Mabie Todd Swan

1920s

About This Model

Mabie Todd was one of the oldest manufacturers of fountain pens, having started in the 1860’s in New York with pen holders and pencil cases. Their first true Swan fountain pen was brought out in 1884, featuring a nib with an over-under feed and ink feed via a twisted silver wire. British production began in 1907, and it soon far outgrew American results. Soon Swans became, with Conway Stewarts, top selling English fountain pens, with Leverless and SelfFiller models following throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Mabie Todd also produced Blackbirds, as a second level pen. Blackbirds were usually a bit more plain and less adorned than Swans, but made equally well, and generally used the same nibs with Blackbird markings. Their history parallels Swan's, with growth, innovation, and senescence at the same times. Like Conway Stewart, Mabie Todd produced a huge variety of pen colors and color combinations, each with a distinct model designation that can make specific identification tricky. With most of the English fountain pen industry, Mabie Todd declined after WWII, and finally disappeared in the late 1950’s.

About This Pen

The SF 230 Swans were mainstay pens in England throughout the 1920s. Made of vulcanite (hard rubber), the English name for ebonite/hard rubber, the Self-Fillers were direct descendants of the first SF1 and SF2 in the late 19-teens, and continued the evolution. This example is a handsome one, in good condition. These pens were almost all the same length, 14 cm (5.4”), and slim, 1.2 cm (.45”), so even as late as 1930, appeared to look traditional. Most SF230s I’ve seen have, like this one, two barrel rings surrounding the extensive imprint. The crown has a brown rippled vulcanite ring and top, centered by a gold ring that matches the barrel rings. The clip is long, but starts a bit lower on the cap, which also shows the model imprint. The nib is a Mabie Todd 2, in gold, and it writes a very firm fine line, slowly and with substantial flex; this pen does not flex for this left-handed overwriter, although it writes very nicely for me without flexing. This SF230 does not have any significant flaws, although it shows its 100 years of age around the edges. It’s a major part of early fountain pen history, and can be a steady user for many years to come. It comes with an original Swan box, probably contemporaneous but not from this pen.

Price: $145 Sold

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