I couldn’t make it to the end of the year without reviewing one of my favorite pens, my Conway Stewart Model 100 in Honey Noire acrylic. Conway Stewart is a traditional, well-established British manufacturer whose pens were used by luminaries such as Winston Churchill and various members of the royal family (though I hear the Queen is partial to Parker Duofolds). Unfortunately, the original Conway Stewart company filed for bankruptcy back around 2014, but Bespoke British Pens, makers of brands such as Onoto, Jack Row, and others, acquired certain remaining assets and components from the Conway Stewart factory and resurrected the brand with a series of small-batch releases. Currently, I believe that Vanness Pens is the only authorized U.S. retailer for Conway Stewart pens, and that’s where I acquired the pen pictured here during my visit to Vanness in late 2017.
The depth of color in the “Honey Noire” acrylic immediately sold me on this pen. Conway Stewart was always known for its materials, many of which managed to reproduce the depth of color typically found only in vintage celluloid. The flecks of dark golden brown and black mix with streaks of iridescence to give this pen a look that I’ve not seen duplicated elsewhere. It’s a similar effect to the much-acclaimed “Dartmoor” acrylic, which I previously featured in my review of the Scriptorium Balladeer.
The Model 100 itself is what I consider a perfect-sized pen. It’s also one of the smaller and lighter Conway Stewart models. Unposted, the pen is approximately 5 inches in length; posted, it jumps to 6.5 inches, which sits right on the threshold of what I consider to be manageable. If I had one criticism, it’s that I wished the pen posted a little deeper, but the light weight of the acrylic and the cartridge-converter filling system prevent the pen from becoming unbalanced. Along with flexibility and ease of cleaning, this is a key benefit to a cartridge-converter system, as all of us pen-posters know well, and I have gradually come around to viewing this filling system as an advantage rather than looking at it as a way for manufacturers to cut costs.
The nib on my Model 100 looks like a No. 6 Bock nib, though it’s been custom-engraved with the Bespoke British Pens Union Jack “flag” logo and nicely tuned. I typically don’t enjoy Bock nibs out of the box, but the nib on this pen and my Faggionato Petrarque show how well Bock nibs can write with proper tuning and adjustment. The medium 18k nib writes a moderately wet line, with a traditional western-medium width and just a touch of bounce. I’d still characterize this as a “stiff” nib.
Takeaways and Where To Buy
My Conway Stewart Model 100 ranks up there as one of my best pen purchases from the past few years. It features the vintage-inspired design I love, with a well-tuned nib and a reasonable price point for the craftsmanship and materials. As I mentioned, Vanness Pens is your U.S. retailer for Conway Stewart Pens, though you can also order directly from Bespoke British Pens online. I consider Conway-Stewart pens to be well-priced at $460, which is around what you would pay a pen maker to turn a custom pen from legacy Conway Stewart acrylic and fit it with a gold nib, and maybe even a bit less. Currently, Vanness has several models of Conway Stewarts in stock, including the Model 100, Wellington, and Raleigh, with new pens regularly rotating in as they receive new inventory. I believe Vanness can order other models and materials that are not currently in stock.
Disclaimer: I purchased the pen featured in this review from site sponsor Vanness Pens at a discount. Many thanks to Lisa, Mike, and the team at Vanness for making this review possible.