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 "51" Special Edition Fountain PenParker Vacumatic Senior Maxima Fountain Pen And Pencil Set In Gold Pearl.Rare "first Year" Parker 51 Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Gold Filled Cap ~ 2 Jewels!Parker Vacumatic Oversize In Emerald Pearl, Canada,1936, Wonderful!Parker 51 Special Edition Vista Blue Diamond Silver Cap Pen 18k Gold Nib!Scarce 1941 Parker 51 Fountain Pen 1st Year 4 Qtr Clutch Ring 1 Line Imprint DjVintage Antique Parker Duofold Fountain Pen 4-25-11Vintage Parker 51 Insignia Fountain Pen- Near Mint - Broad Nib - All Rolled GoldRestored Parker Duofold Red Marble Fountain PenParker "75" Fountian Pen ~ Sterling Silver ~ Extra Fine NibParker '51' Mk I Fountain Pen, Nr. Mint, Boxed With Inst. Black With R. Gold CapParker Vacumatic Fountain Pen-green Striated-arrow Clip-fat Pen-as-isVintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 18k 750 France NibLot Of 5 Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Fountain Pens-var. Colors-ex. Cond.-worksParker Blue Diamond,wonderful Fountain Pen 51,black Color,,writing Conditions.1945 Parker 51 Fountain Pen W. Sterling Silver Hammered CapParker Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Emerald Green Striped ~ Restored & Ready Lot Of 5 Vintage Fountain Pens Parker, Sheaffers, Esterbrook, Parts Or RepairRare Parker Duofold New Style "ns" ~ Semi-flex Nib! ~ Blue & Black Marbled!Parker 61 Rainbow Rg Cap Double Jewel Fountain Pen Serviced A Beauty1940 Parker Vacumatic Maxima; Silver Pearl; Double Jewels; Restored; Wow!Vintage ~ "parker Vacumatic" ~ Fountain Pen In Burgundy PearlParker 180, Fountain Pen, Nib F/bParker 75 Sterling Silver Vintage Cisele 14k Gold Xf Nib Working Condition Parker 75 Crosshatch-cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen €Parker 'vs' Fountain Pen 1946 Black With Gold Filled Cap, Fully ServicedRare Experimental / Prototype Parker T1 Fountain Pen -- Brushed Gf NibParker Duofold International Fountain Pen Green Marbled Boxed F Nib ConverterParker Duofold Sr Very Rare Tobacco Celluloid PatternParker Centennial Or International Oversize Fountain PenVintage 1945 Jet Black Parker Sub-deb Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Restored.Vintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen In Nassau Green, Sterling Silver Cap,gft,vfDozen Fountain Pens Inc' Parker Osmiroid 65 Sheaeffer Watermans 14ct Gold Nibs +Classic Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Gold Ball Pen Pencil 0.9 Mm LeadVintage Parker 65 Consort Fountain Pen - Teal Blue - Broad Italic Nib - C1967Vintage Parker "51" Fountain PenLovely Parker S0949760 Pink Fountain Pen, New In Original Box - Gm H41Parker Sonnet Premier FougParker 75 Gold Plated Fountain Pen - Broad Italic Oblique NibParker Junior Vacumatic? Duofold? Surely Not!Parker Vacumatic Burgendy Tutone Nice Engraved Jeweled Fountain Pen & Pencil SetVtg. Parker "51" & "21" Fountain Pens Lot (4 Pieces) 3---51 & 1---21Vintage Gf Parker 51 Signet Fountain Pen And PencilRestored Parker Blue Pearl Vacumatic Fountain PenParker T1 - Rare Integrated Nib Titanium Fountain PenVintage Parker Fountain Pen,gold Plated Striated Design,gold Nib, Made In FranceParker Gray 51 Double Jewel Sterling Cap Fountain Pen (b410)Orange Parker Duofold- Centennial- "big Red" Roller Ball Pen W/ Original BoxParker 51 Pen And Pencil Set With Hard Case BrownX2 Vintage Parker Fountain Pens #61 And # 45 Pen Lot Gf W/ 585 14k Nib Nr!Lovely Vintage Parker Number 45 Fountain Pen - Red With14k Gold Nib - WorkingAntique Parker Vacumatic Blue Diamond Fountain Pen Emerald Green X9 Vintage Fountain Pens, 2 Parker, 2 Sheaffer, Osmiroid 65, Conway, Burnham 55Vintage Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Fountain Pen 14k Gold Nib $1.99 Nice NrParker Duofold "slimfold" , Fountain Pen, Green, Fully ServicedVintage Parker 51 Vacumatic Full Size Fountain Pen From 1947Parker Vacumatic Canadian Single Jewel Blue Maxima!...yes! But...Vintage Unrestored Sterling Silver Cap Parker 51 Fountain Pen From 1942Original Parker "51" Aero-metric Pen & Pencil Set Orig Case/tag/brochure4 Parker Fountain Pens Red Duofold Senior Lucky Curve 2- Black Duofold,vacumatic

Recent News: Parker Pens

Source: Google News

Bioreactive food expiry label wins UK James Dyson Award, September 18th

It was chosen from a pool of UK applicants by industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange (the man behind the Parker pen, the Kenwood mixer and the London black cab), BBC business journalist Steph McGovern and 2013 award winner Sam Etherington, who ...Read more

Steve Knox: Could SHINE be the next Parker Pen for Janesville?
Janesville Gazette, September 15th

Thousands of companies and organizations have called Janesville home over the last 100+ years. Start-ups became businesses and a few of those businesses left a lasting mark on the city as well as the world. The one world-class company that will always ...Read more

Robert "Bob" Collins, Janesville, WI (1923-2014)
Gazettextra, September 14th

Bob joined the Parker Pen legal team in 1957. He was elected Secretary of Parker Pen in 1977, and added the titles of General Counsel and Vice President in 1981. He retired in 1986, and then partnered with his son, Dan, until 2000. He was a founder of ...Read more

Neighbor to Neighbor: At 97, 'No-Hit Johnny' still holds state records, September 3rd

Since they were in charge of John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign in Southern Wisconsin, Johnny and Lyn hosted a dinner party for the candidate and his wife at the Parker Pen building. “The Kennedys stopped outside our house for a few minutes, ...Read more

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

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