As you may well have gathered by now, I’m no collector but I do hang on to a few pens that seem to me to be exceptional in some way. This Conway Stewart Conway 340 fits that description in a couple of ways. First, it’s a button-filler – of which more anon – and, second, this pen isn’t listed in any of the usual sources.
I’ve written about Conway Stewart button-fillers and my admiration for them before, back here: http://wp.me/p17T6K-6v . When this pen appeared a few weeks ago I grabbed it. I had to pay quite a bit but I believe it was worth it for the pen’s rarity and the fact that it’s technically different from the 485 and various Duro button-fillers it has been my good fortune to handle.
Conway Stewart’s interest in button-fillers was entirely confined to the 1930s, so far as I can see. After that decade they reverted to lever-fillers and stuck to that except for a brief flirtation with the Speedy Phil filling system in the fifties and descending to cartridges in the period of their final decline. I can’t guess how they determined which pens would be best served by the button-filling system, but the split was between top-of-the-range Duros and some inexpensive workaday Conway pens like the 485 and this 340. I have to modify that statement a little. After all, this pen turned up out of the blue as an unknown, to me at least, and there may, for all I know, be other, differently trimmed button-filler Conway Stewarts out there waiting to be discovered.
This, then, is likely to be a thirties pen too and there’s nothing stylistic that argues against that in the pen. The pattern, which I would characterise as pale green with black veins, isn’t common but it’s not unique, I don’t think. I’m sure I’ve seen it before. Where this pen differs from the 485 and the Duros is that the button is housed in a metal collar. That does seem to be unique, in my experience at least.
There were some severe problems with the cap of this pen. Eric Wilson applied his magic and it looks superb now. He also swapped the warranted nib it had for a beautiful Duro. You may say that’s not right – a Duro nib in a lower-cost pen with no cap bands – but it fits well and writes beautifully so, as this pen hasn’t been previously recorded anywhere, I say it’s right. Prove me wrong.