A potted history of Conway Stewarts: straight-sided, slight taper, cigar-shaped, followed by whatever could be copied.
The 286 falls into the gentle taper era, the most aesthetically pleasing to my mind. Priced in the centre area of the range of the time, the 286 sold well. It was a lot of pen for the money, nicely designed and perfectly executed. There are a lot of 286s around today which perhaps makes it a little under-appreciated. But not by me.
286s come in a host of colours. This one is green marbled. Very attractive. It may be a little over-polished. Again, not by me! It’s a pernicious practice. Electric-powered polisher wheels are the source of a lot of ignorant over-polishing. I expect that the appearance of the pen will settle down with regular use but I do wish people wouldn’t do it.
Though there are exceptions, Conway Stewart nibs don’t usually compare with Mabie Todd or Onoto but they are reliable, firm or giving slight line variation. For the person seventy or eighty years ago just wishing to consign many words to paper without any attempt at artistry, they were the perfect nib.
For me, the 286 is the apex of Conway Stewart’s production. The slight taper suits my hand very well and I’m not overly fond of cigar-shaped pens. They seem a little excessive to me.
Because there are so many around, the 286 still sells at a reasonable price – a classic pen and a good writer that won’t break the bank