I had an email the other day from Rodrigo Flores of Chile. He has his grandfather’s Mabie Todd & Bard 18 carat gold-filled eyedropper filler and wanted to know when it was made and some idea of its value.
An approximate date was easily established. I have a collection of Mabie Todd adverts and a comparison suggested that the pen was made around 1900. Value, as always, is more difficult. A pen is worth what someone is prepared to pay on the day. A gold-plated Mabie Todd & Bard eyedropper filler was sold a few days ago in eBay and I gave Rodrigo that price. It wasn’t a close comparison, just a ballpark figure. The pen that was sold had a decorated overlay whereas Rodrigo’s is plain. Also, the eBay pen showed the usual signs of the passage of a century and more whereas Rodrigo’s pen is almost pristine.
It’s quite an unusual pen. The choice of a non-decorated overlay was not often made. Though the decorated ones are undoubtedly beautiful, the plain gold overlay is very impressive in its reserved and minimalist way.
After the passage of almost 120 years very few pens are in this splendid condition. I am sure that Rodrigo would never part with this precious heirloom but if it ever came on the market, presented in the right manner, this pen would be the subject of hot competition between serious collectors.
My thanks to Rodrigo for the photographs and the privilege of writing about this pen.