Mabie Todd & Bard Swan Pen


This one’s a bit special!  It’s a Mabie Todd and Bard Swan eyedropper filler.  Bard was dropped from the company name in 1907 so this pen is before that but I don’t know how much before that.  Going on advertising images that I have seen my guess would be somewhere in the late 1890s.  It cost quite a lot but I suspect I got off light and the real price is rather higher at I paid.

It’s a gold filled half overlay and the overlay is printed “The Swan Pen Pat Feb 8 81 Feb 21 82 Mar 6 88 Mabie Todd & Bard New York”.  The pen measures 13.4 cm capped.  The cap bears a Swan imprint.  It’s the most basic of eyedroppers and the nib appears to be a medium.  I suspect that it’s a replacement as the base of the barrel carries the letters “OBL”, signifying that the pen was issued with an oblique nib.
It’s a slender pen, which was what people expected back in those days when they were making the transition from dip pens, almost all of which were very slender.
The hard shelled case has a leather finish and apart from one scuff on the top it is in good condition.  There are some ink stains on the inside.  The original eyedropper is included.  The rubber bulb has hardened with the passage of time, but these can be bought on the Internet.
This pen was issued at a time of comparative peace and plenty.  The two horrific world wars of the 20th century were yet to come.  Though society was ordered in a way that we would reject today, it was stable and wealth was distributed more fairly than it is today.  The economy was sound and unemployment was low.  I wouldn’t want to go back there but at least they didn’t have the daily diet of horrors that comes our way.  It’s interesting to compare the conditions under which people lived in Britain then and now.  I think we’ve seen plenty of progress but little, if any, improvement.


12 thoughts on “Mabie Todd & Bard Swan Pen

  1. Gorgeous pen; what lovely things Mabie Todd made!

    As for the ordering of society I am not so sure – one downside today of our “progress” is the repellent “celebrity culture” which is a kind of ennobling of the sort of people I wouldn’t have to dinner!

    Yours in the dark ages,


    1. Well, yeah! There are minor problems with the collapsing health service, people being reduced to go to food banks and the ever greater possibility of an ebola outbreak because the government just too stupid to take basic precautions. Those things are bad enough, but celebrity culture and “reality” TV are enough to make one despair.

  2. Hmm–I do like the slender FPs in the past because they are very light. I wonder why they changed it? Does the metal add a bit of weight to the it too?

    Thanks for the info as I’m always curious about MT & bards FPs.

    1. I’m sure the metal will have added a little weight but it isn’t really significant. Heavy pens are very recent. The not overly bright equate weight with quality, which in pens is just nonsense.

  3. I’m not so sure wealth was more evenly distributed back then. Today we have better quality healthcare, food and housing across all classes.

    We defiantly on a downward slope though from a peak in the 50s/60s. Wealth increasingly filtered to the top 1% with everyone else less well off year on year. Failure of basic needs such as the health service and affordable housing, and increasing use of food kitchens. Coupled with the increasing rise of intolerance and the far right, it doesn’t half seem like Europe in the 1930s

    1. I believe that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is greater now than even in Victorian times. I accept the points you make about healthcare, food and housing, but I wasn’t stating that the poor are absolutely worse off now than in the late Victorian period. My point was only about distribution of wealth.

      We do live in scary times. I think the prospect of a right-wing government of one flavour or another for evermore was a large part of the reason why 45% of Scotland wanted to go it alone.

      1. I personally was routing for a yes vote in Scotland. Just so I could then emmigrate from England to Scotland for a hopefully less right leaning, more tolerant country !

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