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Many are older than me
They perform better!

The Swan Plug Filler.


Here’s one you don’t see often – a plug filler Swan!  This was originally a Mabie Todd and Bard design and it was continued on after the company became Mabie Todd in 1907.  This pen is stamped “Mabie Todd & Co” on the barrel.  As the feed is stamped MTB that suggests that it was made very soon after the change in the company name, when earlier parts were still being used up.  Well more than 100 years old, anyway, and looking like new.
This is an eyedropper filler but instead of unscrewing the section to fill the pen, the plug is withdrawn to allow filling with a very slender eyedropper.  This method does not seem to have caught on as there aren’t many pens of this type around.  Perhaps it became unreliable as the plug wore with much use or it may be that it was less expensive to revert to the screw-in section.
This must be the longest twisted silver wire that I have ever seen!  I have no doubt that it did the job of improving ink flow just as well but these became much shorter as time went on.
It is remarkable that the black hard rubber has retained its original darkness and shine so well for over a hundred years.  Is this the earliest appearance of the gold overfeed in Swans?

Many thanks to Paul Leclercq for sight of this splendid pen and permission to write about it.

Platignum Regal

I recently had reason to agree with Paul Stempel that not all Platignums are bad.  Some are particularly nice.
This is a Platignum Regal dating to about 1965.  It’s a very traditional pen – screw cap, lever fill,  “jewels” on each end.  Inside it has Platignum’s equivalent of Parkers pliglass sac – in other words, one that goes on forever.
This is a school pen, built to a low price and yet it has survived all these years in very good condition.  The plastic takes a good shine when rubbed with a cloth.  The metalwork has retained all of its chrome plating.
The steel nib looks at first glance like Platignum’s usual offering but it’s a bit better than that.  It doesn’t have the folded tips; this one has good tipping material.
The result is that it writes very nicely, on the fine side of the medium, a size of nib I particularly like.

If what you appreciate about the pen is its writing ability, then this is as good a pen as any Swan or Onoto.  If, on the other hand, you expect your pen to look and feel like quality, perhaps the Platignum Regal falls a little below their standard.

I think I’ll be hanging onto this one for a while to write with myself.

Three Everyday Old Pens

Some inexpensive old pens are featured today.  Two of these pens are quite uncommon, not because they sold in small quantity but probably because people disposed of them rather than carefully putting them away, as they would have done with Swans, Onotos and Conway Stewarts.  Though they don’t appear so often they are probably a better representation of what people used than the more expensive pens.
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It’s not always the most expensive pens that are the prettiest.  This Platignum looks quite modern but probably dates back to the 1930s.  Though some of the later ones appear with gold nibs, originally Mentmore designed the Platignum to be the least expensive pen on the market with a good steel nib.  This is a good solid button filler.  Strangely enough, it has been fitted with a Burnham nib at some point.  I’ll hang on to it until I get a proper Platignum nib of the right date.
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This Penplas is a very basic pen.  It’s a lever filler with a folded-tip nib.  There is very little more that one can say about it.  Penplas only existed for a few years in the late 40s.

The Duragold was made by Perry’s of Birmingham, a company with a long history of making dip pen nibs.  I don’t think they made many fountain pens but a later scion of the family went on to make the very successful Osmiroids.
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These pens have little value but they should not be forgotten.  Hundreds of thousands of people wrote with simple, inexpensive pens like these.

Conway Stewart 226

I have always found the middle period of Conway Stewart’s production to be the most interesting.  Admittedly, the early eyedropper fillers and Duros are exciting but they are unlikely ever to be seen in the flesh by the average buyer.  The period from 1930, on the other hand, to about 1948 sees the production of a huge number of models in some of the most delightful plastics that Conway Stewart – or any other company – put on offer.
A good example is the 226, which Jonathan Donahaye records as being produced between 1933 and 1946.  At 10 shillings and sixpence it was two shillings cheaper than the more common 286.  The what makes the 226 stand out is the patterns that it came in – marbled sky blue/slate blue/gold, blue rock-face and this one which Jonathan calls marbled burnished copper/gold.
As a slightly cheaper version it has no cap bands which allows for an uninterrupted stretch of this glorious pattern.  These highly colourful pens are not especially common and are quite sought after by collectors.

Thaddeus’s Silver Onoto

Some time ago my good friend Thaddeus Butts asked me what I thought was the “Best of British” fountain pen.  After some consideration I concluded (and this is my opinion, I know yours will differ) that a solid silver 1920s Onoto would be about the best you could get.

Thaddeus went looking and eventually one turned up as part of a “miscellaneous silver lot in an auction.”  It was in quite sad shape at that stage.  The silver section was gone, the inside of the cap had to be rebuilt and threaded. The turning button cover needed to be built up to fill the hole made from removing the silver pin holding it for restoration of the filling system (1mm x 1.5mm elliptical).

It was passed to Eric Wilson.  He had some difficulty obtaining a silver blank to fabricate the section and eventually a section from a donor pen was adjusted to fit.  To say the least of it, this was an exceptional repair, restoring this superb pen from scrap metal to its original condition.  It has a splendid Onoto nib and it writes beautifully.  Thaddeus is very pleased with it.  Full credit and a round of applause to Eric Wilson.  There aren’t many pen restorers around these days who can do work of this high quality.

Here it is:Barnie-Assay-Marks Barnie-uncapped

Calligraphy Sets

Though there is the occasional collector’s item most of the pens that I sell will be used by their buyers.  That, I think, is as it should be.  Unlike more complex elderly mechanisms, fountain pens are easily restored to working condition and it’s right that they should be used and loved again.  Doubtless they will be employed for business and private correspondence, journalling and the like.

There’s another area of fountain pen use that I try to supply, and that’s calligraphy.  I source the occasional Osmiroid or Sheaffer calligraphy pen and they are usually snapped up pretty quickly.  I’ve been trying to develop a better calligraphy section and today I’ll be uploading a variety of  sets with cartridges.  I think they will be excellent for the beginner or for the more practiced writer.

See what you think, all ye of the elegant letter-forms and swooping lines!