At school we were given dip in ink pens which inevitably ended up with ink going everywhere. This made us very popular when we got home with ink stained shirts and blazers. The answer was, of course to get a fountain pen but a half decent one cost real money. I read recently read that Platignum fountain pens had a habit of leaking but I cannot remember ever having one that did and I still use one I bought in 1961. My memories of Platignum were that they were a good reliable fountain pen and most of us preferred them to any other for school. In the sixties you could buy one for around five shillings (25p in our new decimated money) which was around two weeks pocket money. There were alternatives and for around one shilling and sixpence you could buy an Empire made pen (this meant made in Japan) or with names like Majestic, Coronet from Hong Kong and Italian pens with nice sounding names like Dulcio. Some had no name at all on them and you could buy them at the local newsagent or corner shop.
The Dulcio from Italy and true to form, leaks like a sieve. Hardly, worth saving for posterity, a suitable candidate for the bin which is where most of them ended up.
Queensway Fountain Pens
Another cheap pen was Queensway and I had thought that also had a tendency to cover its user with ink and yet I found one in the writing desk. I don’t remember ever buying that one but the sixties was a long time ago. It probably fell into disuse because it was a cartridge pen and like other similar pens of the time they all required different sizes of cartridge. The Queensway cartridge had a long neck on it and most unusually had a ball bearing in it. It does, in fact, write very nicely, very smooth nib without a hint of scratchiness. It also does not leak so my memory is clearly not what it was. Since the ink cartridges have not been available for a long time it means filling the cartridge with ink so it is unlikely to be used much now which is a pity as it is a rather good pen.
A new or rather unused Conway Stewart c.1963, not sure what happened to the photograph there. Conway Stewart made rather expensive up market pens but in 1962 it bought out Queensway and branded them Conway Stewart for the lower end and school market. This one was from a gift set which was an unwanted present in the sixties. The same pen was previously marketed as Queensway. It has a plunger type filler and clear ink reservoir so you can see how much ink you have left. A nice touch that and it writes very nicely so no need to waste a lot of money on the up market Conway Stewart pens which in my experience write no better than this and the other Queensway pen I have.
The Platignum Silverline was probably the most popular pen for school. This one is from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s and like all fountain pens from Platignum performs very well, doesn’t leak and writes smoothly. It had a good reputation and enough street cred at school to pass muster. From a practical point of view you really don’t need anything more from a pen, especially for school where many pens had quite a short life.
Platignum users at work? This is my school in the early sixties. We were allowed to use any fountain pen we liked except for Shorthand when the only pen that was permitted was an Esterbrook. This was an expensive pen and the nib was not any good for normal writing. Recently I found out the Platignum shorthand nib was, if anything, better for writing Pitmans shorthand. Still I guess at a private fee paying school money is no object!