June 30, 2014 11 Comments
Here’s a nice little box. What can be in there?
It’s a full-sized (13.7 cm) gold filled Swan which, for once, we can date precisely to 1947 – or even more precisely to 28 February 1947. It’s a very elegant, understated pen. By this late date these gold filled overlay pens were being made in Britain rather than in America.
The complete inscription reads “Fredk J Hampson. 28th February 1947”. There is no clue as to the significance of the date, whether it be a birthday, a retiral or some other major signpost along the path of life – in particular, the life of Fred J Hampson. It’s not a particularly common name, and I found two potential candidates. The 1901 Census for Lambeth, London includes a Frederick J Hampson, born in 1896 and the youngest of a family of eight. It’s quite possible that this was his pen.
There was also a company by the name of Frederick J Hampson in Atlantic Street, Broadheath, Altrincham, Cheshire. The company was dissolved a year after the date of this inscription, in 1948. Significant? Coincidental? I don’t know.
This is a Leverless, which looks especially good as an overlay pen. The turn button at the end of the barrel is nicely finished and integrated into the smooth streamlining. The date is not insignificant in Swan’s history. It was in that and the following year that the plans were laid and production initiated for the cigar-shaped pens that followed this type. It would be interesting to know what they did for presentation pens in that later style. I’ve never seen one and perhaps Swan chose to remain with the elegant lines of this Leverless and the similarly slender and elegant Swan Minor 2.
Beautiful as it is, it’s not an ornament and it has clearly been used, though carefully. There is a pinhead dent in the top Of the cap, and there is a little loss of gold at the end of the section next to the nib which has been caused by the more caustic inks of the mid-century. Otherwise, it is in superb condition, showing little evidence of its age. It remains a very usable pen to this day, with a good ink capacity and a splendidly flexible fine/medium nib.