Bespoke British Pens Conway-Stewart Winston Fountain Pen Review19 October 2015
When Conway Stewart went bust back in August last year their stock was bought up by various companies, including one called British Bespoke Pens, who bought some parts and but also some unfinished pens. This is one of those pens. It’s therefore, inevitably, limited edition (although I have no idea how limited).
Thank you to Bespoke British Pens for loaning me this pen to review. These are my own opinions.
Nib options: 18K double broad or 18K flexible (fine, medium or broad)
Barrel options: brown, black, green, blue
Filling system: captive converter
The pen looks gorgeous. Although gold trim isn’t really my thing it’s put together well. The acrylic has depth and shimmer and loveliness to it. The clip’s perhaps a little too small for the size of the pen but that’s a minor quibble
I particularly like the old-fashioned Conway Stewart etching on the side.
The nib is simple, marked with just “18K – 750” and a Union Flag. Perhaps a luxury, fairly flamboyant, pen like this should have a more decorative nib or perhaps this is understated class. Personally, I think it should be more decorative. My review unit came with a flexible medium nib. Flex nibs are wasted on me. To see what can be done with them, have a look at my esteemed United Inkdom colleague’s beautiful handwritten review of this same pen. I found I got quite a few hard starts, perhaps because I wasn’t flexing it enough. I’d suggest that if you don’t intend to use this nib as it’s intended to be used, you may want to look at a different nib option. I found it frustrating; the aforementioned Mr Scribble found exactly the same pen, with exactly the same ink, a delight. (Literally the same pen: he used it for a while and then sent it to me.)
There’s a brass lining in the barrel and that gives the pen some heft. I really like it but it will be a little too much for some. I find the pen to be very comfortable in the hand, unposted. It’s well balanced and comfortably shaped. Posted, it’s too long and too heavy for me.
The Winston is filled using a captured converter system. (This is a converter that’s built into the pen and so can’t be removed.) The brass screw works smoothly and it’s a nice straightforward filling system. The difficulty with captured converters is you lose the convenience of a converter – being able to remove it to clean or to use a cartridge instead – without gaining the extra ink capacity that, say, a piston filler would give you.
The Bespoke British Pens Conway-Stewart Winston has a price tag that’s even bigger than its name. It’s an expensive pen and, to be absolutely honest, way out of my league (cost-wise). I’ve never bought a pen for even a quarter of the amount this costs and I didn’t buy this one, either. This makes it difficult to talk about value for money. In one respect, a pen costing more than just a few pounds very quickly stops becoming good value. On the other hand, a pen is good value if you are happy to have paid what you did for it. However, if you are paying a significant amount of money for a pen then you should expect certain things for that price. £449 is a significant amount of money: I’ve bought cars that cost less than this pen. You should expect: great customer service, flawless performance, top quality materials, top quality workmanship and, much harder to define, something a little bit special. I don’t know about BBP’s customer service and the performance, for me, hasn’t been flawless but the materials and workmanship are exceptional. It’s a lovely pen, not quite special enough for me, but perhaps it’s special enough for you.
All in all, this is a good pen and only you can decide if it’s worth the price. If you’re tempted, you should definitely try before you buy or at least ensure you can return the it if you don’t get on with the nib.
A little bit of British pen history
Nib might not suit your writing style
Heavy and unbalanced when posted
In trying to clarify my thoughts about pens this expensive, I asked a question on Reddit and on the Fountain Pen Geeks forum. The discussions, particularly on FPG, where I think I worded the question better, were really interesting.
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