The Parker Moderne

I’ve been working on small button-fillers today, a Merlin and two Parkers, one a purse pen and the other a Moderne. I enjoy them. They take a little longer to re-sac than lever fillers but they are more satisfying.

If I remember rightly, the Moderne was the Canadian pen and the US version was the Duette. These pens were Parker’s response to the Wall Street Crash and the hard times that followed it. It is said that the company’s sales were reduced to half and they decided to produce a pen for the times, more affordable to rather emptier pockets. At around $3.50, the Moderne was not cheap but it was a lot of pen for the money. This one is in marbled brown and russet with blue and white streaks here and there – a most attractive pattern. It has a gold-plated flattop, the word “Parker” on the clip, and a single gold-plated cap band. The plating is excellent, having stood the test of time well, showing wear only on the ball end.

The Moderne has a two-part pressure bar, unlike the little pocket pen I restored today which had Parker’s justly famous hanging bar. Both are very effective. At 11.4 cm capped the Moderne is perhaps a small pen by today’s tastes but it sold in its thousands in the mid-thirties.

As filling systems go, Parker’s interpretation of the button filler is hard to beat. Easily serviced, efficient, with a good capacity for the pen size, easy and clean to use. The pressure bar flattens the sac very well, ensuring a good fill of ink. Holding this beautiful little pen, I ask myself where the subsequent improvements in pen design are. I am forced to conclude that there have been few if any.


7 thoughts on “The Parker Moderne

  1. I’ve an identical Moderne, which Lambrou describes as ‘bronze and blue marble’ – an attractive colour combination – unfortunately mine doesn’t have its original nib – it’s carries a large N – though the barrel shows MADE IN CANADA.
    Lambrou describes these things as ‘Depression Thrift Fountain Pens’ – though I’m confused as to why this apparently Canadian made pen should occur in his section on States made Parker pens.
    He mentions a very similar model called Premier – from Canada – but it seems you’re right about the Duette being States made.
    Of course Deborah, if you have his book on U.S.A. and U.K., then you will know all of this.
    Hope you have original nibs for your pens.

    I’ve another Canadian Moderne with date code of 35, in what was originally onyx – though time and sac gas have turned the plastic to mostly a rich toffee, and again the nib is a U.K. replacement. Suppose there is only so much you can expect from a three dollar fifty pen, made c. mid 1930s, but that little tab of the bar, outside by the button, was good.

    1. Mine doesn’t have its original nib. It has an older US one – that’s how it came to me. Not all Modernes have the haning bar, which I agree is a fine piece of engineering.

  2. apologies – know I’m waffling a lot today………….
    meant to add that I’ve another Moderne in green and gold, and yes, it does have the original Christmas tree feed and correct No. 2 nib, and gilding is almost perfect ……………… though I wouldn’t write with the pen as it’s a bit scratchy.

  3. I agree, these are nice pens. do they all have flat metal tops to the cap?

    I’ve just had a look at mine, some are Modernes and some just say Fountain Pen Patented and date codes for 16, 17, 27, 34, 35 (Modernes only) and in the 3 colours mentioned above plus black. Feeds and nibs are a mixed bunch with Parker, Fountain Pen, Canada as common core on those that have not obviously been replaced, but with a mix of 14k, 2, 3, 8, 18, 27, 35 and F on them as well. They mainly have 3 part pressure bars.

    Empirically, the Premiere is a similar shaped pen but bigger and with a flat plastic top to the cap in the same colour as the body and available in grey with red specks, blue & black marble, mahogany and black. Many are also Fountain Pen Patented. Nibs are often marked 4 and E or F.

    The Nibs on these pens feel a bit more interesting than normal, many being broader or oblique.

    I have also come across the occasional pencil to match both sizes.

    Debbie, I am interested that you say button fillers take a bit longer to service than a lever filler. They always seem to take pretty much the same time to me – removing the button and pressure bar and replacing them at the end is generally the work of a few seconds. What do you find takes longer?

      1. Gosh, I’m sorry. I did read that post and I knew there was a name to avoid but I don’t retain detail like I used to. I should have checked. It won’t happen again

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