The Mabie Todd Swan 230/60

The range of handsome black hard rubber pens of which this is one were made for most of the nineteen-twenties. For those of you still struggling with the Mabie Todd numbering systems (and I confess there are some numbers that remain a complete puzzle to me) the 2 is the nib size, the 3 means that there’s one band at the top of the cap and two on the barrel and the 0 means there’s no band at the cap lip. I neglected to photograph it but there’s a mottled hard rubber insert at the top of the cap with a white Swan emblem.


The clip is a slightly smaller version of the stepped clip Swan had been using for some years, with the word “Swan” imprinted on it rather than the patent date used earlier. With three bands, a stepped clip and a cap insert, this wasn’t one of the company’s cheaper pens. Though it has the comparatively small No 2 nib this pen probably sat above the middle in the Swan price range.


As is so often the case with Swan pens of this date, the beautifully engraved nib has considerable flexibility. This nib has an ‘H’ designation. Anyone know what that means?


These 1920s Swan have it all for me. They’re light, they have perfect balance in the hand, the nibs are invariably splendid and the filling system, with its long lever, works very well. All in all, this pen must rank as one of the best ever made, by any manufacturer.

9 thoughts on “The Mabie Todd Swan 230/60

  1. Deb,
    I don’t have anywhere close to a massive pen collection. As a rule, I only like to have pens around that I will actually use. My 230 is one of the few things I would grab if there was a fire in my house. This is an incredibly wonderful pen. And for me, it has everything: just the right size and balance in my hand (I never post the cap); a deliciously flexible and consistant nib (if it has ink it will start every time), and what must be a great cavern of ink storage. This pen and I are definitely in a committed relationship.

  2. A while ago you posted on a SF/230 (I think it was). I’m in love with the look of these pens. Something about the gold and woodgrain bands on the cap really grabs me. Were there any Swans beside these 230s that had that feature? I really need to have one (or more) of those in my life.

  3. Not sure what’s happening with my login, but my comments here seem to be posting under both Maethelwine and aburami. Really though, I’m just Matt, and I’ve e-mailed you in the past with questions about smaller British pen companies. Looking forward to seeing your new sales site when you have it up.

  4. Hi Deb,

    I don’t know what the H stood for, but what it suggests to me is that that’s a late replacement nib. As far as I know they didn’t start adding letters to the nib numbers till the late 40s, and didn’t adopt the European-style “14C-585” designation till the early 50s. I have a 3H nib with the half-moon breather, and as you pointed out to me on FPN, it was one of their last, less sturdy, nibs.

    I see also that this pen has the wide-flared section that formed a ledge for the inner cap to seal against. That design started in the late 20s and lasted more-or-less to the end. If you compare it to your SF230 pictures you’ll notice that the older pen has a narrower section with less flare at the top.

    Well, just bits of interest. There was a pretty good example of this pen on eBay just yesterday. I’d have bought it but the nib was hooked and I didn’t want to fool with it. But it seemed to me it wasn’t quite the same as an SF230, so your post cleared that up. Thanks!


    1. Hi Mike,
      I suspect you’re right and this is a later nib, though perhaps not as late as those with the half-moon breather hole. It feels to me to be as solidly made as the earlier nib, whereas some of the last nibs were thinner, more like the Blackbird nibs.

  5. As usual, I found what I needed here! I have just bought what certainly looks like a 230, sadly has a damaged cap, so I shall have a hunt on my hands. Regarding the “H” all I can offer is that I have acquired a Croxley – I bought it because it has a Blackbird nib – I was so impressed with the one on the Jackdaw (a G) and this one is a “H” It has lovely line variation and is broader than the G on the Jackdaw, so I assume the letter refers to the width. Thanks for a great article.

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