I note that this is becoming something of a Swan blog. That’s not really my intention, but I suppose it does reflect my own preferences. Also, I think I’ve written about the Swan 3261 before but as it’s the model I restore most, I think I can risk writing about it again.
The 3261 was at the lower end of the Swan price range. It’s a close relative of the pen I wrote about last, also designed in 1948 and produced from then into the early fifties. Judging by the numbers I see, it was probably Mabie Todd’s most popular pen of the time. It was fitted with some of the most delightful nibs too; stubs, oblique stubs and flexible nibs abound among 3261s.
After a long period when Swans were made only in celluloid, the 3261 and some of its larger siblings reverted to black hard rubber. Why this should be so remains a mystery. Perhaps there were large stocks of it which needed to be used up. Maybe it was customer demand, though this seems quite unlikely. It’s unlikely too – though I suppose possible – that among the other post-war shortages was a dearth of celluloid. Whatever the reason, I think we have cause to be grateful. BHR is warm and pleasant to the touch and it makes for a light pen, which I prefer.
These pens were exceptionally well made. In a sense, they’re over-engineered, with the brass threads and screw-in section. They’re not without their faults, though. Many of these BHR torpedo-shaped Swans have cracks in the cap lip. They fade, though in most cases the fading is slight, to a pleasant chocolate brown which only serves to remind us that this is a natural substance, which weathers in a natural way. The barrel imprints wear away much more than is the case with earlier BHR or celluloid Swans, and most show some wear on the gold plating, especially on the cap rings. Though it doesn’t concern the user or collector, repairers need to be careful with this one, as the peg that the sac attaches to is fragile and will break easily if care isn’t taken with the knock-out block.
When everything else has been considered, the final approval of any pen lies in whether it is good to write with, and the 3261 certainly is. Light and perfectly balanced, well-shaped for the hand and equipped with superb nibs, these are fine writing instruments. These torpedo-shaped pens were just about the last of the great Swans. We’re lucky that there are so many of them around.