Mabie Todd Swan 400
December 17, 2015 9 Comments
I’m not sure of the date of the Swan 400 but I would guess that it is one of the later eyedropper-filler pens as it has the wonderful ladder feed. Around 100 years old, then. This one is as black and shiny as the day it was made but there are some surface scratches which are hard to explain. At first I thought it might be that an accommodation clip had been fitted, as these often scratch the surface but as the scratches go round the cap that doesn’t work. Perhaps it was stored in a drawer with something sharp.
Anyway, this is the pen as it came to me. I haven’t even cleaned the nib. The only thing I did was to put some ink in it and write-test it. It’s a fine with quite a bit of flex. This is quite a long pen at 14.2 cm capped. It has a professional personalisation, “JM Wilson”. Who could that be? Current JM Wilsons include a lawyer, an author, a racehorse trainer, an artist and a tattooist but it’s unlikely to be any of them. The JM Wilson who owned this pen must be pushing up the daisies. I found one candidate, Canon James Maurice Wilson, 1836 to 1931, librarian of Worcester Cathedral, who was also a mathematician, astronomer, historian, theologian, educational reformer, and philanthropist. Now that’s the kind of guy I hope owned this pen!
The Swan 400 has just about everything going for it. Okay, it’s not a self filler but on the other hand it holds much more ink than any self filler does. It has the ladder feed and a great nib. Being made of black hard rubber it weighs practically nothing and will have just enough heft to be noticeable when it’s full of ink. The grip is excellent and the balance is perfect – what more could any pen give?
I’ve had one or two of these pens before but they are not common. Perhaps this is because they were introduced towards the end of the life of the eyedropper pen, as sac fillers came in. Anyway, it’s a wonderful pen. Grab one if you see one.