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Mabie Todd Swan, Another Identification Question.

mabie todd swan model identification

2 replies to this topic

#1 ISW_Kaputnik



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Posted 08 December 2014 - 15:48

I know a little about the Mabie Todd brand, but haven't been able to find a single go-to page for information on their models over the years, and am wondering where this one fits in.  I just cleaned it up and put a new sac in it, and it's a pretty nice little pen except for a pronounced tendency to nib creep.  Might be better with a different ink (I'm using Namiki Blue), but never mind that now.  Here's what it looks like.






On the flat end of the barrel, the number 54 is visible above the letters ETN.  Along the barrel, their are three lines of text.


"Swan" Self Filling Pen

Mabie Todd & Co., New York,

Pats Jan. 26 04  May 21 18 Pat Pdg


The word "Eternal" also appears at right angles to the above, part way around the circumference of the barrel.  The nib has the writing "Swan" Eternal 4, 14 Ct, Mab Todd & Co.


From the 1918 patent, I'm guessing that this is from the years of decline of the U.S. company, but it's a pretty nice looking pen.  The only real manufacturing flaw I can find is with the cap.  There are three breather holes, two of them are not punched out completely, and there are still nubs of plastic (celluloid) left in the middle.


This is the first lever filler I've seen without a springbar.  The pressure bar hangs on a pivot from the lever.  The lever has a hook on the other end that latches it into place when closed.  It works quite well.  I filled this from ink that had been transferred to a vial in order to get a rough measurement, and it took in a milliliter.


The nib writes a line somewhere on the border of fine and medium, it has no particular flex.  It's writing a bit dry, I may try spreading the tines a little.


It's a fairly short pen; I have to post it to write with it comfortably.


Anyway, I'm curious to know about when this pen was made, and anything else interesting about it.  And if somebody knows of a good reference page for Mabie Todd models, that would be good too.

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." - Benjamin Franklin

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#2 MarcShiman


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Posted 15 January 2015 - 22:24

You basically named it - its a Swan Eternal 54 in Jade. Judging by the cap band, it came towards the end of the Eternal series, so its an early 30's pen. 


The 5 indicates its a vest-pocket pen, and the four is the nib size (and the barrel girth). The "eternal" designation indicates it was part of their higher end of Swan pens, as the eternal nibs were thicker and, as you've come to realized, without as much flex as other nibs of theirs. It was intended to compete with the Sheaffer Lifetime and Wahl Gold Seal.


From a standpoint of company size, you are correct that Mabie Todd was probably shrinking in size, but this is very much top of the line in terms of quality. The decline in quality started around the mid-30's, and coincided with their pens becoming more streamlined (homage to the Balance). 


What's remarkable about that pen is the size of the #4 nib. Swan's nibs are extraordinarily large, and for a vest pocket pen, their four size nib... well, its one big honking nib. They actually made a 56 pen, but I've never seen it in Jade. The standard size pen similar to yours would be a 44. 


There aren't many websites that discuss Mabie Todd - there is one that looks at British Mabie Todd, and www.mabie-todd.com comes out of David Moak's great book "Mabie in America" which is unfortunately out of print (although its not hard to find used copies on the internet). The American and British Mabie Todds shared parts earlier in their existence, but as the British Mabie Todd went on to big growth in the 30's and 40's, the American Mabie Todd went into decline in the 30's and ceased operations at the end of the 30's. There is very little information (believe me, I've searched) for mid-30's Mabie Todd and later. 

#3 ISW_Kaputnik



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Posted 18 January 2015 - 02:49

Thanks for the information, this sort of detail is always appreciated.  I had one other answer on another forum, less detailed, but still increasing my knowledge.


Since the original post, I spread the tines slightly, which not only made this a very nice writer indeed, but also somehow reduced the nib creep.

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." - Benjamin Franklin

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: mabie todd, swan, model identification

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