Now, are there differences between early Swan and the current production? MANY !!
Color and Plastic
At a first quick glance, everybody can see that the color range is absolutely not the same. Pastel (mixed with white) or tertiary colors were used at the beginnings, contrarywise to the current production which offers only "pure colors" (mix of a maximum of 2 primary colors).
Let's admire the Piet Visser's collection :
Piet Visser's collection photo by Maikel Mei.
Another obvious difference is the use of another kind of plastic. The old one was a bit dull and the new one is shiny. But the current one is also a little bit translucent, and seems more fragile regarding tiny scratches.
Now, if you take the time for a closer look, there are many other differences between the german and the chinese Swans...
Weight and Thickness
The old Swans were heavier than the new ones. I made the test with a precision scale (7.42 vs 7.12 grams):
So, were there 2 different types of Swan flutes : the german oldies and the chinese new ones? No... things are a bit more complex again...
It is true that it is very easy to establish if a Swan is german of chinese. Besides the weight/thickness and type of plastic, the moulds were not the exactly the same, and some details are conclusive. For instance, the pair of round artefact which appear on the front of the mouth shield. On the old version, they are clearly salient, and almost flat or even a bit depressed on the chinese Swan :
There are two other noticeable differences : the labium of the vintage flute is regular, and the new one is very irregular, with a systematic oblique bevel. More, the chinese nose saddle always presents a little hole at the place where the airway cover was plugged, whilst the original german model nose rest has its full integrity.
Finally, if we compare the thin details on both series, it becomes obvious that the german produced flutes were the result of a much more precise mould. But when you look at those details, they exactly match, despite the difference in finesse.
On these images, the chinese model is on the left, german one on the right. The last pair of images show superpositions of the drawings :
What does it mean? Was the chinese mould made directly "on" a german Swan? In this case, how to explain the difference of the plastic thickness between the 2 models, and particularly the fact that the new model is thinner: taking the direct imprint would more probably lead to an equal or a bit thicker result. Indeed, the drawings got thicker, and in this case how to explain that the body is thinner ?
So, I assume the chinese mould was not made by direct imprint, but more probably with a pantograph or another "copy machine".
<< Read Part I Read Part III >>
On the same topic :
- About the "Swan logo"... Part I
- About the "Swan logo"... Part II
- About the "Swan logo"... Part III
- "Swan logo"... Identity revealed!
- Much more about the Swan!
- Schwan Special Colors
- Vintage Schwan - Forensics and Dating