A Leverless 4260

I picked up this 4260 recently, a post-war Leverless in very good condition. It came in a repair box with a cover note stating that it had been repaired in Yeovil by W. Gibson Esq. in 1951. It seems that pen repair runs in the family!

That aside, this was the last in the long and successful line of the paddle Leverlesses. Shortly after this pen left the factory Mabie Todd re-tooled for production of a pressure-bar Leverless, an excellent and efficient design but not such a pleasure to repair.

I haven’t seen one of those cover notes before though I’ve had lots of Swans in repair boxes. I suppose they were thrown away though the box was kept. What makes this one different is that I don’t think the pen was used after repair. When I flushed it no ink appeared and when I ran a cotton bud through the section it came out clean. Here’s a little supposition: by time the pen came back from repair the owner, in need of something to write with, had picked up one of those new-fangled Biros. The Leverless was set aside in the drawer until the ballpoint was used up, with every intention of going back to it, but the Biro proved so convenient that a replacement refill was bought, and another, and another…

Swan Leverless L112/87

For me all Swans are precious but I must admit that some are more precious than others! Last Sunday there was an L112/87 offered on eBay. That’s the blue lizard pattern that’s usually seen on Swam Minors. A Leverless in that pattern is very rare indeed. It isn’t completely unique; I found another in a search on the web but I don’t think many of us have actually had one of these in our hands.

I bid on it but was unsuccessful. In fact I bid twice, something I hardly ever do. Usually I bid and leave it at that, win or lose. Some collector out there has a fine addition to his array of glistening Swans.

These snake or lizard patterns undoubtedly look good on Swan Minors but the pattern is broken by the black hard rubber lever. There is no interruption to the pattern on the barrel of the Leverless.

I asked the seller for permission to use his excellent photos here, which he kindly granted. Many thanks to davidtna.

A Mabie Todd Mystery

Or perhaps I should say just one of many Mabie Todd mysteries!

For the first time in a long while I happened to have a Swan Leverless L212/60 and a Leverless 0160 at the same time.

The top one is the 0160 and yes, you’re right – they’re identical. The parts are interchangeable.

Why did Mabie Todd have two pens the same with different model numbers? My guess is that the L212 pen was very popular and when they changed the numbering system they kept the model but gave it a new number in line with the rest of the range.

Whichever of these pens you have it’s one of the Swan greats.

Blackbird BB2/46 Oriental Blue

There are several Mabie Todd patterns that have so far evaded me. Some are extremely rare and it’s unlikely I’ll ever see them. The /46 pattern, Oriental Blue, is far from common but it does turn up occasionally.

In eBay I saw a Blackbird BB2/46 without a cap. The seller had held on to it for years in the hope of finding a cap without success. He decided to move it on. I hesitated for a bit. Clearly the pen had little commercial value but not everything is about selling – it’s a hobby too. I bid on the pen and got it.

The very bright blue and russet pattern does not disappoint. It stands out beautifully. I went through the spares to find a cap that would fit. This one does; the diameter and the threads are correct but it looks decidedly odd. Never mind, it makes the pen useable.

It’s a delight in use with its highly unusual stub nib. I would not be surprised to find such a nib on a Swan of this period but not on a Blackbird. It’s a gorgeous nib.

I’m not usually all that fond of Frankenpens. Some I have seen are dreadful freaks. The exception is a mixture of Parker parts I have that works very well. This Blackbird Frankenpen is not so elegant. Perhaps in time I’ll find a better cap though I don’t think there’s any hope of finding the correct one. This will do for the moment as it allows me to use a splendid rarity. It’s a pity that Mabie Todd didn’t make more use of this pattern. As someone said to me, imagine this on a large Leverless.

A US Swan Eyedropper Filler

I thought that UK and US Mabie Todd pens were the same in the early part of the twentieth century but I have never seen a British Swan like this American one.

Unlike most Swan eyedropper fillers it is chunky and flat-ended, quite like a later Blackbird BB2/60 lever filler in fact. As if that was not confusing enough, the Clipper accommodation clip was made in England.

This pen was used by employees of the New York Telephone Company and it may be that this model was especially made for bulk sale to businesses.

Finally, I would find it difficult to show another example of this unusual, long section in a British Swan. A handsome pen with attractive chasing.

With thanks to Rob Parsons

A Green Marbled Leverless

As you may have noticed I’m rather fond of Swans. There are numerous reasons for that: design, quality of build and nibs that are hard to beat whether you like flex or firm. The Swan implementation of the lever filling system is unequalled. I especially like the Leverless method of filling.

When I first became involved in the fountain pen boards the Leverless was routinely condemned. This was because many of those people repairing them were doing it as if it were a lever filler. Re-sacced that way the pen took on little ink if it took on any at all. It was commonly said that the Leverless held less ink than an equivalent lever filler. Small wonder!

Nowadays most repair people know how to replace the sac in a Leverless properly, and correctly set up a Leverless will hold more ink than a lever filler of the same size because it contains a larger sac which it fills efficiently.

That’s a long introduction to this pen, a green marbled wartime Leverless. It was said to be sourced from a house clearance. It has had a long and hard life and somewhere along the way it has lost one of its three cap rings. but it has retained the gold plated swan insert on the cap top, usually the first to go!

The nib is a No 4 Eternal, a considerable lump of gold. This one had been dropped nib down at some tragic point in its history. The thickness of the metal made straightening the nib challenging but thankfully it had bent in only one plane. The nib is a wet, firm medium which lays down a generous quantity of ink – an ideal pen in so many situations. With its No 22 sac it holds enough ink to prevent refilling from being required too often. The mechanism works like new.

There are two shades of green used on Swan marble and this is the darker one, making a contrasting pattern.

Swan SF300B

If you would like to read more about this excellent Swan model use the search facility above. I wrote about it at length some years ago.

I was delighted to find this pen in eBay. They’re not at all common and are delightful pens. All those I’ve had previously were flexible and this one’s no exception. The seller was evidently not a pen person. He described the material as acrylic. Rather strangely, he wanted £13 for economy delivery! I decided to deal with that later and made sure I had secured the pen, then challenged him over postage. He didn’t actually reply but refunded me £6 – which still left him well in pocket!

The pen arrived this morning, full of black ink and dripping everywhere! I flushed it and cleaned up the mess. I opened the pen to find a tiny sac had been attached, with no talc. I attached the proper size of sac and dipped it in talc.

Am I making a fuss about nothing? I don’t think I am. No harm was done because the pen came to me but if it had gone to an end user they would have been very unhappy with the small amount of ink it held and in a few weeks the sac would have attached itself to the pressure bar and been punctured.

The lesson here is that if you’re going to repair pens for sale, find out how it should be done first. There’s no excuse for not knowing. The information is available all over the web, there are courses in pen repair and there is Marshall & Oldfield’s excellent pen repair volume.


I bought this Platinum pen from a Japanese seller. It came quite quickly and didn’t attract any import charges, for which I was thankful. I don’t know what it is called or when it was made but I would guess that it is quite recent. It posts quite deeply.

I bought it for the sake of the EF nib and it was money well spent. On close inspection the pattern is pleasing and goes well with the gold trim. The fancy clip doesn’t especially appeal to me but I don’t hate it. The one thing I do dislike is the gold plated metal ring adjacent to the nib. Ink tends to eat such rings.

It is one of those pens, as I mentioned recently, that harks back to the flat-tops of the nineteen-twenties and it’s all the better for that. It’s a good style.