The Wyvern 404
March 20, 2014 2 Comments
While we’re on the subject of Wyverns, how about this 404? I confess I don’t know a lot about its history and I googled it this morning. I found various dates quoted for its manufacture, the earliest being 1938. That seems unlikely. After all, it clearly shows the influence of the Parker 51. It would be nice from a patriotic point of view if someone could show that the Wyvern pre-dated the Parker and was the real originator of the hooded nib but that’s not going to happen. I think I’m right in saying that the Parker 51 went on sale in 1941 so this pen will have been made some time after that. A date I saw repeated several times is 1949 and that seems quite likely.
Seen from above, the hood is smooth and elegantly tapered.
Underneath, it’s sculptured, though not quite as much as the contemporary Mentmore 46, perhaps. As is often the way with these British hooded nib pens, the style is purely superficial. Under that hood lies a normal feed and nib. Apart from its appearance, the pen is a completely traditional lever filler.
The handsome cowled clip is shared with other Wyvern models of the time, like the 60C hatch that I wrote about recently. This is not Wyvern’s only hooded nib pen; the last version of the No 60 has a sort of semi-hooded nib, but it lacks the elegance of line of the 404.
At a time when other manufacturers were using wrapped sheet plastic or injection moulded plastic for their pen barrels and caps, this pen is still machined from rod stock and the wall of the barrel is quite thick. This gives the pen a solid feel though it is not heavy.
I’ve had several of these pens over the years and, curiously, they’ve all been broad-nibbed, this example being no exception. It’s a splendid writer.
Taken overall, this is an unexpectedly good and likeable pen. I say “unexpectedly” because I don’t really favour hooded nib pens. I like to see the nib and be able to align the pen with the paper instantly. The nib can be, and often is, the most decorative feature of a pen. That said, the build quality, the elegant design and the pleasure in using the pen have won me over.