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    

Restored Parker Emerald Green Pearl Blue Diamond VacumaticLot Of 30 Vintage Fountain Pens: Montblanc Matador Osmia Pelikan Rotring ParkerParker 51 Blue Diamond Double Jewel Fountain Pen (rare Color) RestoredParker 75 Fountain Pen - Cisele - Sterling Silver - 14k Fine Nib - 135 MmOld/new Fountain/ballpoint Pen Lot: Waterman,parker,cross,garland,estebrook...Mint Vintage 1946 Golden Pearl Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen, Restored. Vintage Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen Made In Usa Pens, Parker, Shaeffer, Wahl Eversharp And PartsParker "51" Aerometric Code Date "8" ,plum Rare To Find Color,collectible ValueVintage 1948 Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen 14k Gold Filled Cap Dark Teal BlueParker Duofold 'senior' Black Aerometric Fountain Pen, C1955, Fully ServicedNew! Parker Premier Black Lacquer Gold Trim Fountain Pen - Medium 18k Gold NibRare Vintage 1941 Parker 51 First Year Double Jewel Early Cedar BlueParker Duofold Mk Ii International Grey Pearl Pen Very Good ConditionVintage Orange Duofold Lucky Curve Fountain Pen Geo S Parker 5.5" UnbandedLovely Rare Vintage Parker 75 Fountain Pen - Sterling Silver With 14k Gf OverlayVintage Pen Lot Parker Esterbrook Sheaffer American Weaver Fountain PensVintage Fountain Pens (1) Sheaffer Snorkel, And (2) Parker DuofoldParker "51" Aerometric Set Fp & Pencil Code Date "8" ,plum Rare To Find Color1945 Parker Vacumatic Blue Diamond Major; Black; 14k Gold 'mf' Nib; RestoredVintage Red Parker Duofold Lady Jr Junior Lucky Curve Fountain Pen Broad Band NrGreat Vintage Pen Parker Duofold Flattop # Junior # Restored # Nice Condition.Parker Blue Diamond ~ 2 Jewels ~ 16kt Gf Cap ~ Works ~ No ReserveVintage Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain & Pen 1/10 12k Gold Filled UsaVintage Parker Lucky Curve Full Fountain Pen Gold Filigree 1905 Super Rare(aj)Parker Duofold Special Edition Orange Interantion Fountain Pen--fine Tip 18ktVtg Fountain Pen Lot Parker Sheaffer's Lifetime Snorkel Watermans InkographVintage Parker Fountain Pen ~ 1910s Rare Lucky Curve #20 ~ Flexible Noodle NibRare 1945 1st Qrt Parker 51 Buckskin Beige Double Jewel 14k Solid Gold TassieVintage Parker Cisele Sterling Silver Vermeil Fountain PenParker Golden Web Vacumatic Parker Sonnet Sterling Silver Ball PenParker Duofold Jr. Lucky Curve Coral/orange Fountain Pen16k Gold Filled Parker Pen And Pencil Set "51"Vintage Parker Duofold Blue/black Striped Fountain Pen1946 Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen And Pencil With 3 Tassie's Superb Parker Duofold Black & Gold Fountain Pen In Leather Presentation CaseRare Gold & Black Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen 47 Geo`s Vintage Parker Duofold Lucky Curve Pastel True Blue Modernistic Fountain PenVtg Job Lot Fountain Pen Pencil Conway Stewart Parker Platignum Yard O Led Gold1947 Parker 51 Partial Demonstrator Cordovan Brown 1/10 16k Gf Cap 14k NibParker Vacumatic 'shadow Wave' Fountain Pen In Green. Fine 14ct Gold Nib.1933 Parker Vacumatic Fountain Pen - Red Marble - 14k Gold W Ffed Nib - 122 MmVintage Parker 51 Burgundy Fountain Pen With Stainless Cap Gc1940's Parker Pen Co. Blue Diamond Vacumatic Fountain PenLot Of Vintage Pens Parker Sheaffer EsterbrookVintage Nr Mint Parker Maxima - Aerometric - Fountain Pen - C1955 - EnglishParker "51" Cocoa Pen + Pencil Set / Beautiful Condition / Free Shipping!Vintage 1940's Parker 51 Aerometric Fountain Pen Dark Teal BlueOld Vintage Parker Duofold Jr Lucky Curve Orange Fountain Pen 4-1/2"Parker Blue Diamond ~ Dove Gray "51" ~ Works ~ No ReserveScarce Parker Vacumatic Star Clip Striped Jewels, MajorAntique Parker Fountain Pen Gold Filligree Overlay Lucky Curve Nib No Cap RareParker 50 Falcon Flighter Fountain Pen - Steel - Integral Smooth Nib - 130 Mm*rare* Parker 51 Plum Demi Fountain Pen Vintage Parker Duofold Lucky Curve Orange Red Fountain Pen 1911 Button Gold BandOne Of A Kind Parker 51 Snake Cap Aerometric Fountain Pen With 14k Gold Nib.Lovely Vintage Parker Number 45 Fountain Pen Brushed Steel Barrel & CapParker 51 Mk1 Aerometric Fountain Pen Teal Blue - Lustraloy 14k F-m Nib 140 MmParker Vacumatic Senior Maxima Fountain Pen, 3rd Quarter 1939

Recent News: Parker Pens

Source: Google News

Cork team bus goes up for sale on Done Deal following All-Ireland exits
SportsJOE, July 27th

After both the Cork senior hurling and football teams bowed out of the championship, some chancer didn't waste much time in cracking wise over the county's despair. Check out the brilliantly worded ad for the team bus below, and a special thanks to ...Read more

Lorraine Pearl DeCoster Gray Alexander, Janesville, WI (1918-2015)
Gazettextra, July 23rd

Lorraine was born on April 27, 1918, in Janesville, WI, to Pearl and Thornton DeCoster. She graduated from Janesville High School. She was very talented and performed in several operettas. After high school she worked at Parker Pen Company, first on...Read more

Sandra J. Allison, Janesville, WI (1937-2015)
Gazettextra, July 21st

She had been employed by Parker Pen, retiring in 1991. Sandra loved to play golf, motorcycle all over the United States, gamble and play BINGO. Sandra is survived by her husband, Kenneth Allison; three children: Laurie Allison of Janesville, Susan...Read more

Four women at Janesville's St. Elizabeth's Nursing Home are 100 years old or older
Janesville Gazette, July 16th

She used to work at the Parker Pen Company in inspection and on the factory line. For years, she and some of her co-workers would go out to restaurants together, where they would eat breakfast and enjoy one another's company. Marion got married when ...Read more

Florence "Tootie" Hill, Arbor VItae, WI (1934-2015)
Gazettextra, July 14th

Florence “Tootie” Hill, age 80, of Arbor Vitae, WI, passed away at the Howard Young Medical Center on Saturday, July 11, 2015. She was born on Dec. 28, 1934, in Pillager, MN, the daughter of Harvey and Florence Skillings. Tootie worked for Parker Pen...Read more

Greg Peck: A delightful evening to learn about Parker Pen history
Gazettextra, May 4th

A traveling Rock County Historical Society exhibit about Parker Pen spent months at Olde Towne Mall in downtown Janesville. It seemed appropriate. Lots of people enter Olde Towne, particularly to use the satellite post office in that mall on Main...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

Passing Parker Pen generation helped build Janesville
Janesville Gazette, February 23rd

JANESVILLE—Genevieve Joyce never guessed on her first day of work in January 1939 how much Parker Pen would become a part of her life. During the Great Depression, the 19-year-old woman found a steady job in the retail sales department. She typed ...Read more