One of the longest-lived makers of writing equipment, Mabie Todd was a firm whose partners' involvement in gold nib and pencil manufacture dated back to the 1840s; Mabie, Todd & Co. itself was established in 1860 in New York City.
The company was reformed as Mabie Todd & Bard in 1873, and continued to offer a wide range of top quality pens, pencils, and accessories of innovative design. Their first fountain pen, the Calligraphic, was introduced around 1878, utilizing the patents of pen inventor William W. Stewart. Production of "Swan" fountain pens appears to have begun by 1890; Swan overlay eyedroppers were among the most beautiful and ornate pens of their era. Mabie, Todd & Bard reverted to Mabie, Todd & Co. around 1907, when it was incorporated in the state of New York.
Export to Great Britain began early, and a London office was opened in 1884. Manufacture of pens in Britain appears to have begun around 1909; in 1914, Mabie, Todd & Co, Limited, was established as a British firm, which at the beginning of 1915 acquired all Mabie Todd assets outside of the USA. Manufacture continued in the USA until the late 1930s, with quality and production volume declining sharply towards the end. Meanwhile, the British Mabie Todd firm went from success to success, and the Swan was widely advertised outside the USA as "the pen of the British Empire." Although the company initially prospered in the immediate postwar period, production ceased before the end of the '50s -- another casualty of the ballpoint era.
There has been much confusion about the relation of Edward Todd to Mabie Todd. Edward Todd was one of the original partners of Mabie, Todd & Co.; he left the firm in 1868 and set up on his own a few years later.
This profile depends heavily upon David Moak's original research, first published in various iterations on CD-ROM, and then in print as Mabie In America: Writing Instruments from 1843 to 1941. Although now out of print, this book is well worth acquiring as it corrects many misconceptions that have long circulated about this pioneering company and the men who ran it.
An early silver chatelaine eyedropper with bayonet-style cap locking ring.
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