Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Conway Stewart Nippy Number 3 Mechanical Pencil Review

Conway Stewart Nippy No. 3 Mechanical Pencil Review

Well this review might actually be back-to-front. As a pencil person I should probably have reviewed the Nippy No. 3 pencil before reviewing the No. 15 fountain pen that it was usually sold with, as part of a pen-pencil set. So for a little background on these pencils and pens you can see my earlier postings
"The Dark Side" and "Beauty 2"

But, moving right along, I took out a couple of Nippy No. 3’s to use as my pencil of the week and to review. Firstly No. 3 is a rather small and dainty mechanical pencil, actually a bit too short for my personal preference. Counteracting that though, it is a very well balanced pencil. The balance point is quite high up so being top heavy suits the way it sort of fits in your hand with nothing much sticking out past your hand. I also like the long tapering tip section, they always somehow feel good in my hand.
I’ve ended up with a few Conway Stewart Nippy No. 3’s, all green or blue marble with black veins. As I’ve said before, they look really great. Deep lustrous colours that come from way down inside the plastic. Beautiful gold plated metal trims. Fantastic! Most of my co-workers don’t really know about my “pencil-habit”, but the Nippy produced a few comments, “Wow, that’s a fancy looking little pen”(sic). The lights at my work really seemed to accentuate the marbling effect, I just wish my photos could do them justice.

Like many old pencils of 1960’s vintage, the Nippy uses 1.18mm lead, and has a twist/screw mechanism. You wind the little black top cap around to advance or retract the lead. The term from back then was a propel-repel-expel mechanism. The mechanisms aren’t without their problems. It appears that some of these old mechanisms can be a little worn and the lead can slowly retract back into the tip under writing pressure. This can be a pain if your pencil is prone to doing this. In the perfect world, there would also be a choice of lead diameters too.

Again like many other vintage pencils, spare leads are stored inside the pencil body. The leads are only short lengths. Inserting a new lead is via the tip, all a bit complicated compared to todays “keep on clicking” easy refill magazine mechanisms. There is no eraser.

The pocket clip is solid metal, not spring loaded, with heavy gold plating. It’s strong, almost too strong. When you wind the lead back inside the tip the pencil becomes semi-pocket safe as the tip isn’t all that thin or sharp. Being a fairly short and thin pencil it could suit being carried in a pocket, purse, notebook compendium, etc.
  • Best Points – the looks, and small size if you are after a small pencil.
  • Not So Good Points – no choice of lead size, no eraser.
  • Price Range – Low to medium for a reasonable condition used pencil.

Dimensions – Length 114mm, diameter 9mm. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.


Eladio Díaz Camblor said...

I apologize for my bad english... (I'm spanish)
I've purchased this pencil tow months ago, during a trip at Eastbourne. I like it very much.
During the first two weeks I can't made this pencil to work properly. It seemed like the advance mechanism worked fine, but the backway mechanism didn't work at all. Finally, during one evening I was bored, I've found the clue. If you try to retract the pencil it seems to start to work, but suddenly the cap goes out the pencil. The trick is: you must to block the goldplated ring who is between the clip and the black top of the pencil... and it works fine... and your karma rises to stratosferic proportions...
(apologize again)
I've purchased this pencil in 8 pounds. I think this is a goog price for this item

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is very ugly to me. I don't know how fake marbled plastic with a slick plastic grip could suit anyone.

I really wish appearance would not be considered in your reviews since it is so personal.

Kiwi-d said...

If I took out all the personal opinion then a review would be little more than a manufacturers specification list.
The pencil is Xcm long, it is Ycm diameter, the grip is rubber, etc.
Appearance is an integral part of liking or disliking a particular pencil.
You are free to read my reviews or not. I hope you will read them, but if you don't like my reviewing style then you can alsways hunt for a blogger with a style that you do like.

Henrik said...

Wow. This pencil is nice – how can anyone live without it?

Well, I have one of these and it’s one of my favourites. It’s not exactly “fake plastic” – whatever that is? – but resin. It has a wonderful deep glow and is often admired by my colleagues for the 3D effect in the marbled area. The “slick plastic grip” suits me nicely – the pencil has a good size for a shirt pocket – and the balance and light weight makes it a good writer.

It might not have occurred to you “anonymous”, but some of us actually like pencils like this - besides, I think that leaving out one’s personal opinion would make a review rather boring.


Will Fly said...

Nice comments on the "Nippy No. 3". I've just acquired one off eBay, with the advertising slogan "Guinness if good for you" on it. Looking forward to getting it soon... :-)


John Mc said...

The Nippy #3 was sold as a set with the #15 pen, which I believe is made from casein. This is one of the reasons for the nice appearance. Casein should never be soaked.

Anonymous said...

I have a lovely maroon coloured one that my mother was presented as prize in a handwriting competition at school. That would have been in 1920s. Still works and I love it.