Conway Stewart through the ages | est. 1905 to Present Day
In 1905, Mr. Frank Jarvis and Mr. Tommy Garner formed Conway Stewart & Co. Limited at 13 Paternoster Row EC1, next to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Today, this area is known as Paternoster Square having been redeveloped after its complete destruction during the Blitz of World War II. Although there is much debate regarding the origins of the Company’s name, it is believed that the name “Conway Stewart” derives from a popular vaudeville act of the day. Conway and Stewart were supposedly a comedy double act who appeared at Collins Music Hall in Islington. The two entrepreneur took a great risk in leaving their secured jobs to start a new enterprise reselling fountain pens made by other manufacturers. They concentrated their energies and invested in importing pens from the United States.
London in 1905
After an arduous month
of persistent selling of their stock, they reaped the rewards of a rather healthy turnover of more than £13 and 9 shillings. This was a great accomplishment considering that the rent for their business premises was only five shillings a week. Even though this turnover would be pleasing to many new ventures, the strength of De La Rue in the fountain pen market made it impossible for the company to continue selling no-named fountain pens. In the same year, De La Rue reportedly invested £50,000 in a promotion campaign for their new launch, the Onoto. However, Garner and Jarvis soon recognized there was an audience desiring good, reliable writing instruments that were also affordable. This is when Conway Stewart began to capture a market amongst the English. Jarvis and Garner developed a single aim, to produce elegant and beautiful, yet functional writing instruments – a principle that Conway Stewart holds true to this day.
The Golden Years
The Roaring 20s was the golden age for fountain pens and Conway Stewart was suitably placed at the beating heart of this worldwide expansion.
London in 1920s
The End of an Era
The 1950s provided the last of the great Conway Stewart models. The company began to stagnate through the 1960s as the market turned relentlessly towards the disposable ballpoint. The company persevered in trying to keep up with the market trends with their ball pen and also by launching the 106, a cartridge pen mounted with a semi-hooded nib. In the 1960's the company was sold and relocated to Wales, where the last pen rolled of their production floor in 1975.
Following a significant investment in research and development, a new era began with a focus on making pens for those who appreciate traditional craftsmanship, objects of timeless beauty and utility, and the pleasure of using a fine pen. Combined with the ever growing number of pen collectors around the world who treasured the Conway Stewart name and reputation as Britains's greatest pen maker, makred the dawn of a new era for Conway Stewart.
London in 1950s
The Second Golden Age
The 1990s saw Conway Stewart rise from the ashes with the launch of 'The Gold Collection'; a range of pens made from solid gold that showcased the work of English master craftsmen in various fields including hand painting, enamelling and engraving. These fantastic pieces sold for in excess of £10,000 ($18,000), continuing Conway Stewart's tradition of excellence in fitting tribute to the pens of earlier generations. In 1996 the Churchill model was introduced to celebrate the life of Sir Winston Churchill and his lifelong, prolific interest in writing and literature.
To celebrate the company’s centenary in 2005 the new One Hundred Series was launched, produced in various handmade resins. Accompanying the 100, the stunning Silver Duro pens arrived on the market. Made from pure English sterling silver overlaid with resin veneer, the sterling silver Duro echoes the great designs of the Edwardian era. Also launched to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Conway Stewart were several limited editions, detailed on our limited editions page. Owners of modern Conway Stewarts are in excellent company, as Conway Stewart pens have always been the preferred choice of the most discerning and famous people from around the world and this tradition continues to this day. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh were presented with two Conway Stewart pens from “The Gold Collection” to commemorate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented Russian President Putin with a Conway Stewart Churchill Burgundy Fountain pen on a state visit to Russia, and French President Jacques Chirac was given a Brown Marble Churchill to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2002.
London in 1990s
Conway Stewart the chosen pen for G8 summit
Prime Minister Blair presented a Conway Stewart No 58 set to each of the G8 world leaders. President Bush and President Clinton have both owned Conway Stewart pens. Conway Stewart also created exclusive pens for many prestigious corporate and government accounts, including the Royal Air Force, the Red Arrows, Rolls Royce, Mensa, as well as numerous other high profile corporate accounts. Rick Wakeman, rock star and pen enthusiast, has a large collection of Conway Stewart pens of which he is justifiably proud.
2014 to Present Day
The Conway Stewart Story continues...
In August 2014, the doors of the Conway Stewart Plymouth factory were suddenly closed when the company went into administration. Was this the end?
The company also renewed its links with the Churchill family and launched the Churchill Heritage range of pens to support Churchill Heritage Ltd through which the Churchill family distributes money to charities and good causes that keep alive the legacy of Sir Winston Churchill and the spirit of the words of wisdom he penned. Each Churchill Heritage pen has Winston Churchill’s signature engraved on the barrel with one of his famous sayings. The second pen in the series, “NEVER GIVE IN” is a fitting axiom for the directors of the company who were determined that Conway Stewart should live on.
The website domain name, conwaystewart.com, was bought and relaunched soon after the Trade name “Conway Stewart” (European Union of Intellectual Property Office Certificate of Registration No. 017948469), and the Conway Stewart Trademark (European Union of Intellectual Property Office Certificate of Registration No. 018074073) were obtained by Bespoke British Pens. Ed Adams joined the company as a shareholder, and was instrumental in designing the new website, www.conwaystewart.com and re-launching Conway Stewart to a global audience.
Handcrafted by master pen makers, the rich heritage of Conway Stewart rests in your hand every time you use one of these beautiful British pens. We believe that whether you are giving or receiving one of our pens – or perhaps buying it for your own use – it will provide a lifetime of pleasure and become a cherished companion. When Conway Stewart was founded in 1905, Jarvis and Garner had a single aim, to produce elegant, timelessly beautiful, yet functional writing instruments. Today, more than one hundred years later, we still hold true to those original goals. Luxury, history and enchantment combined – we hope you will agree.