When I bought this Conway Stewart 475, it was advertised as being black, which it clearly isn’t. It’s a rich, dark, chocolate brown, and as such it’s a quite uncommon pen, uncommon enough that we might use the ‘r’ word, much as I abhor its over-use on perfectly common everyday pens.
Many of the 475s that turn up today are black, and the 475 tends to be regarded as just an economy-level pen in Conway Stewart’s pre-war range but there’s more to the 475 than that. Conway Stewart experimented with several colours that are seldom – or never – seen in other pens. Apart from the gorgeous moss agate and red-veined jazz*, there are moire-patterned colours and the self-coloured pens – aubergine, forest green and this chocolate brown.
Most 475s are 1930s pens. This example is the last version, made from 1937 to some indeterminate point in the 1940s. They come with the number stamped on the barrel either large or small; this one’s decidedly large.
Beautiful and uncommon as some of these colours are, they’re part of a pattern of Conway Stewart behaviour, in which eye-catching colours were often applied to inexpensive pens. The Scribes and 479s are other examples of this trend. After all, these unusual colours were just another celluloid rod to the supplier, doubtless costing the same as any other. At no extra cost, then, the company was able to make some of their economy ranges more attractive and therefore probably sell better.
* I use Jonathan Donahaye’s colour descriptions here.