Posted in Pens, Reviews

Not For The Lactose Intolerant – Conway Stewart No. 15

Conway Stewart was a major manufacturer of fountain pens in England for a hundred years, from 1905-2005. During the pre-WWII years, they sold far more pens than any other brand in England; possibly more than all the other companies’ combined.

Model 15

The production of Model 15 spanned a decade beginning in 1952. As with many vintage Conway Stewarts, this model is a fairly small pen (which is preferable, as I have small hands) and often made of Casein. Model 15 featured two versions, distinguished by the existence of a single band, or no cap band. The trim is available in chrome or gold plate and a choice of two clips (long vs short).

In his book “Fountain Pens for the Million: The History of Conway Stewart: 1905-2005,” Stephen Hull writes “during the 1950s the material [casein] was generally used in cheaper models (such as the 15/16/17 and 759) and was typically available in black and three mottled, or marbled, patterns”.

Casein aka Galalith (from Latin caseus, “cheese”) is a milk-derived plastic, susceptible to moisture. A synthetic plastic derived from 80% of the phosphoproteins in cow’s milk, and formaldehyde. More information is available in my post: Casein; “the most beautiful of plastics.”

Identifying casein can be done by appearance and smell. The pen is black, thus identification by appearance is out, let’s rely on smell: rather than camphor, casein smells like antler, ivory, or vaguely like scorched hair. As I am not familiar with the smell of camphor, I don’t feel it would end well if I tried to sniff a deer or elk antler, I don’t have ivory and I am not going to catch my hair on fire, instead, I opted to compare the smell of my Parker Vacumatic (celluloid) with the model 15. SUCCESS! Now I can identify celluloid, casein, camphor, burnt hair, and antlers by smell without bodily injury.

My Pen

I picked up this model 15 from an estate sale. At the time I was interested in it because it was a black pen. When I realized the pen was cherry, and the price was right – a done deal. Only recently did I realize it is manufactured from casein.

The chrome clip is attached to the cap with a chrome ring and a blind jewel. The lever looks more like nickel than chrome. The pen has matching conical ends.

For a pen that is upwards of 70 years old, this pen is in amazing shape, plus it was considered by Conway Stewart to be a cheap pen. The name imprint is crisp, there is no brassing, no scratches or teeth marks, and the nib is smooth.

The space between the tines is a bit too wide. This will make the nib wet resulting in a less than satisfying result on cheaper paper.

The nib is a a medium flex, 14k Conway Stewart 1A. Some model 15s, the imprinted logo on the barrel as well as the inscription on the nib simply said Conway.

The pen came with a new ink sac, whomever installed the sac failed to coat it with talc. Now let’s ink it up and see how she performs.

The ink began flowing immediately, I initially was journaling in a moleskin field journal but the paper is horrible and the ink feathered into blobs. This is a pattern I have been plagued by when using 14k nibs on moleskin. I pulled out a 100 gsm bullet journal experience a completely different result.

The nib could use a little smoothing but otherwise glided across the page with little resistance.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped Length: 126mm
  • Uncapped Length: 113mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 11mm
  • Cap Diameter: 13mm
  • Weighs in at, 14g

Reference Material

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.

Author:

I'm a loser as my wife likes to tell me, I enjoy researching dead cousins and playing with fountain pens.

5 thoughts on “Not For The Lactose Intolerant – Conway Stewart No. 15

  1. Great write up as usual. I have odds and bits of a Conway Stewart as a part of a bundle. But no whole pen that is useable. Moleskine paper does not love ink at the best of times. I have groaned many a time with ink running wild on a page and ruining the ambience of the journal. Gold 14 carat nib and some flex and it turned out ok. Finally a winner. All the best. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Gray. I have a thing for CS pens, probably because of their association with Esterbrook. This pen is immaculate, and I was completely surprised when the realization hit me that it is casein. I just bought a SC no15 pen set in equal condition. Apparently a Royal Mail strike is delaying the shipment – no hurry. Moleskin has been such a disappointment, once I liked their paper, but no more. Simply doesn’t play nice with those gold nibs. All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. Ruined many a Moleskine. Won’t even attempt to write in the speciality passion journal ones now with a fountain pen. Got copies of fave film, fave books and the Hobbit ones. Blank at present. Going to look at rollerball options. Royal Mail are on strike over here. But days off/days on type of strike. So will get there…just late! Cheers.

        Liked by 1 person

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