English Parker Duofold Aerometric

Still with Parkers, but across the Atlantic Ocean to look at the Newhaven Aerometric Duofold. These were introduced in 1953 so the oldest ones have reached retirement age but they are set to go on for at least another 65 years. They need very little in the way of servicing. Perhaps a good flush. The sacs rarely fail, though I occasionally come upon one whose sac has popped off the section. That’s easy enough to correct: just pull off the sac protector, shellac the sac back in place, leave it to cure and reassemble. Other failings – not many. The cap lip can crack but certainly no more often than other pens and much less frequently than many. The “jewel” can crack. Replacements only come from other pens. The plating is good but after sixty-odd years it isn’t surprising that some wear shows. The material that the casing is made from is quite soft. It shines up beautifully but the downside is that the barrel imprints can fade away.

So these are the detractions and they are neither many nor severe. These are among the most practical vintage pens. They come in several sizes. This one is a Standard, there are also the Junior, Demi, Senior and Maxima. The Slimfold came along a little later and the Lady, with a hooded nib, completed the range. They come in black, red, blue and green. The nibs are usually inflexible.

The English Duofold has been an influential pen. Though the high-quality Japanese pens are often said to emulate the Montblanc, their classic torpedo shape is very like the Duofold. Most writers today prefer firm nibs and the English Parker Duofold nibs are the equal of anything produced today by Pilot, Sailor or Platinum. Compared with the Conway Stewart and Swans, they remain inexpensive today. The Standard or Senior is an excellent writer and a high status pen at a bargain price.


Excuse the photography.  This pen is blue, though you’d hardly believe it!  The light was not co-operating with me.


Parker Junior Streamline Long

Are you tired of Parkers yet? I hope not because I have a few more to go. This one, at a hair’s-breadth less than 12 cm, appears to be a Duofold Junior Streamline Long. It was made sometime between 1929 and 1934, so not far short of 90 years old. It’s in splendid condition, the jet black Permanite as shiny as when it was new. The gold-filled trim remains good, with just a little loss here and there.

It’s a stocky pen but when posted is a comfortable length. Like other Duofolds of this period it has the hanging pressure bar. It’s very efficient and takes a considerable amount of ink. The button-filling system exerts quite a bit of pressure on the sac. This enabled us (or at least those of us who had button fillers) to fire ink an appreciable distance across the classroom, to the disapproval of the teacher and of our mothers who had to try to get the ink out of our clothes.

Enough about my wild childhood. The Junior version of the Duofold, whether this slightly larger pen or the Standard, was evidently very popular. What was the target market? Was it gifted to school students? Bearing a clip and being a little larger, it would not have been a vest pocket pen. Perhaps it was seen as a more affordable alternative to the full-size Duofold. In any case it appears to have sold very well as there are still many about today.

The one fault with this example is that the nib is a more modern replacement, the number 10 indicating that it came from an English Duofold Junior of the fifties or sixties. Several of the older Parkers I have written about recently have replacement nibs, which is surprising considering how robust Parker nibs usually are. I suppose it’s a consequence of the pens’ long survival.

Parker Televisor Slender

I have yet another small 1930s Parker to add to my recent list. All of these have been Canadian, reflecting the protectionism of the times that kept US pens out of the UK. I’m not sure whether the Televisor qualifies as another “thrift time” pen. It was in the medium price range.

I have written about the Televisor before: on that occasion it was a Junior that was featured. As always, if that is your interest the search box at the top right will take you there. This version is the Mark 1. I believe it is a “Slender” being a little slighter and shorter than the “Standard”. These pens came in a variety of attractive patterns; this one is black, but none the less impressive for that. This was not intended to be an economical pen as the contemporary Challenger was. The gold filled clip and three cap bands have worn well. The design of the clip with its elongated diamond cartouche bearing the word “Parker” is shared with the Challenger. This clip most obviously defines the Mark 1, with its ball ended design. The visualated section is a useful feature. There was also a pencil, though it is seldom seen. That’s surprising in a way, as this pen was seen as a potential gift, particularly for students, and was often sold as part of a set.

This form of Televisor remained in production for three years, being superseded by the Mark II in 1938. Set between the “thrift time” pens and the more expensive Duofold, it proved very popular in Britain and often turns up nowadays. Its popularity was justified: it is an excellent pen with a good nib that often has some line variation. The filling system utilised the efficient “suspended” pressure bar. It was made from good materials and often appears in very good condition today.

Latest Sales Site Update

You know those gems, the pens in the box
Which rattle forlornly; the ‘difficult’ stock.
‘I’ll fix them sometime,’ so the mantra goes,
But they languish on, in near-death-throes.

Along comes the day when an idle glance through
Makes the thought sneak in: ‘I should see to these, too.’
Then puzzles are sorted, pressure bars put in place;
With each one I fix there’s a smile on my face.

One pen after another receives a new sac
Held safely in place with a bit of shellac.
A buff and a shine and the days work is done;
It’s so good to revive yet another one!

For the past few weeks I’ve never been bored
While ever more pens at last were restored.
They’ve been prepared and the prices are right:
Won’t you have a look at them on my sales site?

Mabie Todd Swan Leverless 1060

I searched my previous posts and was surprised to find that I have never written about the Swan Leverless 1060 despite having restored many of them.

It’s a comparatively large chunky pen, measuring 13.5 cm capped. This is a 1950s pen, by which time Mabie Todd had given up using brass threads. The filling system comes in for some criticism on the pen discussion boards but it’s actually unjustified. Serviced properly the Leverless takes a good draught of ink and is notably convenient and clean to refill.

This pen has a very good Swan No 4 nib. There is a spoon-like depression at the tip of the nib, just before the tipping material. It thrusts the tip of the nib forward and upward giving an excellent writing angle, like some Sheaffer nibs or the Macniven and Cameron Waverley dip nib. I’m not sure when Mabie Todd began and ended making nibs in this way. One cannot really predict which pens will have this style of nib. I would be pleased if every Swan was fitted with this truly excellent nib.

Taking all its attributes together, the 1060 is one of Mabie Todd’s best post-war pens. Despite being quite expensive it sold in considerable numbers and we are fortunate that many have survived.

New Oxonian

Does anyone know anything about the New Oxonian fountain pen?  The barrel imprint also contains the words “Ryman London”.  The only Ryman company I can find is a stationer, still extant, so it might have been made for that company.  It’s an inexpensive-looking pen with a small warranted nib.

Why Collect Pens?

Of course the first question is why collect anything – why collect at all? It isn’t entirely inexplicable. A variety of theories spring to mind. The difficulty lies in deciding if any of them is correct. Perhaps it’s a remnant of the Paleolithic, when men went out and hunted animals, returning to the praise of their women-folk, who had also been busy, garnering fruits and nuts and edible roots. Or so we’re told. Then there’s the historical aspect, where collectors try to rebuild the past through the acquisition of defunct technologies. The ‘limited edition’ collectors – what is it that they do? Maybe it’s the pleasure of having things that few other people can attain (though many limited editions are not so rigidly limited as all that). Then there are the completist collectors, who must have every last production of their chosen subject. Without meaning to be insulting, this could be looked on as a form of neurosis.

Why pens, then? There are many alternatives, stamps, coins, pocket knives, books: there are as many types of collection as there are discrete objects. Pens are small, not requiring a huge amount of space in expensive property. Comparatively speaking, they are cheap, cheaper than jewellery or paintings, for example. They are decorative. Celluloid and casein produced glorious patterns, plating of base metals added lustre. Like many other collectables they exist within a pool of knowledge, about their technology and design, their manufacturers, their rarity or otherwise; subjects that collectors may discuss and develop expertise in. Is there a gender angle? Though I have no doubt that there are many women collectors, my own experience with my customers suggests that women more commonly by pens to use. So do many men, of course, but the serious collectors that I know are all men.

Perhaps one of the reasons for choosing pens as a subject for collection is that it is open-ended. It is very difficult to obtain every example of the output of one of the more prolific manufacturers, say Conway Stewart or Parker.

My own ancestry must have missed out on the collector gene. I love pens and have quite a few but those I retain are chosen for their writing ability. They bear little relationship to each other and are not displayed or recorded. Of course, a great many pens pass through my restoring hands and I do maintain a photographic and digital record of them all. Perhaps that’s my collection.