1920s Black Hard Rubber Blackbird

The 1920s Blackbirds remain common. They were big sellers to school pupils and students, being priced lower than Swans though they were built with the same quality. Perhaps the most common Blackbird of that period was the BB2/60 but there are others, similar in appearance but without any model number. Some have ladder feeds, others have the older “spoon” type feed.

This is such a pen. The flat-top cap is entirely smooth. The barrel has faint chasing but the imprint seems unworn. The imprint describes it simply as a Blackbird Self-Filler and the pen was made in England. Blackbirds were quite a bit cheaper than Swans and most of the saving was in the nib. The material of the nib is thinner than Swan nibs and the tail of the nib is shorter too providing a considerable saving in gold.

Though the nibs write very well they are a little more fragile than Swan nibs and, as a consequence, Blackbird nibs are always in short supply.

The nib in this pen, happily, is in perfect condition, a medium with some flexibility. The lever is chrome plated, again a small saving from gold plated trim. The barrel has a gentle taper and the section is concave, making it pleasant to hold and write.

These 1920s blackbirds are practical pens, quite comparable with any pen being produced today. I’ve always had a Blackbird or two in my own accumulation of pens. They make very good everyday writers. They carry their ninety-odd years very well.

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17 thoughts on “1920s Black Hard Rubber Blackbird

  1. couldn’t agree more – they’re also a lot more diverse than you might think – certainly more so than I initially thought when I started collecting them.
    Red ripples, and a variety of other colours and speckles – e.d. nibs from N.Y. ‘Made In U.S.A. During War’ with 12 ct. nibs rather than 14 ct. – Thin Blackbirds – wide ones with g.f. collars and rings etc., and as you say some with very flexy nibs.
    An area which repays some intensive collecting, if you have the money – they’re getting a little more expensive as time passes – I suppose it’s the M.T. connection.

    1. I think there were always those who had the perspicacity to appreciate them but they are becoming more popular. As you say, there is a wide variety of 20s Blackbirds. I’ve written about many of them.

  2. If anybody is interested, I’ve just updated the englishpenbooks.co.uk website with further details of ‘The Swan Pen’ book, which has just gone to press. There are four sample pages posted there, one of which shows a few ‘Big Blackbirds’ from the late 1920s/early 1930s.

  3. too true – but comments about expensive, rare, large, exquisite pens – especially when I don’t have them -make me envious.
    I’m reminded of Tevye’s song from Fiddler ……….. “would it spoil some vast eternal plan etc. ………….”
    – why do I pick hobbies that flourish on rather more funds than I normally have :-):-):-)

    thank you Andy 😉

  4. I have quite a nice representative selection of blackbirds …up to when they started being …..not so good !!
    And I love the early fountpens a lot.
    But it always has to be said , and I really should get this tattooed on my writing arm !!
    ‘ it’s all about the nib’
    They nearly all came with gorgeous nibs; beautiful soft, flexible, gold nibs.
    Writing with these pens is a transcendent experience.

    1. There is probably a higher proportion of flexible Blackbirds than Swans – in the early days, I hasten to add. It is all about the nib for many people but I recently read a review of a modern pen where everything was mentioned except the nib. Weight, balance, bling – especially bling but no word about how the pen wrote!

  5. an absence of comment about the nib – on a modern pen – is not unexpected ……… the reason being that unless you are an aficionado in cursive, then almost all modern f.ps. will produce a very similar result when the nib is put on the paper – even with expensive models.

    1. Honestly, that’s not my experience. You don’t get flex with most modern pens but I don’t care about flex. Most vintage pens don’t have flex either. Beyond that there is considerable difference in modern nibs. I could do a post about it but it doesn’t really interest me enough.

  6. Deb , at the risk of turning all my reply/comments into the catchcry ‘ it’s all about the nib’
    I must in all fairness modify my sentiment to …’for me it’s all about WRITING with a pen, whilst at the same time having a deep fascination and appreciation for the history and development of writing and the instruments used.
    (That would be a rather verbose tattoo!)

    I can, and do write with many different nib configurations, and enjoy most of them. ( firm and fine really don’t do anything for me at all …but hey ! )

    However, it would be very short sighted and ignorant of me not to acknowledge the many many people who don’t write with their pens for what ever reasons,and still enjoy collecting them .

    So once again , apologies for any exclusivist implications.

  7. you’re forgiven Rob:-). I suppose it’s laziness on my part for not writing – I complain that I’ve too much distraction and commitment to other hobbies, and there’s not the slightest doubt that if the pc and mobile didn’t exist then I’d be forced into using ink. But (and yes, I know, you shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘but’) – there’s a lack of any real necessity, so I don’t.
    I get the impression that most folk who say they write – don’t do so in the old fashioned sense of sending letters on a regular basis – they maybe practice writing out or copying some lines.
    Now watch Deborah say that she regularly writes and sends letters:-). But it’s good to hear your contrition and tolerance toward us collectors – a breed I had thought of as being thin on the ground:-):-)

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