Platignum Button-Filler

The very cheapest pens, like Queensways, Universals, Platignums and the like are consigned to my “spares and repairs” box, to be sold off as a job lot when enough have accumulated. This morning, however, this pen gave me pause for thought:

It’s a Platignum button-filler of indeterminate date that was included in a lot that I bought. The steel nib was rusted out, otherwise it appeared all right, and I decided to disassemble it. Once you have all the parts there and you can have a proper look at it, it’s a good, sturdy, well-made pen. Mentmore/Platignum always made very efficient button-fillers and this is no exception. Is it right to cast a good pen aside because it bears a less-than-popular name? It’s every bit as good a pen as a Mentmore or a Wyvern.


I resacced it, cleaned it up and fitted a little Kaweco nib that will never find an appropriate home elsewhere and fits well. It’s a great writer. I’ll offer it for sale at a low price that will cover my costs. If it sells I might fix up a few more, if not it’s back to the “spares and repairs” box.


Mentmore 46

I have to admit that I’m a little traditional (some might say hidebound) in the type of pens I like. I don’t care for hooded nibs – too modern for me (even though the design is older than I am). I find shiny metal caps a bit flash and in poor taste. I don’t buy pens like that intentionally, but you never know what’s going to turn up in job lots, which is how I came by this strange beast:

It’s a Mentmore 46, made around 1950. There were two versions, one with a silver-coloured cap at 17/-, and this one with a gold-filled cap at 25/-.

I stripped it down to find that it’s a much more traditional pen than it at first appears. It has a normal, if small, nib and a ladder feed. It’s a button filler. As usual with Mentmores the button was a swine to remove, but I have my methods. I fitted a new sac and reassembled it.

I have to admit (there’s that phrase again) that this turned out to be a much better pen than I expected it to be. It’s very well made, with sturdy components and good machining. It writes very well. It may be a little odd-looking, but no more so than any other hooded-nib forties or fifties pen.

The cap, with its clear engraving on the clip, is much less blingy and tasteless than many of these things are. All in all, if I saw another one at the right price, I’d buy it.

Conway Stewart 85 and 85L

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the Conway Stewart numbering system. I’m aware that this is a futile exercise; there’s neither sense nor logic to numbers they assigned to their pens. Other collectors have warned me that this will end in tears. I can’t let it go, though. I keep trying, in the hope that one day all will become clear.

Surely if two pens have almost the same number they must have a close relationship? I’m thinking of the 85 and 85L, two pens that the company created in the mid fifties to exploit the new range of colours and patterns they had developed. They come in black, too, and here they are:

At first glance they do appear quite similar. The 85L is a little longer and thereby gives the impression of being slimmer. One might be the big brother of the other, but almost instantly one notices the broader cap band of the 85L.

Then the eye drifts to the top of the cap and it becomes clear that they are entirely different. The 85 has a simple washer-clip held by a metal stud, whereas the 85L has a cowl over the clip, all held in place by a black plastic stud. In fact, in the medium cap band, cowl clip and black plastic stud, the 85L resembles the 84, not the 85!

There may be a sensible explanation. These pens – with the odd exception – share the same colour range. The 84 came first in 1952. The 85 was introduced in 1956, perhaps as a cheaper version of the 84, with its simpler design and narrow cap band. It only remained in production for a year, however, which suggests that sales may have been poorer than expected. Conway Stewart decided, it seems, that it was not a less expensive pen that the market required. Exactly the opposite: it was a larger, more expensive pen that was needed to fill that slot – hence the 85L.

So the 85 was a mistake, really, and the 85L is actually big brother to the 84.

Or that’s my story, anyway.

Five Black Conway Stewarts

Following on from yesterday, Tradera, the Swedish auction site, has had the offending link to this blog removed. Kudos to them!

Sometimes this must seem like a Mabie Todd blog. Partly, that’s because of my own fondness for their products. Also, Swans, Blackbirds and Jackdaws are favoured by my customers, so I buy a lot of them. That doesn’t mean that I’m not fond of other pens – I am – and Conway Stewart is near the head of the list of other pens I like.

As I’ve said elsewhere, obliques and full flexes are much less commonly found among Conway Stewarts than Swans, but line variation isn’t everything. Conway Stewart’s slogan for many years was “The pen with the wonderful nib” and that’s true. If you like a firm nib or a soft semi-flex, look no further. Conway Stewart put a lot of effort into ensuring that when the nib was applied to paper, the customer would be satisfied. All these years later, their pre-war and post-war pens are among the very best writers there are.

I restored five this week. All black and nothing particularly outstanding among them, though there’s a single-band 386 among them which isn’t often seen. Most importantly, they’re all great writers.

They’re At It Again!

Once again, someone is referencing this blog to help them sell something without having asked my permission (not that they would get it, anyway!).–auktion_302522_142130552

It’s a Swedish auction site, and doubtless quite respectable, but they do make it very difficult to contact them without first logging in to their site, which I have no wish to do.  In the end, I had to go to their Facebook page to ask them to remove the offending link.

As the site is Swedish, I can’t really tell what it is that they hope to achieve by linking to my post but I assume that it’s an attempt to validate their item by comparing it with mine, which is completely inexcusable.  The photo, apart from anything else, is so poor that you could be bidding on anything, but even if it was perfectly depicted and described, my blog does not exist to validate other people’s sales.

In a sense this doesn’t matter to me because I don’t think that I have any realistic legal exposure, here.  However, I don’t want anyone who knows this blog to make a purchase that they would regret because they believe that in some way I am standing behind it.

I’m not.  No reference you will ever see to my blog in any sale that doesn’t bear my eBay name (redripple52) has anything to do with me.

Blackbird BB205B/45

In the late 1930s Mabie Todd made a range of small pens with stepped clips – or rather, two ranges of pens, because there was the Swan SM range and the Blackbird BB range which were practically identical, except for imprints and nibs. The only other difference was that, so far as I know, the Swans were self-coloured or snake or lizard-skin and the Blackbirds were marbled.

This is an example of the Blackbird version, but one that has been used well and has had a repair or two. The clip is a replacement, and it has a Swan No 1 nib instead of the Blackbird original. I could set this pen aside and wait for the correct clip and nib to come along in the fullness of time, as they undoubtedly will. However, I’m going to sell it as it is. These pens don’t fetch a particularly high price even in perfect condition because they’re small. The alterations that have been made obviously don’t affect the pen’s writing characteristics, which are very good. The Swan nib is an upgrade, after all.

It’ll make a fine daily writer for someone. Sometimes a pen is just a thing to write with…

Grey Striated Waterman

When I bought this pen I assumed that it was an English W3. It’s the same style and size but it’s actually an American pen. Not being well up on the lesser US Watermans, I don’t know what it is, and the barrel imprint is worn, so that doesn’t help. To complicate matters further it has an English 2A nib, probably a replacement.

In Britain, Waterman was using the combination of that clip type with the striated plastic in the mid to late forties, and I’m assuming that this pen also will date from that time. It was an unfortunate period for Waterman. Quality was not what it had been and it shows in this example. The nickel plating is worn on the clip, showing the brass beneath. There are a few scratches and some wear on the plastic, which is quite soft.

Actually, though, none of that matters at all. The pen’s sound and it’s fitted with a nib to die for. I’ve had much fun practicing my curlicues with it this morning.