By Bill Riepl
The newest enamel pen from Conway Stewart is not going to be your thing if you like a larger pen! There, I've said it. Gotten it out of the way up front! What can I say, I'm a "big pen" kind of guy. But for all of you who like to give the smaller side of writing a chance, there is a new model from Conway Stewart that seems likely to raise eyebrows with it's bold look.
The Nightingale is a wonderful little pen. Accent on the "little". Based upon their miniature Dinkie series, the Nightingale is a solid sterling silver gem, with a coating of bonded enamel in three pastel shades. Cherry Blossom is a light pink color, Mauve is a deep lavender shade, and Mint Green is a light pastel green.
The nib is the same small 18K nib used on the Dinkie pens. Given the slightly wider cap and barrel of the sterling silver model, the nib looks a bit small when you first get the cap off. In terms of writing performance, however, it proves to be every bit as good as Conway Stewart's larger nibs. The nibs on our samples were mediums, and put down a nice smooth line when dipped.
The Nightingale is cartridge fill only, the barrel is too short for a standard sized converter to fit inside the barrel. The fit and finish on the cap and barrel are excellent, with both the section and the cap threading easily into the barrel. The cap posts on the barrel end, a virtual necessity if you plan to get any writing done with these pens!
The best aspect of these little pens would seem to be their petite size. They're obviously designed with an eye towards the a more feminine audience, but surprisingly enough, it seems that many gentlemen are considering the Nightingale pens as well. The pens are sized to tuck easily away in any pocket. Yet with the cap posted, it's not at all unusable as a writer. Even as an appreciator of the "outsized" in writing instruments, I can admire the Nightingale as a perfectly finished little jewel of a pen.
The weight of these pens comes as a bit of a shock, considering the diminutive size, but it's not unduly heavy. When you consider the construction method, the weight becomes easy to understand. The cap and barrel are machined from solid blocks of sterling silver, which is then engraved. This is instead of a thin overlay being applied over an acrylic base. The difference shows primarily in the weight, giving the nightingale a very solid heft. The use of a solid silver cap and barrel also allows the guilloche engraving to be cut deeper. The deeper the engraving, the more life the pattern has once the enamel is applied.
The enamel really brings the engraving to life, with a glowing translucence that enhances the play of light on the intricate engraving design. Each of the colors has it's advantages, but of them all, I thought the Cherry Blossom actually came to life the most. Needless to say, being a manly man, I try to keep this to myself! While at the LA Show, I noticed that many people seemed attached to the Mauve.
The trim has been left in natural sterling silver, which goes very well with the three colors chosen for the enamel. With the cap on, the cap top, clip, cap band, and barrel end are all sterling silver. The cap band is engraved with the Conway Stewart name, and the clip has the traditional Conway Stewart logo at the top. The section is smooth finished sterling silver to match the remainder of the trim, as well as the rhodium-plated nib.
Conway Stewart has chosen to launch this pen as an edition commemorating the life and work of Florence Nightingale, on of England's most famous women. Born into a wealthy family, Nightingale developed an interest in social issues, including visits to the homes of sick local villagers, and from this she soon became very interested in hospitals and nursing.
Nightingale's intensive studies in the field of nursing led to her employment as Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen in Harley St., London, in 1853. She was appointed to oversee the introduction of female nursing staff to military hospitals. As Lady-in-Chief, Nightingale wrote home on behalf of the English soldiers and helped send the men's much-needed wages to their families. She introduced reading rooms into the hospitals and gained the undying respect of the British soldiers.
Florence Nightingale's successful introduction of female nurses as an integral part of the staffs of military hospitals was rewarded by a grateful nation. A public donation in November 1855 enabled her to continue nursing reform in Britains civil hospitals. Nightingale's greatest achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for women, an accomplishment for which she is still revered today.
The Nightingale series is an interesting
new edition, even if you prefer larger pens. Once you look beyond the
petite size of these pens, the workmanship and design speak for themselves.
The Nightingale might not be the "perfect pen" for everyone,
but there's no doubt that it's likely to become a modern classic as
a limited edition!
copyright 2005 William Riepl
Images copyright 2005 William Riepl