There was a period in the final quarter of last century when slender pens were the vogue. At most other times they have been rather out of favour, though. At the beginning of last century, all pens were slender by subsequent standards. This was a carry-over from dip pens but by 1920 pens were becoming thicker and for most people, more comfortable.
A pen that swung in the balance between old and new is the Thin Blackbird. I’ve written about this pen before and the search box at the upper right of this page will find it. As a statedly slender pen it looked backward; as the first of the lever filler Blackbirds it was forward-looking.
As I have considered elsewhere, this pen was perhaps an attempt to meet the wishes of those traditionalists who were used to a thin pen and didn’t want to change. Maybe there was some other reason that is lost to us now. Thin Blackbirds don’t seem to have sold especially well and they are quite uncommon now.
That said, I’ve managed to acquire two in a month. I always go after any one I see, not only for their historical significance but because the Thin Blackbird is a very attractive pen. Most of them have retained their colour. This example has retained its crisp engine chasing, too. The cap screws on so it’s not old fashioned in that respect. It has a beautiful semi-flexible nib.
It’s hard to establish the beginning and end of production of these pens but I would hazard a guess at 1922. It doesn’t seem to have remained in production for very long and it was followed by the thicker – and hugely more successful – Blackbird BB2/60.
Nonetheless there was a time, nearly a century ago, when it would not have seemed too thin in the smaller hands of schoolchildren and to them, with its self filling by side-lever, it would have been the latest thing, as novel and important in its day as a smartphone.