Posted in Pens, Stories

Esterbrook Relief pen by Conway Stewart Co

Since I cannot spend all my time refurbishing pens and the majority of the refurbishment projects are just a good cleaning and installation of a new ink sac I decided to embrace the title and chronicle a pen in my collection.

Esterbrook Relief pens were made in England starting in the mid 1930’s through the 1950’s by the Conway Stewart Company. The “Relief” means these pens come with a left oblique 14kt gold nib. These nibs have a slight angle going upward from left to right. In general, this type of slant is designed for right handed people who hold their pen in a way that makes writing with it favorable.

The Conway Stewart company was founded in 1905 in London. Their objective was to produce elegant, timelessly beautiful, yet functional writing instrument. During the depression years, the company managed to survive by continuing to offer good reliable pens at reasonable prices, hence their partnership with Esterbrook. Conway Stewart pens have always been the preferred choice of the most discerning and famous people from around the world. Winston Churchill used a Conway Stewart pen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was presented two gold pens to Commemorate her Golden Jubilee and Conway Stewart was the official pen of the British Government at the G8 Summit, at which PM Tony Blair presented a Conway Stewart No.58 to each of the world leaders. Conway Stewart is still in operation producing pens today.

I bought a black hard rubber (BHR) Esterbrook Relief 2-L from a dealer in London. This pen was made by Conway Stewart in the late 30’s or early 40’s. It was a little grimy when I got it, other than in need of a cleaning and polishing it was fully functional. Polishing – I don’t use a polish or wax, I use a Sunshine Cloth. The cloth removed the 80+ years of grim, returning a sparkle to the nib and to the body of the pen. The name on the side is well worn and the tip of the feed is broken off, possibly contributing to the nib supplying more ink than it should. The pen was manufactured with one of three nib styles, Fine, Medium, and Broad. I am inclined to say this is a broad nib there appears to be a “B” or it could be an ampersand on the nib. It all depends on how you look at the nib.

I don’t know the provenance, I asked the seller and he doesn’t keep records so it’s road to me is up to the imagination. We know a couple things to be true, it was manufactured in London circa 1940, talk about the wrong place at the wrong time. It survived the Blitz and subsequent rocket attacks on London. Was it used by someone in the War Department, used to sign orders sending men into battle, Imagine what letters it may have written? We’re they happy, were they sad? Was it used by some government official enacting the English Welfare State or an instrument used in the collapse of the British Empire? Guess we will never know what stories it told, but we do know I am writing the story of how it left London via the Royal Post and arrived in America to begin a new story.

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