Mabie Todd’s administrative headquarters and their main factory were bombed during World War II, which led not only to the loss of capital equipment and production, but also irreplaceable records were destroyed. This makes an overview of their pre-war, wartime and immediately post-war production a little hazy, to say the least, and dating of several models from around those times remains in debate.
We do know, however, that the company re-tooled for a new product range in 1948, and went on to release their new torpedo-shaped pens soon after. The Leverless pens in this style are usually dated to 1949. The change is purely stylistic; in every other respect this remains the same Leverless Swan that had been so successful for the company since 1932. Strangely, Mabie Todd reverted to Black Hard Rubber for some of these pens, the others being in self-coloured celluloid.
This example is in the middle of the range, a 4460 which has a No4 nib. The largest pens in the range have a No 6 nib. This is a large pen at 13.7cm capped, and it’s a good handful with a girth of 1.3cm. That’s longer than a standard English Duofold of the time, and thicker too, so all in all it’s a very substantial pen.
It was the cleanliness and ease of use of the filling system that sold the Leveless in its thousands, but people often have trouble with it nowadays. It is said that it doesn’t hold as much ink as a comparable lever filler, and that’s true, but the difference is insignificant. The dissatisfaction with Leverless arises from re-saccing by repairers who don’t understand the filling system, resulting in a pen that holds very little ink, or, at worst, will draw none at all. With the right type of sac, properly fitted, the Leverless will give no cause for complaint and will hold at least as much ink as a short international cartridge, usually rather more.
This pen is the celluloid version, and I suspect that it hasn’t been used very much, as it’s immaculate. The beautiful nib with its heart-shaped breather hole and long tines hints at flexibility. As you will see from the writing sample, it’s no superflex, but a moderate amount of line variation is easily induced.
It’s always a joy to find a sixty-year-old pen that looks as if it came off the production line yesterday, and that it should be one of this high quality is an added pleasure.