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Questions About Antique Dip Pen


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I'm new to using fountain and dip pens, but they've always sounded really cool. When I saw a dip pen at an antique store last month, I ended up coming home with it. :)


I would really appreciate any information you may know about it!


On the back of the nib it says:



Edward Todd & Co

New York



It has a mother of pearl handle, and yellow metal.


Even if you don't have much information about it, I have some specific questions:


1. Does the nib part look too long? Photos I've seen of pens similar to this one (I haven't seen any exactly like it) seem to have shorter nibs.

2. What type of writing is it probably meant for?

3. What should I soak the metal part in to be able to separate the nib without breaking it?

4. What size nib is it?

5. (May mean the same thing as 3) What do I use to clean it?





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No, nib looks ok...nibs were from 8 to 1 in size with 3-6 being what is normal today...with 6 now being considered large.

Source...1902 Sears and Roebuck replica catalog and the '94-5 Montgomery Ward.

The nib was called a pen back then...it went in the pen holder.


Gold nibs were tipped with 'iridium' originally called 'Diamond' tipping. Iridium was more expensive than gold....and is quite scarce being only the dust of a couple of inches of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.


Steel nibs were the original Bic's....came in little boxes of 1/4th of a gross.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:


The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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To expand on Bo Bo's answer a bit ...

What you have there is a beautiful example of a luxury dip pen by one of the most important early American pen makers. It looks to be in quite good condition, provided there are no cracks in the metal that don't show in your photos. (That doesn't mean it's hugely valuable, however.)

It was meant for elegant script, such as roundhand, copperplate, or the similar personal handwriting that was done at the end of the 19th century, before fountain pens dominated. It requires a special technique: absolutely no pressure at all on upward and sideways strokes, and gradual light pressure on downstrokes to get greater line width. (Look up some examples to see what this should look like.) You cannot press hard on this pen (or it will crack or bend) and if you press at all on anything but downstrokes, the tip of the pen will often catch on the paper.

I would only soak the metal parts in cool water, and not let the handle get wet at all. Others may have different suggestions. There is no need to remove the pen (the nib part) from the holder unless you want to change it out for a different pen.

These pens were intended to produce a hairline-fine line when you use no pressure, and a medium-to-broad line on downstrokes with pressure. In other words, they are (usually) quite flexible.

Enjoy--it's a beautiful pen!


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1. No, the nib looks about right. Holder and nib appear to be a good match.

2. General writing. Edward Todd nibs showed varying degrees of flex. Try it and see what you get. Don't try to flex it too much or you might spring the nib.

3. I would try a dilute soap solution. I found one of these last year completely encased in solidified ink and a good soaking in dilute Ivory liquid soap and water and gentle rubbing with fingers got the ink off. You can try soaking the lower part of the holder to loosen the nib but make sure to dry the holder completely after you are done or you could end up with some internal corrosion. You can also use one of those rubber grips sold in many stores to help people open recalcitrant jar lids to help your grip on the nib IF (BIG IF) you grab the nib carefully to avoid flattening it or stressing it in a way that could cause damage.

4. You have a size 2 nib, one of the smaller Edward Todd nibs but a nice writer.

5. I have never needed anything other than soapy water, even with nibs caked with India ink. I have been told that Rapido-eze technical pen cleaner will work for really stubborn gunk. There may be an area of permanently darker and rougher looking metal on the underside of the nib around the tines that won't shine up. This was intentionally left rough to help ink adhere to the nib to provide longer writing between dips.


That is a nice looking nib of considerable age that ought to be fun to write with. Enjoy.

Dave Campbell
Retired Science Teacher and Active Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.


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Thank you for all your answers!


I'm thankful for your advice on caring for the pen. I probably would have pushed down too hard without the warning! I have now ordered some inexpensive pens to practice with first. :) I don't think I'm going to try removing the pen from the holder, since it sounds like it will work very well for anything I want to write with it.


The history on it was also really interesting! I'm assuming since it has yellow metal that it is probably gold, then. What was the purpose of having iridium coating on the tip? I have heard of a Mabie Todd pen company; was Edward Todd & Co before or after that?


I am really looking forward to learning more about pens and writing from this site! Thanks so much for your help!

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Edward Todd was the Todd part of Mabie Todd and company but left the firm in 1868 to start his own company. The nib is gold, the ferrule holding it probably not. Gold was used because it resists corrosion, unlike the steel nibs. Unfortunately, it is also rather soft. The tipping (called iridium whether it was really iridium or not) was a harder metal that resisted the erosion of the nib tip so the nib would last longer.


There are a lot of people on this site with far more expertise on the history and use of these pens than I have. They can be a lot of fun to use. The Penmanship, Write Stuff, and History forums would be good places to search for more information.


Enjoy your pen.

Dave Campbell
Retired Science Teacher and Active Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.


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