High Quality Dip Pens
May 14, 2014 8 Comments
This is an unusual entry for me. Dip pens are certainly not core to what I do, but Mabie Todd is. Looking at these two treasures I suspect that dip pens may feature here a little more often. I spotted this glorious dip pen when it first appeared on eBay. It had a bid or two and I think it was around £6.00 at that time. I knew that it would go higher – very, very much higher, but I hoped that it would not go beyond what I could afford, and as luck would have it I managed to obtain it within the budget I had set myself.
Mabie Todd as you may well know is one of the oldest pen companies. It was formed as Mabie Todd & Co. some time in the 1840s and kept that name until 1873 when it became Mabie Todd & Bard. It reverted to Mabie Todd in 1907. As this nib is marked Mabie Todd, it could have originated in either of those periods but common sense suggests it is much more likely to be the latter. The increasing popularity of fountain pens did not mean an immediate end to the production of dip pens which indeed continues to this day. These very high quality dip pens were probably only made until around 1920, so give or take, this pen’s around 100 years old and is in splendid condition. The large No. 3 nib is very flexible indeed. Sorry there’s no writing sample – I’m just no good with dip pens.
The handle may be ivory but I think it’s more likely to be celluloid, and it is hand-painted with a very fetching floral design. It’s a wonderful survival and while these high-quality fountain pens are not rare as a class, individual designs are often represented by only a few surviving examples.
It was, I believe, good value for money, but the seller (acetateblue in ebay – I recommend him highly!) kindly included another high-quality dip pen as a gift. This one is a Grieshaber of probably around the same date. Again, the nib is very flexible. It’s a little smaller, probably around the No. 2 size. The handle is mother-of-pearl and again the condition is very good. Grieshaber is not well known here but it was an old established nib and pen company dating back to 1884. They produced some outstanding high-quality dip pens and later went on to produce good quality fountain pens though they were generally conservative in style.
I confess that I don’t know a great deal about dip pens and dip pen holders. I keep an eye on the market and have a general awareness of what’s available and how the prices run, but there’s a whole world of knowledge on this subject that I have yet to acquire.