31 October 2014

Swan's Big Red

Japanese Swan pens –those made by Nobuo Ito— are already known on these Chronicles. This company based its success in Japan on coping the Mabie Todd’s Swan catalog for the domestic market. Well, Nobuo Ito also had the support of Japanese courts of Justice. The domestic success was big, and the Japanese Swan became the biggest pen company in Japan around 1915.

But despite this success and the presumably large number of Swan pens produced, they are not common finds in the market. So, any find, especially if in good condition, is of interest.

This Swan pen is a copycat of the well known Parker Duofold Big Red from the 1920s. but this a Japanese pen, as the filling system shows—this is an eyedropper pen with a shut-off valve operated from the tail. The pen is labeled on the barrel as “SWAN PEN / MY PRESENT”, together with the company logo, all too similar to that of the Anglo-American company.

The pen is made of ebonite. The nib, of 14 K gold. The production date is about 1930. These are its dimensions:
  • Length closed: 132 mm
  • Length open: 126 mm
  • Length posted: 170 mm
  • Diameter: 15.5 mm
  • Weight: 28.4 g (dry)

The imprint on the nib reads "SWAN / IDEAL / PEN / 14 K".

"SWAN PEN / MY PRESENT". My present?

It is interesting to note that this pen has no indication about having been made in Japan, contrary to some other examples of this brand. Nonetheless, the filling system does show, as mentioned before, this as a Japanese fountain pen.

My thanks to Mr. Furuya.

Waterman Crusader – Platinum Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 30th 2014
etiquetas: Swan Japan, Parker, Mabie Todd Swan


jazzactuel said...

Really interesting find and great write-up as always. Sakai & Co also made their share of Big Red look alikes later on, but I had no idea that Big Red copies (or politely put , interpretations) went all the way back to the 1930s

Unknown said...

I'd rather the Japanese copy than the 'real' deal.

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks for your comments, jazzactuel and Tony Rex.

A number of japanese pen companies copied the Parker's Duofold model in the late 1920s and 1930s. Sailor, for instance, made a wonderful Big Red, and SSS made some models in beautiful celluloids.

Thanks for passing by and taking the effort of writing.


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