Mabie Todd flourished between the 1890s and the mid 50s, when it was taken over by Biro and began turning out ever-more poor quality pens until Biro closed the company down. That’s the story, isn’t it? Or is it?
This pen turned up a few weeks ago and changed the story, for most of us at least. It’s a button filler of the traditional kind, as you would see on older Parkers or Mentmores. The quality of the workmanship is outstanding. The plastic, probably celluloid, is beautiful and the pattern continues on into the section.
The barrel imprint identifies the pen as a Blackbird and the clip bears a Swan image.
How does it come about that such a beautiful pen is produced in about 1960, when the last pens we saw from Mabie Todd were such poor specimens? The story, so far as I know, is that this pen was made in the Netherlands. Whether it was done under licence or perhaps a company had bought out the rights to the Swan and Blackbird names and images I don’t know, but the Swan barrel imprint on the pen was made by the same stamp that was used on the mid 50s Calligraph.
Stephen Hull has other Blackbird pens, some of them button fillers like this one, others piston fillers that look as if they were made in Germany. Much mystery surrounds these pens. Perhaps when Stephen Hull’s eagerly awaited book on the English branch of Mabie Todd appears, all will be explained!
Edit to add:
Excuse the quality of the photos – done in a hurry!