Mabie Todd Jackdaw

Jackdaws are quite uncommon and when they do turn up it’s usually in a fairly battered state. They were school pens, after all, so it isn’t that their quality is less than that of other Mabie Todd pens; it’s just that they were in the hands of little school age horrors*. Indeed the quality is excellent. It’s only in the small nib and rather plain design that economy shows.

I have often taken this model of Jackdaw to be older than it really is because of the flat-top design. They look like twenties pens but were made in the mid-thirties. Most, of course, are quite colourful but this example is just plain black.

The Jackdaw shows that despite the tiny nib such a pen will write just as well as any other. Nib size has nothing to do with writing, of course. The bank manager will want to impress you with his huge No 8 nib but that pen doesn’t write better than your kid’s Jackdaw. Maybe the opposite, in fact, because a large, long nib can become awkward in smaller hands. The smallest nib of all is, of course, the hugely popular Parker 51.

The box is very decorative and is often saved for that reason. I always think that the bird illustrated looks more like a starling except for the white ring around the eye which does identify it as a jackdaw, The colours of the box are still strong after ninety years; they must have been very bright and attractive when new. The double-height “J” in Jackdaw is typographically adventurous as is the mixture of regular and italic typescripts. Sadly, the box doesn’t contain the original papers.

The pen isn’t entirely plain. There are two chased rings on the barrel and one on the cap. It is in very good condition. The only place where wear shows is on the lever, where the chromium plating has suffered. The condition of the pen suggests that it was the property of that rarity, a civilised child – or perhaps a thrifty adult.

The Jackdaw is a fine pen. Fortunate the child that was given one.

*Please don’t take my comments on children the wrong way. Many of my best friends are children. Indeed, I am assured I was once one myself.


2 thoughts on “Mabie Todd Jackdaw

  1. Deb πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ, very nice πŸ‘πŸ», there’s not a whole bunch of difference between that and a lovely SM100/60 I’ve got.
    I have a couple of jackdaws, both of them quite colourful. Unfortunately both came with Swan nibs …so you may have been lucky with your specimen.

    I used to have …sword fights with dip pens at boarding school, so it isn’t too hard to imagine the little darlings doing that with their Jackdaws , and trashing the odd original nib !

    Off topic: Did Swallows have ‘Swallow’ nibs ? Mine also has a Swan nib .

    1. Hello Rob,
      I agree that they are very similar. Jackdaws and Blackbirds frequently appear with replacement nibs, mostly because they were school pens, as you say, but also because the nibs are thinner and more fragile. Time permitting, I have a similar Blackbird to post about.

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