Mabie-Todd Swan SF2, "T.R. Allerton", c.1931
My first vintage pen, an American Mabie-Todd Swan, 1930/1931, #2 nib (SF2) gold-filled, lever mechanism; with matching pencil.
I paid about £100 refurbished in June 2018, as a complete impulse-buy snipe on eBay. I had no idea what a good price for one of these was, but I just took a punt, and I love it. It’s in okay shape, and a little small for my hand, but the flex is beautiful.
I’ve had to have it serviced once since, as the lever mechanism failed. I’m not sure if it’s been fixed definitively, but it fills now.
I don’t use the pencil and don’t even have the right size lead for it. However, it’s nice to have the set.
I’m not a history/genealogy buff, but I was curious about the provenance of this pen. The only mention of “T. R. Allerton” I can find is a notice of his daughter’s marriage in 1932:
Mildred Ruth Allerton-Foondle died in 1994 (age 84), surviving her husband Merl (d. 1988, age 78), living in Benton Harbor their whole lives.
Tracking back from Mildred, her father was “Oscar R. (Raymond) Allerton”, born April 24, 1876 in Alliance, Ohio, originally a cabinet maker (on his WW1 draft card), then a superintendent at Benton Harbor Malleable Iron Works. It does seem strange that the paper lists him as “T.R. Allerton” (which matches the pen) when other records record Mildred’s father as Oscar. Maybe he had a nickname?
In 1931 he was 55, and in the 1930 census he was listed as living at 511 Heck Court (which seems to no longer exist – a scrubby corner of land, owned by the town), and having his own shop as a pattern maker (I think… the census handwriting isn’t absolutely clear). This tracks with an early retirement from the Iron Works which would warrant a nice gold pen, right?
Note, in the 1940 census, Oscar Allerton, a(nother?) pattern maker at the Iron Works, was listed as 63, born in Michigan. He seems to be living with his sister, niece and a lodger, rather than the larger family listed for Oscar R. He lived just around the corner from Heck Court, at 525 Columbus Avenue. It seems a bit coincidental, to be honest. Censuses back then didn’t seem too accurate…
Oscar died in 1953, aged 76-77, and was buried in Benton Harbor.
Benton Harbor Malleable was in trouble in the 1970s, closed the foundry in 1973, and was bankrupt by 1975 as far as I can tell, along with a lot of other heavy industry in the town. It’s now a golf course.
I’m not absolutely sure whether Oscar is the same as “T. R. Allerton” as on the pen, but I like to believe it. The dates of Oscar’s presumed retirement roughly match that of the pen’s date as a likely retirement gift. Of course it might’ve been someone else altogether.
Maybe he just hated the name “Oscar”; saying that, he called his son Oscar Jr… Now, if it was Oscar, his ancestry can be traced back to the Mayflower.
Anyway, whoever owned this pen, I love it, and I’ll continue to take care of it. I’m grateful they kept it pretty well.