collect vintage pens as I do, we all have the dream of someday
walking into a treasure trove of long forgotten pens stashed
away in a back room or closet. It can happen, it has happened
and it will happen again, hopefully sooner than later.
On a recent
excursion I came across two rather scarce pens among a pile
of beaten "51"s, some Duofold Streamline pencils
and a pile of assorted Jotter ballpoints.
The seller had the pens all neatly laid out on a table, my
well trained eyes instantly scanning the entire group. My
habit is to scan everything from one end to the other, looking
for the distinctive Parker images I collect. Two pens caught
my attention immediately, but do you remember I once said,
"Don't ever let them see your pupils dilate, your hands
tremble, and never, never, never break out in a sweat".
Easier said than done. I sat down.
one that caught my eye was not the Parker Holy Grail, called
the "Pen of Pens" reputedly a solid gold floral
repousse eyedropper encrusted with gemstones.
That's another story, by the way.
eyedropper pens are getting harder to find these days, so
when one comes my way I am extremely grateful for the chance
to obtain them. My focus for the last few years has really
been "51"s because they are everyday users, much
easier to find and have a great variety of colors and cap
designs which appeal to me.
before me were a few "51"s with double jewels, very
used but decent , some very clean Duofold Sr. Streamline pencils
in Pearl/Black and Jade.
The stunner was a #10 black/red mottled hard rubber "Twist"
5 ¾" long and 3/8" cap diameter and I believe
was first introduced on 1903. The Parker dealer magazine "Side
Talk" describes "This pen is preferred by many who
like the corrugated handle, which gives the fingers something
to grasp and prevent from slipping when moist or sweaty."
The nib is a #3 size and the slightly oversize barrel holds
a very ample supply of ink. The model before me was produced
in 1909, by the shape and taper of the distinctive section
and sold at the handsome price of $6.00.
period in Parker history one of the most aggressive among
competition was Waterman Pen Co. Both pen makers produced
excellent working writing instruments, therefore the focus
of marketing and consumer appeal in large part would employ
the distinctive designs and decorations of these pens. It
was at this time that high quality jewelry decoration wrapped
these pens from such silversmiths as Heath, Unger Bros. and
others. Elaborate sterling silver filigree and gold overlays
sold to the wealthy. Snakes, the famous Awaynu Indian "Aztec"
(inspired by his visit to Santa Fe, NM in early 1900) floral
repousse, pearl and abalone panels with gold bands and fancy
14K and 18K pens at $10. to $20.
Waterman also produced a pen with a "Twist" pattern,
and I believe these variations of the basic hard rubber pens
was simply an attempt to give variety to everyday affordable
pens that sold most often. Among other pre-1900 Parker designs
for hard rubber pens, was an "anti-roll" hexagonal
mid-section or full length hex of the barrel, a "Spiral"
twist and a great variety of wavy chasing patterns.
fountain pen was a 1932 Parker Combo or combination pen/pencil.
It is produced of a plastic material used during the Depression,
other pens produced at this time are also referred to as "Depression"
pens. This one is a dark brown or bronze color with a gold
speckle finish. I believe this was the only modern period
that Parker produced a Combo model. This is a patented model,
unscrewed from the mid-section, was a button filler and featured
a ring clip like the Duofolds and had a small nib smaller
than a #2.
The only other combo made by Parker Pen was introduced around
1907, and as described in "Shop Talk" is called
"A New Thing". The name Combo did not exist then,
so it was cleverly called a Bookeeper's Special #100 model
and sold for $6.00
as "Here is something designed especially for bookeepers.
It is a double fountain pen, one end for black ink and the
other for red. The ink reservoir for the red ink is mottled
red, which indicates at a glance the color of the ink in that
barrel. The other end of the fountain is black, which also
indicates the color of the ink therein. Every bookeeper who
has seen and tried this is simply delighted with it. The fountain
can be disjointed, if desired, thus making two complete fountains,
in which event they can be carried in the pocket in the ordinary
combos were produced by major pen makers such as Waterman,
Conklin, Schnell and Mabie Todd. Some were plain plastic,
many were fancy sterling silver or solid gold. Most often
the ones found today are of a lower quality, but are a very
popular theme for many vintage pen collectors.
combos are back among modern pen makers. Some beautiful models
have been recently produced by Conway Stewart, Visconti, Bexley,
Lamy and some even have pens with as many as 4 different points
refills such as ballpoints in red, black, lead and a stylus
for a palm computers. Also very popular are laser pointer
pens for educators and lecturers.
How far can combo's go? I have even seen a "cell phone"
pen. A typical ballpoint with a discrete silent red LED on
the cap that flashes when your have a call.
As long as technology marches on, there will always be room
for another variation of the old writing instrument and a