Swan 3230


Here’s a rather nice Swan 3230. Most of these grey pens aren’t very nice, as many of them are discoloured to yellow. I’m not sure what it is that causes this particular discolouration, but it happened often enough that Mabie Todd stopped producing this colour and used the number 30 to indicate a pale blue instead. Grey must have been popular in the immediately post-war years, because several of the manufacturers, like Parker, Wyvern and Mentmore, had grey pens on offer. All suffered discolouration and were, sooner or later, withdrawn. Much later, in the nineteen sixties, Conway Stewart introduced grey pens to their less expensive range. Whatever else was wrong with those pens – and there was quite a list – they didn’t suffer from the yellow discolouration. I suppose this must have been because a new plastic must have been developed in the interim which did not discolour.
One other noticeable thing about this pen is the brass threads on the barrel. They look really stylish and indicate that this pen was one of the first run of the new design in 1948 or 1949. They, too, were withdrawn and replaced with plastic threads. There is no written evidence of why this was done but I assume it was because the brass threads can cause undue wear to the plastic threads inside the cap. The other possibility is that it was too expensive.

Finally, this pen has an exceptionally nice nib. It’s a stubbish left-foot oblique, and for me it’s a real pleasure to write with.

11 thoughts on “Swan 3230

  1. One problem with the brass threaded pens is that sometimes the section stays in the cap on unscrewing, I prefer the later ones myself, as they have the nice early-type long lever filling system which is to my mind more satisfactory than the J-bar used in the brass thread short lever pens.

  2. I’ve a black lever Swan fill with these brass threads. Looking at the lower end of the barrel there is what appears to be the number 3120 placed transversely – definitely not 3230. There’s also the word SWAN on the section, and the usual blurb imprint with Pat. No. etc. adjacent to the lever. The point looks to be broad – it’s quite wide and there is a number 1 on the nib – the cap has a single band.

    Might this be about the same date as Deb mentions i.e. late ’40’s, and are these brass threads to be found on all the M.T. pens from that period??

    Must admit I’m not especially a fan of black, but prefer it marginally over grey, which is a colour that reminds me too much of school pens – but grey is a colour that improves when on a P51 with a gold filled cap:)

    1. Yes and yes. It is of the same date and they were all made that way at that time.

      Your 3120 breaks down this way: the 3 is for a lever filler. The 1 is for a number one nib, i.e. the smallest in the range. The 20 is for indigo.

  3. back to Specsavers then for me. thanks Deb, and you’re right of course – under a good light and compared with black, it obviously is indigo.

    I also have a leverless Swan – No. 4250 – in very dark maroon (in poor light it’s not easy to see what some of these colour actually are). Am assuming the 4 indicates the Swan angle bar filler (my bar has broken its contact with the cam/disc), and the figure 2 must be the nib. I’m guessing only but imagine the 50 is for dark maroon.

    If I Araldite the bar back onto the cam might it hold?? – looks like they were soldered on originally.

  4. The leverless pens never had brass threads fitted. As for Aralditing the bar, well of course to make a proper job of t you will have to extract the base part – this requires a suitable tool, an offset square about 2mm square (and there’s a left-handed thread into the knob). Soldering would be quite good – a small butane blowtorch would work. I repaired one with Liquid Weld – bomb proof. In fact I have just this week, in another discipline, successfully glued a nylon block to an aluminium sheet – that’s a real challenge for any adhesive, but Liquid Weld did it.

  5. thanks for the information, and yes, I’d already discovered the left hand thread on the button.
    The pen has been in pieces for some months now, awaiting repair – from memory think I removed the metal cam from the barrel by using a home made type of spanning screwdriver.
    Unfortunately, the nib has lost one of the tines, and there’s a very small chip missing from the front of the feed, all of which rather put me off being able to make a quick repair – so it was put to one side.

    Will visit the ironmongers/hardware shop and investigate Liquid Weld. thanks again.

  6. The info re brass threads is interesting: I have a 3330 with brass threads so now I have a closer age estimate thank you! Haven’t had a problem with the section unthreading into the cap fortunately.

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