How do I clean my fountain pen?

Dirt and grease in the atmosphere and on your hands mean that your pen will become dirty over a period of time. A build up of grease on the nib and feeder may also prevent the ink from flowing properly. That’s why we recommend cleaning your fountain pen three or four times a year. To keep the ink flowing simply flush out the filler mechanism, nib and feeder system with tepid water until the liquid runs clear, then dry gently. Holding a lint free cloth against the nib slit will help draw excess water out of the feeder system. Do not use detergents, solvents or hot water as this may damage the mechanism or finish. Do not put the whole pen under water as this will damage some filler mechanisms.

Flushing and cleaning the system in this manner should be done each time you change ink colour.

Ink soiling the interior of caps can be cleaned with a piece of damp paper tissue rolled around the inside of the cap. Alternatively a damp cotton bud may be used.

The exterior acrylic finishes may be cleaned by rubbing gently with the Pen Polishing Cloth which now accompanies each pen purchased. The cleaning cloths are also available to purchase from the Accessories page. The cleaning cloth is impregnated with a cleaner and anti-tarnishing agent so it’s ideal for giving gold or silver fittings that ‘just-out-of-the-box’ sparkle!

How do I look after my fountain pen nib?

The nib of a fountain pen imparts the quality of the writing experience and over time takes on the personality of its user’s handwriting. All the fountain pens included on this website are fitted with very high quality nibs with an iridium tip. This tip protects the nib and governs the width of the pen stroke.
Most British pens are available with a choice of nibs: Fine, Medium or Broad. Customised nibs – italic, stub, oblique etc – are available to order for a small additional fee. The full range of nib availability is indicated on each product page.
The choice of nib is a very personal one but as a general guide – smaller, lighter and precise handwriting would err towards a finer nib and larger, more generous and flamboyant handwriting towards a broader nib. Most users decide that a medium nib offers the best of both worlds.
We ensure that our nibs are carefully fitted, aligned and polished during assembly of your pen to ensure a very high quality mark during use.
It is good practice to place the cap onto a fountain pen in the upright position. If you drop the pen downwards into the cap ink spots can be deposited from the nib onto the interior surfaces of the cap.

How should I hold my fountain pen?

This is a very personal thing and should simply be at a comfortable angle for your writing style. Ideally the nib should receive even pressure on each half to avoid the risk if splitting the nib. Over a short period of time the malleable properties of the nib will allow it to contour to your writing style.
As the nib will be personalised by your handwriting it is best used only by one person. If you wish to gift your pen to someone we recommend you have a new nib fitted.

How should I transport my fountain pen?

When carrying your pen do so in an upright position to avoid ink leaking from the nib. This is relatively straightforward in jacket pockets and briefcases but attention needs to be paid to the pen’s position in purses and handbags. The nib should be pointing up – this will help ink flow back into the reservoir and reduce drying and clogging of ink residues at the nib.
Air TravelWhen travelling by air your fountain pen should be fully filled or alternatively emptied and flushed clean before travel. If the pen reservoir is only partly filled the air in it may expand or contract resulting in ink seepage. Always keep a filled pen upright when travelling by air.

Looking for a replacement Conway Stewart nib?

The nib is in 18ct gold and is made by industry experts Each one is engraved with the Bespoke British Pens ‘Flag’ logo and they have been made to fit the majority of the Conway Stewart range (except the Coronet and the Dandy which have a smaller ‘fit’).Our ‘Flag’ Flexible nibs are now available to purchase separately, so if you are looking for a replacement nib for a modern Conway Stewart pen click here.
We do stock Coronet and Dandy nibs, please contact us directly for more information.

What are Calligraphy nibs?

Calligraphy nibs have the same shape as italic nibs (ie elongated), but might be even wider, and are finished with squarer edges. This square-edged grind and the wider footprint result in a greater tendency to catch on corners and a greater tendency to skip if the nib isn’t held straight-on to the paper (i.e., when one side of the nib lifts away due to the nib’s being rocked sideways). Writing too rapidly with a calligraphy nib tends to produce scratchiness and skips. However, by writing more slowly, calligraphy nibs give a very crisp and controllable line width, and with practice, some writers become very proficient with calligraphy nibs, producing beautiful text. We can grind specialist calligraphy nibs on request.

What are Oblique nibs?

An oblique is ground so that the writing tip contacts the paper properly when the pen is rotated in the user’s hand. This suits some handwriting better. There is some confusion over what is a left oblique, and right oblique, so a good way to remember it is as follows:

What are the 3 basic nib shapes or styles? Round, Stub, and Italic.

Round Nibs:
A round nib is ground and polished to have roughly a circular footprint, so that its line width is fairly uniform no matter what direction the nib is moving across the paper. Here is a magnified silhouette representing the basic shape of a round nib, together with a cross illustrating the uniform stroke width that this nib produces. All our standard nibs are Round Nibs

Stub Nibs:
A stub nib is elongated sideways, to have a footprint that is somewhat elliptical. This makes it lay down a slightly broader line when moving up and down (in relation to the nib itself) and a narrower one when moving sideways (again, in relation to the nib). The wider line is between 1.5 – 2.5 times thicker than the thinner line in our custom ground stub nib. The eccentricity of the ellipse isn’t too pronounced, and the nib is still polished to have nice rounded edges. This means that you can write with a stub just about as easily as with a standard nib. Here is a magnified silhouette representing the basic shape of a stub nib, together with a cross illustrating the slight variation in stroke width that this nib produces:

Italic Nibs:
An italic nib is much more elongated. This makes the difference between its broad (up-and-down) strokes and its narrow strokes (sideways) much more pronounced than with a stub. Here is a magnified silhouette representing the basic shape of an italic nib, together with a cross illustrating the more extreme variation in stroke width that this nib produces:

A traditional italic nib has a perceptible straight edge across the tip, and relatively less rounding to the edges than a stub nib. This results in a greater tendency to catch on corners and to skip if the nib is not held straight-on to the paper. This can make the nib feel “scratchy”. However, there is a compromise grind called cursive italic, which has more rounded edges than a traditional italic. When properly ground and finished, a cursive italic nib can produce stroke variation almost as strong as an italic nib while the writing feel is nearly as smooth as a stub of similar width. All our custom ground italic nibs are cursive italics unless otherwise requested.

What is a Flag Flexible nib?

With effect from June 2015, we can offer pen aficionados an alternative nib format to the standard 18ct gold nibs which come with Conway Stewart pens. Over recent months we have been working with one of the world’s leading nib manufacturers to see if we could fine-tune their nibs to get a degree of flexibility. And we have done it!
The nib is in 18ct gold and is made by the same people who previously produced all the Conway Stewart and Onoto nibs – so the credentials are excellent. Each one is engraved with the Bespoke British Pens ‘Flag’ logo and they have been made to fit the majority of the Conway Stewart range (except the Coronet and the Dandy which have a smaller ‘fit’).

see video

Is there a User Guide?

All Bespoke British writing instruments are designed to give you a high quality writing experience for many years. Each pen is supplied with a comprehensive User Guide that explains how to look after your pen, and how to fill it with ink. IIf you have any further questions about your pen, please contact us.

What is a rollerball?

A rollerball is like a biro/ballpoint but has the free-flowing ink qualities of a fountain pen. Beautiful to write with, yet has the convenience of a ball-point.

What is best for left-handed writers?

Left-handed writers use so many different writing styles, overwriting and underwriting, writing uphill, writing horizontally, and writing downhill, that it’s not really possible to recommend any one nib. Experimentation on what works for you is the only answer!

What is the line width of different nibs?

The approximate line widths produced by these nibs are as follows:
- Broad 0.85 – 1.00mm
- Medium 0.65 – 0.80mm
- Fine 0.45 – 0.60mm
- Extra Fine 0.35 – 0.40mm
These are approximations only and will be influenced by the amount of pressure exerted by the writer and the type of ink and paper being used.

Please note: the thickness of the line depends on the pressure exerted on the pen, and the type of paper so the above is guidance only.

As a rule, a Broad nib suits large hand writing and flowing signatures, Fine nibs suit smaller hand writing and figure work. Broad nibs can tend to fill in the spaces in “b”, “d”, “e” if you hand writing is small. Medium nib is a good compromise, and selected by the majority of fountain pen users.

Which inks can I use for my fountain pen?

We recommend that you use only quality inks, such as those available to purchase from our Accessories page, to ensure a quality writing experience. We recommend the use of ink that is less than a year old as residues may become a problem with inks that have been stored for lengthy periods.

Why choose a Stub or an Italic nib?

To write text where the line width variation adds character and beauty to your writing, and resembles hand-writing of yesteryear.

When you write with an italic nib, you hold the pen with the nib generally away from your forearm (as with a stub or a round nib). When used by a right-handed person, an italic nib will generally make strokes that are of roughly equal width in both the vertical and horizontal directions; strokes from the upper right to the lower left will be thinner, and strokes from the upper left to the lower right will be thicker, as shown here:

This is the stroke arrangement most commonly seen in Old English and in many italic and Chancery styles:

Can I see a comparison of the Conway Stewart models?

How do I store my pen for a long period of time?

If you are looking to store your Conway Stewart pens for a long period of time without use. Be sure to drain them: hold the pen over a sink and turn the euro-converter knob anti-clockwise to purge the ink. Then dip the nib into a glass of lukewarm water and turn the knob clockwise to fill the converter with water, and then hold the pen above the water and turn the knob anti-clockwise to purge the converter of water. Do this several times to clean the nib and converter. Then dry the nib with a tissue, and let it dry in the air (couple of hours) before screwing the cap back on. Then when you want to re-use the pen, simply fill with ink in the normal way.  (If ink is left in the pen for several months (ie 6 months +)  without using it, the ink can evaporate and leave a sediment that can hinder the ink flow.

Traditional Conway Stewart Barrel Engraving - what do the numbers mean?

Conway Stewart used 2 different formats for the numbers engraved on the barrel.

If it was a Limited Edition pen, then the number was the Edition Number ie 10/300 means this was the 10th pen made in a limited edition of 300 pens.

However, much more commonly used was the format in the below photo which shows a strange number 058/001. The first number is the colour reference of the pen and the second number was the serial number. In this example 058 = Classic Black and 001 = this is the first pen made in that colour in that range.

The full list of colour numbers and their correlating pens can be found here.