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    

Parker 51 Double-jewel Blue Diamond Fountain Pen 14k Clip & 1/10 16k Gold CapLot Of 5 Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Fountain Pens-var. Colors-ex. Cond.-worksVintage Parker Presidential 61 Propelling Pencil - 9k Solid Gold - Barley Design1940 Parker Vacumatic Maxima; Silver Pearl; Double Jewels; Restored; Wow!Parker 75 Crosshatch-cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen €The Parker Duofold Centennial Fountain Pen Marbled Green 18k Medium Very RareFountain Sheaffer's And Parker Pens And Pencils Lot Of 10 Vintage Beautiful Parker Duofold Fountain Pen Blue Pearl *no Reserve*Vintage 1907 Parker "lucky Curve" #15 Gold Overlay Mop Fountain Pen In BoxParker 51 Plum Color 1st Year Aerometric Fountain Pen-gold Cap-ex. Cond.-working1942 Parker 51 Fountain Pen & Pencil Set W. Sterling Silver Caps1945 Parker Vacumatic; Azure Blue; 14k Solid Gold 'f' Nib; Restored - Very NiceC.1950 Vintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen & Pencil SetParker Bchr Jack-knife Safety Fountain Pen With Fine Flex Nib **no Reserve**Parker Vacumatic Burgendy Tutone Nice Engraved Jeweled Fountain Pen & Pencil SetParker Maxima Duofold Huge 14k Gold Nib Fountain Pen Serviced Vgc Parker Oversized Big Red Duofold Sr Lucky Curve Fountain Pen-ex. Condition-worksLovely Rare Vintage Parker Duofold Lucky Curve Senior Fountain Pen - Lapis BlueVintage Parker Duofold Jr Lucky Curve Red Lacquer Fountain Pen StreamlinedVintage Parker 25 Fountain Pen , Ballpoint & Pencil Triple Set - Boxed - C1987/9 Parker Duofold Senior Red Pen And Desk Set...works4 Parker Fountain Pens Red Duofold Senior Lucky Curve 2- Black Duofold,vacumaticBeautiful Parker Duofold Fountain Pen Red Pearl *no Reserve**nr* 1990's Parker Duofold International Pearl & Black Fountain Pen 18k With BoxParker 75 Gold Plated Fountain Pen - Broad Italic Oblique NibParker 61 Signet €Parker - 1/5th 12ct Rolled Gold Caps - Pen And Ballpoint Pair - No Reserve1920's Parker Senior Duofold (black And Moderne) SetParker Gray 51 Double Jewel Sterling Cap Fountain Pen (b410)Antique Orange Big Red Parker Duofold Lucky Curve Fountain Pen Sr Pencil Set BoxVintage 1949 Parker 51 Aerometric Forest Green Fountain PenVintage 1960s Parker 65 Stratus Fountain Pen Brick Patt Gold Cased 14k Gold NibRare Vintage Parker 75 Sterling Silver Dish Tassie Model Ball Pen Bp 1967'sVintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen & Pencil Set Extra Nice Cocoa In The BoxVintage Parker Pen Set ~ Vacumatic? ~ With Parker Case ~ Untested But Nice Set!Parker '51' Fountain Pen, Teal Blue With Lustraloy Cap, C1963, Fully ServicedVintage Parker 75 All Thick Silver Plated 18k Solid Gold "m" Nib Fountain Pen Vintage Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Fountain Pen W Box €Vintage Parker 1/10th 12ct Rg - 14k Gold Nib - 5.25" Closed - No ReserveVintage Unrestored Sterling Silver Cap Parker 51 Fountain Pen From 1942Vintage 1920's Black Lined Parker Lucky Curve Fountain Pen, Restored. Parker 41 (like 51) Set...mint...unusedRare Parker 75 Sterling Silver Crosshatch Grid Diah Tassies Fp Fountain Pen 67's Parker Vacumatic Mint...never Used...broad Nib3 Vintage Fountain Pens - 2 Parker Vacumatic's 1 Shaeffer White Dot Made In UsaParker Blue Sterling Silver Capped 51 Fountain Pen (b413)D Vtg Parker Senior Duofold Fountain Pen Striped Dusty Red Vacumatic SpeedlineVintage Parker ' 17 Fountain Pen, Blue, C1962'sParker Duofold "slimfold" , Fountain Pen, Blue, Boxed, Fully ServicedParker €Rare Vintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen Green 12k-gold-plated Cap 14k585 Medium NibJudd's Nice Vintage Lapis Blue Parker Doufold Fountain Pen W/original NibParker Vacumatic Fountain Pen And Pencil In Laminated Burgandy,parts/restorationParker 51 Ink Pen/sterling Silver Cap***1997 Iip Parker Rialto M Fountain Pen Matt Navy+gpt, Nmwo***C.1924 Parker Lucky Curve #7 Senior Pen, Excellent Condition - Very Large PenVintage Parker 61 De Luxe Fountain Pen - Mk1 Capillary Fill - Jet Black - SuperbParker 75 Vintage Sterling Silver Bpn PenParker Fountain Ink Pen 14k Gold Nib Sterling Silver Textured Case Vermeil TrimJudd's Lot Of 8 Very Nice Parker Jotter Pens & 1 Pencils

Recent News: Parker Pens

Source: Google News

Memories: Veterans of Vets Roll hold reunion in Janesville
Janesville Gazette, September 21st

At age 19, she was put in charge of a department of office workers at the Parker Pen Co., which was making war materials, not pens. Kennedy didn't want to go on the D.C. trip, but her husband, Tom, did. They got engaged before Tom enlisted, and she...Read more

Bioreactive food expiry label wins UK James Dyson Award
Wired.co.uk, 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

The one world-class company that will always have a large place in my heart is Parker Pen. Granted, I wasn't alive during the 'good old days' of Parker but ever since I was little I had a fascination with the product and the company. Maybe it was the...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
hngnews.com, 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