. I have a hunch that the CS woodgrain is probably a mix of SEM's honey and cumberland but this is just speculation on my end. My contact couldn't confirm. It would have been appropriate for CS to name the Marlborough finish ponceau instead of rose ripple. I say that because 'ponceau' is French for poppy-colored and is rather appropriate for a pen with such English heritage - poppies being a strong symbol for the history of the First World War.
As to the inspiration of the Marlborough's design, it began with a special commission by Andy Evans from Andy's pens. I posted the picture of my Marlboroughs on Facebook a few weeks ago. Andy replied how he commissioned a small set of pens from Conway Stewart inspired by the model CS200. CS unfortunately went into receivership and once it was bought and re-established (I believe this was unrelated to BBP and before BBP came in) the new owners released the production version of the Marlborough with the rose ripple as part of the first batch. The Marlborough is shorter than Andy's commissioned pens and unlike the commissioned pens, the clip was fixed to the Marlborough. The knurls were designed to make it easy to remove the clip. You would have been able to screw off the top blind cap with the grip from the knurls. That would certainly have been an interesting feature if it made its way into the final Marlborough release. Below is an image of a CS200 I found on Worthpoint (https://www.worthpoi...d-hr-1778369286)
Learning about the history of pens is one of the best parts of collecting. Many people find themselves absorbed in hours of online reading to figure out what makes a clip or nib special. Some people can tell not just what year but what quarter a pen was made in just by looking at the clip, nib or some other obscure part of the pen. People even debate about what proper name to call a pen (quite notable in the realm of Vacumatics). Knowing these minutiae and stories gives a comforting sense of pride and enjoyment to many people including myself. It was enjoyable to learn the history and design surrounding the CS Marlborough. Efforts like this are often reserved for hunting vintage pens however. I hope that we devote the same amount of time writing the history of modern brands like Bexley, Lamy, Danitrio, etc. the way we do for Parker, Montblanc, Wahl-Eversharp, Mabie-Todd, Pelikan, Aurora, etc. Cheers!
Edited by FPNRLCC, 22 July 2020 - 15:14.