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.