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Swan Safety Pen. 'Made in U.S.A. during war'.

Regular price £145.00

Please note: This pen is reserved.

The Mabie Todd Swan Safety Pen, a hard rubber eyedropper filler, was introduced, in England in 1911, it was later renamed the 'Safety Screw Cap'. 

In 1915 the so called' shell crisis', a vast shortage of munitions available to the British forces, led to the 'Munitions of war act' which severely restriicted pen output for Mabie Todd.  To be able to continue supplying pens they were able to call on the American branch to supply some models, hence the inscription 'Made in U.S.A. during war' on this pen. It clearly dates the pen 1914-1918.

The pen has been conservatively restored and is in excellent workinng condition.  The chasing has held up very well and the imprints are crisp and clear.  The barrel imprints read:

Pat Jan. 26' 04.

 The end of the barrel also carries 2 small imprints 'G2' ad 'TU'.  these were clearly applied during manufacture but i have been unable to ascertain their significance.  Perhaps the 'G2' refers to a number 2 nib for general use, I have seen other Swans from a similar period with the 'TU' stamp, it is clearly a factory designation of some kind.  The cap is clearly stamped 'SWAN 2'.

This is a very long, slim pen.  At the time, for many new users this would have been the first fountain pen, or 'fountpen' as they were known, they would have been used to a dip pen and would be comfortable with the long slim profile.  The manufacturers were anxious to maintain a slim profile but also wanted to offer a large ink capacity so made pens with longer barrels.

The pen has a number 2, 14CT. Gold nib, made in new York matched with a 'ladder' feed.  This replaced the plain feed on the safety pen in 1912.  The nib is stamped:

& Co
There is no indication as to the Gold content of the nib but it is 14 Ct.  The 1912 Swan pen list makes it clear that they had moved from the earlier 12Ct. nibs by this time.

Filling an eyedropper is not as onerous a task as some may think, it does require a syringe of some type and care should be taken not to overfill, but it only takes a few minutes and doesn't need repeating as often as with modern filling types.  A standard ink cartridge holds 0.8 ml. of ink, I measured the capacity of this pen at about three times that amount. 

The pen is light in weight and a very comfortable 'fit' in the hand once the slim profile has become familiar.  It writes with a fine line andcan be used as a 'conventional' nib with very little pressure, if a little pressure is applied on the downstroke a broader line is produced.  The resulting line variation allows character to be added to the writing, anyone with a decent 'hand' would produce impressive results.  I have seen some excellent examples of 'copperplate' writing using this type of nib, not by me I should add, but the pen certainly seems to want you to write with a flourish! 

 Although the English takeover of the American Mabie Todd company was officially dated to January 1st 1914 production continued in America for some time after.  This enabled Mabie Todd to continue to supply pens to the English market without breaking the wartime restriction legislation.  Much of the advertising was aimed at the armed forces, Mabie Todd being one of the few Britiah companies that could meet the need for pens generated by huge numbers of men being posted overseas.  The Safety pen was also offered as a 'kit', including a metal 'pocket' and a tube of ink pellets for use with water.

I'm afraid this listing turned out longer than most, there is so much to say about this pen.  It is well over a hundred years and in such remarakble condition that it would grace any pen collection but could also be used effectively.  I wouldn't reccomend that it be used as an every day writer to be carried around  but it would make an excellent 'signature pen' to be used for letters, addresses, gift labels, cards etc., or just for the joy of using a lovely item with such historical significance.