George Parker patented his first pen in 1889 when he was still teaching telegraphy students how to transcribe Morse code. In 1894, he invented and patented his "lucky curve" feed system, which greatly reduced the leakage that was a common problem of early eyedropper fountain pens. By 1905, Parker’s Lucky Curve pens were a force to be reckoned with in the growing fountain-pen industry.

The Parker Jack Knife Safety pen arrived in 1911. Its cap could be screwed down to the pen’s body, making it ink-tight. One especially prized model had a transparent, amber, Bakelite body. Other Parker pens from the 1910s include the no. 15, a ladies model with a mother-of-pearl barrel and black hard-rubber caps that were either crowned by a semi-precious stone or covered in gold-filled filigree. The Parker no. 16 was a very small pen with gold-filled filigree, while the descriptive name of the Black Giant pretty much sums up its utilitarian design.

The Jack Knife evolved into the "Big Red" button-filler Duofold in 1921, which was advertised to "rival the beauty of the scarlet tanager." Duofolds in Mandarin yellow and lapis lazuli followed in 1927. Vintage yellow Duofolds are extremely collectible, but a blue model named for the Zaner Blouser calligraphy school is one of the most rare Parkers ever made.

In fact, as a group, the vintage Parker Duofold fountain pens from the 1920s are extraordinarily beautiful writing instruments. Jade pens made out of a branded plastic called Permanite were sold in a variety of sizes (Junior, Ladies, Senior) and in sets with matching mechanical pencils. Some Duofolds had pearl handles and caps, veined with black plastic. Apple green and "Modernistic blue" were other popular colors, as were moiré-patterned fountain pens, which ranged from pink to blue.

The Vacumatics followed the Duofolds in 1932. These pens held twice as much ink as those that had preceded them (102 percent more, to be specific), and, for the first time, the clip on the cap was shaped like an arrow, which would become a symbol of the Parker brand. These were also Parker’s first mass-produced pens. Some had horizontal layers of silver alternating with translucent plastic, which allowed the user to see how much ink was left in the pen. Codes were printed on all Vacumatic barrels, making them relatively easy to date today.

A Junior Vacumatic was introduced in 1934—the Golden Web pattern from that series lasted only from 1936 until about 1938, making it a particularly prized Parker for collectors. Even more rare is the Imperial Vacumatic from 1939, which was produced to compete with the Sheaffer Crest.

That same year, 1939, the company finished developing the pen for which it would become best known, the Parker 51. Released in 1941, the pen used a new, quick-drying ink, which m...

The original Parker 51 had a quick-action, vacumatic-type filler, but in 1948, this was replaced with an aerometric filler, which was actually similar to some of the sleeve-filler systems that had been around for 40 years. 1948 was also the year the pen’s arrow clip was redesigned.

Parker 51s are not especially valuable, so collectors who want to actually use one to write with would do well to choose a post-1948 model, since they tend to work better. For collectors who want to find a 51 to put away, look for models with solid-gold caps, Empire 51s, pens with small aluminum "jewels" at the bases of their clips, and the pre-production models tested in Venezuela, Columbia, Spain, and other climates with high humidity to test the tolerances of the ink.

Other notable Parker pens from the post-war era include the Parkette, a low-priced, lever-filler model from the early 1950s that looked like a 51 but was marketed to students; the Parker Jotter, which was Parker’s 1954 entry into the ballpoint pen wars (the 51 Jotter resembled the famous Parker 51); the self-wicking (but, at $20, expensive for its time) Parker 61 from 1956; and the Parker 75 of 1964, whose silver, engraved, grid-pattern body was an instant classic.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Parker51.com

Parker51.com

Ernesto Soler's extensive homage to one of the most popular pens ever produced, the Parker "51," introduced in 1941… [read review or visit site]

Penhero.com

Penhero.com

Jim Mamoulides' vintage and modern pen-cyclopedia. Start at the main gallery, featuring detailed articles (with pho… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rarelarge Parker Duofold 14k Gold Nib Fountain Pen Pink Hatch Serviced A BeautyVintage Ballpoint Pen Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver 925 - Made In U.s.a.Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen Double Jewels Very Nice Burgundy PearlParker Lucky Curve Duofold Sr ~ "hard Rubber" Big Red ~ Big Imprint ~ Restored!Parker 51 Yellowstone Mustard Double Jewels Vacumatic Filler Pen, Sharp Piece!Parker "duofold" Fountain Pen & Pencil ~ Mandarin Yellow ~ 2 Banded Cap ~ IssueVintage 1950's Teal Blue Parker "51" Aerometric Fountain Pen, RestoredParker "duofold" Streamline Fountain Pen & Pencil Set ~ Moderne ~ 3 Banded Cap1st Generation Parker Vacumatic ~ Red Marble ~ Excellent Transparency ~ Restored1947 Parker Vacumatic Major; Emerald Pearl; 14k Solid Gold 'ef/f' Nib; Restored!Parker 51 Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Gold Filled Cap ~ Maroon ~ Restored!Vintage Parker Senior Striped Duofold Red-gold Stripe Blue Diamond Fountain PenVintage Fountain Pen And Mechanical Pencil Lot For Parts 21pieces. Parker.Vintage Set Of 3 Parker Sterling Silver Pens-pen-pencils-pencilVintage Estate Parker 51 Fountain Pen 12k Gold Filled Jeweled Cap *no Reserve*Vintage Parker 51 Fountain PenParker 51 Aerometric Nevy Gray Colour Fountain Pen Parker 51 Vacumatic Demonstrator Pen From 1948 With Broad Nib!Parker 45 Harlequin Grey Circlet Ballpoint Pen. Ex Cond. N/res.Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Black, Gold Pl Cap, Gold Nib, RestoredParker Duofold 18k Gold Fountain PenParker 51 Vacumatic 14k Gold Fine Nib 1/8 Rolled Gold Cap Diamond Clip Grey Vgc!Vintage Parker 75 "grain D'orge" Gold Plated Fountain Pen "parker 51 " Bladder Fill Fountain PenLot,19 Vtg Fountain Pen,ink Pens,pencils Esterbrook,sheaffers,parker,majestic Vintage Parker Royal Challenger Gold Herringbone Marble Button-fil Fountain PenVintage Parker Duofold Fountain Pen Toothbrush PatternParker Duofold Ns Fountain Pen Cursive Italic 14k Solid Gold Nib Button Fill VgcVintage Parker Victory Mk I, C1941, Black, Fully ServicedParker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Blue, Gold Pl Cap, Gold Nib, RestoredOld Vintage Blue Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen # 7 Nib Black Jeweled CapParker Duofold Lucky Curve Mandarin Yellow Vintage PenVintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen With CaseVintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen & Pencil Set 12k Gold Filled Jeweled Caps *nr*Vintage Parker Sonnet Sterling Silver Crosshatch Pattern Fp Fountain Pen 1990's *new Old Stock* Parker 45 Demonstrator Fountain Pen Parker 51 Fountain Pen ~ Black/gold-filled Cap Vintage Parker 75 "milleraies" Silverplated Fountain Pen Parker 51 Mark I Fountain Pen1948 Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen Set, , Black, Gold Filled CapsParker Vacumatic 2 Silver Ring Fountain PenVintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen Green W/ Gold Filled CapVintage Parker 51 Mki Royal Black Lustraloy Fountain Pen Pencil Boxset 12k Gold Filled Parker 51 SetVintage Parker 61 Fountain Pen & Pencil Set Double Jewels 12k Gold Filled CapsVintage Sterling Silver Parker Fountain Pen 14k Gold Nib F3 Vintage 1916 Parker Fountain Pen Clip Lot Doufold New Old Stock Parts9 Vintage Parker Fountain Pen Duofold Sheaffer Inner Cap Lot New Old StockParker New Old Stock Red 61 Fountain Pen (4246a)Parker 61 "heirloom" Fountain Pen, Rainbow Cap, Broad Left Oblique Nib With CaseParker Vacumatic 3 Gold Ring Gold Pattern Fountain PenVintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen - Turquoise - Spare Or Repair4 Piece Group: 2 Parker Sonnet Fountain Pens 18k And Sterling, Ballpoint, PencilParker Sterling Silver 75 With 65 14k Nib Flat EndsVintage Sterling Silver Parker 75 Cisele' Fountain Pen With Case Vintage Parker Sterling Silver Crosshatch Pen And Pencil Set Golden Arrow1941 Parker Pen & Pencil Set Striped Duofold - Duovac Junior Mib1954 Parker Duofold Senior Fp. Green/gf Trim & Large No 35 14k Nib. N/res.Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Black With Gold Trim, Double Jewel, Gold NibParker 51 Mk Iii Fountain Pen - Broad Nib

Recent News: Parker Pens

Source: Google News

Clemens Anthony Sonntag, Janesville, WI (1924 -2015)
Janesville Gazette, May 2nd

They had four children. Janet died unexpectedly on June 7, 1967. Clem later met and married Margaret(Marggie) Grow on June 17, 1972. During his time at Parker Pen, Clem worked on the pen that was used to sign the Treaty of Paris to end the Vietnam War...Read more

Beulah Irene Olson, Footville, WI (1921-2015)
Gazettextra, April 27th

She was employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a clerk, Parker Pen and A&H Trucking. She was a member of the American Legion Post # 237 and the Footville Church of Christ. Beulah is survived by her sister, Hazel (Easton) Simonsen of Janesville; and ...Read more

Bush and Pregont were founders, foundations of local companies
Gazettextra, April 22nd

Pregont, a Janesville native, had an engineering background earned by working at local firms such as Parker Pen and Panoramic. Steurer said when he started working at Prent's Harding Street location, the plant was five years old and it had a core of...Read more

Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Daly's is helping to bring the fountain pen back
Wauwatosa Now, April 20th

"So, we have a Parker Duofold clock that was given to us by Parker Pen in 1925, very rare, it was a type of pen back then. We have old framed 1930s trolley car signs. We took all our 1920s and '30s wooden pen cabinets. Everything that was down there...Read more

Marie K. (Polzin) Quade, Janesville, WI (1924 - 2015)
Gazettextra, April 11th

Marie attended Janesville High School and was employed at Woolworths and Parker Pen prior to her marriage to Glenn. Marie and Glenn farmed side by side in Rock County, where they raised their three daughters. Marie spent the last four years of her life...Read more

Exclusive Q&A With Tom Russo on GuruFocus.com
Forbes, April 2nd

They happened to be the headquarters of a company called The Parker Pen Company. The Parker Pen Company, when I was growing up, straddled the world at the most powerful iconic pen. It was probably 80% international. My hometown had all these ...Read more

Thumbs Up/Down, March 2: School fundraising, city flag, preserving Parker Pen ...
Gazettextra, March 1st

Thumbs up to preserving history of Parker Pen. For more than 100 years, the company that George S. Parker founded in 1888 called Janesville home. Now gone, it's an important part of our community's rich heritage. As more and more former employees die, ...Read more

Passing Parker Pen generation helped build Janesville
Janesville Gazette, February 23rd

JANESVILLE—Genevieve Joyce never guessed on her first day of work in January 1939 how much Parker Pen would become a part of her life. During the Great Depression, the 19-year-old woman found a steady job in the retail sales department. She typed ...Read more