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Swallow (Modern)

Maker: Mabie, Todd & Co.

Sitting on a desk, just over arm’s length away, it’s not a bad interpretation of a vintage pen, although the chequered and brightly coloured body is a bit of a give-away, as one generally found either chasing or colour but seldom both.  The shape is pretty good, and I frankly admire the little roller on the clip (something Eversharp was noted for more than the original incarnation of Mabie, Todd & Co.).  Loads of chrome trim is not astray either, as Waterman’s lower-end models inclined this way.

Once you pick it up, though, the problems start to become manifest.  Like so many modern pens, it tries to counterfeit quality through weight;  don’t understand why so many modern pen fanciers insist on their pen weighing more than a small child.  When I say “counterfeit”, I am speaking broadly, as even some higher-end and authentically high-quality pens do this (I’m looking at the Sheaffer Legacy and the Pilot Vanishing Point as instant examples), but one has to understand that gravitas and gravity are not literally the same thing.  I will grant that the balance is not too wonky, with the cap posted on the very positive mounting of a false blind cap or unposted, which somewhat excuses the weight.  Up close, the pen looks funnier than at a distance, because it’s obvious that the colour is a finish over metal, another practice essentially unknown in vintage pens, and the MT cypher on the clip proves to be either a silk-screening or a transfer of some sort, which is hardly going to stand the test of time.

The point is firm in a very modern way, and it’s a nervous-making “Iridium Point Germany” model, although it doesn’t seem to be a bad example.  It does, however, suggest that the mysterious makers weren’t interesting in making a true effort—if the $40 TWSBI Diamond can have a point with the maker’s own imprint on it, this thing retailing for as much as $125 should be able to manage as much.  It does at least put ink to paper in a reasonable and smooth way.

Having said harsh things about it, I will admit that I find it somewhat charming.  That roller clip is a big part of that, and also the fact that I got it in trade for some work done on another pen, rendering it effectively free.  If you’re a fan of a heavy pen, and can get your hands on one for substantially less than $75, you probably won’t be too angry.

Update: There has, since this pen appeared, another appearance of the name Swallow, in a rather higher degree of finish and attached to a limited edition.  There will be insertions below in italics to indicate what I know regarding that object.

Production Run: c. 2000 – c. 2010. 2018 LEof one hundred pens.

Cost When New: It’s hard to pin down; one finds them offered for as little as $40.00 and as much as $125.00.  I suspect the former is an effort to clear old stock, and the latter more in line the original MSRP.  $125 LE

Size: 13.3cm capped, 16.5cm posted, 11.8 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Metal, which I will compliment by describing as lacquered. Acrylic LE

Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 ml or 1.4 ml (international pattern). LE is the same.

Mabie, Todd Swallow, the modern revival – this is a very unlikely colour in a chased barrel, among vintage pens



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