The Swan SM100/60 And The Persistence Of Black Hard Rubber


The SM100/60 doesn’t stand out on the Swan range of the thirties but in its unassuming way it’s a milestone of the brand. It’s down at the bottom of the range, medium-sized, chrome plated and placed in the clerical and school area of pen sales. It’s just as well made as its more upmarket brethren, though, a sturdy and reliable pen that has lasted well through the decades, and was often fitted with exceptional nibs – flexible, stubs, broad and obliques.


Though this pen has been moved from the traditional black hard rubber to celluloid, the cap and barrel are still machine-chased, perhaps the last Swan to be decorated in this way. Black hard rubber is still present in the lever, a feature unique to Swan, so far as I know. Did Swan employ BHR for the lever to use up stocks they had? Looking at the smooth outline of the barrel, I think it’s rather a carefully considered design element. Doubtless the BHR lever cost less that a chrome plated metal one but it can be argued that sitting flush with the barrel it looks better and is easier to grip than the usual filler lever.


Mabie Todd Swan had a longer association with black hard rubber than any of the other British manufacturers. A decade before this pen was made, a large proportion of the range was made from this material, still holding its own among the brightly-patterned celluloid. A decade later it would be reintroduced at a time when most of the competition had given up black hard rubber, and it would sell very successfully.

The lever on this modest pen means that until the very end of production there was never a time when Swan didn’t use black hard rubber.

6 thoughts on “The Swan SM100/60 And The Persistence Of Black Hard Rubber

  1. These Swan Minors with the hard rubber lever are favourites of mine. Lovely pens often with as you say, exceptional nibs.

  2. I don’t think Swan were using up stocks of hard rubber on these lever Deborah, as I have a black ?? 150 pen from the 1920/30’s which had a bhr lever. I am told they are very durable. My guess is that it was another piece of the pen that they could manufacture in house with existing equipment.
    I like the chatelaine Duofold you sent which is also machined celuloid from the 1930’s. I’ve been using it to write notes on my Christmas cards!
    Regards, Peter

    1. Hi Peter,
      I agree. I think they appreciated the material. As regards durability, I’ve only seen one broken BHR lever out of all those I’ve handled. Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the Parker.

      1. I’ve just bought one of these in a batch of pens from Ebay – and it has a broken lever! I was wondering where I might find a replacement, I’m guessing it won’t be an easy thing to find?

      2. Hi Robin,
        The only place you’ll get a replacement BHR lever is in another pen. Keep an eye out for a severely beat up SM100 in ebay. Theoretically, it shouldn’t be difficult to make one – they’re not exactly a complicated component, but where would one get that grade of BHR?

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