I’m a restorer and seller, not a collector, so I don’t really get deeply into the arcana of identity and dates of pens. I’m quite happy if I can put a name on it and I can date it within the decade. So I’ll accept what’s written on the side of the pen which is “Swan Safety Pen” which appears to have been an uncommon precursor of the Swan Safety Screw Cap. I would guess that this places it at 1911 or shortly before.
This stubby little pen is 11.1 cm capped but it’s a reasonable length posted, at 14.1 cm. When it came to me it had a non-original plated nib. I replaced that with a rather nice number three Swan nib with a complex breather hole formed a of circle and diamond. It’s a beautiful nib and it has some flexibility. The cap of the pen is inscribed “screw cap tightly” with an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction so you won’t get lost. The black hard rubber is as black as the day it came out of the factory and the machine patterning is sharp enough to cut you.
I’ve seen one or two of these little pens before. They are, in my experience, always in this near-pristine condition. It’s just about the best black hard rubber that I’ve seen. What were they? Probably purse pens, or perhaps they were intended to slip into a waistcoat pocket (that’s a vest, to Left Puddlians). I think it’s an indication of Mabie Todd’s confidence in their screw cap, which they believed would not dump an eyedropper-full of ink into a pocket or handbag.
It’s a gorgeous little pen and moderately rare – this is probably only the third that I’ve handled in the last 10 years.