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Swan Fountain Pen "made In England" Identification

swan fountain pen made in england 14k

30 replies to this topic

#1 bodobose

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 12:53

Today when I went to buy a flex pen, I was shown a Swan fountain pen with a no.2 14k nib. I was told that it was a flex nib. But when I tried, it was not that much flexible - it needed some effort to make it flex. Not a wet noodle at all. Its a black model with friction fit cap. On the body, I could only find only "Swan Pen" and "Made In England" but the Mabie Todd thing is missing! On the cap there is a chrome coloured clip with "Star" written on it. I could not take any photo. I want to buy this pen, but need to know if it is original. Will be very grateful if anybody here can help me. Sorry for the lack of the photo...

Edited by bodobose, 14 February 2015 - 12:55.


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#2 Cob

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 16:24

Plenty of Swan pens have more flexible nibs than the one you describe.  I should add that there is quite a range of nibs between say, "semi-flexible" and "wet noodle"

 

If it has a slip cap I presume it is an eyedropper? And if it is an eyedropper which I am fairly sure it must be because Swan as far as I know, made no others with slip caps, then it is probably at least 90 years old, so one would expect the imprints on a black hard rubber pen (which with a slip cap it must be) to be worn and in some cases virtually invisible.

 

Really without pictures it is difficult to say more and as for the clip, these were bought in their thousands as accessories.

 

It is quite unusual for a Swan of that age (guessing again) to have a firm nib.  Quite likely that some time in the past 90 years the nib has been replaced.

 

Cob


Edited by Cob, 14 February 2015 - 16:26.

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


#3 bodobose

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 18:30

Cob, Many thanks for your reply! You are 100% right! Hat's off! That indeed was an eyedropper! How did I forget to mention that in my question!!! I am quite new to this 'game', and pardon my lack of knowledge. I just wanted to buy one proper vintage flex pen. You are again right that the imprints are worn out. That I noticed. As you say, I understand that that the nib has been / had to be changed at some point in its lifetime. I don't know if that reduces its value as a vintage pen, but I liked the nib as it is super smooth. The man dipped it in a ink bottle to show me how it writes! Only two problems I found:
1) The writing was a little too wet to my taste. Quite wet in fact. I don't know if it was due to the dip in the ink bottle.
2) The pen was leaking from the place where the barrel was screwed with the nib section. May be due to the fact that it is an eyedropper.
The clip was standard Swan type, but steel/chrome coloured with "Star" written on it? Before putting my question here, I tried to find some reference of this "Star" clip on Swan pens on the net, but couldn't find any.
But for about $50, I thought (?) it was good value though it's not true flex! If I buy that, I'll surely post one photo.
Many thanks again! So happy to know I had touched a 90 year old pen today! :-)

Edited by bodobose, 14 February 2015 - 18:34.


#4 Cob

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 18:54

Cob, Many thanks for your reply! You are 100% right! Hat's off! That indeed was an eyedropper! How did I forget to mention that in my question!!! I am quite new to this 'game', and pardon my lack of knowledge. I just wanted to buy one proper vintage flex pen. You are again right that the imprints are worn out. That I noticed. As you say, I understand that that the nib has been / had to be changed at some point in its lifetime. I don't know if that reduces its value as a vintage pen, but I liked the nib as it is super smooth. The man dipped it in a ink bottle to show me how it writes! Only two problems I found:
1) The writing was a little too wet to my taste. Quite wet in fact. I don't know if it was due to the dip in the ink bottle.
2) The pen was leaking from the place where the barrel was screwed with the nib section. May be due to the fact that it is an eyedropper.
The clip was standard Swan type, but steel/chrome coloured with "Star" written on it? Before putting my question here, I tried to find some reference of this "Star" clip on Swan pens on the net, but couldn't find any.
But for about $50, I thought (?) it was good value though it's not true flex! If I buy that, I'll surely post one photo.
Many thanks again! So happy to know I had touched a 90 year old pen today! :-)e one but still.

 

 

For the wetness, well it was just dipped, but then if it was just dipped why was there a leak from the barrel?  The threads on Swan eyedroppers are top quality; if you are unlucky enough to have one that weeps a bit - first check with a loupe for cracks or damage.  If all is OK then a smear of silicone grease on the threads will stop the leak. $50 is peanuts for a Swan eyedropper - one just sold for £160 on ebay, admittedly a very nice one.

 

Forget about the clip: it is just a proprietary accommodation clip, probably of chrome or nickel-plated steel and probably rusty or if you are lucky, it might be of sterling silver; I have a De La Rue one like that.   The pens were supplied without clips - sensible when you think about it - slip cap and all... Swan of course produced the metal pockets which are 100% safe.

 

If you are happy with the way it writes and don't mind the lack of flex buy it!  If the nib is at least medium in width you could always have it stubbed to give you some line variation.

 

Cob


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


#5 Effin1

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 20:08

I think the MT Swans 200/60 and SF 2 were sold by me. I wasn't well last week and my handyman put them on and I just told him to sell them. When I saw the price he had put them on for I told him someone would get a bargain. They were both fully restored and in working condition. I just hate flex nibs. I write a lot of letters and at speed. Flex just annoys me so I'm trying to sell all my pens with flex nibs. Give me a smooth Eternal No. 4 anytime (or even a 6}

#6 Cob

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 20:17

Cannot be you Elfin: the OP's pen has a slip cap which neither of yours does.

 

PS if you fancy an ultra smooth Eternal 4 in a 1925 pen, PM me.

 

Cob


Edited by Cob, 14 February 2015 - 20:18.

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


#7 Effin1

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 21:50

Cob the SF2 had a slip cap



#8 Effin1

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 21:52

and it's gone to Paris and I sold a 200/60 a few minutes before



#9 Cob

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 22:20

and it's gone to Paris and I sold a 200/60 a few minutes before

SF2 with a slip cap!  I never heard of one - I stand corrected apologies.

 

C.


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


#10 Effin1

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 09:45

Cob I just hope he's described them correctly  I just told him to look for any markings and write exactly.  I do accept returns and pay return postage but the 1 that went to France was a gorgeous pen in really good condition doubt he could buy 1 for the price which ever model it is.



#11 MarcShiman

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Posted 26 February 2015 - 18:52

SF stands for "Self-filler", e.g. lever filler. The OP's pen is a eyedropper.



#12 Effin1

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Posted 26 February 2015 - 23:45

Posted on wrong thread (new meds)  Sorted now it was Wet Noodle who bought my SF2.  Incidentally it did not have slip cap I confused slip cap with clipless in my drug induced state but used to them now. 



#13 bodobose

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Posted 03 March 2015 - 15:49

Hi Cob,
I am back with a bang! Finally I got the pen I was talking about. I have attached some photos too. There are some plus'es and minus'es that I found and you may be able to correct my mistakes -
 
Plus'es:-
1. Extremely smooth nib (I heard somewhere vintage flexes are not that smooth)
2. Flexes when I like - normal writing when I like
3. Eyedropper - so no worries about changing sacks etc.
4. After putting silicon grease (as suggested by you), no more leaking from barrel end
 
Minus'es:-
1. When writing normally, it's a tiny bit broader than normal broad - so flexing is not that much prominent (see photo) - not at all wet noodle (may be next time I'll but one, if I can afford)
2. There's a gaping hole (see photo) on the cap where probably earlier clip was attached (probably broken). So I have a feeling this might not be the original cap and this might not be the original clip.
3. I washed it thoughly after buying and then put Waterman Serenity Blue ink. But still sometimes there's hard start or drying out problem. I prime the nib and then it writes again. I don't know how to open the nib and the feed from the section and so I couldn't wash them separately (can you tell me?)
 
Overall I am super happy because the way it writes and in spite of the (ugly) hole on the cap. It's really a special feeling (and privilege) to even touch such an old pen!
 
I wanted to ask you the following:-
1. What model is this and how old it can be?
2. Is the cap original?
3. Is there anyway I can cover that hole in a proper way so that it doesn't show?
4. Why this hard start/drying out phenomenon (I've covered the hole fully with two thick rubber bands temporarliy till I find a proper way to do so and so the drying out cannot be because of the hole)
 
Sorry to trouble you again... but I'm hugely excited, and so... :)

Attached Images

  • 1.jpg
  • 2.jpg
  • 3.jpg
  • 4.jpg

Edited by bodobose, 03 March 2015 - 15:53.


#14 Cob

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Posted 03 March 2015 - 19:06

Well done, and it sounds as though you have a pen you like which is of course the main thing isn't it?

 

One cannot generalise about vintage nibs: if they are not smooth then most likely they are either misaligned or worn or both.  Careful attention can usually restore them to smoothness, although I have to say I like a touch of "feel" in a nib - people call it feedback.  Smoothness is generally easier to obtain with a broad nib than with a fine one.

 

Certainly the hard starting could be caused by the nib drying out, but there are other possible reasons - feed setting or perhaps the nib tip is a "baby's bum"  Looking at the writing sample, flow looks to be good.

 

Have a look inside the cap: are there threads inside?  It looks later to me, and the hole is typical of a Swan cap that originally had a step cap that has been torn out; I do not think (but am not certain) that such clips were generally fitted to slip-cap eyedroppers.  Later, Mabie Todd offered the step clip as an option for  which 2/6d was charged (12½p = say £8 today) so in theory someone might have had a clip fitted.  As for fixing up the hole.  This would be tricky: you could block up the cap with a precisely-sized piece of dowel smothered in silicone grease, and then fill the hole with Devcon 2-ton epoxy mixed with a suitably coloured dye.

 

The nib looks to be a No 2 in which case I would say that the pen is a Swan 200 (look very closely with a loupe on the section and you might just make out the number.  I had a 300 (No 3 nib) which had 300 just visible on the section.

 

I think I have covered all your points - if not ask again!

 

I must add that you are fortunate to have the gold bands; are they stamped or hallmarked?

 

Best wishes and welcome to the wonderful world of Mabie Todd!

 

Cob


Edited by Cob, 03 March 2015 - 19:11.

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


#15 bodobose

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 19:19

Grateful for all the practical suggestions. I'll surely try them. You answered all my queries. Following your lead, I tried some google image search for Mabie Todd Swan 200 and ultimately came to this page -
http://goodwriterspe...eyedropper-pen/
From this it seems (I may be wrong) that it is Swan 1500 (See the photo on that page). It seems the cap in my pen is not the original one (as that page shows a golden clip on a rounded cap - mine is top-flattened cap with chrome coloured clip) and the clip of mine is definitely not the original! But the barrel and section of mine are definitely original. I just guess it by looking at that photo on that page... what do you think? But this only hardens my resolve to buy a fully original piece some day in future, if only I can afford one, that is. In India probably they are not available easily - any idea where I can find one - preferrably Swan wet noodle type flex - online at somewhat affordable price?

#16 Cob

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 20:36

The 1500 I had had an over/under feed; your nib looks like a No 2 which suggests to me it is a bit later, but I am not entirely sure if these models did not overlap.

 

What do you mean by "an original Swan wet-noodle flex?"  This could be from any era - certainly up to the 1950s - I have sold 31xx models with full flex No 1 nibs.  In fact I have just acquired a mid forties big leverless (no number but obviously a 1060) with a ridiculously flexible No 4 nib - the first I have come across; although the pen needs work, I am of course, delighted!

 

I ask because I assumed that you were especially interested in early Swans - eye-droppers.  My 1500 had a broad flexible nib; it sold I think for about £44.  The "Safety Screw Cap Pens" also eyedroppers which followed the early slip cap models usually came with delightful stub nibs, flexible but not extremely so, but lovely to write with.

 

Cob


Edited by Cob, 04 March 2015 - 20:37.

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


#17 bodobose

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 03:37

My initial interest was and I wanted to buy a wet noodle type Swan which can be used for daily writing as well. But since it was not available here and since I liked the one I found, I took that. I prefer ED type pens because of less hassle and future servicing! I live in Calcutta and in this part fountain pens are almost rare and shops able to service old pens are almost extinct! So, in short, I would like to have a ED type flexible Swan in one piece for regular use. I think there's a charm to these Swan pens that is absent in other vintage pens... but that's obviously personal choice! Since you live in UK, the availability, quality and choice of Swans available are quite high, but here we simply have no choice! :-(

Edited by bodobose, 05 March 2015 - 03:39.


#18 Cob

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 22:18

A divertissement

 

And apropos of nothing much really:

 

I had the opportunity to snap all the Swan nibs together except of course for the enormous and rare 8 and the mythical No 5.

 

Cob

 

fpn_1425593896__64321.jpg


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


#19 bodobose

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 03:07

Great!!!

#20 Cepasaccus

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 17:31

I asume the SF5 is only mythical with "made in England"? Because the NY-SF5 was not really expensive in the bay.



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