A Gold Conway Stewart

I’m quite familiar with gold and gold plated Swans but I’ve never had a Conway Stewart of this type. A correspondent sent me photographs of a pen he has recently acquired, asking if I can tell him anything about it. He believes it to be all metal, not overlay. I was able to track down some late thirties rolled gold Conway Stewarts, Nos 175, 275 and 775. None of them look quite the same as this pen though its shape suggests a similar date.

The owner of the pen (and I) will be grateful for any information you can provide.


Mercurius Button Filler

I’ve had this curious Mercurius pen for some time. Neither my various reference books nor Google give any help in identifying the pen: who made it, in which country and which decade. It is an exceptionally beautiful pen though not of the first rank.

The barrel is octagonal, narrowing to a cylinder, an unusual and perhaps unique design. The russet, green and pale brown celluloid is beautiful and I haven’t seen it used elsewhere. The clip, with its roller, may have been gold plated but like the cap bands, no longer is. The clip is a little loose. The top of the cap and the end of the barrel are closed with black discs.

The pen is a button filler and the blind cap is exceptionally well fitted. Unfortunately the pen came to me without a nib. The original nib may have given a clue to the pen’s origin. I have fitted a warranted gold one.

Has anyone come across this brand before? I would welcome any ideas.

Parker Duofold Black & Pearl

As you may have gathered by now, I’m particularly fond of Duofolds of almost any date, with the exception of the current ones which don’t do much for me. I think of Duofolds as the first truly modern pens.

This Junior is one of the quite early ones, dating to 1928 or so. The pattern is known as Black and Pearl. It is especially prone to discolouring but if it isn’t too bad the colour change is attractive too. This one hasn’t suffered too much. I’ve seen others where the pattern has almost disappeared.

When it came to me the nib had had its day. The tipping had probably worn off and someone had tried to stub it, without notable success! I had an English Junior nib and despite the fact that the two nibs had thirty or forty years and the Atlantic Ocean between them, it was a perfect fit. For many years Duofolds remained Duofolds; despite style changes they were still essentially the same pen.

The pen has lost some gold plating on the clip and cap rings. That’s a sign that the pen has been well used and loved for at least a large part of the last ninety years. As I get older I become more attached to the really good pens that I find. I can’t keep them all, though, and indeed I don’t really have any need for more pens so someone else will get this beauty when I upload it to the sales site.

The Parker 25 Revisited

I wrote about the Parker 25 some time ago and I’m afraid that on that occasion I could find little to praise. Several people wrote me to say how fond they were of the pen and this is an attempt to give a more balanced report.

First, there are a couple of things about the pen that I continue to dislike: the ball of the tipping material makes it write like a ballpoint. Also, being a rather slender pen I cannot write with it for long. That said, it does have some rather good points. It is a very simple design with little to go wrong. There are many of these pens around and they always seem to be in good condition. That reflects both the popularity of the 25 over its two decades of production and also how robust it is. The one I have at the moment has a squeeze converter, still working well.

The design either appeals or it doesn’t. I find the barrel rather strangely shaped but that’s entirely subjective. It does post very reliably. The nib has no breather hole. My pen was very dry and I thought that running a shim through the nib would be difficult without a breather hole but that didn’t prove to be the case. The ink flow was good after that.

The pen still closes firmly and that’s true of all the 25s I’ve had. The clip is still quite firm too. It’s a very easy pen to clean. There’s a hole under the feed. Insert something there and pull and the section and nib come out easily. That makes the 25 the ideal pen for those who like to use saturated or iron gall inks.

On reflection, then, I didn’t find it too difficult to find good things to say about this pen. It was in production from 1975 to the late 90s – perhaps 1999. It proved to be a big seller at quite a low price. For those who think they might like a Parker 25, they can be picked up for very little money.

Wyvern No 50

Wyvern models are confusing and they are likely to remain so until someone does major work on them. This No 50, when compared with other Wyverns, seems to be a mid-thirties pen. It has the rather stylish Art Deco clip, double cap bands and the usual arrow-shaped lever. With the cowled clip and black “jewel”, it’s one of the better Wyverns, enhanced by the hatched pattern. As is usual with Wyverns, the gold plating has worn almost completely off the clip.

This is a straightforward lever filler with no traps for the unwary, like the left-hand threads that some models have. Some Wyverns have brand-engraved nibs, often with the attractive Leicester Dragon. Others, like this one, have warranted nibs. Both types were made in-house and there is every reason to think that this is an original nib. It is a fine stub.

Wyverns are hard to place in the British market. Some of the lower-quality pens, like the 60C Perfect Pen and the Orium models are less attractive and subject to shrinkage. At the other end of their range the animal-hide covered pens were highly regarded when they were issued and are much sought-after by collectors today. Like Mentmore’s production there is a great deal of variation in the quality of Wyvern pens.

For the writer, a pen is as good as its nib and this is where Wyverns excel. Some Wyvern nibs are firm, others, like this one, are flexible. All are good. With the exception of the leather covered pens, Wyverns don’t fetch a very high price, so there is the opportunity to obtain a very nice and useful pen for little outlay