Saturday, April 2, 2016

Earliest record of Mabie Todd's Swan?

Mabie Todd's "Swan" was one of the earliest and longest-lived fountain pen names of all. The company itself dated the name's introduction to 1890, but I have recently found records that put the date back a few more years.

The writeup below appeared in The Evening Journal (Jamestown, NY), May 25, 1888, p. 4, col. 7:

The mention below is exceedingly brief, but there can be little doubt that it too referred to Mabie, Todd & Bard's fountain pen. It appeared in The Daily News (Batavia, NY) on Jun 13, 1887, p. 4, col. 3, and again on Jun 15, 1887, p. 4, col. 4:

As yet, all the mentions of the Swan in New York City newspapers that I have found are post-1890, though one would expect the earliest announcements there. For now, June of 1887 is our earliest notice -- though a yet earlier mention is sure to be found eventually.

NOTE: David Moak, in Mabie in America (2003), opined that the first Swan fountain pens were made no earlier than 1888, since all known examples bear imprints denoting that they were made under US patents 378986 and 378987, both granted on Mar 6, 1888. The application dates for these patents, however, were Aug 4, 1886 and Apr 27, 1887, which would be entirely consistent with the mentions in the advertisements above. These very early pens would presumably have had a "patent pending" or "patents pending" imprint.


AAAndrew said...

Very interesting. Later accounts always need a grain of salt.

Atelier Novotny said...

Truly fascinating.