A Mabie Todd Swan SF2

When was the first English Swan lever filler made? Authorities vary in their opinion; some give 1916, others say the first self-filler did not appear here until 1921. On grounds of style, I would favour the earlier date but I have no way of being certain. Technically, the SF1 and SF2 pens are very modern, and already bear many of the attributes that remained recognisably Swan throughout the brand’s existence: the long-tined nib with the heart-shaped breather hole, the ladder feed, the long, slender lever with a rounded end, the high quality of manufacture and the attention to detail. They differ from later models in style, in the number of turns needed to secure the cap (a full two and a half!) and in being clipless, though some later SF1s and SF2s had fixed clips.

To my mind, the SF1 is a little too slender for comfortable use in a modern hand, and it’s also a little fragile to repair. The SF2, though, is a large, robust pen at 14.4cm capped and a long 18.5cm posted. It’s as practical a daily writer as any more modern pen. Aimed to suit all pockets, the SF2 came in various guises, from the unadorned black chased or mottled hard rubber to those with gold-plated barrel bands, cap bands and even solid gold overlay. This one has a plated cap band and a plated cover over the end of the cap, a configuration I haven’t seen before. The plating is good quality and shows very little wear. Despite the metal on the cap and its great length, the pen is not overbalanced and it sits very well in the hand.

Though clearly well-used, the pen is in excellent condition. There’s very slight fading of the black chased hard rubber and there’s a little wear of the scalloped chasing on the barrel, though the pattern remains clear. The cap and barrel imprints are sharp.

The imprint at the end of the barrel reads “2S-F MED, denoting a No2 medium nib in a self-filler pen. By modern standards, the nib is at the fine end of medium. A delightful writer, it has a little understated flexibility, just enough to show some line variation.

Like its immediate predecessor, the Safety Screw Cap Swan, the SF2 has proved a durable pen and survives in great numbers. As a superb writer with the full range of nib styles, it is much in demand, and the variations in trim make it very collectible.


2 thoughts on “A Mabie Todd Swan SF2

  1. I recently found an old SF2 at a second hand shop in Durban, except that there were no bands on either the body of the pen. The cap has a (thinner ring compared to your picture), however there is some ‘brassing’ on the ring, The base is inscribed 2 F S MED, 2 points of the nib are slightly splayed, although nib looks to be in decent condition. Lever feels stuck – sac must be perished or solidified in side – would be great to get the sac replaced and the pen working again.

    Need to

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