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.
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Parker Pen action hots upESPN, April 26th
tomorrow - but coach Jean-Pierre Elissalde believes his team face an immense task. Beziers beat the Zurich Premiership leaders 24-19 last weekend, setting up an intriguing Recreation Ground return leg. A semi-final place in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup ...Read more
Montferrand target Parker PenESPN, April 26th
Montferrand travel to Vicarage Road on Sunday for the second leg of their Parker Pen Challenge Cup quarter-final showdown against Saracens with a 16-points advantage - and with coach Alain Hyardet declaring the last eight of the tournament is tougher ...Read more
Parker Pen semis TV coverageESPN, April 25th
Both legs of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup semi-final between Pontypridd and London Wasps will be televised live. The first leg, at Adams Park on 12 April, will be screened by S4C with the return at Sardis Road 13 days later being covered by BBC Wales...Read more
Parker Pen Shield DrawESPN, April 25th
First round draw for the Parker Pen Shield (first leg to be played between 6-8 December, second leg on 13-15 December): The teams entering Round 1 of the Shield were the 16 losers from Round 1 of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup. There are seven Italian ...Read more
Parker Pen Challenge Cup referee appointmentsESPN, April 25th
Tony Spreadbury will be in the thick of the action when the Parker Pen Challenge Cup kicks-off on the second weekend of October - and the leading English referee believes the new format of the tournament will become a huge success with players...Read more
Parker Pen Shield Round-UpESPN, April 25th
A Gloucester side inspired by Henry Paul went on a 14-try spree against shell-shocked Caerphilly. The West Countrymen were just two points short of a century as the Welshmen caved in to a brilliant attacking display to lose 98-14. The match was over by ...Read more
Parker Pen Shield PreviewESPN, April 25th
Henry Paul will make his Gloucester debut in Saturday's Parker Pen European Shield clash against Caerphilly at Kingsholm. Gloucester have selected former Bradford Bulls rugby league star Paul in the centre as they look to preserve their 100Pool Seven ...Read more
Parker Pen referee appointmentsESPN, April 25th
The referee appointments for the first and second legs of Round 1 of the. Parker Pen Challenge Cup 2003/2004 tournament are: ROUND 1 - FIRST LEG (All kick-offs LOCAL time). FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER 19.45 Rotherham Titans v Narbonne Paul Adams (W)...Read more