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Mabie Todd & Co "Swan" eyedropper.


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Hi folks,

 

I recently (like, an hour ago) purchased a really neat turn-of-the-century Mabie-Todd & Co "Swan" eyedropper fountain pen (at least, that's what I believe it is).

 

It has a slip-on cap and it's BCHR. The cap slips on very snugly but can be removed without too much effort.

 

What I am at a loss with, though, is how to remove the nib-assembly from the barrel so that I might refill the pen. I have no idea how to separate the barrel and the nib-assembly successfully. Any advice, people? It's a really neat pen and I don't want to damage it.

Edited by Shangas

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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Hi JBB,

 

That's what I thought. But the pen is being uncooperative in this endeavour. Here's some photographs:

 

Whole pen:

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/todd3.jpg

 

Cap closeup:

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/todd2.jpg

 

Another shot of the pen (it's too bright, but this shows the detail of the pen better than a darker shot would):

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/todd1.jpg

 

Writing sample after dipping in ink:

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/toddsample.jpg

 

So...how do I open this pen to fill it up? Or how do I loosen it up a bit to get it to cooperate?

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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On the one I have that is similar looking (although I don't have that lovely cap) the seam between the barrel and the feed/nib is so fine (seamless, as it were) I didn't see it for a while. I thought it didn't open at all and was a dip pen. Anyway, mine unscrews.

 

That's a nice pen. Congrats. :thumbup:

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I think hot water is forbidden due to discolouration (but, and I don't know if you can see this) the top half of the pen is already pretty badly discoloured.

 

I could try cold water.

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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I've been soaking the pen in a solution of water & soap for the past...hour or so...changing the water every 5-10 minutes. It IS removing the ink inside the pen, and I'm convinced that once the ink is all out, the pen MIGHT open up properly.

 

This is my first eyedropper pen. Which way do the threads unscrew and how easily should I expect this pen to open?

 

Oh, and if possible, I'd like to know the age of this pen. I'm estimating, based on my research, between 1880-1910. Can anyone narrow it down more?

Edited by Shangas

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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**Bump**

 

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks to the advice of Roger W, I managed to get this pen working! It unscrews, fills, rescrews and writes like a dream! Here's a couple of photos:

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/SwanDisassembled.jpg

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/writingsample.jpg

 

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/Fruffles/Writing%20Pictures/todd3.jpg

 

However, I am STILL trying to figure out HOW OLD THIS PEN IS.

 

My research tells me the following things:

 

1. Mabie Todd & Co were founded in 1860.

2. They started making "Swan" model pens ca. 1880-1890.

3. This pen has an over-under feed, a design-feature commonly found in very early fountain pens.

4. It's an eyedropper-filler, but not a safety.

5. It has a slip-on cap with a pre-attached clip (it doesn't look like something that was added later. It's marked: "Swan Clip/Mabie Todd & Co").

6. It has: "The 'Swan' Pen/Mabie Todd & Co/Made In England" stamped onto the barrel. There's a little picture of a swan next to the start of the imprint.

 

Based on all this information...how old might this pen be? I saw photos of a very similar Mabie Todd & Co pen online (identical cap-decorations) that led me to believe this pen was made in the 1880s. Is that too old for this pen? I really don't know, but I want to find out! Help!!

 

--- --- --- ---

 

According to... http://members.multimania.co.uk/andrewbrooks86/mabie-todd_swan.htm

 

About 1884 the firm begins sales of its products in England. About this same time the “Swan” pen trademark is first adopted. Whether these two events are related remains to be discovered. However given all this, Mabie, Todd & Bard continues to produce extraordinary pens but fail to adopt the national advertising strategies of its major competitors such as Wirt and Waterman.

 

In 1906, J. S. Bard withdraws from the business and the firm is renamed Mabie, Todd & Co. In 1909 production of pens is begun in England and the trademark “Swan, the pen of the British Empire” comes into use. Eventually, “Swan” becomes another word for ‘pen’ in the popular lexicon. In 1915, the UK principles of the firm marketing Swan pens in England, Europe and the British Empire acquire full rights and title to the UK business and assets. While the UK business grows and prospers, Mabie, Todd & Co.’s US business begins a decline.

 

How old does this make my pen? According to the same website...

 

In 1910, Mabie, Todd & Co. began production of a well designed pen with a special safety screw cap and with a machined hard rubber ‘ladder’ feed. Development also began on a variety of pocket clip designs, several of which saw production.
Edited by Shangas

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

If the stamp on the barrel says Mabie Todd & Co., Ltd, rather than just Mabie Todd & Co., then the pen was made sometime after Jan. of 1915. Otherwise, it is after 1907 since that is when the company name reverted to Mabie Todd & Co. instead of Mabie Todd & Bard. If it says Mabie todd & Co., but not Mabie Todd & Co. Ltd., then it should be between 1907-1915. If Ltd.,it could be later. Mabie Todd made eyedroppers for a much longer period of time in England than in the U.S. It could have been made as late as the twenties. Are there any numbers on the posting end of the barrel?

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Fountain pens were not made under the name of Mabie, Todd & Co. until after January 7, 1907. Fountain pens made in England after Dec. 31, 1914 would have been marked mabie Todd & Co., Ltd. so your pen falls within this date range. There is nothing about the model to allow us to narrow the dates any further. In England, this model of pen was made well into the 1920s. In the U.S., the safety pen model was introduced in 1910. However, in england they continued to make slip caps for many many years. The pocket clip was similarly offered much later in England than in the US (and was optional). There is no way to set the date as narrowly as a three year range because there are no distinguishing characteristics of the pen to do so. If it were U.S. made, the case for dating the pen between 1908-1910 would be much stronger.

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Fountain pens were not made under the name of Mabie, Todd & Co. until after January 7, 1907. Fountain pens made in England after Dec. 31, 1914 would have been marked mabie Todd & Co., Ltd. so your pen falls within this date range. There is nothing about the model to allow us to narrow the dates any further. In England, this model of pen was made well into the 1920s. In the U.S., the safety pen model was introduced in 1910. However, in england they continued to make slip caps for many many years. The pocket clip was similarly offered much later in England than in the US (and was optional). There is no way to set the date as narrowly as a three year range because there are no distinguishing characteristics of the pen to do so. If it were U.S. made, the case for dating the pen between 1908-1910 would be much stronger.

 

So, David, do I understand correctly that this pen could be either U.S. or English made?

 

Shangas, your pen is handsome. Looks like the nib is firm with just a touch of flex by your writing sample. I wish I could see the nib better, not because I would be any help to you, but because I'm curious. Very cool — looks like it has an over and under feed?

Edited by Rena
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Hi Rena,

 

The pen has "MADE IN ENGLAND" on the barrel. So it was definitely made in England sometime between 1907-1914. The nib is indeed a firm fine, with a nice bit of flexiness in it. And yes, it has a double/over-under feed. It's the first pen in my collection which is an ED pen and which has an over-under feed. Since I started this thread, I've managed to get the pen working wonderfully. It writes smoothly and very comfortably. The inkflow is consistent and level and, as one might expect, it holds a ton of ink!

 

I did a special mix of ink for this pen. I wanted it to write a sort of dark, navy blue. But Parker Quink BB doesn't do that. So I added six eyedropperfuls of black Quink into the blue/black Quink to darken it up a bit. It's now a nice purple colour.

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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Thanks, Betsy.

 

I almost didn't buy this pen!! The oliving of the cap put me off. But then I decided: I'd never get another pen like this. I may as well buy it.

 

I did, and I brought it home.

 

It's on my desk right now, filled with Parker Quink and writing just as well today as it did 100 years ago.

http://www.throughouthistory.com/ - My Blog on History & Antiques

 

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I am soooo happy to hear that you're using it!

 

When I hear about people buying pens and saving them for...looks...or questioning whether or not they should use them it just makes me sad. I love the idea that this is so old and it's still perfectly usable, and has a good home. It's a PEN. That's what it was MADE to do. It just makes me think, "whoopie!"

 

And on that overly-excited note, I think someone needs to go to bed.

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  • 2 months later...

Very nice.

 

I want a cool turn-of-the-century pen like that, too! :puddle:

-mike

 

"...Madness takes its toll."

 

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4120/4954883548_bb6177bea0_m.jpghttp://www.clubtuzki.com/sites/default/files/icon24.gifhttp://farm5.static.flickr.com/4012/5152062692_8037fd369c_t.jpghttp://farm5.static.flickr.com/4088/5152115656_e8d75849f1_t.jpg

 

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." – J.R.R. Tolkien

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