How Are The Mighty Fallen!

This no-number pen was made by Conway Stewart in its years of decline. I can’t find an image of it in my usual sources, but there’s a fibre-tipped pen in Steve Hull’s Conway Stewart book that bears a close resemblance. The defining feature seems to be the raised, lined ring near the cap lip and the fibre-tipped pen has something similar. That would place its manufacture at 1972. This pen’s design is decidedly seventies, in the sense that form triumphs over function, as it did in so many objects made in that decade. The raised, lined ring might make some sense if the cap was screw-on, in that it would give the user additional grip. However, this is a slip cap. It doesn’t have a clutch, but the section and barrel meet in such a way that one protrudes fractionally at the top, the other at the bottom. This forms a sort of ridge which the cap clicks over. It’s cheap and effective but quite offensively inelegant.

 

This shoddiness is pervasive. That the pen is made in the particularly unfortunate green that Conway Stewart favoured in those years is neither here nor there, but the very evident seams and flashing left by the injection moulding process indicates that quality control was not high on the company’s priorities. The fixed clip is at an angle, not because it has been bent but because that’s how it was inserted. The process of clip insertion has caused rippling in the thin plastic of the cap. Once known as “the pen with the wonderful nib” Conway Stewart Has now become the pen with the cheap, after-market, folded-tip, white metal Flowline nib, and that’s truly a sad comment on how far the company had fallen.

 

The filler parts have been lost at some time from this Pressmatic filler and, to crown it all, the pen has begun to warp, giving a slightly banana-shaped front-to-back profile. It would, actually, be possible to restore this pen. I expect I have the metal parts of a Pressmatic filler in the spares box and the pen could probably be straightened without much difficulty, but why bother? Who, in their right mind, would want this pen?

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About goodwriterspens
I restore fountain pens, and used to trade as redripple52 in eBay. I also have my own fountain pen sales website, www.goodwriterssales.com

7 Responses to How Are The Mighty Fallen!

  1. shrikaanth says:

    There is clear evidence of desperation in the last throes of the company. They tried to make thse pens “sound” attractive by naming them interestingly- “Consort” and such like. I have a Consort set and also a few other CS pens like the one you have posted. Bought those when I was less wise. I note that some of the pens with smooth-line nibs were not as bad quality. I quess things went from bad to worse towards the end.

    • I think “desperation” is the right word. Their profits were tumbling year on year and nothing that they did improved the situation one iota. It’s a sad decline, and it’s the end of the tale for almost all the manufacturers of pens that interest me.

  2. Dave Conway says:

    I grant that the original Conway Stewart company did make cheap thin pen bodies just before the end, but your photographs show a Conway with a steel (?) Smoothline nib – all the Flowline nibs I’ve seen were at least gold plated.

    I don’t know if there’s any link between the Smoothline and Flowline nibs, but I have to say that I’ve had a CS with a Flowline Medium nib since 1982 (when I was 11 years old), and it remains the nib by which I have judged all others ever since. Indeed 12 years ago, I bought a Waterman Expert; it wasn’t the most expensive pen in the display cabinet, but it was easily the best writer, but it was still not as good as my old Conway Flowline; which by the way, I still have. I’ve since bough a second Conway Flowline, and it’s every bit as good to write with as my first one.

    Are we sure that these nibs are so bad ?… Perhaps we’d have a different view of them if they’d had CS stamped on them !

    Does anyone know who made the Flowline nibs, and where ?

    • My apologies for calling it a Flowline when in fact it’s a Smoothline, but to be honest I don’t see a lot of difference between them. So far as I’m aware they are both cheap, mass-market nibs imported from America. There is all the difference in the world between Conway Stewart’s 14 carat gold nibs with tipping material and these folded-tip steel nibs. Both, I believe, started life with a gold-wash but that tended not to last very long.

  3. Dave Conway says:

    Flowline and Smoothline nibs were also used in Queensway fountain pens, and having now seen a few of them, it’s clear that they are in fact the same pen as the Conway Flowline, with only the most minor detail changes.

    Any thoughts ?

    • Queensway pens were at the very bottom of the market. Other than that I know little or nothing about them. There isn’t actually a pen called the Conway Flowline. Do you mean the no-number late Conway Stewart that I wrote about?

      • Dave Conway - I should have been a pianist ! says:

        Yes – I only called it a “Conway Flowline” in the absence of an official designation.

        As regards the gold wash, it’s nice then that both if mine still have this coating intact.

        Best Regards,

        DS

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