The Savoy Pen

I note that my post of January 3 was full of good intentions.  I managed a post on the fourth, and there’s been nothing after that.  Explanation is that I’ve had the most vicious attack of arthritis, probably down to the awful weather that we’ve had.  Result was that I’ve done nothing for quite some time.  I’m a bit better now and I hope to get back into my stride again.
I last wrote about Savoy pens back on 26 November 2011 – how time flies!  In that article I covered the debate about who makes Savoy pens.  I’m still of the opinion that they are made by Langs.  In every respect these pens look like Langs work to me.  The name, too, follows their usual pattern of calling pens after London street names or districts.
This example has seen a bit of use, and even abuse.  You will note that the lever is bent, though it functions perfectly well.  I’m not entirely sure that the arrow clip is original – but it might be.  I think these clips were used on Langs-made Stephens pens at one time.
The imprint doesn’t help much in deciding who made the pen.  It just says “Savoy British Made Made in England”.  A bit emphatic about the location of manufacture, perhaps!  This is my second coloured one, and very nice the pattern is too, in a sort of rose marble.  I’ve also had a couple of black chased ones, very like 40s Stephens.

So that’s the Savoy.  Tell me who you think made it.

Mabie Todd & Bard Swan Pen


This one’s a bit special!  It’s a Mabie Todd and Bard Swan eyedropper filler.  Bard was dropped from the company name in 1907 so this pen is before that but I don’t know how much before that.  Going on advertising images that I have seen my guess would be somewhere in the late 1890s.  It cost quite a lot but I suspect I got off light and the real price is rather higher at I paid.

It’s a gold filled half overlay and the overlay is printed “The Swan Pen Pat Feb 8 81 Feb 21 82 Mar 6 88 Mabie Todd & Bard New York”.  The pen measures 13.4 cm capped.  The cap bears a Swan imprint.  It’s the most basic of eyedroppers and the nib appears to be a medium.  I suspect that it’s a replacement as the base of the barrel carries the letters “OBL”, signifying that the pen was issued with an oblique nib.
It’s a slender pen, which was what people expected back in those days when they were making the transition from dip pens, almost all of which were very slender.
The hard shelled case has a leather finish and apart from one scuff on the top it is in good condition.  There are some ink stains on the inside.  The original eyedropper is included.  The rubber bulb has hardened with the passage of time, but these can be bought on the Internet.
This pen was issued at a time of comparative peace and plenty.  The two horrific world wars of the 20th century were yet to come.  Though society was ordered in a way that we would reject today, it was stable and wealth was distributed more fairly than it is today.  The economy was sound and unemployment was low.  I wouldn’t want to go back there but at least they didn’t have the daily diet of horrors that comes our way.  It’s interesting to compare the conditions under which people lived in Britain then and now.  I think we’ve seen plenty of progress but little, if any, improvement.

New Year Thoughts

A Happy New Year to you all.  Now that the festivities are over it’s a good time to think about this blog – what I’ve done over the years and where it might go.  Despite the many years that I have had an interest in pens, I remain a generalist.  I don’t have the knowledge about any one manufacturer that the more avid collectors will have.  However I do have quite a wide knowledge of pens and my pen buying always includes the unusual, whenever I can get it, as that provides subjects for discussion in the blog.  It’s nice to get a hold of something rare and old.  With some of these oddities, there’s nothing to refer to on the Internet, and I feel that if I can get at least a basic description of such a pen, it gives buyers something to refer to if they come across another example.

In the last quarter of last year, or so, I was posting less than I had been from the beginning.  That was mostly down to my workload which was pretty intense, and there was some ill-health in there as well.  I hope to do more this year.  It’s certainly not that I’m running out of ideas or pens to write about; there’s plenty more out there to discuss.

When I started this blog I was only interested in old pens.  Though they remain at the core of my interest, new pens have begun to catch my attention.  Some of them are not as bad as I assumed all new pens to be, and in fact the pens on my desk, for the last few weeks, have been a cheap Chinese pen with a very nice fine nib and a Monteverde Invincia Stealth which is a very pleasant writer.  Once the ink runs out they’re likely to be replaced by old pens again, but I think that new – or at least recent – pens will feature here a little more.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Lamy Al-Star 2015 Limited Edition

Well, that’s the first part of the festivities over though the Hogmanay shenanigans is still to come.  I enjoy Christmas and New Year but they do break my routine and it’s hard to get back into it.  Here I am, trying to throw off the sloth of the past few days.

I see that Lamy is bringing out a new Limited Edition for 2015, in Copper Orange and black, just the colours of my Laverda Jota motorcycle of nearly 30 years ago.  It was a mighty three cylinder 1000 cc beast that gave vent to a stuttering roar when it was on song.  Fond memories, and how did it become so long ago?

Fancy that, a Limited Edition Lamy Al-Star!  Though it has many admirers, the Al-Star is the kind of cheap pen that you carry in your pocket and don’t grieve too much if you lose it. Lamy Al-Stars and Safaris don’t work for me; they just don’t fit my hand, somehow.  They are good pens for the price but they hardly lend themselves to the bombast of the Limited Edition!

Nib Repair

I had an email from Carlos Garcia of which I reproduce in full here as it may be of use to some of you.



Hello i’m Carlos Garcia, head of the company (Spain)

Goldnibs specializes in the repair and restoration of nibs both modern and ancient.

Our customers are professionals and collectors around the world.

With the hope that we can start a future professional collaboration, I am waiting for your feedback.

Our services are:


“Standard”: 40€ F (Fine), M (Medium), B (Broad).

 “Special”: 45€ XF (extra-fine), OM (Medium Oblique), OB-(Oblique Broad) and Stub.

“Others”: 60€ In points: Double Broad (2B), Triple Broad (3B) and oblique variants.

“Bespoke”: See you to your specific case.

Regrind to a smaller size: 30€ (starting from an existing point) example M to F, or B to M.

Geometry of the nib: 20-60 € (repair of a nib that dropped or hit with impaired tip). The price depends on the complexity of the repair,it might be from a small alignment of teeth to a deeper setting with fire, hammer and anvil double head.

Cracks and “Hair lines”: Ask, they happen on vintage nibs, frequently on flexible ones; repair complexity depends on the size of the crack, its location and whether it affects the engraving. Would greatly facilitate the work, if you send us a photo with details of the fault repair.

Ink-flow adjustment: 15 to 25€ For when ink-flow stops after a short intesive use, or conversely, to reduce the flow when it leads to ink drops dripping during writing.

Nib smoothing: 15€ (This price is eliminated if the work is combined with other repair)


Hard-rubber cleaning: 65€. Hard-rubber oxidation is eliminated using non-abrasive techniques, includes sac replacement, inner cleaning and writing test.

Tuning: 30€. Includes cleaning of the exterior of the pen, sac replacement, inner cleaning of the nib and feed (and the ink reservoir, if applicable) and a writing test It does not include any repair. If any problem is detected during disassembly we would ask the owner for permission to repair it.

Electrolytic baths. Coating of gold and other precious metals: Ask. Refurbishing of clips, rings, etc with electrolytic baths in gold, rhodium, silver are billed according to surface area and the need for repairs or additional assembly and disassembly.

Welds: Ask. Price depends on material: steel, gold, silver, etc as well as the associated necessary repairs.

Seals: Ask. Seals for piston filling mechanisms.

All our services are performed within a maximum of 10 business days after we receive the nib or pen.

If you send us more than 5 nibs will save 10%

If you send us more than 10 nibs will save 20%

Shipping free for you.

This service is an added value that does not have many professions in Europe and would be happy to deal with you.

Thank you very much and remain at your disposal to answer any questions you have.

Carlos García 


Picasso Red Flower


I confess that I am sometimes drawn in by the allure of Chinese pens, but in my defence I maintain that they are much improved – or at least some of them are – and some, it seems to me, are not all that far behind much more expensive European and American pens in terms of quality and presentation.  A case in point is the Picasso Red Flower which I bought recently.

It’s extremely well presented.  It comes in a cardboard outer box decorated with a tiny image of a Picasso painting.  Inside is a hard case containing the pen, a quality inspection card and a well illustrated Picasso booklet.  Every bit as smart as any of the European pens I bought lately.
IMGP9868 IMGP9869
My one complaint about the pen would be that it is enamelled brass construction and therefore quite heavy, though so far I haven’t found that to be a great disadvantage in use because it’s quite well-balanced.  The pen is very pretty, black with splashes of red in a fairish imitation of urushi.  The clip is two-toned with an image that I can’t quite make out – maybe it’s a pen nib above an ink bottle, but maybe not.  Have a look – see what you think.
The push on cap fits very securely with a satisfying click.  The black plastic section has an embossed pattern which gives a good grip.  The nib is 22k gold-plated stainless steel, and is as smooth as any pen I have ever tried.  The ink flow is generous and after several pages of writing it hasn’t skipped yet.  Unscrewing the barrel exposes a twist converter which works well and of course the pen will take international cartridges.
This is a lot of pen for under £20!  I’m not saying that it rocks the foundations of Mont Blanc or Visconti, but it does make one wonder about the prices that they are set at.  Undoubtedly, they are better pens but are they several hundreds of pounds better?



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