Parker Fountain Pens
The Parker fountain pen:
PARKER IM Black with Golden Trim, Fountain Pen, Medium nib (1760799)
Feb 9, 2016
The ”Duofold” is the pen that actually made the Parker Company one of the greatest pen-manufacturers in the world. Until the Duofold, few pens were made of anything but black rubber. Can you believe it?
Parker found a method to make the rubber in a red-orange colour, and when the pens began to sell they really took off and sold. The Duofolds had their world premier in early 1921.
Marketing the red Duofolds counl have been said as a somewhat risky venture since Parker previously, in the early 1900’s, had tried marketing a red pen, the Red Giant, which was disastrous to say the least…. especially the cap, which proved to be very brittle and the guarantee became very expensive.
As you could imagine, the production came to an abrupt halt.
While the ”Parker Lucky Curve pens” were selling well, there was really nothing special about them to catch the publics eye.
In the early 1920’s a district sales Manager, Lewis M Tebbel, persuaded a machinist at the Parker plant to make him a a Lucky Curve model #26 in some old stock red hard rubber.
Tebble used the standard black rubber for the section and clip screw, which gave the prototype a stunning appearance.
Tebbel returned to his district, Spokane, with the pen and some local dealers were so impressed with it, that they asked him to ask the factory for a whole dozen. Can you imagine that!
This was initially however refused….. but when Tebble insisted, he won out and was granted the dozen. Phew…..
Soon thereafter Tebbel made another order for EVEN more red pens. He now proposed to Parker that they should incorporate the “Duofold”, as he called the new pen, in the regular line, selling it for a whole $7.
But he was refused by the Parker management. Instead he contacted Kenneth Parker directly. He had just returned from an internship at an advertising agency and was eager to try for himself the power of advertising.
It took a great deal of persuasion and negotiation, but in August of 1921 the first pens were in production.
There were a few pens made with a lower concentrate of the red pigment, making them more a brown colour than red, but these were never sold…….
Collectors traditionally refer to the colour of the first Duofolds as Pompeiian Brown.
This was however not a colour any different from the later models, but only refers to old advertisement which used the phrase to describe the colour in the papers printed in black and white.
They also wanted to avoid “red” which still could reminiscent of the Red Giant débâcle.
The first Duofolds was to, save the colour, identical in size and appearance to the Lucky Curve #26 and came in one size only, later referred to as the Senior Duofold. (app 139 mm Long 16 mm Wide) and only in Red. Very quickly this unusually large pen was nicknamed “Big Red“, a name that still survives among collectors today.