This pen is an ebonite eyedropper, possibly from the 1910s. As was common in most Japanese eyedroppers, a safety valve was implemented “to avoid ink stains in their valuable kimono…” This valve sealed the connection between ink deposit and section.
The barrel is nicely engraved with the company logo –blatantly similar to the Mabie-Todd Swan’s— and the inscription “THE ‘SWAN’ FOUNTAIN PEN MADE IN JAPAN A NO. 5”.
A sticker adds the information that the nib is iridium tipped. The nib itself is engraved with a “WARRANTED” and, as shown in the picture something like “SWANFENKI4” whose meaning escapes me. It is possibly made of steel and is quite springy. An overfeed guarantees the correct supply of ink.
The cap is very interesting, and makes this pen very Japanese. Its top end has a small sliding cap that hides a soft white stone in which to carve the personal seal (hanko, 判子). We should remember that East Asian countries do not rely on the signature but on personal seals to stamp your agreement or understanding in a document.
From left to right, a cheap seal called mitome (認印) for informal occasions, the receipt of registration of the formal seal before the city hall, and my personal hanko, on the right.
This pen might have been a very convenient instrument in its time: after writing any text, the author could also sign it with his personal seal. He only needed the inkpad.
To ink… or not to ink?
After all I said some days ago, I have no option other thank inking this pen. “Por la boca muere el pez”, as we all know.