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 Duofold Centenial Sterling Silver Gaudron Fountain Pen Fi 98 Nib NewRestored Burgundy Parker Vac Fountain PenMint Parker Black & Pearl Centennial Duofold Fp, Boxed, C1992, Medium 18k Nib11 Vintage Pens / Parts, Very Flexy Swan, Parker, Sheaffer, Doric, Waterman Restored Parker Vacumatic Fountain PenParker Duofold International Sterling Silver Gaudron Fountain Pen M Os2 Nib NewVintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Converter-fillingMint Early Parker Centennial Duofold, Marbled Maroon, Early Clip, Boxed, C1987Mint Parker Sterling Centennial Duofold Fp, Boxed, C1992, Medium 18k NibParker Lucky Curve Duofold Senior ~ Htf "black" ~ Restored & Ready To Use!Lot Of 30 Vintage Fountain Pens: Montblanc Pelikan Parker Waterman Luxor GehaParker Pen "lucky Curve" Fountain Pen #6 Double Gold Bands Gold Nib Awesome!Superb Boxed Silver-plated Parker 75 Fountain Pen & Ballpoint Pen Set.Parker 61 - 12k Gold Cirrus (cloud Series) Fountain Pen - Superb! - No Reserve!Restored Parker Vacumatic Fountain PenVintage Early 1930's Mahogany Parker Premiere Thrift Fountain Pen, Restored. Parker Sonnet Flat Top Sterling Silver 18kt Nib Made In FranceRestored Parker Duofold Streamline Fountain Pen – Stub Nib1945 Parker 51 Lifetime India Black Fountain Pen & Pencil Set Double JewelsVintage Parker Striped Duofold Blue-gold Stripe Jeweler's Band Fountain PenParker Duofold Senior Blue Diamond Vacumatic Pen In Striped Green And Gold Parker 51 Fountain Pen ~ Sterling Silver Cap Parker 51 Double Set Jewel...worksRestored Silver Pearl Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen7 Vintage Sheaffer Desk Bases, Some W/ Pens, Parker, WatermanParker 51 Blue Diamond Vacumatic ~ Htf "jewelers Cap Band" ~ Restored & Ready3 Vintage Parker Duofold Desk Bases W/ PensParker 'premier' Mki, Rare Depression Fountain Pen, Canada C1932, Cherry Bronze1935 Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen SetParker Vacumatic Fountain Pen Set ~ Silver Pearl Stripes ~ Double Jewels ~ Case!Parker 75 Godron Fountain PenParker Double Jewel Vacumatic Fountain Pen With Two Tone Nib *near Mint *Parker 1940's Senior Duofold Fountain Pen In Blue Pearl *restored* Parker Duofold Centennial Blue Marbled Fountain Pen Made In Uk Fine NibParker Centenial Duofold, Blue Marble Fountain Pen & W/ Case & Papers (a008)1930 Parker Junior Duofold Fountain PenRestored Azure Blue Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen Parker Duofold Senior Fountain Pen ~ Pearl/black Vintage 1950's Teal Blue Parker "51" Aerometric Fountain Pen,1945 Parker 51 Pen W/sterling Silver Cap VacumaticVintage Parker Duofold Senior Moderne Black Deluxe Fountain Pen StreamlinedParker 51 Demi Fountain Pen In Original Box And PaperworkCollection Of Vintage Parker Pens - Fountain - Ballpoint - Pencil Etc Job LotParker 45 Fountain Pen - 14k Gold Nib (fine) Parker Vp Holy Water Sprinkler...mintVtg Parker Senior Duofold, 14ct Full Flex M ,exc+ Cond, Restord, 5 1/4", UsaVintage Set Of Parker Sterling Silver/gold Ballpoint & Fountain Pen & PencilParker Duofold Centennial Black & Pearl Fountain Pen Made In Uk N°78 NibParker Duofold Burgundy Special Editn Centennial Fp 23kNew Parker Duofold Mini Green Cheque Fountain Pen Fine Nib Point Made In Uk Big Parker Duofold Senior ~ Pencil ~ Lapis Blue!Vintage Geo. Parker Duofold Jr. Fountain Pen Orange Lucky Curve Pat'd 4-25-11Vintage Parker Vacumatic Desk Pen In BurgundyVintage Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen Black With Ink Visible Barrel - WorkingVintage Parker Duofold Senior Lucky Curve Green Jade Fountain Pen Button-filLot Of 4 Parker 51 Fountain Pens Estate FindParker 51 Blue Diamond Clip LotParker 75 Sterling Silver Fountain Pen, Flat Tassie, 14k NibVintage Parker Challenger Senior Red Oyster Marble Button-fil Fountain PenLot Of 4 Fountain Pens Waterman's, Eversharp Skyline, Parker

Recent News: Parker Pens

Source: Google News

The return of the fountain pen
Spectator.co.uk, March 25th

Every working day before I start pounding the keyboard of my ridiculously flashy 27-inch iMac, I perform a little ritual. I straighten the fountain pens I keep on my desk, and make sure they are fully inked. Though I always have an eye for my next...Read more

Friends of Arrow Rock raises $460000 to restore four historic buildings
Columbia Daily Tribune, March 20th

Properties manager Marty Selby shows gunsmithing tools in the J.P. Sites Gun Shop on Friday in Arrow Rock. The Friends of Arrow Rock raised $460,000 to qualify for an additional $230,000 grant to restore four historic buildings: J.P. Sites Gun Shop...Read more

Shirley Mae Urbanowski, Janesville, WI (1927-2015)
Gazettextra, March 18th

She was formerly employed by Parker Pen Company and, later, by Elliot's Clothing Store. Shirley was a member of St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church in Janesville, the Elk's Ladies, the La Prairie Homemakers Club and the Catholic Women's Club...Read more

Updated: Beaufort's Ron Parker officially signs with Kansas City Chiefs
Hilton Head Island Packet, March 16th

his process as an unrestricted free agent this past week, he hoped the Chiefs would come through. They did, and Parker made it official this morning, signing a five-year deal. The news was posted to the Chiefs' Twitter account with a photo of...Read more

Meet the Billionaire Roofer Behind Scott Walker
Bloomberg, March 12th

As a young woman, she spent three months working on the assembly line at Parker Pen before getting a job selling new homes, which didn't require a broker's license. She met Ken after he called her to arrange a blind date for a buddy. They married...Read more

145 homes to be built on Parker Pen sitein Newhaven
Sussex Express, March 3rd

Now that the Parker Pen factory has been consigned to history, a scheme to build up to 145 homes on the site has been given the green light. Newhaven Eastside LLP was given permission to construct the development by Lewes District Council's planning ...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

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