Queensway 75

My husband tells me that when he was a kid going to school in the fifties and sixties there was a fountain pen class system going on. If your parents were wealthy you had a Conway Stewart or a Parker. A bit less affluent and you might have an Osmiroid or a Burnham. Below that was the despised Platignum. If your parents were really poor, as my husband’s were – they were trying to get a farm going from scratch – you had a Queensway.

Nobody seems to know about their origins. Queensways were cheap because they were shoddy. There were several models in the sixties, none of them very good. If you were lucky, you got one that wrote reasonably well and kept its ink where it was supposed to be. Most of them broadcast ink over paper, skin and clothes. They didn’t look very good either.

By the seventies when this Model 75 was made, they were a little more reliable and some concessions had been made to style. This one has survived remarkably well. The gold plating – which may not be gold – has bubbled a little on the clip and lever but is better on the cap band. Judging by others I have seen, this pen is remarkable in having retained its cap band! The barrel is very tapered coming almost to a point like the Skyline. The clip screw echoes that, pointed rather than domed.

The section is black, tapered and bearing a very decided “stop”. It has a traditional style of nib that wraps around the sides of the feed. It’s a plated nib of course. When I was Googling for information on the brand I came upon another example of this model on Etsy. The seller said it had an 18 carat nib. 18 carat gold-washed! This pen actually writes well and doesn’t spew ink, which may be why it has lived so long. There are signs of plastic shrinkage as you would expect but it isn’t too bad. It’s an adequate pen but you wouldn’t flash it around and boast about it.

I think this was the last of the sac-fill Queensways. Some of the later ones I’ve seen had semi-hooded nibs. I don’t know which cartridges fit, if any, but it may be that the Conway Stewart ones do, because an unholy alliance developed between Conway Stewart, Roll-Tip, Penkala and Queensway, all bad pens which, when amalgamated, made for even worse pens. Some later Queensways are pretty much indistinguishable from some Conway Stewart models.

If these pens are so bad, why bother writing about them? For one thing, anyone finding themselves with a Queensway might want to know what they have. Secondly, they’re fountain pens. People bought them in huge numbers and cheap pens like these are probably more typical of what the ordinary Joe or Jane used at school, college or work than the Swans or Onotos. They have their equivalents today, not in the reliable and durable BICs but in those ballpoints that charities and businesses hand out, that work for a while, then no more.

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