As I’ve said before, the pen is the primary source of the history of our hobby. It’s a great source – solid, three-dimensional and capable of being dismantled but it isn’t voluble. What you see is truly what you get and once you’ve examined it there is no more. Barring someone dropping all of Mabie Todd’s accounts, technical drawings and spec. sheets on my bench (and if one of you has them, c’moooooon!) adverts are the next best source. Even in a simple advertisement like this 1937 coronation example, there’s lots of information.
I’ve broken the advert up into three parts because it’s so long.
As well as Swan’s ever-present good design, there’s no false modesty here! This is a company at the top of its game. Associating oneself with royalty is rarely a bad move (in Britain, anyway!*) and linking their history to five reigns emphasises the length of time the company had been around. It makes their existence a historical era, rather than a simple span of years.
The selection of pens is interesting. The first one chooses itself, pretty much, because it is the first one. The second is the glorious 1500. The third isn’t readily identifiable; it’s one of the lower-priced early thirties pens that everyone seeing the advert would be familiar with. The Leverless appears to have at least a No4 nib, so it’s a big ‘un, and the Visofil was just relaunched as Mark II in that year. There were so many other pens they could have included but didn’t. Why would that be? Discuss, in not more than 1500 words.
The carefully-prepared copy at the heart of the advertisement, with some flourishes and a very attractive version of the constantly ever-so-slightly changing Swan logo. The company seems here to be putting its hopes for the future in the Visofil, but it didn’t work out that way. Very attractive, a little fragile and quite high-priced, the Visofil never achieved the sales of the Leverlesses and Self-Fillers.
* In France in 1789 it wouldn’t have been nearly so clever…