A Gold-Band Swan SF2

The SF range of the mid-twenties to late twenties were – and remain – great workaday pens. They’re not, of course, for those who require pens the size of baseball bats but that’s their loss. There was a time, for a century, when people wrote with pens often little bigger than wooden pencils regardless of the size of their hands.

The SF2 carries the style of pens of that era, almost a century ago. You could create a long list of those subtly tapered flat-tops. All the main manufacturers had one or more; Conway Stewart, Waterman, Sheaffer, Onoto – the list goes on.

It’s a pleasant pen with warm-to-the-touch hard rubber and a shape that sits comfortably in the hand for a full day’s writing. The style was never forgotten and there are many later pens that have a memory of it. I’m writing with one now, a Waterman Forum.

SF2s are often plain, a pen that didn’t cost too much and was generally affordable. This one, though, has a touch of opulence, two hall-marked 9 ct barrel bands. They’ve taken some wear over the years but can still be dated to 1926. It is graced with a glorious stub with a hint of obliquity.

Wyverns

You may remember that I’ve been looking for a good Wyvern. I thought the Big Ben might be the pen I wanted and it is quite impressive, measuring 13.5cm capped and with considerable girth. It’s a squeeze filler, like Parker’s Aerometric but without the breather tube. It’s a soundly made pen.

The difficulty that arose – and it’s a deal-breaker – is the size of the gold-plated steel nib. It’s big enough to dig the garden with! Its length makes it awkward for me to write, forcing my wrist to an angle that would become painful over time. I’ve tried gripping it further forward but that feels unnatural to me and it doesn’t really help, so I’ll be selling the Big Ben.

That meant that I was still looking for a Wyvern. Then Rob contacted me and offered to make me a gift of a mottled hard rubber Wyvern. Such a pleasant surprise! The pen began its journey from Western Australia to The Highlands of Scotland.

I remember when mottled hard rubber was common and no more expensive than black hard rubber. Most of the MHR pens have been snapped up and those remaining are furiously fought over. I always loved MHR. It’s such a satisfying pattern. The mixture of black and red is completely random and abstract. It almost appears like a natural material and it often resembles one: the grain of wood.

The pen arrived on Friday, none the worse for travelling half way round the globe, so well and carefully was it packed. It exceeded my expectations with its rich and contrasting colours. The pen is crafted with an elegant design. The taper on the barrel is so slight that it takes a moment’s study to see it. The three-ring cap is tapered with a clip screw that is a little more streamlined, then rounded to a shallow dome. The result is an elegant pen indeed, if you’ll excuse me repeating the adjective which is the only appropriate one here. It has the arrow-shaped clip unique to Wyvern and the gold plating has held up well. The nib is a Warranted 14ct gold medium. An enjoyable writer.

I’m not well-versed in the history of Wyvern models. I checked my various reference works but I’m unable to put a name to this pen. Purely on its appearance and material I would guess at late twenties.

This isn’t the end of the story of this beautiful, generous gift. The accompanying letter is a thing of beauty in itself (the picture doesn’t do it justice). I cannot thank you enough, Rob. This pen will always be treasured.

A Jade Swan

This small Swan (11.6cm capped) is American and bears some resemblance to the red US Swan I wrote about recently. I’ve had it for quite a long time but haven’t done anything with it until now because it is quite severely damaged.

There’s a part missing at the top of the cap. I can find a way to finish that better.

More seriously, there is a crack running through the barrel threads. I can make a repair of sorts but the only really secure solution would be a metal insert and the pen, though uncommon, is not rare or valuable enough to justify such work.

It will never be sold because of the cracked threads but I will be glad to have an example of this beautiful jade pen.

Notebooks

If I started in on paper it would be a 3000-word essay – at least! For that reason I’ll limit myself to a couple of notebooks that I use. People write with ballpoint, felt-tip, gel pens or other writing instruments that aren’t fountain pens with the result that most notebooks are made for those pens and aren’t suitable for us. The paper is usually cheap and often thin, allowing both feathering and show-through. I found a few notebooks that would do very well but were too expensive. I write a lot and I’d prefer to spend my money on pens.

It seems to me that if you’re going to be writing in a notebook it has to lie flat and that means spirals. Drafting is done on an A5 hard back spiral notebook with plain paper. The hard cover allows me to write wherever I may be. This book is branded “Tiger” and comes in various styles: lined, index etc. Tiger notebooks are quite inexpensive and the paper quality is good with no feathering and show-through only with a wet, broad nib. Those books have served me well for many years.

For note-taking on the desk I use card-cover spiral-backs. I’ve tried various different ones over the years. Recently I settled on Black ‘n’ Red A5. Again, they’re comparatively cheap and the paper is nice though there’s a little more show-through.

As I’m sure you’re aware prices are rising madly right now and paper products are more afflicted than most. What was a cheap notebook yesterday may not be now…

My Frankenpen

Going through my no-hoper pens, the ones unlikely to be saleable or even to be repaired, I came upon an English post-war Waterman with a fine Accounts nib. That might not be to everyone’s taste but it suits me very well. The pen was in a sad state with a broken lever box among other faults – not worth repairing I scrapped the pen and salvaged the nib.

I needed a pen body to put the nib in and found an old, faded black hard rubber Mentmore button filler. Despite being aesthetically unattractive due to the discolouration the pen was complete apart from the absence of a nib. The Waterman nib fitted perfectly. I took the pen apart, fitted a new sac and left it to cure. Meanwhile I used a jeweller’s cloth and a Sunshine cloth to brighten it up a little. I screwed the section in, inserted the pressure bar, replaced the button – and I have a splendid everyday Frankenpen.

Shipping

Between all the savings they’ve made shutting thousands of Post Offices and the profits they make delivering packages for Amazon and other online sellers you would think Royal Mail could deliver our paltry few pens for free but no, the price rises every year.

I’ve kept the overseas shipping charge at £12.00 for a long time but I’m taking a hit with almost every package now. Anything over £50.00 in value needs additional insurance and that’s not cheap. The average pen going to the U.S. these days costs me – wait for it – £16.35!!!

You knew where this preamble was going, didn’t you? Well, you were right, sadly. I’ll have to push the overseas shipping price up to £14.00. It comes with my apologies and I hate to do it but – Royal Mail!

Wyvern Continued

I was beginning to despair of finding anything good. All Perfect Pens and 81s which I don’t want. There’s even one of those hide-covered things on eBay at the moment if anyone wants one. Then a Big Ben came along, complete with price sticker and I nabbed that. So pictures will follow in a few days when it gets here.

Mystery Metal Pocket

I suppose we all know the Swan and Conway Stewart Metal Pockets but how about this one?

Any suggestions as to which pen this was intended for? National Security used a lion as their logo but it looked rather different.

Many thanks to Rob Parsons for sharing this image.

Many Thanks

for all the Wyvern suggestions. I’ll just have to see what turns up. I would dearly love a Redwing but it’s unlikely one will just happen along while I wait. And I have little patience, in this regard at least. In any case, I have much to think about.