Mabie Todd Swan Gold-Filled Ringtop

Eric, do you recognise this pen?

It’s what’s often called a ladies’ pen, but it would have been equally at home on a watch chain or in a waistcoat pocket. It’s gold-filled. All the gold and gold-filled overlay pens were made in New York at this time, as were the nibs, so this pen is an American Mabie Todd Swan through and through.

If this pen were British-made (in which case it couldn’t be gold-filled, of course!) I would date it to 1920 to 1925 or thereabouts. Not before 1920 as British Swan had no lever-fillers until then, and certainly not much later, given the early style of the pen. As this pen was made for the British market, it may well conform to those dates, but I can’t be sure as my ignorance of American Mabie Todd pens is both wide and deep. They may have introduced lever-fillers earlier, for instance.

I’ve handled several of these small pens over the years and this one differs in only one respect: the condition. Though there are very slight scuff marks where the pen has been posted or capped, there’s no base metal showing through anywhere. That’s quite remarkable for a gold-filled pen of this age. I can only assume that it was little used and then stored carefully away somewhere. It certainly hasn’t been left to roll about in a drawer.

There’s no doubt that pens like this were made to be admired and to impress. It’s a bit of pocket jewellery – bling with class! That’s not all it is though. It has a superb very flexible nib with a slightly crimped upturn at the end of the nib – not an uncommon feature on those New York nibs.

It’s a delight and I could write with it all day, except that time is short and less enjoyable matters are pressing. Hence the poor photos, for which I apologise, but maybe it’s enough to see what I’m talking about.

4 thoughts on “Mabie Todd Swan Gold-Filled Ringtop

  1. Touche Deborah (got the name right this time),
    I’ve just bought one too. It has beautiful herring bone chasing but the nib is much less flexible than yours.
    Regards Peter

  2. Hello Deb! This wouldn’t be the first time that my research into a Mabie Todd pen has led me to this blog! I just got one of these pens today – the one with the chevron (I think?) pattern. After blackening up a whole jeweler’s polishing cloth, it really is quite nice. Probably too small for me to use for extended lengths of time. I wonder if you know off-hand what size sac it takes? The sac nipple is very short, which doesn’t leave much room for a sac to cling to either. Not like anything I’ve ever seen. I may end up wearing it as pendant more than actually writing with it!

    1. Hello Reese,
      I remember this pen but not the sac size unfortunately. Probably a 16, at a guess. I wouldn’t worry about the short sac nipple. The adhesive powers of shellac will make it secure!

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