line decor
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parcoParkette logo
Writefine logoduo-tone logo
Parkers only lever fillers
, 1950—1952

anfanghe early 1930's were difficult times for most people following the stock market crash in 1929. Parker was no exeption between 1929 and 1930, Parker's profits were cut in half. The Duofold didn't sell as well as it used to and although a redesign in the same year, making the Duofold more tapered and a bit shorter, kept sales going for a while, the Duofold was struggling in a slope and by 1933 it was phased out. Parker had successfully manufactured cheaper pens that had sold well. Most were all black and gold pens. like the Parker "DQ" and Raven Black. The Parker "DQ" (Duofold quality) was an attempt to capitalize on the Duofold name without lowering the the price of the Duofold, risking to undermine the name of the flag ship. anfanghen pen companies went bankrupt and closeout sales started to flood the market with cheap pens, pen makers of the time were selling their product at discount prices. There was an incredible amount of pens out there but not much profit being done. In early 1927 Parker had introduced the attractive slender and small ladies line pen nicknamed the Pastel. They were ment as a ladies alternative to the rather dull black Parker DQ and the Raven Black in the low price range. The Pastel sold for $3.50 for the pens and $3.00 for the pencils. The Pastel very quick became rather popular, much because of the bright and happy colours.
Images © courtesy of Gary Cole

A collection of 1932 Parcos

anfang arker had also developed and quietly began selling a new design, cheap school-pens in 1932. They sold in dime stores and were almost not advertised. The only ads that appeared were as inserts in general merchandise catalogues. They didn't have a brand name but one ad mentions the "Thriftime" pen. It was also known as the Duette, the model first mentioned in the January 1932 issue of the Parkergram (a Parker in-house news letter) as "low priced Duettes" and "To meet the insistent demand of the juvenile market". Irrespective of the times, students had to be able to write. The plastic in the Duettes proved too brittle and prone to ink-discolouration. To prevent this the last of the Duettes were made from old Duofold stock but already in 1933 the production. Other low end Parkers were however soon to follow. anfanglthough the button filler had been a phenomenal success there were still pople out there that preferred the lever filler, introduced by Parker's arch-competitor, Sheaffer. So already in 1932 Parker decided to cram a corporate foot into that market and, again using old Duofold stock, presented the red arrowParco. Parker's first lever filler.

It sported a new kind of ball clip that was riveted into the cap with four "ears" (as opposed to all other Parkers having washer clips held down by a clip screw) and had a design of stepped chevrons and plates. The Parco also had four cap rings, two above the clip and two by the cap lip.

Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

The 1933 Parkettes, note the slight difference in clip design
from the top red Parco.

anfanghe body was imprinted PARCO/Made in USA Pat. Pend./By Parker Pen Co. Janesville Wis. The first two colours were made from old Duofold stock, Black, and Burgundy and Black marble. Next was an attractive grey, black and red plastic that almost became synonymous to the Parkette, followed by a Green marble design, very similar to the later Junior Vacumatic Emerald marble. As opposed to the Vacumatics, the Parcos and subsequent Parkettes were all opaque, since they needed to be fitted with an ink sac on account of the lever filler. Pencils were also produced and even some rare button fillers have been found. The 1932 Parco:
    romb Black
    romb Burgundy and Black marble
    romb Grey, Black and Red marble
    romb Green marble

The new lever filler indeed became so successful that Parker decided to dedicate a whole line to these pens. Gradually the Parco gave way to the red arrowParkette. The first Parkettes was essentially of the same design as the Parco, save for a subtle change of the clip (the top square "badge" had a point on the Parkette). It did have the same four cap rings but was imprinted PARKETTE/Made in USA Pat. Pend./By Parker Pen Co. Janesville Wis.

Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

The 1934 stepped Parkette "Junior".

Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

A selection of 1934 Parkette De Luxe. The smaller Lady size at the top.
Note the variant at the bottom, "Junior" style plastic and all gold filled trim.

anfangarly in 1934 the Parkette was redesigned. The four-ringed model were discontinued and in it's place a dual line Parkette was introduced. The colours stayed the same but the overall design was changed. In the bottom line, "Junior", Parkette both pens and pencils now had a 3-stepped top in black plastic and two narrow cap rings. The nib had the engraving PARKETTE/Made in/USA. The "Junior" sold for $1.25, $0.75 for the pencil. Later the Duofold style colour Red and Black was replaced with a more monochrome Red.

The top line, Parkette De Luxe, came in two sizes, Standard and Slender. Both sizes had a rounded, white lined, black button on top of the cap and most distinctly, the cap and body was fluted, a number of lenghtwise grooves, unique to this pen. The De Luxe line had three cap bands. All the new Parkettes had gold plated trim, except the Black De Luxe that sported a chromium trim. The white lined top was soon, perhaps in late 1934, replaced by gold filled ones.

They were imprinted Made in USA PARKETTE DE LUXE/By Parker Pen Co, while the nib was engraved PARKETTE/DE LUXE/PLAT PLT/Made in USA. Both De Luxes sold for $1.75 and the pencil cost $1.25. The pencils were one size fits all. There was also a round chromium plated desk set offered for $3.50, including pen. Although since the Parkette lacked the blind cap, there was no way to replace it with a taper, as was offered with the Duofolds. There are however examples of Parkettes with a black blind cap, quite possibly these were desk pens.

In 1935 the "Junior" pen lost the stepped ends. Somewhat cryptic the 1935 catalogue shows a design with a flat, black top that seems to be very illusive indeed. More common are the rounded versions. The cap still had two bands. the Parkette clip on both lines was also redesigned, losing the attractive chevrons. It was now practically plain, though still a ball clip and still with a point upwards. At the top it had the additional engraving Pat'd.


Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

The 1935 De Luxe with the Pat'd clip and tassie rings in metal.

anfangIn 1938 the complete line was redesigned again and instead of the ball clip they now sported a new stylish, plain arrow clip, rounded on top. The "Junior" pen was still rounded and still had the two cap bands, but the De Luxe lost the metal tassies.They were replaced by a pointed, plain, black button at each end. The three cap rings were replaced by a wider cap band with a pattern of stacked coins. An interesting new feature was the Visiometer ink vue. Since the vacumatic ink filling system was still in vogue, Parker put a fake tube (in fact a solid rod) inside the Visiometer to give the impression that the Parkettes were also Vac-fillers. Which of course they clearly weren't. The prices were still the same.

anfangn interesting new addition to the Parkette family was the jet black red arrowDuo-Tone. This also was a lever filler. It sported the Parkette arrow clip, a Parkette nib but had a metal cap in either silver or gold colour. It was offered as a one size pen with a Visiometer and as pencil. The Duotone predates both the Parker "51" and the Imperial Vacumatics, making it in fact the first Parker pen with a Parker cap (although there had been all-metal pens earlier). The Duo-Tone was never a hit and it was soon discontinued. The Duo-Tone is considered rather rare.


Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

The last of the De Luxe Parkettes from 1938.

anfangn 1939 all the old Parkettes, including the Duo-Tone, disappeared from the Parker catalogue. In the 1940 catalogue they had been replaced with two new style pens referred to as the red arrowParkette Zephyr and the
red arrowWritefine pen and pencil. They picked up the plain, tapered "military style" clip engraved Parker in block letters, previously introduced to the Challengers of the time. The Writefine had a metal clip screw, a plain cap band and the engraving Writefine on the nib.

The 1939 Writefine
    romb Black
    romb Blue
    romb Maroon
    romb Green

Pens were offered for $1.00 each and the pencils cost $0.75. The pencils used a new style of led that Parker boasted was extra strong, even though it was extra thin.

anfanghe Writefine was not a Parkette per se, lacking all references to the model, save for being a lever filler and having the Visiometer window. The trim was gold filled but it was exceptionally thin layered and the Writefines are very prone to brassing.

The Zephyr also came in four colours:
    romb Black
    romb Blue
    romb Brown
    romb Grey

They were offered in an extremely attractive, swiveled pattern and the colours were vibrant, making them quite a catch for present day collectors. The pens cost $1.95 while the pencils sold for $1.00. The Zephyr pencils also used the new Writefine lead. The body imprint read Parketter Zephyr/Made in USA by Parker. They sported a plain, gold Parkette/Made in USA/14kt nib.

Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

The last of the "Junior" 1938.

anfanglready in late 1940 the Writefine pen was discontinued and the Writefine pencils were redesigned from being of a rather standard appearence to sporting a new kind of clip, held down by an extra long clip screw that also contained a visible eraser on top an serviced as a turning nob, to gradually extract more of the eraser when it was ground down. The new Writefine pencils were offered in the solid colours of Black, Red and Blue, a striped Scarlet Blue (that used the plasic of the Striped Duofold Vacumatics of the period) and a Black and Gold Sleeve Writefine pencil. In 1941 also the Parkette Zephyr was being phased our.
Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

Top: Duo-Tone, 1938. Bottom: The Parkette Zephyr, 1939.

anfanghe Parkette had a brief, unsuccessful comeback around 1950, in the form of a pen that essentially was a lever filled Parker "21". It was discontinued in 1952. It was offered in solid colours.

The 1950's Parkette:
    romb Black
    romb Blue
    romb Grey
    romb Red

The pen cost $3.50 and the pencil $2.25

The Parkette can be found in many transitional models, many different colour variations and prototypes have been found and more anomalies are constantly popping up. The, let's face it, poor quality of this Parker low end pen, has rendered most items broken, discoloured, severely brassed or cracked. Still the beautiful colours have made them popular among collectors and the rarity of items in excellent condition have rendered them rather pricey.
Images © David Isaacson courtesy of Vacumania.com

Top: Writefine, 1939. Bottom: The New Parkette, 1952.

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