A Mystery Parker

Here’s a mystery pen. I would be grateful for your comments. I’m no expert on the Parker brand but I’m not entirely ignorant of it either. However, this mixture of mercies has me beat. I might mention that it was raised in Fountain Pen Network but they were not helpful, I’m informed. That’s how I remember FPN when I was a member some years ago. Long on opinions, short on facts. To be fair, though, FPN is first class when you need to know what colour of ink to put in your latest Montblanc.


All that aside, here’s the story with the pen. It’s short at 115 mm capped. Parker Duofold is stamped on the barrel, off-centre towards the section. The aforesaid section is translucent. Was there ever a Duofold with a translucent section? It also has a Televisor-style multi-part pressure bar. I confess I cannot remember whether any of the Duofolds ever had that style of bar. The pattern is in the style of the earliest Newhaven Duofolds and Victories. The nib is imprinted, “Parker USA” and does not have the usual indication of 14K gold, though that is undoubtedly what it’s made from. I believe that the nib and feed are replacements.

The pen bears enough of a resemblance to the pens made for Parker by Valentine to be one of that production run and its size might indicate a “Lady” pen. I seem to remember that the USA Streamline Lady Duofolds were around that size. It’s the odd accoutrements that puzzle me. It might be that some part of this arises from replacement parts being fitted but that doesn’t really work as an explanation because the translucent section and compound pressure bar work together. A screw-in section could not be replaced by a friction-fit one without machining. In any case, a friction-fit section would be pushed out by a traditional bar.

What do you think?


18 thoughts on “A Mystery Parker

  1. well, if it drew a blank on the FPN then unlikely most of us here will fare any better, Deb.
    My few thoughts are………… colours aren’t easy on the screen, but this one might just be light and dark green pearl – this was an English colour, but the nib (whether replacement or not) is obviously States in origin. The body carries nothing to suggest made in U.K. – my one and only Valentice has Made in England on the body.
    The blind cap appears to be the squat old style shape in use c. 1945, prior to the longer version that appears on AF pens c. 1948 – is it accurate to say that the feathered clip design appears c. 1946, and only on U.K. pens, since Janesville had ceased making the Duofold by that date??
    The wide cap band is similar to the new style and AF pens made in the U.K.

    So, a real mongrel, or as they say in the pen world ‘a frankenpen’:-) My money is on this being a U.K. made pen, but can’t explain the States nib.

    1. Actually, in my opinion the fine people in FPN did well to recognise it as a fountain pen. What’s a Valentice? Is that a Valentine, but with a better name? You’re right in a way, to say it’s a Frankenpen, but Frankenpens are made out of parts that go together. Duofold and Televisor parts don’t fit each other but appear to have been made to go together in this case. In other words, it’s not a production pen. Notwithstanding which, the clowns at FPN insisted they had possession of such pens on more than one occasion!

  2. sorry, typo I’m afraid – yes, it should have read Valentine – it’s possibly a left side versus right side of the brain sort of contest, and if you’re tired and had a long day, and it’s heading toward eleven p.m. then finger dyslexia sets in. When touch typing, lower case c and n are hit with the left and right index fingers respectively, and contact with both keys is by a move toward the number 7 on the clock face, and it’s this similarity of movement, with the same type of digit, that on occasions confuses the brain, the more so the quickly one types. The left finger moves when it should have been the right – unfortunately, finger and brain coordination decreases with age, and much else too.

    By the way, what is a ‘bot frankenpen’:-):-)

    The land of the FPN does at times seem almost to discourage membership – but their search archive is excellent, and although I share your sentiments, there are some very friendly and helpful people there. Perhaps it suffers a tad from one-upmanship – too many folk wanting to sound off about the same subject, but adding nothing – too many kooks sloiling the breth.

    I think we’ve spoken about these upper case letters on nibs before. On the original Duofold nibs, the letters N, P, Y and Z can be found, and apparently there is some belief that these possibly represent particular suppliers who may have provided Janesville with nibs. I thought Janesville made their own, but very unsure over that. Think we’ve also discussed this R before now, and answer came there none. Don’t for a moment believe it’s R for rigid – as in manifold.
    Certainly the little cut-out at the base of the nib is correct for the States – do Newhaven nibs have this too??

    Anyway you know 100% more than me about pens, so will desist from further comment, and this one will probably remain a mystery – but I’m still going with British and made c. 1945.

  3. had also meant to add ………….. Some of these States nibs are date coded – is there anything else on the nib, other than the upper case R??

  4. I remember you showed pix of that short-legged R appearing on a Mk. I Victory nib, a year or so back -seem to recall it remained a mystery.
    The 4 may or may not have dots accompanying it – they might be too worn to be seen – but suspect the 4 indicates 1944.

  5. One of the fools on FPN said that he has a button fill Canadian Victory (complete with the screw fit barrel and Televisor pressure bar) in the same material, same wide band and blind cap – but that it is a standard size pen.

  6. I don’t understand why they were so unhelpful in this instance. They seemed determined to establish that this was a common production pen when it clearly isn’t. I left FPN in disgust about four years ago and this just convinces me that I was right.

    1. Hi Ray. I believe our paths have crossed before.

      I know that site well. Perhaps the most comprehensive website for any fountain pen brand.

      There are rather more differences than just the cap.

  7. good to have a definitive answer re the letter R – thanks for that – I wonder if there was any significance re the short leg?
    thanks also for the answer to the figure 4.

  8. I too have a Canadian Victory in the same material but there are some differences:
    Overall I would say it is smaller than standard size. The cap has twin bands and is about 5.8cm long which looks similar to yours. The barrel is 7.3cm long excluding blind cap and section. The blind cap itself looks like one from a small English Duofold, not the pointed one that you have.

    The pressure bar is a normal one, but it is a push fit televisor (i.e. with a visible bit) section. Does yours have a similar section? I can’t see from the picture but it would explain the very short feed (so that it doesn’t obscure the window). The nib says Parker, Fountain Pen 14K with a w.

    I’m not sure that this helps much, It would be interesting to see if your barrel is a similar length to mine. However I have always thought there were a few shenanigans going on at Parker, maybe to get around import restrictions – I expect you have seen the Victories with a Made in imprint but which omit a location name. I also think they were either flexible, or sometimes made mistakes – I have a New Style Duofold with a Victory imprint (and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t just have a Mark I victory barrel swapped in based on side by side comparison). I wouldn’t be surprised if these pens were made when materials were occasionally in short supply and so they would knock out a batch of frankenpens to meet an order of Duofolds say when they didn’t have the right bits. And then of course they may have had substitute parts added at a later date

    1. Fascinating, my Victory also has a ‘W’ nib. I assumed it was a replacement as it is rather wide for the feed. I stand corrected, it also has the Televisor visi push in section.

      On the basis of the materials I think it is a Canadian interpretation of the Victory, so could have been produced at any time between 1946 and 47/8 before they switched to the AF filler.
      I think they had large amounts of surplus Challenger/ Televisor parts and were using them up as my Victory looks little more than a restamped MkII Televisor.

      Much the same would apply to the parts of Paul’s pen. The unanswerable questions are why is it so small and has the unusual barrel marking? Could it be an early mock up for a Lady Duofold by the Canadian factory?

      Deb is right, it is the same size as a streamline Junior Duofold, which was still in production around this time in Canada. This suggests a lineage rather than a frankenpen to me.

    2. Hi Simon,

      The barrel of this pen measures 71.15 mm including the threaded boss for the blind cap. The outside diameter of the barrel is 10.68 mm and the section is partially translucent. It has a No 4 nib which implies a Lady version but the nib may well be a replacement.

      I think the explanation that Parker made up pens from whatever they had to meet contracts at times of shortage. Yes, I have seen pens with the incomplete “Made in…” impression on the barrel which would suggest that incomplete parts of pens may have been sent from Canada to Newhaven, or indeed from some other source.

      Because the parts of this pen would not go together without the application of some engineering work, I think it’s likely that this was one of those Frankenpens issued by Parker. I’m happy with that explanation! Thank you very much for your insight.

  9. It’s unfortunate that there was no joy after forays into information on FPN, but I doubt if there is another congregation of people who is as passionate about pens and genuinely obsessed with finding the answers to obscure questions. You might try David Nishimura. The fountain pen community is so small already, and I hope that we might find ways to bond it together.

    1. Hi Robert,

      I understand your concerns, really I do. However, there is another point of view. I ceased to be a member of FPN some years ago due to Wim’s behaviour. I will not return as I see no improvement. My friend, whose pen this is, received unpleasant and unhelpful treatment in the Parker subgroup. Furthermore the people there showed that they had little knowledge of historic Parker pens. They seemed determined to maintain that this was a normal production pen despite being unable to produce any evidence to support that. How helpful, then, is that part of the pen community? I would suggest that your concerns be presented to those people, rather than to me.

      I have the greatest respect for David Nishimura and have had very helpful correspondence with him in the past. Luckily, however, a new line of research has opened up which may provide us with the solution we have been looking for.

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