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Mabie Todd Dip Pens

mabie todd dip pens

105 replies to this topic

#21 Goudy

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 13:29

Thanks, pen2paper.

 

Out of curiosity, I put the handle under a (cheap, Chinese) USB microscope. I can see some grain there but I'm still not sure if it's ivory.

 

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And this is the mother-of-pearl handle:

 

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#22 alv_23

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 15:40

I can only say this: 'WOW!!!' 


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#23 pen2paper

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 16:46

imho not bone, no dark marks, too smooth. If it were the celluloid imitation of ivory (don't think it is, just for general ID discussion, and in plain language), it would have very regular two-tone grain stripes, which this does not. What I'm seeing is irregular striped grain that appears a natural material, the soft-smooth colors of ivory, so I do think it's likely ivory, and I would care for it as if it was ivory.

 

In the past we had someone post an object that with high magnification showed dark chatter marks of bone. It's hard to tell by photo, not actually handling the material. It has an alabaster appearance, but that's too soft for this use.

If one of our specialists in antique writing instruments pops in, their opinion tops mine.



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#24 Goudy

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 19:21

Thanks for that analysis. It has more weight than I would expect from celluloid. I'll assume ivory and treat accordingly.

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#25 Goudy

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 04:49

I almost got my hands on a No.7 once, but it got lost in the post. :crybaby:

 

I'm not sure if this is the complete set of MT dip nibs, but it's something to aim for (selected pages from the 1903 MT & Bard catalogue at PCA):

 

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#26 Goudy

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Posted 22 September 2015 - 16:14

A Mabie Todd No.4 nib (4th from the left on page 1 of the catalogue above) in a Fairchild 5 holder.

 

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Nib removed for cleaning. I don't normally do this, but this nib and holder are not a particularly tight fit.

 

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The line is fine (by modern FP standards) with some easy flex. Mabie Todd, in their catalogue, describe this as "long nib, medium point". Their 313 nibs were "extra fine" and their needlepoint nibs were "finest possible".

 

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#27 Goudy

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Posted 22 September 2015 - 23:04

If there is an off-web network, I'm not part of it.  :unsure: 

 

As far as I recall, all the pens I've posted in this thread came from US internet sellers. If you're looking for a large, flexible dip pen rather than an MT nib specifically, then it's worth broadening your search to other high quality New York brands from the same period such as John Holland, Aikin Lambert, ES Johnson, William Hicks and Leroy W Fairchild (to name just a few). The larger sizes are not uncommon on eBay.


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#28 Goudy

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 11:36

A Mabie Todd No.6 Needle Point with matching holder (patent date August 14th 1877). This nib is the one on the far right of the last page of the catalogue above: "Long nib, finest point possible".

 

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The holder is a simple cylinder with an internal collar to grip the nib:

 

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The nib has slight flex (no wet noodle). It's probably the finest tipped nib I've used (the dots in the picture below are 5mm apart).

 

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#29 Greenie

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 02:34

Please stop getting me interested in dip pens!  They are SOOOOooooo beautiful, but I collect too much already. That spiral is gorgeous.  I wonder how it would feel in the hand?



#30 tragique

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 16:54

A Mabie Todd No.6 Needle Point with matching holder (patent date August 14th 1877). This nib is the one on the far right of the last page of the catalogue above: "Long nib, finest point possible".

 

Wjar6IH.jpg

 

YPWqTI0.jpg

 

jwBpNGO.jpg

 

The holder is a simple cylinder with an internal collar to grip the nib:

 

BoR5J32.jpg

 

SDY5Ayq.jpg

 

The nib has slight flex (no wet noodle). It's probably the finest tipped nib I've used (the dots in the picture below are 5mm apart).

 

0ii8Qz5.jpg

 

 

Wow, that's a real needlepoint.



#31 Goudy

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 15:07

Another Mabie Todd dinosaur from when dip pens ruled the Earth. At the opposite extreme from the needle-point, this one's a No.4 stub or "Legal Pen" (second from left, page 4 of the catalogue) in a reversible BCHR and gold-filled holder.

 

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The front section of the holder detaches with a firm tug:

 

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You then reverse the nib unit and slot it firmly into the BCHR part. The pen can then be put in your pocket with no risk of damage to the nib or stains to your coat:

 

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The nib holds enough ink to write for several lines between dips, despite the stub tip.

 

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It has some small flex, but the line variation comes mainly from the shape of the tip:

 

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#32 Goudy

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 12:16

A short nib, medium point Mabie Todd No.7 (second from right, page 1 of the catalogue above) in a matching holder, patent date August 14th 1877.

 

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The front of the underside of the nib is roughened, as usual, for ink adhesion, but also has a much darker appearance than I've seen before. I don't think it's dried ink. Perhaps a chemical treatment of some sort?

 

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The point is a smooth medium semi-flex, and feels a lot like a fountain pen nib in use. Less dramatic than its fine-tipped long-tined siblings in the Mabie Todd range, this short nib was probably more for day to day office use.

 

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Edited by Goudy, 23 October 2015 - 13:05.

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#33 tavery

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 16:30

Found these yesterday (they had gotten packed in a weird place in my last move)!

Backstory: My mom said these pens belonged either to her grandmother or great-grandmother. One is a Mabie Todd, and maybe someone can help me with the other one? Before they were given to me, for as long as I can remember they were kept in an small, old, slanted fold-down desk in my grandmother's house.

Sorry for the not great pictures since I only have a camera phone.

The second pen doesn't have any writing on it except for the nib which reads "Crown No 1"

 

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#34 Goudy

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 23:28

They both look very well preserved.

 

I don't know anything about Crown, though it appears to be one of the high quality brands of the period, on a par with Mabie Todd. Here's a No.1 similar to yours.


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#35 tavery

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 01:07

Thanks for the link! It didn't occur to me to check ebay for similar pens.

 

As for the condition, probably no one's used these pens in at least 50 years, and I'm a little shy of using them because they seem so delicate! The Mabie Todd nib has a much softer flex than the Crown one, and they are both far and away from Noodler's nibs, which is my only other flex nib reference point.

There was initially more dried ink on the nibs, and I haven't been able to pull them out, but I also haven't tried too hard.

 

The retractable pens you posted are gorgeous and so clever. I'm glad you show-and-telled about the underside of the nibs being roughened for ink adhesion because before I read that I thought the nibs might have been corroded.



#36 Silviu

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 12:38

Hi,

Here's a MT NY no. 3 dip pen with a MOP handle. It's my first dip pen. It has arrived in it's original box which is in amazing condition considering it's age (like it was preserved in a time capsule). In the picture is also a MT & Bard wooden box for nibs (called "Gold Pens" on the box").  It is from the other side of the ocean bearing MT&Bard's Cheapside address in London.

 

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#37 Silviu

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 11:45

I've tried at home. I'ts very flexible, but it's a messy process. All the dipping and wiping of the surplus of ink is very tedious. A good thing the FP replaced them, that from a practical point of view.



#38 Goudy

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 16:50

I've tried at home. I'ts very flexible, but it's a messy process. All the dipping and wiping of the surplus of ink is very tedious. A good thing the FP replaced them, that from a practical point of view.

 

I'm learning to enjoy the pauses that dip pen writing imposes. B)

 

As for wiping the nib, I generally only do that once, after I've finished writing. If you find you're loading too much ink onto the nib with each dip, try a different ink. The iron gall varieties are particularly well behaved with these vintage dip nibs.


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#39 Goudy

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Posted 15 November 2015 - 00:03

Here's a description of the way these old dip nibs were made. It comes from an 1889 patent by John T Foster. The patent describes Foster's new idea for improved strength, elasticity and ink adhesion by stamping a kind of waffle pattern onto the nibs. (I have an Aikin Lambert pen which actually uses his idea and came across the patent link for it on David Nishimura's blog.) Foster prefaces his invention by describing the steps in the traditional manufacturing process. Note that he uses "pen" to describe what we would call the nib, and when he talks about the "nibs of the pen" he appears to mean the tines.

 

"First, the strip of metal from which the pens are to be made is rolled to the proper thickness; second, flat pen-blanks are stamped or punched out of this strip; third, these blanks are then pointed with iridium; fourth, the separate blanks are then rolled down to the proper thickness; fifth, the portion of the blank destined to form the nibs of the pen is hammered in order to harden it and impart sufficient elasticity to the nibs of the pen, usually twenty or thirty, or sometimes as many as forty, blows with a light hammer being given; sixth, the hammering process having spread the nib of the pen laterally, it is next necessary to cut out the blank to the exact outline required for the pen, which is done by punching; seventh, the pen is then raised, to give it the curved or convex shape, by striking it between dies; eighth, the operations of slitting the nib and grinding the point are then performed; ninth, the pen is polished, and, tenth, finally, the operation of nibbing or stoning is performed, which is done by rubbing the nibs on the under side against a peculiar kind of stone, by which the under surface of the nibs is dulled or scratched in order to enable it to hold the ink."

 

He adds that:

 

"Pens made by the old process vary greatly in elasticity, so that in buying a pen it is necessary to test a great number of pens before finding one of the precise degree of elasticity desired. By my process, however, the pens can be made of uniform elasticity, or can be made of different grades of elasticity, all the pens of each grade being precisely alike in their writing quality."


Edited by Goudy, 15 November 2015 - 12:07.

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#40 Goudy

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 14:41

A Mabie Todd No.5 stub or "Legal Pen", similar to the No.4 I showed earlier (post 38), but with a bit more wear to both nib and holder.

 

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Like the No.4, the holder is a reversible. You pull out the nib section, reverse it and slot it into the BCHR handle for safety:

 

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The nib is a flexible stub:

 

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The underside shows the tipping material and the usual roughening of the gold at the front, a process called "nibbing" or "stoning", done by "rubbing the nibs on the under side against a peculiar kind of stone, by which the under surface of the nibs is dulled or scratched in order to enable it to hold the ink." (see the preceding post in this thread).

 

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Here are the No.5 and the No.4 together:

 

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