Can You See My Sales Site?

My Web Host had some trouble with hackers recently and his answer was to turn off the blocks of IPs that the trouble appeared to emanate from.  Not the most efficient way of going about it, I would have thought.  Many potential customers can no longer see my site.  I’ve been dealing with this on a person by person basis but I’m already overwhelmed and I’m sure it’s only a tiny minority of those who cannot see the site who contact me.  If you cannot see the site, email me at  I won’t continue to try to have people unblocked individually but the numbers would help to convince the web host to deal with what is his problem.  I’m reluctant to go through the trouble and expense of moving to another web host but it may come to that.


Latest Uploads

There’s lots of wild paddling going on;
My website‘s now filled with many a Swan!
They’re honking and squabbling and aching to fly
So where will I send them – will anyone buy?

The other pens really would like new homes, too
The Watermans, Parkers; a CS or two
They aren’t as noisy as these Mabie Todds are
Especially one that’s a really old codger.

They’re all lovely pens if I say so myself,
Too beautiful just to be stuck on a shelf;
Some are quite flexible, others oblique –
Stop by for a look at the new pens this week!

An Austrian Naval Travelling Inkwell

This Austrian travelling inkwell was made for the navy as identified by the double headed eagle and anchor on the inner cap. It’s crude but ingenious: the same catch which releases the outer cap also releases the inner one.

It dates to around 1900, so in the latter years of the Austrian Empire. These items are not unknown. Auction houses in Britain value them at £5-£25 depending on condition. In the USA they fetch higher prices.

This well-used and battered example is at the lower end of these values. It was once as vital and valuable a means of communication for the Austrian seaman as today’s cellphone.

Ladies Swan Pen Pocket

I’ve had several of these leather pen pockets but the wording and layout of the text on this one is new to me.  It’s a little tattered but after 113 years it’s entitled to be.  It has a button closure – no longer working and at one time the pocket would have held a short Swan eyedropper.

An essential piece of ephemera for any Swan collector.

Sunday Rambling

I’ve spent the day repairing pens.  I only fixed five but that’s because they were all in a bad state.  Three Swans, a Waterman and a Conway Stewart, all with buckled nibs and other problems.  Many thanks to Laurence Oldfield for his nib straightening kit.  I bought the full set a few years ago and it has transformed my work.  I buy pens with badly bent nibs that other people don’t seem to want.  Keeps the price down for me and my customers.  I’ll try to straighten any nib, no matter how bad.  The ones I find most difficult and time-consuming are those with a sharp bend near the tip.  They take a lot of work and the fear is always there that I’ll detach the tipping.  I’ve done it a few times and it does bring out the language that my mother never taught me.  I suppose those particular bends come from a plummet straight onto a hard surface.

I plan to concentrate on Mabie Todd pens.  They’re what I enjoy working on most and they’re what I admire in a fountain pen.  I suppose if I see a pen of another brand at a bargain price I might buy it, but for the most part it will be Swans, Blackbirds and Jackdaws.  I might as well enjoy the time I spend on repair, conservation and restoration even more than I do now.  Mabie Todd pens will do that for me and they are what my customers want.

I will write here when I can but life is making more demands on me which means less time for the blog.  I was writing three or four entries every week for eighteen months or so and I covered a lot of ground.  I’m glad I got that done as it makes the blog more of a reference for anyone trying to find out about their new old pen.  I will also be pleased to write about any rarities and oddities you find, if you send me the photos.  It will always be done but it may take some time, as I’ve said above.  Even though I may not be able to concentrate on the blog as much as I have done, it will always remain online.

Does Platignum Deserve Its Bad Reputation?

The earliest Platignums I am aware of are hard rubber lever fillers, often in less usual colours like blue or olive mottled. They had perfectly usable steel nibs. Later they produced pen and pencil sets in bright celluloid colours. Again, these are perfectly adequate pens and they have become collectors items, especially in America.

Wartime and post-war pens like the Silverline and Quick Change with its variety of nibs were cheap, serviceable pens. Many have survived in good condition. Up to this point, I think Platignum stuck to their original stated intent: to provide good cheap pens. There are even were admirable bulb fillers in the Platignum stable.

It was later, during the fifties, sixties and seventies that Platignum turned out the really bad lever and cartridge fillers that are remembered today for their habit of leaking, breaking and blotting. Those pens were not only cheap, they were shoddy.

Even at that time, though, they were capable of producing good pens. I’m writing this with the Platignum Gold Nib Pressac, a squeeze filler with a durable sac. The gold nib is very pleasant, a firm medium with a modicum of feedback. This pen came in single or double jewel form, the latter known as the Deluxe. Mine is the former.

Had Platignum’s worst efforts occurred beyond living memory it might be better regarded but there are too many people around who experienced the cheap plastic horrors of the mid-century for their better pens to stand out.

To sum up, I think the company’s bad reputation is deserved, but that’s not all there is to the story.

Rosemary – That’s For Remembrance

I’ve written about the Rosemary before, mostly speculation about the very unusual name. The search box above will find previous blog entries on the subject.

It is in Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V, as Ophelia plans to end her short life, that the phrase occurs as she explains the symbolism of the flowers she gathers. For Shakespeare she had gone mad. Now we might say she suffered from clinical depression. It’s a famous scene, very sad and very beautiful.

This Rosemary pen isn’t sad but it is beautiful. I’ve seen many Rosemary pens and the design appears to have changed often.

This slender, clipless, mottled hard rubber pen is, I believe, a lady’s purse pen. Mottled hard rubber is always attractive and it sets off the 18 carat rolled gold band. The nib is small, warranted 14 carat gold. It’s a lovely pen made romantic by its Shakespearean tag.