A Gold Plated Swan Safety Screw Cap


In the early days of Mabie Todd production in Britain, gold nibs and overlay pens whether plated or solid gold were still made in America.  British and American models were the same at that period, and this pen appears to have been overlaid on a Safety Screw Cap base.  They’re not particularly common in overlay form.
Though it fits and writes well, the No 3 New York nib looks disproportionately big and I suspect this is really a No 2 or even a No 1.  Posted, it makes a very long, slender and elegant pen, its lines unbroken by either lever or clip.  All that interrupts the pattern is a discreet empty cartouche.  This is the last of the Swan eyedroppers; such clean lines will never be possible again, either with lever fillers or leverless pens.
Despite being metal-covered, the pen is very light.  It’s a pleasure to write with.  By this time Swan had adopted the ladder feed, so ink flow is well controlled.  The plating is worn at each end and there are a couple of tiny dings on the end of the barrel that must be tooth-marks, so it wasn’t always treated with the respect it deserved.  The Safety Screw Cap range was in production from around 1911 to at least 1925.  Its continuing popularity ensured that it overlapped with first of the lever fillers.   This pen might be a hundred years old but is probably a few years less.

9 thoughts on “A Gold Plated Swan Safety Screw Cap

  1. What are the odds of your finding another? Deb, this pen is identical to the pen I purchased from you about a year ago, except mine has the smaller nib. The number is not showing (perhaps hidden under the section) but it is smaller, perhaps a number 1, most likely. MIne has the words “NEW YORK” spelled out and the profile is medium oblique.but it is identical. I placed it against the computer monitor to verify. This is my favorite pen to write with. It is spectacular – simply glides along the paper surface and looks more lovely in the hand than on the monitor! Thanks again!

    1. Hi Stuart,
      Good to hear that you’re pleased with your overlay Swan. Yes, this is the second of these pens I’ve had. I suspect this one is actually a No 1 and I’ll probably change the nib because it doesn’t look right. I also had a shorter ringtop version of this pen some time ago. One or two have escaped me over the years because they sold for higher prices than I could afford. This one was rather more reasonable because the feed was damaged. I had a replacement

      1. I have a pen identical to that shown…..my intention is to sell it, but I have no idea on the value of the pen. Can you help?

  2. I just checked a #2 Swan nib on another pen I have and it seems to my eyes that the nib on the gold eyedropper is more likely a #2. Both #1 and #2 nibs I am looking at are marked SWAN, while the nib on the eyedropper in question is not. IT simply says Mabie, Todd & Co. New York. There may be a slight variation in the nib profile relative to the nib shoulder, tine length, etc that may affect its overall appearance to the eye. My overall impression, however, is that the nib in my gold eyedropper may more likely be a #2, for whatever it’s worth…

  3. Thank you for your reply….I was advised by a ‘pen collector’ in London to auction it on eBay for £200 as the pen is in very good condition – I currently have it on active listing. I have no idea what type of nib is on the pen, other than it is a Mabie Todd, NY. The pen was given to me by my father….I can let this one go, but not some of the others. I know very little about this pen – age etc. Have I been wrongly advised in its value? Kindest Regards, Fay

    1. Hello Fay. Wow – a response 2 years later… That’s unexpected but always good to hear from nice folks. Re: the pen, yes, I still have it. Lovely little thing, it is. Re: value on the open market – eBay is a wild and often dangerous place, but the prices are usually far lower than private websites. Recently, vintage pen prices have soared to previously unimaginable levels, in my view. I believe I paid Deb 53 Pounds Sterling for this pen a few years ago. It was a wise investment on my part. I am not usually quite that astute. It has appreciated significantly since then. I suppose 200 Pounds Sterling may be a possibility in today’s market but on eBay, likely less than that, depending on condition. I have not seen your pen so I cannot say. Most people think their pens are perfect, but the buyer might disagree. But it doesn’t matter what I think. You may have a better or worse result than what I may think is likely. Most Parker Vacumatics on eBay now are sellling for 75 – 130 US Dollars here in the US. 3 weeks ago, I was the lucky winner of a beautiful “working” example of a third generation Vacumatic for only $36 USD!!! I am sure the poor seller is still scratching his head wondering what happened to him… One never knows what will happen in an auction. You could always use a RESERVE price to protect yourself as well. But I would love to see a photo of your pen and good luck to you!
      Stuart (wisdom from “the colonies” across the pond)

      1. Hi Stuart,

        Excellent advice. A couple of points I would make: all other things being equal I would probably charge around the same price for a similar example of this pen today as the price I set some years ago. Secondly, I never advise people to use a reserve in eBay as it is my belief that potential bidders are put off by it. This is largely because of the way that eBay applies the reserve – you don’t know what it is so you’re probably wasting your time bidding. I and a few other regular buyers of my acquaintance never bid on an item with a reserve. You can always, as a seller, start the bidding at a price you believe to be appropriate. At least then the process is transparent.

    2. Hi Fay,

      Frankly, I think the valuation is very optimistic. I hope you receive it or something near to it, but it may not do quite as well as that. These are plated pens and they tend not to go for as much as that. However, valuing pens is not an exact science, and a pen is worth what it achieves on the day of sale. A great deal depends on who is in the market. If you get two or more people determined to buy the pen, a high price can be achieved in auction.

      Best of luck with it – I hope you do well!

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