Another Black Pen

When you’ve been at this fountain pen lark a while, certain pens begin to stand out. I love Duofolds, American or British; they are outstanding pens. I’ve always admired Conklin Crescents. Those Toledo nibs are among the finest ever made. In the end, though, it comes down to Swans for me. Especially Leverlesses, and among those I particularly like the 1060 and 0160, very similar and both wartime pens.

The 0160 is the smaller of the two and it comes with a No2 nib. I expect I’ve written about it before but it’s such a good pen that it will bear repetition. It’s a middle-of-the-market pen. It’s graced by two cap rings and a gilt-embossed Swan image on the cap top. Unlike its successor the 0160 is a flat-top, echoed by a flat turn-button at the base of the barrel. I don’t know why it should be, but these turn-buttons are almost invariably free-turning. I find that the later torpedo-shaped Leverlesses are often stiff, requiring some work to free them.

The restoration process is like any other pen, depending on the degree of attrition it has suffered. Re-saccing is a pleasure, as with all Leverlesses. It’s a simple process which takes time as the shellac must have cured completely before the sac can be reintroduced into the barrel. This takes a full day and the slowness of the procedure encourages a relaxed pace and a stress-free mind. The final act of pressing the section in place is very satisfying. It’s surprising how often these pens come with a nib that gives some degree of line variation. Even if they are firm like the Eternal, they write beautifully.

I buy in pens to repair and sell but some pens are harder than others to part with. Indeed I don’t always part with them and I have a couple of 0160s and 1060s in my own accumulation. I accept that they are not visually outstanding pens like some of the 1930s SF range. They are understated, subtle, everyday pens and they are a writer’s treasure.


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