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”)

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]

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    

Parker Duofold Senior Mandarin Fountain Pen Set. 1927. 14k M Nib. Very Rare Vintage Parker 75 Fountain Pen In Sterling Silver Cisele, Nice 14k Broad Nib Parker Duofold Senior Mandarin Yellow Pen...works1945 Parker 51 Pen & Pencil Set - Double End Jewels, 14k Gold Trim, Original BoxScarce Parker 1934 Crystal Vacumatic Double Jeweled Fountain Pen-vacumatic Ni1936 Parker Streamlined Vacumatic; Burgundy Pearl; 14k Solid Gold 'ef' NibVintage Parker 75 Fountain Pen Lapis Blue, 14k - 585 Gold Nib - Made In FranceParker Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Azure Blue Striped ~ Restored & Ready To Use!Stub Nib! ~ Huge Parker Vacumatic Maxima ~ Double Jewels ~ Silver Pearl StripedParker Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~" Long Major" ~ Double Jewels ~ RestoredGeorgeous Vintage Parker €1980 Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Vintage Made In France RareParker 1932-38 Vacumatic Celluloid Fountain Pen #16 Nib 35 - Charleston Estate 1938 Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major; Silver Pearl; 14k Solid Gold Nib; Nos!Vintage Parker 51 Custom Mk1 Fountain Pen- Near Mint - Nice Nib- Black & Vintage Boxed Solid Silver Parker Fountain Pen Parker Duofold Lady Lapis Lazuli Fountain Pen. 1920s Usa. 14k F Nib. Rare Full Size Vintage C1960s Parker Duofold Fountain Pen Solid 14k Gold Nib Boxed 1920's Parker Sterling Silver Overlay Pen...worksParker Vacumatic Fountain Pen Lot Of Four - All Complete Nice Quality Pens! Parker Vacumatic...never Inked...stub Nib Pen...worksVintage Parker Victory Fountain Pen- Button Fill- Very Rare Canadian Made- C1941Vintage Parker Lady Duofold Fountain Pen & Mechanical Pencil Set; C.1928; VeinedParker "75" Sterling Silver Checked Design, Cartridge/ Aerometric Fountain PenParker 45 Fountain Pen - Medium Oblique Italic 14k Gold NibVintage Parker Vacumatic Canada Fountain Pen, 14k Gold Parker Canada 54 NibParker Senior Duofold 14ct Gold Nib Maroon Fountain Pen Serviced Minty Parker 51 Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Gold Filled Cap ~ Restored & Ready To Use!Parker Duofold Sr. Big Red Lucky Curve Fountain Pen Geo. Parker 1920s Flat Top2 Vintage Nos Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen In Blue & Green New Blue DiamondVintage Parker 75 Fountain Pen Sterling SilverVintage Parker Maxima Duofold Fountain Pen- A Near Mint Flagship Pen & Great NibParker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Flat Top Fountain Pen 14k Gold Nib $2.99 WorksParker Vacumatic "shadow Wave" Fountain Pen ~ Silver Pearl Stripes ~ Two Jewels!Used Nos Parker " 51 " Fountain Pen . 1/10 14k Gold Filled Cap W/ Button. Gray Vintage Orange Parker Duofold Fountain Pen.Nos Vintage Parker Usa A0885 Stag Equal End Pen Knife Knives Pocket Penknife OldParker Maxima Fountain Pen,blue Diamond,vacumatic,writing ConditionsParker Special 51 Fountain Pen Gold Nib Dark Blue Sterling Silver NiceParker Lady Duofold Lucky Curve Black Pearl Deluxe Fountain Pen. 14k F Nib. RareParker 51 Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Gold Filled Cap ~ Cedar Blue ~ Restored!Yellow Parker Duofold Jr. Lucky Curve Flat Top Fountain PenParker 51 Ballpoint Pen. Black With 12k Gf Cap. Near Mint. N/res.1946 Parker Vacumatic; Silver Pearl; 14k Solid Gold 'ef' Nib; Restored - Nice!Parker Duofold International Fountain Pen Green Marbled Boxed F Nib Converter1946 Silver Pearl Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic; 14k Solid Gold Mb Nib; RestoredVintage Parker Lucky Curve Fountain PenVintage Parker True Blue Duofold €Parker Duofold Junior Lucky Curve Red Fountain Pen1945 Parker Vacumatic Blue Diamond; Emerald; 14k Solid Gold 'f' Nib; Restored!1965 Parker 75 Fountain Pen With Sterling Cap & Barrel - 14k Gold Nib With CaseVintage Parker 61 Turquoise Twin-jewel Gold Filled Rainbow Fountain PenParker '51' Fountain Pen 1954 Black With Lustraloy Cap, Fully Serviced Parker 51 Aerometric Forrest Green Pen...worksVintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen Black Aerometric.1939 Parker Vacumatic Fountain PenParker Duofold Vacumatic Striped & Gold Fountain Pen1/10 14k Gold Filled Made In Usa Blue Diamond Vocumatic Parker 51 Fountain Pen++ "no Reserve" Parker Sterling Silver / Gold Ball Pen Made In Usa ++Superb Parker 51 Fountain Pen - Maroon Barrel/steel Cap. Beautiful Smooth Writer

Recent News: Parker Pens

Source: Google News

Thomas Mack, Fort Atkinson, WI/formerly Janesville, WI (1945-2014)
Gazettextra, August 28th

After college, Tom worked for Parker Pen in Janesville, in their accounting and finance department. On Jan 16, 1978, he was hired by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co. in Fort Atkinson, and spent most of his career as the company's Controller. Tom was also involved...Read more

Absence of Parker's Pen is noticed
Napa Valley Register, August 27th

There's been a void in the Register for some time. For those of us who hate to see the continual loss of familiar and well-loved parts of our lives as we age, this one should not be ignored. Everett "Ace" Parker's column hasn't appeared in some time...Read more

Young entrepreneur turns a profit
Blair Enterprise Publishing, August 27th

Using a lathe in the basement of his rural home, Sam shapes deer antlers, corncobs, and even spent rifle shells, along with pieces of native walnut and elm, to fit Parker pen assembly kits. “My grandpa Harold Grandia of Johnston got me started making...Read more

Scottish yes voters trend in the UK with '#yesbecause' Twitter drive
The Drum, August 21st

Tens of thousands of Twitter users secured the Scottish Independence debate as the UK's top-trending subject on Thursday after a group of Edinburgh-based yes-voting artists launched a YouTube video using '#yesbecause'. The social media platform was ...Read more

Rosella "Rose" Mae Weis Anderson, Beloit, WI (1929-2014)
Janesville Gazette, August 19th

She was formerly employed at Parker Pen Company, Janesville, WI, Beloit Corporation and Colt Industries. Survivors include her husband, Maynard Anderson; children: Gregory (Sharon) Anderson, Paul (Patty Beth) Anderson, and Rose Marie (Jerry) Pulaski; ...Read more

Mothers aren't on marriage certificates? I'm ashamed I didn't realise
The Times (subscription), August 19th

drinking a vat of Carling Extra Cold than attending to fine detail and the envelope has ever since sat in a bedroom drawer romantically wedged between an old gas bill and a stray Michael Parkinson leaflet offering cheap funeral cover and a free...Read more

Marie Eileen (Monaghan) Skelly, Janesville (1926 - 2014)
Janesville Gazette, August 10th

She graduated from Janesville High School and was employed by Parker Pen until her marriage to James P. Skelly on Jan. 31, 1953, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Janesville. He preceded her in death on March 28, 2003. Marie expressed her creative nature ...Read more

Patricia L. Easton, Janesville, WI (1927-2014)
Gazettextra, August 9th

In her younger years, Patricia worked at Parker Pen until her children were born. After her husband died, Patricia went back to school to become a CNA. She achieved her goal, and retired after 15 years working at Rock Haven Nursing Home. Patricia was ...Read more