Conway Stewart Dinkies are in a class of their own. The older, rarer ones can fetch a high price but the 550s from the post-war period don’t sell all that well here. I’ve noticed from some of the pen discussion boards that they sell at a higher price overseas, particularly America.
They are jewel-like little pens and pencils. Though they are at the margin of what is comfortable to write with, many are actually tremendous writers, often with some flexibility.
There seems always to have been a place in the market for small pens. Conway Stewart produced the Dandy, which is small but not so small as the Dinkie. Other companies like National Security/Rosemary sold competitive little pens, which may have been made for them by Conway Stewart. Wahl Eversharp produced exceptionally small pen and pencil sets. Mabie Todd made short versions of their Swans but they have good girth and useful length when posted. Nobody makes quite such small pens today. The Kaweco Sport is short but posted it’s almost a normal sized pen so it isn’t quite comparable to the Dinkie.
So what was that all about? Many of those which have passed through my hands have been gifts from men to women and from parents to daughters. This example has an inscription showing that it is a gift from a husband to his young wife. They seem to have been particularly intended for women, then. In a way, it’s part of the all-pervasive low-level sexism of the time, and seemed to imply that women should have pretty, little versions of normal sized things. Were they intended to be used or were they just for looking at? The Dinkie is perfectly adequate for taking occasional notes but I’m sure that it would induce hand-strain if used to write pages.
I confess that though their usefulness is limited I like the Dinkies. They usually appear as pen and pencil sets in the original, very decorative boxes. They are made to the same high quality as Conway Stewart applied to the larger pens in those days. And, of course, because there is such a variety of them, they are ideal to collect.
Sexism or no, I was delighted when my husband gave me a Dinkie set some years ago. I fluttered my eyelashes and fainted dead away in an appropriately ladylike fashion.