New Mabie Todd Research

A gentleman by name of John Brindle phoned the other night to speak to me.  I was unavailable at the time and my husband, another pen enthusiast, took the call.  John spent last winter researching Mabie Todd fountain pens, and he has drawn up a list correlating model number, colour, cap bands and filling system.  He has recorded – literally – hundreds of pens.

I have the list before me now and it’s an astonishing piece of work, clearly very valuable to Swan and Blackbird enthusiasts.  John seems amenable to the idea of having it published but I want to ascertain that more formally.  Then I would either need a copy of the original digitised document or I would have to key it in.  It shouldn’t be difficult to find somewhere to host it for a time to make it widely available.

20 thoughts on “New Mabie Todd Research

  1. What an exciting prospect, especially for such as myself at the lower end of the many learning curves. If required I would be happy to design and set up a suitable small web site to present the information. No cost other than buying an appropriate domain. Say for £6.98 for 2 years.

  2. What a fine thing to do. Please give thank John for me as I know it must have been the work of very many hours.

  3. It strikes me that if the list isn’t illustrated then perhaps that could be the next step. If it was set up in a standardized form with a cell of pre-set dimensions for a picture then it could be filled in by accommodating Swan aficionados. Mind you I am proposing this as one who is an absolute neophyte in this area so i am really proposing that other people do the heavy lifting. On the other hand I am starting work to create an index for Letizia Jacopini’s books La Storia della Stilograficia in Italia which I will be happy to share when done.

    1. I think it could form the basis for a number of projects.

      I envy your ability to index. Some years ago, when I was looking for a change of career, I considered indexing but I soon found that it required a level of concentration that I will never attain. In translation or in Italian?

      1. Perhaps the site could use the SharePoint program and allow MT owners to upload their own pics against site descriptions.

        I have a Big Blackbird in mottled red with a big blackbird nib, coded BB61, would be interested in seeing some resesrch on that pen

      2. Just BB61? No numbers between the BB and the 61? Curious. That identifies it as MHR but omits the nib size. As regards SharePoint, I’m not involved in the website design so I can’t comment. There seems to be a cost involved, too. Personally, I would see this as a start-point for others’ research projects.

      3. Yes, just bb61, the nib is marked big blackbird and is huge, perhaps an 8 or even a 10.

        pen is mhr, as you suggest. barrel marked made in londres, an odd phrase.

      4. I’ve heard of The Big Blackbird but I’ve never had one. Sounds as if that pen was part of a batch aimed at the French-speaking market. From other information that came my way, I know that Blackbirds were on sale – and quite popular – in Belgium in the twenties and thirties.

      5. I thought 61 was the designation for Black Hard Rubber – not mottled.

        Of course Steve Hull did a similar exercise a while ago and published the results in an excellent series of articles in the WES journal. I seem to remember there were quite a few anomalies – e.g. stamping the wrong colour code. Maybe we Swan collectors will end up like the philatelists – paying a lot extra for stamps with a plate flaw – or in this case an incorrect number

      6. 61 became the designation for BHR after the reorganisation of model numbers which happened around 1948; before that it was MHR.

        My quibble with the WES journal, or indeed any other magazine, is that it doesn’t reach enough people, is quite expensive, and lacks the speed and ease of reference that the web confers. I’m a member of WES and I support what they do, but quarterly publications may have had a sense of immediacy about them a hundred years ago, but we’ve moved on since then.

        That’s why I write for the hobby in a blog, rather than in any other medium.

    2. I don’t know if you know that book but it is laid out with both English and Italian side by side. I think that this may be one reason for the lack of index as the text is not synchronized. As I have virtually no Italian I am working on just the English version. I do have a high regard for this two volume set but frankly trying to find any particular information is almost impossible. So it is either do the work or forget about the books.

      1. I don’t know the book, Philip, and my usual source of information, Amazon, no longer has it in stock. I can see why you’re driven to creating an index. So many pen books lack an index but most of them wouldn’t be worth the effort anyway. It sounds like this is an essential work for Italian pens.

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