Friday, 4 October 2013

Blue Swan ink of old


No dives in Orkney Islands were necessary for the discovery of this Swan ink bottle. It was found in the most mundane of places: an eBay auction. Instead of a shell entombed within it, the bottle was full of ink. Mundane places have their advantages. Let us not forget too that an old bottle full of ink is difficult to come by – even on eBay. This one was full and the paper label in superb condition. The old swan of Swan ink was swimming elegantly amongst decorative waves. 1920s?

The paper label has got a yellow border with Blue Swan Ink written in white against a dark blue background. It reads:
“Made in England by the Swan Pen People
Blue
Swan Ink
[swan-splashing-in-water logo]
Fixed 6d Price ~ Purchase 1d tax
Mabie Todd & Co. Ltd London

The blue metal cap reads Swan Ink Trade Mark and features the same swan logo.


Mabie Todd Co. was established in New York City in 1860 and in 1884 a London office was opened. In 1914 Mabie, Todd and Co Limited was established as a British firm.


The ink that comes out of this Swan bottle is a grey blue – a dusky blue I would say, perhaps with some hint of purple. All these nuances become apparent to me only when I apply a handsome quantity of ink on paper with a paint brush. Writing with a dip pen you get a good flow, and a reasonable flow in a Lamy Safari - you wouldn't call it a wet ink, though. I would say that both shading and saturation are medium. In any case, writing with  an old ink is always a pleasure.


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