Someone sent me photos of a beautiful old Swan for valuation this morning. It was a half overlay eyedropper filler from around 1908, long and slender with an over-and-under feed. A wonderful thing, but a pen of an earlier era, a time of gas lamps and foolscap paper, of top hats and horse traffic.
Later, as I was restoring pens I came on this gold-filled Swan Safety Screw Cap. It was made within a very few years of that earlier pen. The Screw Caps went into production in 1911 and went on until around 1920, so only a short time separates the pens but in that brief period, the fountain pen has been transformed! Gone is the over-and-under feed, the most evidently archaic feature of the earlier pen, to be replaced with Swans’s excellent and enduring ladder feed. The proportions of the pen have changed. Despite being a ring-top, this pen is entirely modern on shape.
There’s some wear, particularly on the end of the barrel where the cap has been posted. This pen evidently was not reserved as a thing of beauty (though it is!) but was well used over a lengthy period.
And rightly so, too! The stub nib is a complete delight to use, and the pen is large enough, and contains enough ink to be completely practical. It’s both a wonderful writing instrument and a stepping-stone in the development of the modern fountain pen.