It’s not uncommon to see in the pen discussion groups the opinion that the smaller Swan nibs aren’t worth bothering with and it’s only No 3 and upwards that are worthy of collection. I don’t know what the thinking behind that is (prejudice? ignorance?) but I’m quite happy that it should be repeated loudly and often, thereby leaving the No 1s and No 2s to me. It’s among those sizes more than any other that I find the delicious stubs and impressive flexibility.
Take this unassuming SM100/60, a pen that will hardly fetch a second glance, and if it does so it’s usually to comment on its unusual black hard rubber lever. However, have a look at the writing sample.
I can’t make the most of these flex nibs but there’s enough there to give an indication of its capabilities. In the hands of a master I’m sure it will impress a great deal more.
These were not expensive pens, in fact they were about the bottom of the Swan range, and they are very often supplied with exceptional nibs – flex, stub or oblique. In other words, Swan’s concern that the customer should be provided with exactly what suited him or her didn’t stop at the prestige models but extended to those on a limited budget – who, if they worked in a clerical capacity or were students, were often the people who used their pens the most.
So far as I can tell from the company’s adverts over the years, there was never an extra charge for supplying a nib to to the customer’s taste. There’s something there that many modern pen companies can learn from. Naming no names, there are several manufacturers of very expensive pens who offer no more than fine, medium and broad. Others add extra fine. One or two will “custom grind” a nib to oblique, stub or italic but that costs extra. Seems to me they might be a little more obliging. Perhaps they feel duty bound to provide the “nibmeisters” with a living. No such critter existed when pens were just what you wrote with.