A Wartime Mabie Todd Swan 1500

I wrote about the Swan 1500 before, back here: http://wp.me/p17T6K-1Q but this one is a little different.


This is the pen made in America for the British market during the First World War. They turn up from time to time and, if this leaky vessel I laughingly call my memory serveth me aright, there was a discussion on this subject in FPN only last week. My guess would be that the pens were imported from the American parent company because, with so many young men being sent overseas, demand for pens was at an all-time high so that correspondence could be kept with absent loved ones. It may be that, as in the Second World War, domestic effort was transferred from making pens to munitions manufacture. It does tell us, though, that in 1914 the British and American arms of Mabie Todd still worked closely together, and it may well be that the relationship remained stronger than has previously been accepted for decades thereafter.


The pen itself is a thing of beauty, slender and elegant, and in this instance, unfaded and with all its imprints and chasing fresh and crisp. Add a Swan Metal Pocket to clip into the inside pocket of your black tail-coat over your pin-striped trousers and you could be the Man From The Ministry, ready to send another few thousand soldiers over to fertilise the fields of Flanders with a single stroke of this very pen.


This pen is original in every respect with its New York nib and its over-and-under feed. Often, when 1500s arrive on my bench, they have ladder feeds. Whether, at some late stage, ladder feeds were installed at the factory, or whether they were retrofitted some time later, I cannot say. The 1500 writes splendidly in its original trim, but the ladder feed does make employing the flexibility that most of these pens offer rather easier. The ink flow keeps up better.


Note that the nib size is imprinted on the barrel. That means they made them in the factory as fines, mediums, stubs etc., rather than having the retailer fit the nib the customer wanted, as happened later.

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