At £65.00 plus postage, this is an expensive book, but in my estimation it’s worth the money. This is the kind of book that reflects where the fountain pen hobby is now. We’ve had all the general works we need; now’s the time for the well-researched monograph on a single manufacturer or aspect of fountain pen history. That’s what Stephen Hull has achieved here, and while such a large and complicated subject as the history of Conway Stewart pens will never be definitively and finally completed, much new information has been brought forward and compiled into a satisfyingly logical narrative. The company’s trading history is covered, the main characters are introduced, some aspects of the production are explained and there’s a lot on the pens themselves, perhaps the most important aspect of the book to most of us.
The illustrations of the pens are superb, and many pens are shown that we would be unlikely to see because of their rarity. Over the years, I’ve seen many retail advertisements for Conway Stewart pens, but here we are presented with trade adverts which are new to me. This kind of company literature is invaluable, as it takes the guess-work out of dating pens, and indicates how the company viewed their own product range.
While the book is logically laid out and well indexed, it doesn’t really lend itself to use as a reference. There are some tables of model numbers and names but in the absence of fuller descriptions and dates, these are not especially useful. Thankfully we have the late Jonathan Donahaye’s web site
to act as a first reference for Conway Stewart pens, while this book fills out much of the other information we need.
£65.00 is a lot of money which might otherwise be spent on pens, but for anyone who has a real interest in Conway Stewart fountain pens, or more generally in British pens, this book thoroughly merits a place on the bookshelf.