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Conway Stewart Churchill


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#1 jandrese

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 03:27

Introduction

This is a review of a big, expensive pen, the Conway Stewart Churchill. I first encountered the Churchill at a pen show in Houston, TX. Several distributors were present at Dromgoole's store for the event but the one with the most pens, and the most interesting pens, carried the Conway Stewart lineup. There were many attractive Conway Stewart pens present, but most were too heavy for my taste. The Churchill, however, was lightweight and good looking. This pen really makes a statement, especially if the cap is posted. The combination of finely polished acrylic and solid gold accents on such a substantial pen really catches the eye. Indeed, I've never seen a better polish on a pen. Although it is a modern design, the Churchill looks like a vintage pen. Obviously aware of this, the designers even gave it a lever filling mechanism. No cartridges here, this pen fills only from a bottle.

The amazing presentation box deserves special mention. Clad in green leather it is a large box that contains the pen, a Churchill cigar, a bottle of Conway Stewart ink, and a small booklet about the man himself. Impressive but probably overkill. Although the cigar is packaged in a metal tube I recommend not smoking it, as it seemed to be dried out.



Design

The Churchill comes in a seemingly endless variety of interesting acrylics in addition to ebonite and casein, which is a plastic made from milk. Although it is considered a limited or special edition (mine is #77 out of 375 although the included certificate indicates it is #76) it is only limited to a certain number in each color/material. Thus, it is a modestly exclusive pen in any one color but there is no shortage of Churchill's in general. The color of my pen is called red whirl but it is mostly green with veins of vibrant red streaking throughout. Somehow this color scheme manages to be both wild and subdued. I really like it.



Thankfully for a pen as big, or bigger than, a Pelikan 1000 the Churchill is lightweight. The pen feels good in the hand and it won't weigh down a shirt pocket. The grip section is large, so much so that my fingers don't rest partially on the threads as they do with so many other pens. The diameter of barrel varies throughout the length of the pen, most narrow at the grip section and broadest about half an inch from the end. This variation is a nice stylistic touch and a less than obvious complication. The huge cap has a centrally placed humped clip that raises the pen out of the pocket, and contributes to its vintage appearance. The cap band is a shockingly substantial solid 18-carat gold ring that puts every other band I've seen to shame. Above the clip at the end of the cap is a large section set apart with a gold ring that is cut around with five grooves. The big cap more than anything else gives the Churchill its distinctive styling.

As mentioned above the pen is a lever filler and thus only feeds from bottled ink. No problem here, I only use bottled ink. The bold nib is executed in solid yellow gold and is large enough to complement the rest of the pen.



Use

Filling the pen from a bottle is super easy; I love lever fillers and this one seems to hold a reasonably large amount of ink. Instead of the Conway Stewart CS green that came with the pen, I filled the Churchill with Diamine orange, which by the way is a vibrant and truly outstanding orange. The bold nib laid down a thick line of ink that could easily be made wider with a little pressure. No, the nib is not flexible but modest pressure will give some line width variation. The nib wrote smooth right out of the box and appears well made. Thankfully, considering that I am a lefty writing with a bold nib, the Churchill is not a wet writer. Instead, the ink flow is steady and adequate, not excessive. The pen is comfortable and well balanced only when not posted. I read somewhere that writing with this pen when posted is like wielding a baseball bat. This is an apt description. The Churchill is light enough to post, but it is so long it feels strange and I don't recommend it.





So the pen is big, comfortable to use and has a nice nib, what could there be to complain about? Well, the ink flow is not good. With a charged feed the writing experience is very good. Once the ready supply of ink is used up it is necessary to give the pen a hard shake or two to order to resume writing. Not only annoying, it is embarrassing to vigorously shake a big fancy pen to get it to write. I imagine people with their two-cent ballpoints wondering if I will spray them with ink as I shake away. I've tried cleaning and re-seating the nib and feed, all to no avail. The nib looks good, i.e. the tines are not too close together or anything so I guess it needs a new feed. As is I can't imagine when I will ever use the pen. It's too bad really since I love the design and the way it writes when charged. Pens this expensive should, without question, write flawlessly or they should never leave the factory.

Summary

With "hey look at me" vintage good looks, and a sweet bold nib the Conway Stewart Churchill makes a statement. The full retail price seems extreme, but the finish and presentation of this pen exist on a higher plane than most other pens. I ordered the Churchill at Pen Place, my local pen shop, and waited almost two months for its arrival. Now I've sent it back. Hopefully the round trip to the UK for repair won't take too long. It certainly is frustrating, especially when I have many much cheaper pens that are better writers. Thus, it is a difficult pen to recommend unequivocally. I probably got the rare bad pen but I don't know that for sure. If you can, try before you buy.

Edited by MYU, 06 February 2009 - 04:58.


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#2 Shelley

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 04:17

Hey doc, nice looking pen, try flushing with lots of water, even soaking, there maybe some gunk in there that needs to come out, soapy water may help.
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#3 Brian

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 07:34

Congratulations on your new beautiful pen. Sorry to hear about the feed problem but it may help to know that this is not an uncommon problem. I bought a MB 149 sometime in the late 80s/early 90s that did the same thing. After a round trip to the New Jersey service center it was fixed. Total time away from home was a couple of weeks if I recall, but it was fixed and is still in use today.

Best wishes for a quick return.

#4 Carrie

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 10:06

There have been feed problems noted with some of the Conway Stewarts, I had to send my Duro back because it skipped terribly. If you contact Mary Burke on here she'll be able to advise about returning the pen to CS for repair. I was having a look at the Churchills at the Northern Pen Show last weekend, certainly a big pen.

#5 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 11:25

very nice pen, enjoy it.
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

#6 George Drummond

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 12:23

The lever filled Churchills have always had poor inklow. This problem doesn't seem to apply so much to the cc filler version; that's why I bought this one.

#7 goodguy

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 15:14

Thank you for the great review.
I've been lusting over this pen for a while and hope to get it in the future.
The flow issure is worrying,I hope this is a problem only with your pens and not a common issue with these pens.
Respect to all

#8 George Drummond

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 22:47

QUOTE(goodguy @ Apr 23 2008, 04:14 PM) View Post
Thank you for the great review.
I've been lusting over this pen for a while and hope to get it in the future.
The flow issure is worrying,I hope this is a problem only with your pens and not a common issue with these pens.


I have a cc filler Churchill and I have had no problems - only pleasure. As I said, the lever fillers seem to have more issues.

#9 Juan in Andalucia

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 12:04

Very nice pen!
As for the inkflow, try a couple of drops of dishwashing fluid in water; you may need to repeat the process though.

I've solved that problem with a couple of fillings of waterman florida or blueblack. I mean; fill it with waterman, then flush it clean and fill it with your favorite ink.

Juan

#10 Greg

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 13:27

My heart skipped a beat. I had a Red Whirl Churchill, used it every day and loved it. It had the opposite to your feed issue, mine blobbed if the cap was whipped off quickly. It was a fabulous pen, fabulous writer and fabulous in the hand. I hope you find yours to be too.

The past tense and heart skipping is because, unbelievably, I lost it. I haven't seen one like it since and upon seeing your my instant reaction was 'My Pen!'

However mine was No. 10 (quite apt I thought!) and I chose silver furniture and nib. the experience is described somewhere here.

http://www.fountainp...?showtopic=7100

and some pics here:

http://www.fountainp...?showtopic=7100

I hope they sort the feed, they did mine - after a fashion - and you are able to use your pen regularly.

Greg


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#11 jandrese

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 00:37

QUOTE(Greg @ Apr 25 2008, 08:27 AM) View Post
My heart skipped a beat. I had a Red Whirl Churchill, used it every day and loved it. It had the opposite to your feed issue, mine blobbed if the cap was whipped off quickly. It was a fabulous pen, fabulous writer and fabulous in the hand. I hope you find yours to be too.

The past tense and heart skipping is because, unbelievably, I lost it. I haven't seen one like it since and upon seeing your my instant reaction was 'My Pen!'

However mine was No. 10 (quite apt I thought!) and I chose silver furniture and nib. the experience is described somewhere here.

http://www.fountainp...?showtopic=7100

and some pics here:

http://www.fountainp...?showtopic=7100

I hope they sort the feed, they did mine - after a fashion - and you are able to use your pen regularly.

Greg




Lost?!?!?!?! Ouch. I left a Pelikan 150 on a plane once and I still think about that!

I hope my Churchill comes back working great. Thanks for the links.


#12 jandrese

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 00:22

An update. After several weeks, somewhere between 4 and 8, my Churchill was returned to me after repair at the factory.

So far so good. It looks like it has a new feed and the pen is writing just fine without needing to shake it periodically. Since there was a small amount of ink still in the pen I don't think Conway Stewart cleaned the pen, it just seems like they gave it a new feed. Whatever, my pen was not perfect and Conway Stewart fixed it. Can't ask for more.



QUOTE(jandrese @ Apr 22 2008, 10:27 PM) View Post
Introduction

This is a review of a big, expensive pen, the Conway Stewart Churchill. I first encountered the Churchill at a pen show in Houston, TX. Several distributors were present at Dromgooleís store for the event but the one with the most pens, and the most interesting pens, carried the Conway Stewart lineup. There were many attractive Conway Stewart pens present, but most were too heavy for my taste. The Churchill, however, was lightweight and good looking. This pen really makes a statement, especially if the cap is posted. The combination of finely polished acrylic and solid gold accents on such a substantial pen really catches the eye. Indeed, Iíve never seen a better polish on a pen. Although it is a modern design, the Churchill looks like a vintage pen. Obviously aware of this, the designers even gave it a lever filling mechanism. No cartridges here, this pen fills only from a bottle.

The amazing presentation box deserves special mention. Clad in green leather it is a large box that contains the pen, a Churchill cigar, a bottle of Conway Stewart ink, and a small booklet about the man himself. Impressive but probably overkill. Although the cigar is packaged in a metal tube I recommend not smoking it, as it seemed to be dried out.

Design

The Churchill comes in a seemingly endless variety of interesting acrylics in addition to ebonite and casein, which is a plastic made from milk. Although it is considered a limited or special edition (mine is #77 out of 375 although the included certificate indicates it is #76) it is only limited to a certain number in each color/material. Thus, it is a modestly exclusive pen in any one color but there is no shortage of Churchillís in general. The color of my pen is called red whirl but it is mostly green with veins of vibrant red streaking throughout. Somehow this color scheme manages to be both wild and subdued. I really like it.

[attachment=24519:IMG_0643.JPG]

[attachment=24520:IMG_0644.JPG]

Thankfully for a pen as big, or bigger than, a Pelikan 1000 the Churchill is lightweight. The pen feels good in the hand and it wonít weigh down a shirt pocket. The grip section is large, so much so that my fingers donít rest partially on the threads as they do with so many other pens. The diameter of barrel varies throughout the length of the pen, most narrow at the grip section and broadest about half an inch from the end. This variation is a nice stylistic touch and a less than obvious complication. The huge cap has a centrally placed humped clip that raises the pen out of the pocket, and contributes to its vintage appearance. The cap band is a shockingly substantial solid 18-carat gold ring that puts every other band Iíve seen to shame. Above the clip at the end of the cap is a large section set apart with a gold ring that is cut around with five grooves. The big cap more than anything else gives the Churchill its distinctive styling.

As mentioned above the pen is a lever filler and thus only feeds from bottled ink. No problem here, I only use bottled ink. The bold nib is executed in solid yellow gold and is large enough to complement the rest of the pen.

[attachment=24521:IMG_0647.JPG]

Use

Filling the pen from a bottle is super easy; I love lever fillers and this one seems to hold a reasonably large amount of ink. Instead of the Conway Stewart CS green that came with the pen, I filled the Churchill with Diamine orange, which by the way is a vibrant and truly outstanding orange. The bold nib laid down a thick line of ink that could easily be made wider with a little pressure. No, the nib is not flexible but modest pressure will give some line width variation. The nib wrote smooth right out of the box and appears well made. Thankfully, considering that I am a lefty writing with a bold nib, the Churchill is not a wet writer. Instead, the ink flow is steady and adequate, not excessive. The pen is comfortable and well balanced only when not posted. I read somewhere that writing with this pen when posted is like wielding a baseball bat. This is an apt description. The Churchill is light enough to post, but it is so long it feels strange and I donít recommend it.

[attachment=24522:IMG_0650.JPG]

So the pen is big, comfortable to use and has a nice nib, what could there be to complain about? Well, the ink flow is not good. With a charged feed the writing experience is very good. Once the ready supply of ink is used up it is necessary to give the pen a hard shake or two to order to resume writing. Not only annoying, it is embarrassing to vigorously shake a big fancy pen to get it to write. I imagine people with their two-cent ballpoints wondering if I will spray them with ink as I shake away. Iíve tried cleaning and re-seating the nib and feed, all to no avail. The nib looks good, i.e. the tines are not too close together or anything so I guess it needs a new feed. As is I canít imagine when I will ever use the pen. Itís too bad really since I love the design and the way it writes when charged. Pens this expensive should, without question, write flawlessly or they should never leave the factory.

Summary

With ďhey look at meĒ vintage good looks, and a sweet bold nib the Conway Stewart Churchill makes a statement. The full retail price seems extreme, but the finish and presentation of this pen exist on a higher plane than most other pens. I ordered the Churchill at Pen Place, my local pen shop, and waited almost two months for its arrival. Now Iíve sent it back. Hopefully the round trip to the UK for repair wonít take too long. It certainly is frustrating, especially when I have many much cheaper pens that are better writers. Thus, it is a difficult pen to recommend unequivocally. I probably got the rare bad pen but I donít know that for sure. If you can, try before you buy.



#13 lterry

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 04:42

I have had my eye on a couple Conway Stewart pens, and after getting one more Italian pen, my next pen will be either a CS Churchill or Nelson (maybe both) from Richard Binder.


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#14 Ghost Plane

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 14:17

Has anybody used the Broad Italic nib? That's the one I'm drooling over.

#15 George Drummond

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 09:13

The cartridge/converter version of the Churchill, which I have, works flawlessly.

#16 Branwell Bronte

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 09:35

QUOTE(Ghost Plane @ Jun 17 2008, 03:17 PM) View Post
Has anybody used the Broad Italic nib? That's the one I'm drooling over.


I just got a Wellington with a broad nib (though not the broad italic). Every time I use it I grin like the Cheshire Cat.



#17 Ledjeffelin

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 12:01

It seems CS has a good reputation but the OP's experience and mine give reason to be sour on this brand.

My 100 was DOA with what I suspect is a feed problem. Long wait to receive the pen then off to the distributor (at my cost) and no communication from them. They don't bother to communicate with the customer unless they do so to inform there will be costs to repair. I too was told to expect a 4 week turnaround for the repair.

Is it too much to expect a pen of this supposedly high quality to work right out of the box?

CS may be a fine brand but I think I am done with them.






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