Mabie Todd & Bard Sterling Silver Eyedropper

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This is a Mabie Todd & Bard sterling silver eyedropper from the early years of the 20th century. The presence of the word “Bard” indicates that it was made before 1907 and it can be narrowed down a little further as we will see.
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The pen is no longer quite original as some alterations were made at a later date which make it more practical in use. The original “over-and-under” feed was replaced with a ladder feed and the upper part of the early feed was trimmed, as you can see.
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Dr Harnett, Margate, was the owner of the the pen. Perhaps it was a very opulent gift on retirement. I hunted him down and found that in 1901 he was mentioned in the list of gifts given to the happy couple at a wedding in Margate. He gave them a silver butter dish, which I’m sure they treasured. He was the Resident Surgeon at the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital and it is recorded that he died in 1905, so the pen must date to that year or those preceding.

For the rest, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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No-Name Vacumatic Clone

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When this pen appeared in eBay some time ago it immediately piqued my interest. It was advertised as a Parker Vacumatic and though the resemblance was strong I knew that that was not what it was. I suspected that it was an Indian-made Wilson, as I’ve seen several of these before and it looked just like them. When it arrived and I examined it more closely, it bore no maker’s name.

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However, it had wonderful transparency and the nib was good, though a little bashed around, but nothing I couldn’t fix. I couldn’t repair the filling system, though. It was a Vacumatic clone. I sent it away for repair but, sad to say, it came back with the explanation that it could not be economically repaired. The repairer also said that he thought it was a Japanese clone.

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So there we are: I have a very beautiful pen but I can’t use it. Sad. It didn’t cost a lot, thankfully, and it will go in my “Projects” drawer in the hope that someday a miracle will happen and I can get it repaired.

The Summit Pen Repair Kit And Manual

When my husband was growing up in Scotland there were a couple of newsagents in his town that took in fountain pens for repair. A few days later the pens would be returned to their owners for a small fee, in working condition once again. Within a few years, as ballpoints became more popular, that service dwindled away and died through lack of demand. Thereafter, if your fountain pen failed, it went in the trash or in a drawer.

That, really, was all I knew about the repairers of old. There must have been hundreds of them and they seemed to vanish without a trace, along with all of their equipment. It is a great loss to us that their experience has disappeared and very few of the tools that they used have survived.

So when a Summit Repair Kit and Manual appeared in eBay this week I was determined to have it. It ended up being quite expensive but I think it’s worth every penny. It was sold in 1950 to Miss Kennedy, Baskerville Press, Eastbourne. The manual describes it as a repair kit for the Summit pen including the S170. Of course most of the tools could be used to repair other pens.
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The kit includes:
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A nib and feed fitting press
nib and feed removing block (wooden) and parallel punch
nib-burring tools (male and female)
lever fitting tool
pressure bar fitting tool
ring hook
sac stretcher
barrel or cap brush
section brush
lever slot file
emery paper
stud removing plate
long nib and feed removing block
long parallel punch
nib fitting pliers with rubber covered jaws
nib buffing stick
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It’s all there except the emery paper which has been used up. There is an addition of a tube of Dunlop rubber solution.

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Probably the costliest item in the kit is the nib and feed fitting press. That’s not something I’ve ever had any need for but I can see that it would be a boon for those with weaker hands.

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Perhaps the most limiting items are the long and short nib blocks which probably cover all Summit pens and maybe not all that many others. I think the lever tools would be especially useful. Some other items are recommended:

Bunsen burner or spirit lamp
pliers (flat-nosed 4 inch)
wire cutters 4 inch
jeweller’s hammer (small)
weak alkali solution (or water) for training purposes
solution of shellac and methylated spirits
jeweller’s eyeglass two inch focus (average)
file (fine)

I don’t have the story of Miss Kennedy but the Baskerville Press was active between the 1930s and the 1950s, publishing books of local and more general interest. There is still a Baskerville Press today but it is based in Salisbury and I don’t know whether that is a continuation of the original company or a new one altogether.

Still Around

Thank you for all the kind wishes both in the blog and in email. My husband is much improved and I hope to get back to writing again soon.