Among my accumulation of pens is a Conway Stewart 205. I can’t date it exactly but it was made some time in the early 1920s. I prefer Conway Stewarts from this period to the even earlier ones which were bought in and re-badged as Conway Stewarts. By time this pen came along, Conway Stewart had their own factory and the designs had begun to take on a style and appearance that made the pens recognisably Conway Stewart.
This is a black hard rubber pen measuring 13.6cm capped. Originally clipless, it has had an accommodation clip fitted. The cap has no bands and the only decoration is the knurling on the clip screw. The section is distinctly convex and beautifully sculpted. The barrel tapers subtly at the end. It has Conway Stewart’s instantly recognisable ‘flange lever’, a practical and pleasing design. These pens can appear with either Warranted 14ct nibs or Conway Stewart ones. I don’t believe that the Warranted nibs are necessarily replacements – there are too many of them for that. This one has a Conway Stewart nib. It is medium and very smooth from long years of use.
Indeed, the pen is well-worn. The barrel imprint is so faint from use that it can only be read under strong light and magnification. The gold plating on the lever has held up quite well, but the chrome plating on the clip, which may have been an inexpensive one, shows considerable wear. The black hard rubber has faded slightly to a rich, pleasing chocolate brown.
I bought this pen in eBay many years ago. I’ve kept it ever since as a good writer and an example of one of Conway Stewart’s best periods. The 205 isn’t a common pen by any means but that doesn’t make it especially valuable because there isn’t any great demand for it.
The only fault so far as I’m concerned, is the accommodation clip. I like to post my pens but the weight of this clip unbalances the pen. I have tried to remove the clip though without any great determination. It has been there for a very long time and it isn’t going to part company with the cap easily. I just have to break the habit of a lifetime and set the cap aside while I write.
(Perhaps I should have given the nib a wipe, but it’s an everyday user and this is how one looks!)
Conway Stewart nibs are good but Swan and Onoto nibs are better. Nonetheless, there are Conway Stewarts from several of their periods of production that I like to have. After this one, I like the pre-war 286, in any of the pleasant patterns one can choose from. In the immediately post-war period, the 388 and 55 are great pens and pleasant writers. Among the cigar-shaped pens of the 50s and 60s, the 27 is my choice. After that the pens fell away rapidly and disastrously. When the company rose from the dead like a shambling zombie, it produced pens that were prohibitively expensive and bore little real relationship to the pens of the glory days. I don’t want any of them.