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Conway Stewart Drake


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#1 Writer01

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 19:54

Well, this is my first review, so treat me gently, folks.

As members of the Conway Stewart section will know, I had a problem a month or so ago. My old Churchill wasn't working right and I decided to make use of the guarantee. Since I am a keen user of other instruments, it didn't bother me at first. And then, a couple of days on, I started fiddling like a nicotine addict craving a smoke. Nothing else seemed to come close to it. Cross pens, pencils, nothing felt right, and after a lot of soul-searching, I bought a new Conway Stewart. And this time I got the silver.

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It is an elegant feeling pen. Good and heavy at some 88 grammes, but very well balanced.

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Apologies here for the finger-prints on the silver! Still, this photo shows the little emblem on the cap of the Golden Hind, Drake's flag ship, and the simple but pleasing pattern on the side of the pen itself.

And to demonstrate the relative size:

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Now the basic problem with any assessment of a pen is, it has to be largely subjective. So I wondered about the best way to analyse the pen. I reckoned the following are most important to me, although you may scale things differently.

First, most important, how does it write?

Well, I've owned many pens, but this feels good over pretty much any paper I throw at it. The flow is consistent, so if you write gently the ink is evenly distributed. But, there is a lot of flexibility in that gold nib, and if you work it, you can get good, almost italic-style writing without difficulty. And it's the smoothness and variability that I really like.

I'd give it a solid 9/10

Second, the actual looks of the pen.

This is tough. I wouldn't pay this much money for a pen I didn't love, but the attraction wasn't so much in the aesthetics of the look of it. Yes, I do like it - but my vote on looks is higher for the Churchill in black. I don't know why, but that blackness just speaks to me of Edwardian England. The silver has some faults - the engraved Golden Hind was slightly rough to the touch; the smooth band at the base of the cap didn't seem to suit it (to me), and the writing of "Drake" at the back of that cap band is a totally different font and stylistically looks weird. Overall, I do like it - but it's not as good looking as it could be.

Very subjective, but I'd go for 7/10

Third, the handling.

Different from the writing capability, this is how the thing feels in the hand. I once heard a brother of mine describing the AC Cobra as beautiful because it looked as though it was cast from a single block of steel. You couldn't see any panel joins. Well, this to me feels in that league. It's just perfect in my hand - so long as it's uncapped! The added weight of the cap on the rear makes it far too top-heavy. However, I've never liked capping pens. I hate the idea that I may scratch the barrel, so don't do it. There is, however, something to me that is astonishingly satisfying about the handling of this pen. It is comfortable in the hand, warm to the touch, and just lovely to write with.

You won't be surprised to see I think it's worth at least 9/10 again.

Fourth and last is the general experience of the firm.

I am lucky, because I live close to Conway Stewart. However, let me just describe my general experience. Initial contact when I've experienced a problem is excellent. With my new pen, I wanted a different nib. If you look at my other posts, you'll see that I wasn't sure what style of nib I wanted, let alone size. Conway Stewart were astonishingly helpful, setting up a meeting at which I was given the chance to try various nibs. I chose a bog-standard B. It writes supremely well and suits me fine. Well, OK. At the same time, though, I was told that my Churchill wasn't ready to be collected - they had changed the feed system, cleaned it up, now replaced my nib free of charge, and yet they weren't entirely satisfied with the set up. They wanted to keep it a little longer. I agreed, and today collected it (hence the review with photos!). However, not only did they let me collect the pen, they also took me on a tour of the factory (with my two children), and showed us all the workings. Fascinating. And afterwards, they present me with my mended Churchill - and presented my children with two Dinkies each as a memento.

10/10. My daughter left the firm saying this was the best day's holiday she'd ever had. How could I mark them down?

I will not add up the marks here. There is no point. The fact is, if a writer has a good experience - like I have - they will mark better. A bad experience will similarly colour the writer's feelings the other way. But the thing that has struck me is, that the firm is not only an exceedingly good design house, they also have a passion for their equipment. Their products are fine, but they're only as good as the commitment and passion of their staff for those products. And at Conway Stewart I get the distinct impression that all the staff are as enthusiastic about the products as the keenest buyer.

Now all I have to do is save up for the Harlequin for my wife.


@MichaelJecks
http://about.me/Michael.Jecks/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtD9U9jSDEjaJsfz7meEK9Q When in doubt, I'll always have a Bernese Mountain dog or a Ridgeback

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#2 Rufus

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 20:33

An excellent review. Two questions: First, is the filling system cartridge converter? Secondly, nothwithstanding your positive views of this pen, from a stictly objective perspective do you believe you received good value?
Bryan

"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." Winston S. Churchill

#3 Hoarder68

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 20:34

Great review of a great pen. I would only disagree with you on looks. I would give it a nine, as I love the silver look. I have the vermeil Drake, but I may have favored the silver slightly.

#4 goodguy

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 20:35

Thank you for the fun review.
I am very impressed by CS CS (customer service).I also love the Drake and Churchill.
Respect to all

#5 I am not a number

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 21:48

Excellent Review!

Now I have to get a Conway Stewart.

Not want to.

Have to.


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of nothing at all...

#6 Chemyst

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 21:50

Excellent review!

I find it spot on. I am similarly satisfied with my Drake.
Chemyst is not and never was a representative of Noodler's Ink. As misrepresentations like this are not allowed on FPN, Chemyst's right to participate on our board was therefore withdrawn, as from March 2016.
 
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#7 Writer01

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 23:55

QUOTE (Rufus @ Oct 29 2008, 08:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
An excellent review. Two questions: First, is the filling system cartridge converter? Secondly, nothwithstanding your positive views of this pen, from a stictly objective perspective do you believe you received good value?


Yes, the filling system is cartridge converter. I have to admit, I've always used them, and find them easy and very effective. On a test last week I was able to write twelve pages on one fill from the Drake with a large B nib. The newer models all have the updated converter systems which are screw in, although this is push in. I understand the push in ones sometimes did give problems, but this is so far superb.

And in terms of value - well, how do you judge that? Hmm. I'd say yes - no idea what the value of the silver is. It feels damn big in the hand, it gives the pen a most luxurious feel and heft, but the cost doesn't really matter. No, much more important is the smoothness of the writing, and the feeling of reassurance which I got from the visit to the factory - and the superb service I've received from the mending of the Churchill. Yes, I know other firms give similar guarantees and so on - I've had to have two Cross pens replaced in the last ten years - but the nice thing is the fact (which I hadn't appreciated before) that most of the pens they make are more or less one-offs individually machined by enthusiasts for their work. It makes me appreciate them even more. So, yes. I don't know I could justify one of the Evolutions or other more expensive pens - mainly because I'm a writer and so constantly teetering on the brink of bankruptcy - but I can these two. And if I managed a best-seller, you know what? I'd be down there at Conway Stewart again, demanding my nice new Evolution!

I can dream!
@MichaelJecks
http://about.me/Michael.Jecks/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtD9U9jSDEjaJsfz7meEK9Q When in doubt, I'll always have a Bernese Mountain dog or a Ridgeback

#8 Writer01

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 23:58

QUOTE (Hoarder68 @ Oct 29 2008, 08:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great review of a great pen. I would only disagree with you on looks. I would give it a nine, as I love the silver look. I have the vermeil Drake, but I may have favored the silver slightly.

Thanks for the positive comments. Ach! You're quite right on the looks. I was being hyper critical, though, because otherwise I'd simply give it 100% on all aspects, and that's not really right. I do think that they could have improved on the details like the "Drake" writing, though. But I don't look at the cap while I write, so it's scarcely important!
@MichaelJecks
http://about.me/Michael.Jecks/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtD9U9jSDEjaJsfz7meEK9Q When in doubt, I'll always have a Bernese Mountain dog or a Ridgeback

#9 Chemyst

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 00:02

QUOTE (Writer01 @ Oct 29 2008, 04:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The newer models all have the updated converter systems which are screw in, although this is push in.


A random question, does your Drake's cap screw into threads on the section or threads on the body?
Chemyst is not and never was a representative of Noodler's Ink. As misrepresentations like this are not allowed on FPN, Chemyst's right to participate on our board was therefore withdrawn, as from March 2016.
 
Warm regards,
The FPN Admin Team

#10 Writer01

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 13:36

QUOTE (Chemyst @ Oct 30 2008, 12:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Writer01 @ Oct 29 2008, 04:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The newer models all have the updated converter systems which are screw in, although this is push in.


A random question, does your Drake's cap screw into threads on the section or threads on the body?

Ha! I saw that post too about the pre-release model getting sold! No, mine screws onto the main body, just as you'd expect. Perfectly firm, too. My only initial fear was, that the cap didn't seem to screw on firmly enough - there's a wee bit of play in the threads - but as you tighten it gently, it locks. My fear there was that it might unscrew and fall open in my pocket. Once at a black tie dinner in London, I discovered at the end of the evening that my Cross had fallen out of its cap in my pocket. It had been filled with ink that day, and a lot soaked out into the jacket's lining. Luckily it was a black DJ, so the dinner jacket wasn't obviously damaged - but it gave me an absolute terror of using 'snap-fit' caps from that day onwards. No such risk with my Conway Stewart!
@MichaelJecks
http://about.me/Michael.Jecks/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtD9U9jSDEjaJsfz7meEK9Q When in doubt, I'll always have a Bernese Mountain dog or a Ridgeback

#11 cmeisenzahl

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 13:45

Wonderful review and pics, thanks!

#12 slimnib

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 16:54

Nice reveiw. However, I find metal pens no matter how nice they look, very cold and uncomfortble to use.
Happy that you do not have that problem.

Harv






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