Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies


Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team






Photo

Mabie Todd Swan No. 2 Eyedropper, C1915


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:11

Mabie Todd Swan No. 2 Eyedropper, c1915.

This is a very brief review of an interesting little pen I bought at LWES 2011 from the £15 'bargain bucket' at one of the stalls. I had heard that UK made Swans and Blackbirds could have flex nibs, so after gently pressing the nib against my thumbnail to see if it flexed I bought this one to find out what the fuss was with flex nibs. In the same pot I found a Blackbird, reviewed here: http://www.fountainp...er-filler-c1920 . The Blackbird has a flex nib, as opposed to the semi-flex nib on this pen.

I don't know how old the pen is, but from the little research I have done it's likely to have been from any time within the 1910's, so I've plumped for an average 1915 for it. The pen has been well used over the years, the 'Swan' marking is just about visible and the chasing on the barrel is almost totally worn away. Some chasing is still slightly visible on the cap. In its 96 year life, this pen has seen a heck of a lot of use. Despite that, the nib needed no work for it to write.

The pen is as below:
Capped:
SwanNo2Pic1.jpg
Uncapped:
SwanNo2Pic3.jpg

The pen dimensions are:
Length, Capped: 134mm (5.3")
Length, Uncapped: 124mm (4.9")
Length, Posted: 167mm (6.5")
Barrel Diameter: 8.5mm
Cap Diameter: 11mm
Nib size: 17mm long x 5.75mm wide
Weight: 10g

Writing
The pen is not much to look at, but there again it's a tool rather than a piece of jewelery. The important thing is the feel of this ancient pen and the nib.

The pen is unbelievably light & delicate in its feel, so can be used for all day writing. The section diameter is tiny, at a minimum of 6.5mm, but it's not too much of a problem as the pen is so light that you don't need to grip it hard. Some people may find it too small, but it is no smaller than a standard pencil.

The main thing to appreciate with this pen, though, is the nib. Look at the line variation below on 7.5mm feint paper:
SwanNo2Pic2.jpg
This is with light to medium writing forces. I have not dared to press harder, as I don't want to risk damage to this rather lovely nib.

The nib is stiff enough to use as an everyday pen, but the flex allows a wonderful degree of expression while doing even the most technical of writing.

This particular pen has a smell about it. It reminds me of old nicotine, as if it has been used by a heavy smoker for decades. Not unpleasant, but distinctive none the less. It is strange to be almost tasting the pen you're using, and the smell clings to your fingers for a while after finishing too.


Living with the Pen
This pen is an eyedropper - the first I have ever used. It's neither hard, nor messy, to fill. The tiny barrel holds as much ink as 3 standard international cartridges, but the semi flex nib uses more ink than modern nibs, so the amount of writing per fill is about 20 pages or so.
However, even if filling is no problem, it is a messy pen. The feed has no effective collector fins, and the eyedropper barrel can warm up easily, causing air pressure to push ink out. This isn't too bad while you are writing as it all gets used, but it doesn't stop immediately you put the pen down (due to the rate of heat transfer through the barrel), so the cap can fill with ink. Result, next time you open the pen it's very messy. Storing the pen nib up doesn't seem to help, as the ink in the feed is pushed out, to dribble into the cap threads, which are especially difficult to clean. It's something I can live with for the sake of the privilege of using an ancient design pen, but there are those who won't want, or be able, to.

Swans were a fine range of pens at the time Mabie Todd made them, and it was beautifully built, with a high quality nib. I can recommend one to anyone who is curious about flex, but doesn't want to break the bank.
One comparison I have remembered is with a Delta Titanio I was loaned for a while this summer. The nib on this Swan is actually much flexier at lower forces than the modern Delta Titanio I reviewed here: http://www.fountainp...-delta-titanio/ , and it doesn't seem to blob on the page either. I get the feeling that the art of making flexible nibs has almost been lost.

I hope this is of interest,

Richard.

Edited to add (30/Sept/2013):

From this thread: http://www.fountainp...wan-eyedropper/

 it appears that the pen was made after Jan 1915 as the imprint reads 'Mabie Todd & Co. Ltd' rather than just 'Mabie Todd & Co.' which would indicate between 1907 & Jan 1915.
 



Sponsored Content

#2 Uncle Red

Uncle Red

    Museum Piece

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,585 posts
  • Location:Pittsburgh,PA
  • Flag:

Posted 13 October 2011 - 16:54

Another real winner Richard, you really lucked out.

#3 red52ripple

red52ripple

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 529 posts
  • Location:The Highlands of Scotland

Posted 13 October 2011 - 20:16

Another fine review and an excellent pen.

Regards,
~Deborah

goodwriterspens.com/


www.goodwriterspensales.com/

#4 UkeDan

UkeDan

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 193 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 22 October 2011 - 01:25

Another fine review and an excellent pen.

Regards,

+1 I love mine and regularly try out different inks, since it's so easy to clean this pen. My No 2 nib made in Toronto in really flexible. I love my Swan. It's identical to the OP's one.

#5 Azuniga

Azuniga

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 743 posts
  • Location:Mexico
  • Flag:

Posted 25 October 2011 - 18:12

I have one and enjoy using it... I should say I love the smell of it too.
Nice and complete review, thanks :thumbup: :thumbup:

#6 demeter

demeter

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 306 posts
  • Location:Manitoba, Canada

Posted 26 October 2011 - 01:11

Richard,
Would you please tell me what is inscribed on the nib? I have an identical pen, and I am as impressed with it as you are.
My nib is a Toronto, 14kt nib, and very flexible.

Thanks for the lovely review

Andrew

#7 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:50

Andrew,

My nib only says 'MABIE/TODD/& Co' with an underline under the 'o' of 'Co', and each / is a new line.

The pen does say on the side of the barrel: {Swan imprint, full height of following text}'THE "SWAN"/SAFETY SCREW CAP/MABIE TODD & Co. LTD/MADE IN ENGLAND'. The imprint is barely discernable and can only be read at an angle in strong light.

And now I have brown ink all over my fingers again where it burped into the cap. Has anyone got a technique for handling the pen that stops this? I do like the pen, but it's a bit irritating to have this happen so often - I feel I must be doing something wrong in the way I handle it.

Regards,

Richard.

#8 demeter

demeter

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 306 posts
  • Location:Manitoba, Canada

Posted 26 October 2011 - 11:31

Andrew,

My nib only says 'MABIE/TODD/& Co' with an underline under the 'o' of 'Co', and each / is a new line.

The pen does say on the side of the barrel: {Swan imprint, full height of following text}'THE "SWAN"/SAFETY SCREW CAP/MABIE TODD & Co. LTD/MADE IN ENGLAND'. The imprint is barely discernable and can only be read at an angle in strong light.

And now I have brown ink all over my fingers again where it burped into the cap. Has anyone got a technique for handling the pen that stops this? I do like the pen, but it's a bit irritating to have this happen so often - I feel I must be doing something wrong in the way I handle it.

Regards,

Richard.



Thanks Richard.

The ink burps are very sensitive to temperature I gather. Some folks say that you should keep the ink topped up, thus leaving less air to expand and force the ink out. I have written a number of pages without problem, but when the ink drops to a low level burping becomes commonplace. No quick fix to the problem.
Andrew

#9 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Ancient Artifact

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,687 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:21

Andrew,

That sounds reasonable, and it does get worse as the pen runs out. It's an un insulated barrel & a feed with no collector, so burping is inevitable, I suppose.

Regards,

Richard.

#10 sessyargc

sessyargc

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts
  • Location:世田谷区東京都日本
  • Flag:

Posted 27 October 2011 - 12:18

Thank you for sharing your review!

I have 4 Swans. 2 are the of the Safety Screw Cap type, the other two are slip-on types. 3 English, 1 American.
As opposed to your Swan my "Swan No 2" has a gold band on the cap and feed has fins. The feed on the "Swan No 3" also has fins, as does my American "Swan". The only Swan that didn't have a fins on the feed is my "Swan 1500", it has an over-under type feed.

Just for comparison and reference purposes. My "Swan No 2" has ["SWAN"/2/14CT/MABBIE TODD/& CO LTD/MADE IN/ENGLAND] on the nib. ["SWAN"] is on the underside of the feed. ["SWAN" No 2] on the cap. Cap, as I mentioned earlier, has a gold band. [THE SWAN/SAFETY SCREW CAP/MABIE TODD & CO/MADE IN ENGLAND] is on the barrel.

All have good flexible nibs. I have yet to find a good ink to match the "Swan No 2". It railroads Zhivago fairly quickly when I open up the tines to around B size.

I haven't got burping problems! Though, yI carry them in a roll pouch always nib up.
All the best,
Rommel

#11 Cob

Cob

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,755 posts
  • Location:Berkshire, England
  • Flag:

Posted 18 February 2015 - 21:52

Yes I have a Safety Screw Cap pen, it has an 18ct gold band on the cap.  I kept getting inky fingers, but the reason for that was a crack in the section.  I have fixed this.

 

The nib is gorgeous, just as it was on the previous one I owned.

 

I would think that the OP's pen may be a bit later than his guessed date of 1915; earlier English Swans generally had New York nibs.

 

Cob


fpn_1428963683__6s.jpg “The pen of the British Empire” fpn_1423349537__swan_sign_is.jpg







Sponsored Content




|