Yesterday I received a Swan 1500 in remarkably good condition. Moreover, it was one of those pens with a story attached. One of the two barrel bands is beautifully engraved: “N.W. 1923”. In the box, on a Swan Christmas Pen slip of paper is, “To dear “little” Nor with love and all good wishes for Xmas and the New Year. Xmas 1923. From Ness.”
By time Nor is being called “little” with inverted commas, we can safely assume that he (Norman?) or she (Norma?) is no longer little, but grown up, or almost so. So this is a very adult present from a favourite aunt or family friend to someone about to make his or her way in the world. That being the case, it’s unlikely they’re still around ninety years later this very year to tell us all about it. The name and address on the bottom of the box is N Wilson. As I have trouble reading the rest of the address, it would be impossible to hunt down this N. Wilson among all the others of the same name.
It surpised me that the 1500 was still available as a new pen in 1923. After all, lever filling Swans appeared in 1920. People can be conservative, though, and stick with the tried and tested. Evidently Ness was that sort of person. But did little Nor prefer this old technology or would a self-filler have been preferred? The latter, I fear, for though the pen had been inked (it took a few minutes in the ultrasonic cleaner to remove the ink from the nib) the pen is otherwise pristine with sharp machining and imprints. As soon as little Nor got his hands on a lever filler, Ness’s birthday gift went in the drawer.
The result is, of course, fortunate for us because we have a ninety year old pen in near-new condition. So often when we come upon pristine old pens we are left to wonder why it should be. This time we have a possible explanation.
One other thing, in passing, that struck me as different from other 1500s I’ve had. Mabie Todd’s nibs were still being made in America at this time, though that was about to change. Usually, such nibs are marked “New York”. This one is imprinted “Made In USA”.