A well-serviced Swan 1500 or 2000 eyedropper works so well that it is easy to forget just how old those pens really are. Top hats and spats were the order of the day and a gold overlay example might have been wielded by the same hand that controlled a four-in-hand, the sports car of the day. A Mabie Todd and Bard eyedropper might have been used to write to the soldiers of the Boer war.
Though we can happily use those hundred-and-a-bit-year-old pens, the ideas we express with them are very different from the concerns of their first owners. The Liberal Party was dominant in government for at least a part of that period instead of the powerless rump that it later became. Germany – a relatively new nation – had gone from being a natural ally against the French to being a participant in the biggest arms race in all of history. By time our eyedroppers were being replaced with lever fillers 20 million soldiers had died in the War to End All Wars. One sinister similarity of that period to this is that a lethal virus pandemic was stalking the globe then too.
4 thoughts on “Edwardian Pens”
Very nice post, thank you.
Amongst my favourite pens there is a Swan 300 eyedropper, carrying two Liberty solid gold bands and a n. 3 firm nib. It writes splendidly and the only reason why I do not use it daily is that, as all eyedroppers, it tends to blob now and then.
A very actractive and elegant pen, though.
The blobbing is caused by the heat of the hand causing the air in the barrel to expand. If you hold the pen nib up for long enough for the heat to transfer the pen shouldn’t blob any more. Also, if you keep the pen well filled the problem shouldn’t arise. If you already knew these these thing, please ignore them!
well, a 3012 (MED, medium, but quite fine tipped) is one of my dearest pens, it is always inked.
Indeed it’s wetness is variable. 😉 Lately I could find an incomplete 3212 so the 3012 now is fitted again with complete over/under feed, what improved the ink balance…
The nib is tiny, but made at highest standards, even among Swan nibs.
It is very expressive, not just because it is stubbish and flexy but somehow reflects the writers mood like a seismograph. 🙂
Those old New York nibs are wonderful. I wish someone would come up with a replacement over and under feed!