After World War II, Swan tooled up for a new product range and went from slightly streamlined, flat-topped pens to fully streamlined torpedo-shaped ones. These were self-coloured in black, dark red, dark blue, dark green and, strangely, black hard rubber. This material appears to have been reinstated after a gap of many years during which the company made celluloid pens. Beautifully machined and finished, the BHR has worn well, though by now most have faded to brown.
One may well wonder why Swan chose to revert to the long-superseded black hard rubber at this date. Perhaps it was to make up a shortfall in the supply of plastic that old stocks of ebonite were used up. Maybe someone felt that the time for BHR had come again, though this seems less likely. Most decisions in the wartime and immediately post-war years were driven more by shortages than style. For myself, I’m just glad they made them. I like black hard rubber, and these are good pens, often with exceptional nibs.
This one has a No2 oblique semi-flex stub, a very nice nib indeed. Throughout its history, Swan seemed to make a greater effort than other British manufacturers to supply customers with nibs that suited their writing style, hence the number of stubs, obliques and flexible nibs that turn up on Swan pens today.
These were the last really high-quality pens that Swan produced. Within a few years, competition from ballpoints laid the company open to takeover by Biro. Swans continued to be made, but the historic Mabie Todd name disappeared, and the pens showed the decline in investment. After a few years of poor sales of pens that would have been better not to have been produced, the Swan story was over.
You’ll notice that I resisted the temptation to make reference to Swan’s swansong. I’m so proud.