Conway Stewart 93 Blue Herringbone

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I’ve had a red herringbone, now here’s a blue one.  I’ve only got green to go and I’m sure that will turn up one of these days.  The difficulty, generally, in acquiring the herringbone colours is price.  These are probably the second most popular Conway Stewart patterns, giving way only to Cracked Ice, so they are much sought after.
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The ironic thing about it is that Conway Stewart placed no especial value in these patterns that are so esteemed now.  The herringbone didn’t cost any more than any of the other patterns or even the black example.  They didn’t care enough to give the pattern a name.  It was probably Jonathan Donahaye that christened the pattern.  The only other example of a herringbone pattern that I can think of is the little-known Rubinette pen that I wrote about some time ago.
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The 93 isn’t especially common.  It appears only as black and the three herringbone colours, together with bandless examples in green and blue herringbone.  The production run of this pen was particularly short, running from about 1961 to 1963, which goes some way towards explaining their present scarcity.
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It’s one of Conway Stewart’s “quality” pens, as evidenced by the narrow/medium/narrow cap rings.

Platinum R14

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There’s a lot of people around who don’t see very well.  And I’m one of them.  The seller of this pen advertised it as a Parker Vac and I accepted it as such.  It was only when I got it home that I realised it was something more interesting and unusual.
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Clearly Platinum admired and emulated Parker in those post-war days.  It’s pretty shameless, really, with an arrow clip that is very like the Parker one and a nib bearing an arrow design like the original.  That’s where the resemblance stops, though.
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I sent it away for repair because it was a bit beyond me.  When I got it back and opened up the blind cap I found a long shaft like a plunger filler.  In fact I would have sworn that it was a plunger filler but Eric Wilson who did the restoration assures me that there’s a sac in there and in reality it’s a form of button filler.
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I set about researching this pen but beyond the fact that it is distinctly rare I was not able to find out much.  I don’t know whether it’s an RK 14 as engraved on the cap band or an R14 as engraved on the clip.  Apparently it’s a Platinum 10-Year pen or rather more precisely the nib is warranted for 10 years.  It’s gold-plated steel nib and if you ever had any doubt about the flexibility of steel nibs this should answer them.  It’s only semi-flexible but it’s also exceedingly soft.  Despite being very fine it glides across the paper and is a delight to use.
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Two different authorities gave different dates for this pen, one saying that it was immediately post-war and the other saying that it was an early 50s pen.
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Anyway, as well as having a unique filling system and being very rare it’s a nice pen to write with and that’s what pens were made to do.

Latest Uploads To Sales Site

It’s been a while, I know it’s true,
Since I’ve announced new pens for you.
Today’s the day for rhymes amusing

Parker 75 Cisele

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I wrote about the Parker 75 Thuya some months ago but recently I managed to win Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver on eBay.  It came all the way from Portugal.  I think it’s fair to say that it is one of the best fountain pens ever made and it remained very popular during its 30 years of production until it was finally withdrawn in 1994.  Prices for second hand Parker 75s today suggest that Parker may have withdrawn it too soon as it is eagerly sought after and expensive.
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So what makes it such a great pen?  For a start, the fact that it’s sterling silver and it has the very fetching chiselled crosshatch pattern with gold plated trim makes it very visually appealing.  I find myself constantly turning it over in my hands and enjoying it.  Opening the pen shows a wraparound nib, not dissimilar from the Parker 65 nib I wrote about yesterday.  The calibrated dial between the section and the nib allows the user to set the pen to his or her own requirements.  The tapered section provides a triangular grip which is comfortable for the user, a feature much copied since.  It is a cartridge/converter pen and this one has the converter fitted.
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It’s smaller than many more recent pens, but at 13 cm long capped it fits my hand very well.  The nib is a nice smooth fine – or at least the feed is stamped with an F.  Perhaps I’ve been too long using oriental fines but it appears like somewhere between a fine and a medium to me.  I could write with it all day.  Not that I’m going to, I have other things to do…
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So that’s a Parker 75, one of the finest pens produced post-war.  I can only say that the hype is not misplaced.  It looks as good in actuality and feels as good as you might have imagined.  Apparently there were about 11 million sold, so everyone has a chance of getting one!

On another topic, I’ve been buying in calligraphic material – lots of calligraphy pens and a huge supply of cartridges.  I’ll be putting the pens up on the sales site as soon as I get them catalogued, but it’s not worth putting the cartridges up there.  If you’re looking for inexpensive cartridges, drop me an email.  I have Pilot, both blue and colours, Manuscript, Stypen. Rotring, Lamy in various colours and even some of the old Osmiroid cartridges.  There may be some others, so if you have a particular requirement not mentioned, just enquire.

Parker 65

Some weeks ago, a very good customer asked me to look out for a Parker 65 for him.  To be honest, I’d never really noticed this pen before.  During the 60s, at the height of the Parker 61’s popularity, there was a demand for a more open nibbed pen with some flexibility.  The Parker 65 was the response.  It’s Son of Parker 61, with a distinct similarity to that pen.  My customer didn’t want the flighter version, which is much more common, but the plastic barrel version with a gold-filled cap
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When I went looking for them I found that they fetched a pretty high price.  I bid on several without success but eventually managed to snag this one.  There is good gold filling on the cap because it’s still in excellent condition after all these years.  It’s very 61-like until you look at the nib, which is beautifully shaped.  When I tested it, it was a smooth medium and there is a tiny bit of line variation there.  This is the version that has the Parker converter which I always think is a minor work of art itself.
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I don’t know how it was that I missed these pens for so long but having examined this one I will be buying more of them.  Unlike my customer I like the flighters too and I hope that they will make an appearance in my blog before too long.  This period, I think, was the last time that Parkers were producing truly excellent pens.  After this the decline set in.  I’ve been looking at some of the more modern Parker pens (more of this anon) and I can’t say that I’m impressed.  I’m afraid that for good Parkers I must continue to dwell in the 50s and 60s and earlier.

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Siamese Cat Ink Well

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How astonishingly cute is that?

I can’t guess at how old it may be.  When did Siamese cats become popular?  I don’t know.
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It particularly appeals to me because I’ve had a couple of Siamese cats.  They weren’t the dark seal-point type of this ink well, they were the much paler lilac-point but they did have the same bright blue eyes.
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Anyway, this is a delightful thing to have on one’s desk.  The only thing that I don’t like is that when you open the ink well it looks like the cat has had a horrible and terminal accident.

Conway Stewart 75 Raspberry Marbled

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This is a Conway Stewart 75.  Chrome trim, so not one of the most expensive ones.  In fact, it was at the other end of the scale; not quite the cheapest but not far from it.  I’ve written about the 75 before, back in October 2012.  You can see it here: http://wp.me/p17T6K-vf.  That was a long time ago, though, so I think I’m justified in writing about it again.

Actually, I think the chrome trim works better with this glorious raspberry marble than gold would.  Altogether it’s an exceptionally pretty pen.  It was in production from 1952 to sometime in the mid-60s, so this is quite an old pen though it doesn’t look it.  The only notable wear of the plating is on the clip stud which always goes first.  Otherwise it’s in very good order with a beautiful shine and no blemishes.
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So what does being at the low end of the Conway Stewart range mean?  I suppose it was a pen for those schoolkids whose parents were quite well-to-do and could afford to risk the price of a pen that might be lost or damaged, as so many school pens were.  It might also be the pen for an adult whose salary was not that high, but who wished to rise above the basic Platignums, Osmiroids and the like.  This pen, I think, might have belonged to the latter because it has been treated with care.
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I don’t deal in Conway Stewarts quite as much as I once did.  Unless they’re quite special, like this one with its beautiful, striking pattern, they’re less popular with my customers than Mabie Todd pens.  I think that goes some way to show that people buy, from me at least, for performance rather than appearance.  Many of the Swans I sell are self coloured and nowhere near as pretty as this Conway Stewart but the writing experience is better.  That’s not to say that Conway Stewarts are poor writers – anything but!  However, they often are a little bland in comparison with the outstanding Swans.
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When all that’s said, there will always be a place on my sales site for Conway Stewarts.  They were, particularly in the post-war period, the British pens par excellence.  The 15s, 75s and 85s were inexpensive (though not cheap) and cheerful and their bright colours must have been an uplifting highlight of the austere 1950s.  Once again, I think they fulfil the same role in the austere 2010s and their price remains affordable.

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