Parker Centennial.

1987 — current



Parker's subsidiary in Newhaven in the UK had been around since the thirties and since then had produced a vast number of attractive designs, not found in the US. Especially in the Duofold lines. The 1980's was a tough decade for Parker. Fountain pens had quickly become unfashionable and Parker relied heavily on the proven designs, the Parker "75", the Parker "45", Parker "51", Parker "61" and the Classic.

Something radical had to be done to save the writing instrument division. It was soon clear that the 1980's was to be the decade of the UK Parker subsidiary. Several UK-designed new pens were launched over a few years. First out was the RB-1, for Roller Ball. It was launched in July of 1981 and the largest ad campaign in the UK company's history commenced. The RB-1 was soon followed by the similar US-made Arrow in August 1981. The introduction in turn was described by Parker as the most massive marketing effort since the launching of the Parker "45" in 1960. But although both the RB-1 and Arrow sold well they weren't really the life vests Parker had hoped for, and times were getting increasingly harder for Parker.

Parker's manufacturing facilities in Janesville were old and inefficient and by 1982 Parker's net income was down with 60%. In December 1982 the Parker factory in Toronto closed down production and assembly line. Only distribution and repair remained.
The Parker factory in Canada. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Troak.
Parker factory in Canada

George Parker II decided to bring in a new management team from outside the company, and in an effort to cut costs 25% of the worldwide work force was made redundant. Also several pen models saw price reductions in 1983 in an effort to boost sales.

George Safford Parker II
George Safford Parker II (1929-1991) worked at Parker pens most of his life, he retired as chief executive officer in 1986. He was the son of Russel Parker, in turn son of the founder.
$15 million were invested in a new hyper-modern factory in Janesville and In the autumn of 1984 another member of the Arrow/RB-1 family was introduced, the Vector. The new management decided on a global marketing strategy, which unfortunately failed horribly and Parker Janesville would never again recover from the financial blow.

Instead it was Parker's subsidiary in Newhaven who continued to flourish. Eventually Parker Newhaven succeeded in a buyout of the Writing Instruments Division, and in 1986 the corporate headquarters moved to Newhaven, England. The Vector became one of Parker's most selling models and is still around today. Other successful designs like the The Parker 25, the Sonnet, Frontier, Insignia, Parker "100" and the Centennial Duofold – they all came from Newhaven.

Immediately after the UK takeover Parker's new chief executive officer, Jaques Margry, launched plans to commemorate Parkers 100-year jubileee with a new pen. It was both logical and, as it turned out, a successful strategy to base the new pen on the design that originally built the Parker pen company and brand name, the 1920's Duofold.
Jaques Margry (1927-2021) was hired by Parker in 1949 as a pen salesman in metropolitan London, and retired as chief executive officer after the Gillette takeover in 1993.
Jaques Margry

Of course Newhaven had previously had great success in producing Duofolds. The first ones manufactured already during the early 1930's, and later in the 1940's with the Duofold NS, followed by the AF Duofold, in turn followed by a wide range of aerometric Duofolds, referred to as the New Duofold. But the new 1980's Duofold would be more closely based in design on the Big Red, that had built the company before. Margry called it the Centennial.

Centennial MK I 1988-1995.

It was to be the most modern fountain pen to date. With a ten day computer controlled manufacturing process, and made from over 130 components it was subjected to 100 quality tests. The large nibs alone, punched out from a single gold sheet, had 21 production stages. Parker boasted that the nib was the largest solid gold nib in the industry. They were hand-slit with a blade fine as a human hair and finished by tumbling for 48 hours in a barrel filled with walnut shells, and then hand polished.

The nibs were were offered in four standard grades and 22 non-standard. Initially the customers had a choice between a 14K or 18K nib, but the 14K nibs were discontinued in March of 1989. The nibs sported an attractive ruthenium arrow motif, and the tips, often referred to as the "iridium", were also made from ruthenium. Ruthenium is a very hard metal that belongs to the platinum family and is inert to most chemicals. The ink feed and collector was computer designed and built not to leak at any "normal" plane altitude, by controlling and regulating the ink by sensitively adapting to atmospheric pressure and temperature changes.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Lapis black
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Black.

The body was made from solid rods of a very sturdy acrylic known as methyl methacrylate, with a trim of heavy plated 23K gold. The ball pen was cap actuated and Parker boasted that it could manage 5,5 kilometres of writing. The Centennial was officially introduced to commemorate Parkers 100 year jubilee 1888-1988, but production had started already in 1987. The 1987 Centennials sported a short, flat clip with the an arrow stapled on it, but this was replaced by a longer and thicker clip in 1988.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Lapis Maroon
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Maroon marble.

The 1988 colours were
• Black
• Marble Blue
• Marble Maroon

In 1988 a Centennial Collector Edition was offered. It was a Blue marble parker centennial with the imprint 1888-1988 on the crown decal. It was offered as a set of a fountain pen, and a ball pen that was manufactured in the UK but assembled in the US. These first limited edition pens were made in 50 numbered sets.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Lapis black
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Black.

They weren't sold, but instead offered to VIP's in the US and UK. President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush, resigning Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci each got one; John Gibb, Parker Pen's chief sales executive to the White House during seven Presidential administrations, Peter Bentley, President of the Parker Pen Company, and Malcolm Troak, Parker's manufacturing Director also got one, among others. The pens were engraved on the cap bands with The Parker Centennial and the limited edition number. They were presented in a wooden box, made in Japan.

In 1989 the Parker Duofold in black was selected and used by the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Committee as the official pen of the inauguration of President George Bush. It featured a gold filled signature on the cap and the official Bicentennial inauguration seal. The first signing was with 33 Duofold pens, and were the 23 nominations for the Cabinet and administrative advisers.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Green marble
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Green marble.

President Bush then gave the New York democrat, Senator Patrick Moynihan a Duofold and said jokingly "Put that in your pocket, that's got to be worth two votes now". Over the years there have been a multitude of Limited Edition, Special Edition and Special Purpose Edition Duofold pens offered. These Edition pens are separately covered in the chapter Limited Editions. April 1st 1989 Parker introduced the Duofold International, a smaller sized version of the Centennial, available in the same three finishes of Black, Marbled Blue and Marbled Maroon. The International featured a smaller 18K gold nib with the nib grade options of Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad. It retailed at $250 for the fountain pen and as a set with a ball pen for $375.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Black and pearl
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Black and pearl.

For the Christmas holiday season of 1989 Parker teamed up with Newsweek magazine in an ad campaign at 52 US airports around the nation. Huge back-lit posters 3 by 4,2 metres (10 by 14 ft), featuring prominent American military and State Department leaders.

The signs were also to be found along major commuter rail routes and reached millions of travellers. It was part of Parker's Christmas program, the biggest promotion campaign so far in the company's history with a budget of $2.4 million.

Although at this time in fact a UK company, in a study the same year by Ogilvy & Mather Trendsights of the "most exciting and fascinating US companies", Parker scored as #11, only after companies like Coca Cola, Nike, IBM, Pepsi, American Express and Levi's.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI MKI Godron Gold
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Godron Gold.

In 1990 a new clip in higher relief that was manufactured to hold to be bent 100 000 times without losing its spring By the summer of 1990 new additions were made to the Duofold line, a 9 mm Mechanical Pencil, a Roller Ball and a new twist action Ball Pen replaced the old cap actuated model. It utilized a unique oil-cushioned twist mechanism meant to make the retraction of the refill silent and smooth. The roller ball would write 2 km and Parker used Swiss watchmaker tools to achieve a ball housing with a tolerance of 0.001 millimetres.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Godron Silver
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Godron Silver.

The new pencil was also designed after the 1920's Duofold models "Big Bro". With a large gold filled crown, covering an eraser it used a 60 mm long 0.9 mm wide lead.

The Duofold was Parker's top of the line and was priced there after:
• Centennial $300
• International $250
• Roller Ball $150
• Ball pen $125
• Pencil $125

By September of 1990 Parker started advertising a Centennial fountain pen and mechanical pencil set in Orange as a Special Edition. The fountain pens had a crown with the pendulum pattern. It was offered in a cherrywood box. 1 000 un-numbered sets were initially produced but the design became so popular that Parker continued to make them for several years, adding an International sized fountain pen, ball pen and a roller ball to the line in 1991. In 1993 it was still referred to as a Special Edition, but from 1994 it was part of the regular line.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Orange Special
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Orange Special.

The Orange was priced higher than the "ordinary" Duofolds:

• Centennial $350
• International $300
• Roller Ball $175
• Ball pen $150
• Pencil $50

In March of 1991 Parker added $25 to the price of all other models and by October 1991 a very attractive design high-end models of Duofolds were introduced. One was the Gold Collection, a cast acrylic pen with a sleeve of brass with deep cut engravings in a Godron pattern, followed by a 5 micron heavy 23K gold plating. The second was the Sterling Silver Collection, similar to the Gold pen, but in solid Sterling Silver. They were offered in all five models of Centennial, International, Roller Ball, Ball Pen and Mechanical Pencil and had the Duofold pendulum pattern decal that was introduced with the Orange Special Edition. They were priced at $500 for the Centennial, $450 for the International, $250 for the Roller Ball, Ball Pen and Pencil.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Presidential
Parker Duofold Centennial MKI Presidential.

In August of 1992 Parker added the Marble Green colour to the line, and also the Presidential Duofold in solid 18K gold. It was advertised "one of the world's most expensive pens, the Duofold Presidential, is literally worth it's weight in gold". It was offered in the same Godron design as the Gold and Silver collection pens, but only as an International sized fountain pen and a Ball Pen. The Presidential was priced at $10 000, while the Ball Pen cost a mere $5 000.

In November of 1992 Parker introduced the last design of the Mk I Centennial Duofolds. Again looking back to the 1920's Parker rejuvenated the Black and pearl. "Delicate pearlized acrylic, veined with intense black, echoes the elegant style of the original 1920's finish." It was priced between the Orange and the Godrons at $375 for the Centennial, $325 for the International and $185 for the other models.

Thus the nine Mk I designs of the Duofolds were:
• Black
• Marble Blue
• Marble Maroon
• Marble Green
• Orange
• Black and Pearl
• Godron Gold
• Godron Sterling Silver
• Presidential

Centennial MK II 1996-2005.

In 1995 the Godrons, Presidential and Black and pearl were discontinued and in 1996 the complete line was redesigned, again following the strategy of the 1920-1930's. The new pens had more tapered ends, a shorter "blind cap" and fewer gold rings. While the gold rings on the caps instead of being uneven in width, were now of the same size and thicker. The new pencil took 0.7 leads instead of the previous 0.9.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Black
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Black.

The new colours were:

• Black
• Lapis Lazuli Blue
• Red Jasper
• Jade Green
• Black and pearl
• Presidential

The Presidential was still only offered in the International size.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Lapis Lazuli Blue
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Lapis Lazuli Blue.

In 1998 a new colour, the Grey Pearl was introduced.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Grey pearl
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Grey pearl.

In 2000 the Black Platinum was advertised, very similar to the Black GT, but with platinum plated trim. It was however not offered as a Centennial nor a Mechanical Pencil.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Red Jasper
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Red Jasper.

In November 2001 Parker released a Duofold Blue Mosaic Special Edition, inspired by the ancient Roman art form. The pens were produced using a new computer controlled technique that allowed for intricate patterns.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Mosaic
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Mosaic.

The fountain pen was offered in the International size only, Roller Ball, Ball Pen and Mechanical Pencil. They were not featured in the product catalogues but were advertised separately.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Jade Green
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Jade Green.

In December of 2001 the Jade Green finish was discontinued. While two new colours were added to the Mosaic Special Editions, Red and Black, the latter also in the Centennial size.

The line-up stayed the same until 2004 when the Pearl Grey, the Lapis Lazuli Blue and Red Jasper finishes were discontinued.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Black & pearl
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Black & pearl.

In 2005 the Black and Pearl was phased out, making way for a complete line re-design.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Presidential
Parker Duofold Centennial MKII Presidential.

Centennial MK III 2005-2014.

In 2005 the Presidential in the Godron pattern was discontinued, Instead the Duofold Ace line was introduced. It sported an intricate spade symbol on both the crown decal and the nibs.

Five new designs were launched.
• Check Marine
• Check Olive
• Check Amber
• Presidential Esparto Gold
• Presidential Esparto Silver

Parker Duofold Centennial MKIII Check Collection
Parker Duofold Centennial MKIII Check Collection.

The Esparto Gold was hand crafted in solid 18K gold with a bold Esparto pattern engraving and sported a thin contrasting black cap band. The Esparto Silver was made from solid sterling silver n the same pattern but with platinum plated trim, excluding the black cap band.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKIII Esparto
Parker Duofold Centennial MKIII Esparto.

The Espartos were offered in the International size only and also as a Ball Pen. The new Ace line did not offer any mechanical pencils, the only finish with a pencil now being the Black GT.

In 2007 the Black and Pearl was re-introduced with the Ace spade emblem, again without a matching pencil.

Parker Duofold International MKIII Palladium
Parker Duofold International MKIII Palladium.

In 2008 a completely new size of Duofolds was introduced, the Demi. It was offered in every design, except the Presidential Espartos and in May a new attractive Check colour, the Check Citrine, was introduced.

Already in 2009 the Check Olive was discontinued, again proving that green pens weren't selling very well.
In 2010 the Presidential Esparto Gold was discontinued.

Parker factory in Newhaven
Parker factory in Newhaven.

Also, in the autumn of 2010, the factory in Newhaven, Uk was closed down and the Duofold production was moved to Nantes, France. The last pen made in Newhaven was a Limited Edition referred to as the Newhaven staff, a Duofold International in Pearl and Black which was presented to the factory workers. The certificate of authenticity stated that it was to acknowledge the dedication of the Newhaven staff. The crown featured the new halo logo and read "Parker Newhaven 1941-2010". It was offered in a black bag with an outer cardboard box inside containing a laquer wooden box with the pen. The rumour is that a production of 180 items were planned to be made, but already after the first wave of 20, items began popping up for sale on auction sites, so Parker allegedly stopped the production and recalled 14 of the 20.

In 2012 the last of the Duofold pencils, the Black GT was discontinued.

The 2012 Duofolds:

• Black GT
• Black Platinum
• Black and Pearl
• Check Citrine
• Check Amber
• Check Marine
• Silver Esparto


In 2013 Parker celebrated its 125th anniversary (George S. Parker founded the company in 1888). A worldwide celebration tour kicked off on January 25 at the Sinan Mansion in Shanghai, China with an exhibition about writing, under the slogan "Words for the Future".
Geoffrey Parker, the great-grandson of the company founder, was a special guest. To commemorate this a Mandarin yellow limited edition Parker Duofold was offered, as well as 125-anniversary Jotter and Ingenuity pens. Also a Duofold Giant limited edition was offered, with only 125 pieces available worldwide, as well as a Duofold Senior limited edition. These limited editions are covered in the Limited Edition-chapter. The 2013 Parker catalogue offered no change in the Duofold line-up.

Parker Mandarin 125 Limited Edition
Parker Mandarin 125 Limited Edition.

In 2014 the Demi Duofold was discontinued after a short six year stint. Parker was in the process of redesigning the Duofold line. To allow stores to sell out old stock only the three bestselling designs were featured in the 2014 Parker catalogue, the Pearl and Black and the Black GT. The third finish looked the same as the previous Black Platinum, but instead had trim plated in palladium. The latter not offered in the Centennial size. Palladium belongs to the platinum group and doesn't react with oxygen at medium temperatures, which means that it wouldn't tarnish easily. Another reason for the change was that palladium in 2013 fetched less than half the price of platinum.

Centennial MK IV 2015.

The new 2015 line of Duofolds referred to as "Historical colours" was inspired by the Parkers of the 1920's. They still sported the Ace nib and crown and two cap rings but three new colours were offered, the Big Red GT, maybe the most recognizable design of all Parkers, in red cast acrylic and 23K gold plated trim, a new Lapis Lazuli GT in blue.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKIV Big red GT
Parker Duofold Centennial MKIV Big red GT.

Although based on the old Duofolds the colours weren't exactly matched, in particular while the original Lapis Lazuli were marbled in blue on blue or white on blue, the new version was in plain blue plastic. The third new addition was the White Ivorine GT. It was based on a now rare Parker casein pen, a sort of plastic made from milk curd.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKIV Ivorine GT
Parker Duofold Centennial MKIV Ivorine GT.

Together with the Black GT they were offered as Centennials and Internationals, with fine or medium nibs, and as a ballpoint and rollerball. The Black Palladium International was also offered. All finishes had clip screws and sections in the colour of the pen body.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKIV Lapis Lazuli GT
Parker Duofold Centennial MKIV Lapis Lazuli GT.

Centennial MK V 2016-current.

In 2016 the Duofold was redesigned again and. two new Duofold lines were introduced, the Prestige and the Classic collection. A new style cap band, about 8 mm wide and covering the cap lip was also introduced. It was sort of a mix between the caps of the Parker "51" and the 1937 Vacumatic. It was in the form of three cap bands toghether, with "Parker" engraved on the middle one.

The new flagship was the Ruthenium Chiselled CT, which in fact had palladium trim. It was a ruthenium plated base with a chiseled, banded design. It was only offered in the larger Centennial size and as a ballpoint and rollerball. It was offered at $1.000, with the rollerball for $800, and the Ballpoint for $650.

The Blue Chevron GT was another very attractive finish offered. It sported a metallic blue varnish with etched chevrons, and 23K gold plated trim, including the clip screw and section. Also offered as a Centennial, rollerball or ballpoint. It cost $970, $775 and $630, respectively.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKV Prestige collection
Parker Duofold Centennial MKV Prestige collection.

The Black Chevron CT was a laser etched, chevron patterned pen with a black lacquered base, and palladium trim. The third Prestige was the Burgundy Chevron CT, identical to the Black Chevron, but with a burgundy laquer base.

The three 2015 colours were now offered with the new style cap band and with a black clip screw and section as the Duofold Classic Resin Collection.

Parker Duofold Centennial MKV Classic collection
Parker Duofold Centennial MKV Classic collection.

The Big Red CT Centennial cost $730, the International $665, the rollerball $530 and the ballpoint $430. The blue version was renamed the Blue & Black CT, and the Ivorine was renamed the Ivory & Black GT The two black finishes also sported the new cap band, but the Black Palladium was renamed Black CT.

The Duofold MKV Prestige collection:

• Ruthenium
• Chevron Black
• Chevron Blue
• Chevron Red

The Duofold MKV Classic collection:

• Blue & Black
• Ivory & Black
• Big Red CT
• Black GT
• Black CT

Parker Duofold Centennial MKV Special '100' Anniversary
Parker Duofold Centennial MKV '100' Anniversary collection.

The Duofold MKV Special collection:

• "100" Black
• "100" Blue
• "100" Red


In 2020 Parker decided to retire the old work horse "International", and from now on only the larger sized Duofolds were available. Also the Ruthenium, Black and red Chevron designs were discontinued, leaving only the Blue Chevron.

In 2021 a new unnumbered "Limited edition", but really a Special edition" was offered, referred to as the "100". It came in Black, Red and Blue, and was said to be inspired by the old Vacumatics of the 1930-40's, although it commemorated the introduction of the Duofold of 1921. Although an attractive design, it was for some reason priced at $1 400, which, not being numbered, made them a hard sell.

In 2022 a Special Edition pen was offered to commemorate the Queen's platinum jubilee. It was made as a palladium coated 925 solid silver with an engraved pattern inspired by the British crown. The trim was plated with 23k gold.

Parker Duofold Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022 silver GT
Parker Duofold Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022 silver GT.

In 2024 a Special Edition in Grey laquer, referred to as the "Pioneers collection", was offered. Parker advertised it with:"The pioneer’s spirit is restless in its pursuit, possessed by an indomitable will to explore and push limits. Driven by the urge to move forward, further and faster, with a desire to reach the pinnacle of their endeavours." The collection included Duofold, Sonnet, Ingenuity and Parker IM. It had a grey resin body, and a 23k gold plated cap and trim. The most distinct feature was the chemically etched cap that repeated the "feathers" of the Parker arrow and a massive gold filled section. It was sold with a fine or medium nib for $1 600.

Parker Duofold Pioneers Collection
Parker Duofold Pioneers Collection.

(Updated 2024)