The Mabie Todd Blackbird 52– Range

In a way that is similar to Parker’s development of the the Thrift Pens, Mabie Todd expanded their Blackbird Self-Filler range in the mid to late thirties. These were good, cheap (and often cheerful) low-priced pens. They’re average-sized (about 12.5cm capped), flat-topped, slightly tapered, bandless and have a heat-inserted clip set very high on the cap. Some vary in having a slightly pointed top. The trim is gold ā€“ quite thin ā€“ and the sections are black. They appear in black (5262 and 5260), red (5277), blue (5275), green (5276) and marbled blue (5242). That’s not a comprehensive list of models, but it’s enough to suggest the number ranges allocated to this pen.

The bright self-coloured red, blue and green pens are deceptively modern-looking, and at a glance one might take them for a seventies rather than a thirties pen. The dates usually assigned to these pens are 1936 to 1938. Either they sold very well in those three years or they remained in production longer, as these pens are very common. No doubt they were well-priced to meet the reduced spending power in the Hungry Thirties and were a success, especially as a school pen. They were built to a price, and unusually for Mabie Todd pens, they can suffer from barrel or cap distortion. Nonetheless, a good one (and they’re mostly good, despite slightly wonky barrels) is a great daily user. The nibs are often flexible, from slight to considerable in degree.

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