Vintage Notes: 1945 Parker Striped Duofold Senior

Photo of the 1945 Parker Striped DuofoldThe Parker Striped Duofold Senior is a pen I’m conflicted about. It’s in the best condition of any of my vintage pens and I love the color. But it has taken some getting used to and I’m still not comfortable writing with it. The pen is from the third quarter of 1945 and it’s the red/gray model, which I’ve seen called Dusty Red or Dusty Rose which both seem appropriate. It has a fine nib and is equipped with the plastic plunger. The Senior is the largest of the Striped Duofold models.

I’m still extremely ignorant about vintage pens so I wouldn’t have pegged this as a Duofold, figuring it to be a Vacumatic. It seems that this was also a problem in it’s day, with confusion between the top of the line Vacumatic.

David Isaacson’s site says of the 1945 Striped Duofold:

Senior is the largest model of the Striped Duofold … which features the marble striped celluloid on a pen which is essentially a Parker Vacumatic.

Richard Binder’s site says the Parker catalog called my pens color “Dusty Red (Maroon)”. Like many sites, he refer’s to these pens as “Striped Duofold” to set them apart from the classic (in my mind) Duofold.

The book “Parker Duofold” by David Shepherd and Don Zazave says Parker called the material “Laidtone”. It also says there were 8 models, 4 colors and over 100 variations.

Photo of the 1945 Parker Striped DuofoldThe Senior is the largest of the Striped Duofolds, but just barely big enough for me to find comfortable. As my hands age I’m finding small pens more and more uncomfortable. If this is the largest model I won’t be buying the other variations. My biggest issue is that the section is short, much shorter than I’m accustomed to using. This makes the pen a bit awkward to hold with my natural grip, especially longer writing sessions. My natural grip puts my thumb above the section and my finger on the threads. I’m getting used to holding the pen above the section which is more comfortable.

I’ve only inked the pen once, with Rohrer & Klingner Leipziger Schwarz. The pen holds a lot of ink and filled easily with one push of the plunger. The pen is nearly mint. Transparency is excellent, without any signs of ambearing, making it easy to see the level of the ink. Only the threads seem a little less than mint. I have to apply a little extra pressure to get a good seal when I close the cap, otherwise the pen can open while being carried in the case.

Photo of the 1945 Parker Striped Duofold nibThe 14K V-Design find nib is stiff like my other vintage nibs, which is my preference. It’s a smooth writer with a consistent flow and no hard starts. It’s not my smoothest nib, but I like a nib that I can tell is touching the paper. It doesn’t bite into any paper I’ve used.

The pen posts and remains well balanced, but that’s the opinion of someone who doesn’t post his pens.

I’m conflicted when using this pen. As mentioned, the short section is uncomfortable with my natural grip. I’ve been holding the pen above the section which isn’t as awkward as it seems. Since the section is short I’m not holding the pen very far from the nib and it helps that the threads aren’t sharp. My main concern is marring the finish over time.

It seems every time I get a new pen I want to call it my favorite. But that’s not the case here. It’s certainly one of my favorite looking pens, vintage or modern. It’s the vintage pen I have that’s closest to “new” condition. I’ve gotten used to writing with it, but it loses points for making my adjust my grip even though I’m getting used to it.

The Numbers

Despite looking like I measured things to the 1/1000th of an inch, these aren’t that accurate. I don’t want the calipers touching/scratching the pen so there’s some wiggle room.

  • Length (Capped): 5.318″ (135.08 mm)
  • Length (Uncapped barrel): 4.841″ (122.98 mm)
  • Diameter (barrel): 0.486″ (12.36 mm)
  • Diameter (at cap band): 0.533″ (14.05 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.424″ (10.77 mm)
  • Section Diameter: 0.320″ (8.14 mm)
  • Manufacturer third quarter of 1945 (date code 5 with one dot)

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Vintage Notes: Parker Duofold Senior (c.1928)

Oarker Duofold c1928 uncappedFor me the Parker Duofold “Big Red” has always been the classic fountain pen. That was even before I knew what a Parker Duofold was and I still considered it orange. In 2011 I added a Bexley Poseidon in “Duofold Red” and figured that was the closest I’d get.

This year I discovered vintage pens and expanded my horizons. I just added a 1928 Parker Duofold Senior with an eBay purchase, The dual bands and flat tops date it around 1928 or 1929. Another pen considerably older than me so clearly vintage.

It doesn’t make much sense to do a formal review of a vintage pen. Both because each one would be different and because I just starting my vintage education.

I filled the pen with Pelikan Brilliant Black and have been using it since. It holds a lot of ink which it drinks in using a button filler. Thanks to all that ink I’m still on the first fill.

The pen is in good shape, especially considering its age. I hope I’m in such good shape when I get to be its age. But it’s not perfect. I’ve found ink inside the cap.There’s also ink along the wings of the nib and along the slit. It doesn’t seem to be an outright leak, but it also seems to be too much for simple nib creep, especially since I haven’t experienced any nib creep with Brilliant Black in other pens. There hasn’t been so much ink that it’s leaked onto the paper or my fingers. I have trusted the pen enough to use it at work, but not to bring it into meetings or carry it in my pocket.

The pen is very comfortable to write with. Being made of plastic, it’s light despite its size. Even posted its light and well balanced. I’d have not trouble using it posted if I wanted to. The nib is stiff which is a quality I like since flex is wasted with me. The pen fits comfortably in my hand. Flow is consistent without skipping or hard starts. It’s a fairly wet writer for a thin nib. The nib is about as thick and wet as I would want in a daily writer. I’d actually prefer it to be a little drier but I can probably handle that with a different ink.

The nib is 14kt. gold and labelled “Parker Duofold Pen”. I don’t know it’s official designation but it writes like a fine which is my nib of choice. As mentioned, it’s also a stiff nib.

The pen is still on its first fill. Well, first fill for me. The Pelikan Brillant Black does evaporate off this nib fairly quickly. Pauses over a minute can cause skipping on the first letter after the pause. But just placing the cap on the pen, without bothering to tighten it, solved this problem.

I love this pen. I want to avoid saying “favorite pen” every time I write about a pen. And I have to acknowledge the thrill of having this his classic pen hasn’t worn off. But I’m going to say it – this is destined to remain one of my favorite pens. I can clearly see myself getting additional Parker Duofolds, even a similar model. I’ve crossed over from accumulating to collecting, at least for vintage Parkers. Although, if I think about it, maybe I’m just a more focused accumulator.

Parker Duofold c1928

Addtional Information

There’s a lot of information about Vintage Parkers out there. Jim Mamoulides’ PenHeo.com website is one great source of information including a nice article about the Parker Duofold  Flattops of the 1920′s.

ParkerCollector.com (aka ParkerPens.net) also has a lot of good info.

I was able to find a used copy of the out of print “Parker Duofold” by David Shepherd and Dan Zazove at a reasonable price. Lot’s of good info.

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