Conway Stewart No 13 Safety Pen

This is a rather splendid Conway Stewart No 13 safety pen. Its owner assures me that it has never held ink and is New Old Stock. It appears to be in perfect working order and the chasing is sharp. The only imperfection is in the nib which appears to have been “adjusted” in a manner which marked it.

The nib appears to be original and is engraved, “Solid 14Kt Gold”.

A No 13 is depicted in Stephen Hull’s Fountain Pens for the Million but there is no more information. Was this pen made in Conway Stewart’s factory or imported?

With thanks for photographs and information to Rob Parsons.

6 thoughts on “Conway Stewart No 13 Safety Pen

  1. Deb. I must say, I’m surprised that there isn’t quite a bit more interest in this particular English model.

    There is so little information about it ….anywhere ! And I’ve really been looking .
    One would think that the Conway Stewart community would be all over it , given its apparent rarity.
    For example, the lovely #22 Floral is always sought after, and prices for it go up all the time, yet this 13, which is seemingly almost unheard of, is overlooked .

    It’s a wonderful pen and one of these days I will probably give in and ink it up , just for the pleasure of writing with it.
    But for now it has pride of place on my ‘retractable safety pen’ shelf.

    Congrats on scoring the John Brindle M.T site gig . Definitely a worthy cause. 👍🏻

    1. Sorry to leave you hanging in anticipation Rob!

      CS retractable safeties are indeed a neglected area, and all models are uncommon, not just the 13. JD lists models 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 19 together with my own favourite, the Dinkie 700. Several of those are known in both black chased and mottled vulcanite (with the M suffix). A short model 15M is also pictured in FPFTM. Additional model numbers, 9 and 36, were uncovered by Allard Borst in an advertisement from the Sumatra Post of 1920 (the Dutch East Indies of the time). This advertisement is reproduced in WES Journal no. 100. I also uncovered another CS-related Dinkie-sized retractable safety, the Le Tigre “Baby” 1918, which is similar to the Dinkie 700. Several of the full-size models were also produced in long and short versions, confusingly using the same model numbers. The dates generally appear to be in the range 1917 to 1925 approximately.

      I don’t think anyone can tell you definitively who made these. My own view is that the models made pre-1920 were possibly made by another company, while the post-1920 models were probably made by CS themselves, based on the known capabilities of CS manufacturing over that period. It seems (as with the ‘normal’ ED-filled pens) they were mostly intended for markets in the hotter and more humid countries, where rubber sacs did not fare well.

      The nib on your pen is interesting though. I can’t read the inscription clearly, is it SULIL? Also informative is the 14kT marking. Again, depending on date, early CS original nibs would have a large heart-shaped breather hole, marked only 14CT, while later pens would be fitted with 14CT Warranted or typical early hand-engraved Conway Stewart 14CT nibs, again both having the heart shaped breather hole. CS nibs from this era were not found with round breather holes or the 14kT identification. This, along with the strange inscription, leads me to the view that the nib is probably not original, but….. The scan of the Sumatra Post advertisement is very poor, but there is just enough resolution on the image of one of the nibs to think the marking could be 14kT. It is possible that CS supplied these pens without nibs, allowing for locally sourced nibs to be fitted. Where importation of complete pens was prohibited, or subject to large amounts of duty to protect local manufacturers, supplying ‘components’ of pens to be assembled and finished locally was a possible way to circumvent these restrictions.

      1. Andy, ……….all I can say is …..wow ! Thank you.

        For what it’s worth . the pen has MADE IN ENGLAND under the name CONWAY STEWART.
        and the nib’s inscription is simply. SOLID GOLD 14KT .

        I was informed by the seller that the nib was ‘original’ to the pen, however I’m infinitely more inclined to acquiesce to your comprehensive knowledge.

        ….talk about learning something new each day ….😳🤗

        Ps. FPFTM would be dead handy, but they can’t be had for love or money ATM. 😔

  2. For what my opinion is worth, there is a big glob of tipping on the end of the nib that isn’t typical of earlier nibs. Kt suggests US or German manufacture. It might be a war product using an imported nib or a nib fitted by an importer in the same way Svanstrom’s fitted Boliden nibs to some of their CS imports.

  3. Thanks for the update Rob, SOLID seems much more logical on the nib, but I’m still inclined to believe that it is a replacement. It is very easy to damage a nib on a retractable safety by winding the nib out without removing the cap!

    The heading on the Sumatra Post advertisement translates as ‘Conway Stewart fountain pen holder. As good as the best but much cheaper’. It is partly this claim that makes me think CS probably were producing the safeties themselves by this time. I’m sure this is also the philosophy behind the Dinkie 700, which is an imitation of a Mont Blanc miniature safety as far as I can see.

    Re FPFTM, please keep checking https://www.englishpenbooks.co.uk/ periodically. You may learn something to your advantage….

    (Also don’t forget FYOTD is a great CS reference too!)

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