Mabie-Todd Swan Eternal #44 (c. 1927)

The Mabie-Todd company made top quality pens throughout the first half of this century and beyond. The partners Mabie, Todd, and the Bard brothers began manufacturing gold pen points, pen holders, and related products in 1843; in 1873, the company (then known as Mabie, Todd and Bard) ventured into the fountain pen business. A London sales office was opened in 1883, and similar lines of pens were made in both countries for a time.

The U.K. half of the business, under somewhat more vigorous management, soon began to dwarf the original firm, and by the early 1930s the U.S. operation had all but folded its tents -- fortunately not before manufacturing this particular pen around 1926. The Swan line was the foremost of several lines of pens produced by Mabie-Todd.

In the UK, Mabie Todd prospered and produced a wide range of models through World War II; when the company went public in the early 1950s, the largest block of shares was purchased by Biro pens (the ballpoint people), and due to slacking sales and a lack of interest by the new owners, Biro shut down Swan a few years later (a very symbolic transaction, that -- the upstart ballpoint firm doing away with the older, more distinguished fountain pen firm).

This pen, like most of Mabie-Todd's other better products, bore the "Swan" brand name; this is a 44/ETN "Eternal" model from about 1927, the name signifying a lifetime guarantee. It is made of mottled black and red hard rubber, with very nice gold-filled trim, including two cap bands and a very handsome "stepped" clip bearing its patent date.

The finishing of the clip, the bands, the lever, and the grip section (which carries on the mottled pattern) on this pen shows much greater attention to detail than you could find on many other pens of the day (like Waterman or Sheaffer), and the pen is "crowned" at the cap end with a tiny swan mascot in white on black (like the "snowflake" on certain other well known pens). The Swan has a much more solid feel than other hard rubber pens I have, and takes a polishing very well (as the picture above shows), allowing the casual observer to mistake it for a celluloid pen. The gold point is somewhat rigid by the standards of the day.

Details of clip and point

In the old days, people liked brand names prominently
displayed on their pens rather than their clothing.
This heavily -doctored image shows the Swan imprint,
and the word "eternal" which appears just beyond
the edge of the posted cap (another nice detail).

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network