As you are probably aware, here in the UK we have been celebrating the 70th anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952 with many Platinum Jubilee events held around the country – and indeed, around the world. So it’s no surprise that Conway Stewart’s two Platinum Jubilee pens – one in sterling silver and the other in platinum – have been extremely well received.
1952 – a time of great optimism
And that set us thinking about what was happening at Conway Stewart in 1952. There’s no doubt that just a few years after the end of World War 2, the country was still trying to get back on its feet. Indeed, the rationing of butter, milk, sugar and meat would continue to make life difficult for another couple of years. Yet there was a national feeling of great optimism, fuelled by The Queen’s Coronation.
Making the most of Conway Stewart’s 50th Anniversary
That feeling was reflected in Conway Stewart’s move to more modern, larger premises in east London where plans were being made for the company’s Golden Jubilee in 1955. It would be 50 years since Frank Jarvis and Howard Garner formed Conway Stewart and the directors were determined to make the most of the anniversary.
As well as a celebration lunch for all employees, to be held at the Connaught Rooms in Holborn, London on 7th June 1955, the directors wanted to extend their range of pens which were becoming more and more popular around the world.
1954 - The launch of the iconic Series 100
From Spring 1952, several new lever-filling models were successfully added to the range of Conway Stewart pens. The 75, 84 and 85 models were smaller and cheaper than many existing pens which, in times of austerity, may have been a wise move on the part of the company. But it wasn’t until the autumn of 1954 that the ‘star of the show’ - at least as far as the upcoming Golden Jubilee celebrations were concerned – the iconic Series 100 was launched.
Any colour – as long as it’s black!
The 100 was described as ‘oversize’ and certainly compared to the majority of the range in 1954, it was significantly bigger. So much so that early production of the 100 was only possible in plain black because the manufacturer of the celluloid tube, British Xylonite, could only create sufficient of the right dimensions in a single colour.
Original Series 100 Lever-Fill from 1954
Despite its size, in many other respects, the new Series 100 retained all the hallmarks of Conway Stewart’s fountain pen heritage… Lever filling, domed cap, triple cap band, the distinctive high clip position and, above all, it was still being advertised as ‘the pen with the marvellous nib’!
The end of the line – or a new beginning?
Despite the euphoria of Conway Stewart’s 1955 Golden Jubilee celebrations, there were dark clouds on the business horizon in the shape of ballpoint pens and although Conway Stewart tried to compete with its own range of non-ink pens, in truth the bottom had fallen out of the fountain pen market by the 1960s and there seemed to be little prospect of recovery.
Several attempts were made to reinvigorate the Conway Stewart fountain pen business through the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s opting for a more economic range of pens without success and it wasn’t until it the late 1990’s that there was any glimmer of a resurgent fountain pen business. The company pivoted upmarket by echoing its history and heritage and tapping into the burgeoning pen collecting market.
‘The Pen with the Marvellous Nib!’
Once again the Series 100 became one of the most important pens in the Conway Stewart range – a perfect example of everything that Conway Stewart had stood for over the previous 100 years. It had the same shape and classic styling; it was elegant and available in a range of colours and, as always, it was ‘The Pen with the Marvellous Nib!’ It was no longer the largest pen in the range – time and customer preference had seen that honour taken by the Churchill and Winston pens – but it was still hugely popular with pen users and with the ever-growing band of pen collectors around the world.
The Series 100 is still one of Conway Stewart’s core products
The Series 100 was – and still is – a resounding success! Today, the Series 100 range includes pens in Classic Black, Amber, Meteor, Classic Green, Nebula, Sapphire Blue, Shingle, Fresian, Lava and a special version – Series 100 COMMANDER – designed to celebrate and commemorate the achievements of Royal Navy Commanders who served in the North Atlantic campaigns during World War 2.
So, here we are in 2022, just 2 years away from the Series 100’s 70th anniversary. If you are thinking of acquiring a classic Conway Stewart pen, then look no further than the Series 100. Without doubt, it is one of the finest pens to bear the CS insignia and is sure to stand the test of time.