LIMITED EDITION SILVER OVERLAY
First Impressions 5/5
The Conway Stewart Centenary Limited Edition Silver Overlay is a stunning pen, there really is no better way to describe the first impression it gives you. Every aspect of it radiates the fact that it is a gift for a very special occasion – which for me, it was. It is a high-impact but very serious pen; not a frivolous pen that you would acquire lightly and think of as a trinket, even if you had the money to do so. Receiving the Silver Overlay Centenary made me feel in a way that I hadn’t felt about a gift since childhood: As an owner of such a pen, I must “shape up” and be good, very good – otherwise, it just won’t do!
The pen has a long, lean, flat-top black resin body and cap, overlayed with ornate sterling silver. Created for Coway Stewart by Henry Simpole, the openwork filigree overlay has a floral/paisley look. Upon closer inspection however, one notices that the design incorporates the figures '1905' and 'CS', to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Conway Stewart.
There are three versions of this pen: silver overlay, gold overlay, and gold vermeil, each in an edition of 100. Mine is the silver, which is highly polished and very light, almost white in color when it is right out of the box. The elaborate swirls of the overlay and the contrast between the polished silver and the black resin beneath it, are quite mesmerizing.
There is an oval engraving plate that is positioned vertically along the body of the pen and incorporated into the design of the filigree, so that if you choose not to engrave it, it does not give that empty look to the pen. Black resin section, silver clip with CS logo; 2-tone 18K gold nib. Each pen is hallmarked at the London Assay Office and bears an individual limited edition number.
If you are interested in silver overlay, this pen is truly the contemporary epitome of it.
The only reason I do not give the design of this pen a “5”, is that it is too visually striking, and for that reason impractical and risky to use as a “workhorse” writer in an everyday setting, especially in public. Also, while the size works for me, some might consider this pen too large for constant use (plus, it does not fit into some pen-cases). Aside from these two issues, the design is beyond reproach. Far from being merely “eye candy,” this pen feels amazingly comfortable to me and suitable for prolonged periods of writing.
First off, this is a large pen. I believe it is somewhat bigger than the regular Centenary: 5.75” capped, 5.25” uncapped, and 7.6” posted. Despite its size, it is not a heavy pen; in fact the weight and balance are just perfect. After handling a regular Centenary FP at a local pen shop, I realize that this is because resin Conway Stewarts are extremely light. I don’t know what resin they use, or whether this is just a freakish misperception on my part, but to me the resin Duro, or Wellington, or Centenary, feel almost like I have nothing in my hand except for the nib. This has made me hesitant to buy a resin CS, as I prefer a somewhat more substantial feel. The overlay Centenary remedies this completely, by adding the weight of the silver over the resin. The end result is perfect, at least for my hands; the pen is not too heavy and not too light; just right. I do not have a scale, but to create a sense of reference: it feels slightly heavier than the Visconti Van Gogh Maxi, slightly lighter (despite being larger) than the Krone Architectus overlays, and about the same as the Montblanc Franz Kafka.
The cap posts and holds firm. I like to use mine posted and doing so does not unbalance the pen, despite the length it creates. It actually looks and feels quite good in the hand posted, especially if you have narrow hands with long fingers like I do.
The section is resin and comfortable to grip. It is large enough so that most people will not be gripping the overlay. Having said this, the overlay on this pen is done in such a way so as not to hurt or irritate the fingers if they do come in contact with it. The overlay is very flat, and the edges of all the swirls and curls are smoothed out and tucked under, so that there are no sharp edges at all on the overlay. For those who own or have handled a Krone Architectus, then on a scale of “0” (being impossible to hold) to “10” (presenting no problems at all), I would rate Krone’s overlay as a “5” and CS’s overlay as a “10”.
This pen comes with an 18K two-tone nib. It is a delightful, soft and springy nib that produces considerable line variation. It seems extremely well suited for my handwriting. The nib worked right out of the box with no problems or issues. The only reason I do not give it a “5” is that the EF nib is too broad for me (though not nearly as broad as what Montblanc calls EF), so I will have to get it ground down a bit before I can truly enjoy it.
Filling System 4/5
Cartridge/converter filler, which is fine for me, but will be considered a drawback for those who prefer pistons, levers, or other internal systems.
Cost and Value 5/5
From the standpoint that this a large, hand-crafted Conway Stewart silver overlay fountain pen in a limited edition of 100, I think the Centenary is a superb value. I received this pen as a gift, but I happen to know that my husband got a great deal and paid considerably below retail. Given the price he paid, this pen was a much better value for the money than a regular, resin Centenary would have been. I admit readily that my Montblancs are overpriced for their actual value, but I do not think so of this pen.
For me, this pen was the Holy Grail of silver overlay. The fact that it is extremely comfortable to use and a superb writer has made me fall in love with it twice. I use it in everyday life much more than I intended to, as it was really meant to be a pen for very special occasions -- and this is before I’ve even gotten the nib reground to my liking. Without a doubt, the Conway Stewart Centenary Limited Edition Silver Overlay is the crowning piece of my collection.
Edited by QM2, 28 December 2007 - 20:00.