Saturday, May 15, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 196

 Back to fountain pens we go now....

This one has a long but interesting story, spanning nearly a decade, from Eastern Canada to the West Coast, and it belongs to avid vintage pen collector Christopher. The supporting characters in the tale are Christopher's wife Chris and his father-in-law Alf. But enough of my preamble, let's let Christopher tell the story...

(photo courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on image to enlarge)

Christopher: "In late May of 2012, Chris and I headed East to visit her Dad. Now, I should explain that Alf, her father was also a collector, but of vintage metal button hooks used in the lacing up of 19th century lady’s shoes. So almost as soon as we arrived, he wanted to take us around to his local antique haunts and to a huge Eastern flea market where he was sure Chris could find the vintage commercial perfume bottles she was collecting at that time and for me, of course, vintage fountain pens. I don’t think that it was anything more than a couple of days that we were not browsing those shops and on the weekend heading out to this huge flea market. But as much as Alf felt we could make a day of it, at 87 unfortunately, he just wasn’t getting around that well and tired very quickly. So when we arrived at the market, just the walk from our car to the confectionery inside the gates had him wanting to sit down and rest."

"Chris suggested that I go and see what I could find but be back at the confectionery within 25 minutes. So I put one foot in front of the other in quick order because the flea market was about the size of three football fields, filled with row after row of hundreds of dealers tables. Fortunately, on the third table into the first row, I spotted a Parker Streamlined Duofold Chinese Red Senior pen & pencil Set, which brought me to an abrupt stop. I knew the clock was ticking so I quickly asked for the price. The dealer’s wife told me $175. Now I should mention that although I was rather flush when we first headed out that morning, I had found and bought items at the antique shops Alf had taken us to earlier. So all I had left in my pocket was a C note and that is what I offered her in return. She mulled it over with her husband and came back with a fixed price of $125 for the set. I asked them to hold it and Chris came to my rescue with the difference. I was so excited even though we had to head back to Alf’s apartment. He was admittedly exhausted, but Chris took my pen set and put it in her purse for me to check out when we got back to our hotel later."

"Needless to say, I was up in the wee hours the next morning and discovered to my dismay in checking out the fountain, that it had a very small chip on the open end of the cap. Still a good buy, but very disappointing. Well, when we got home I looked into having the cap fixed but in the end just stowed the pen in my pens case to get sorted out at a later date. So it sat until earlier this week."

"About three weeks ago, I bought a lot of pens, and amongst them was what I was hoping would be a Senior Duofold in the Chinese Red. Twice I had bought lots before, thinking I had scored a Senior, only to find that it was a Junior. The sellers were not pen people and were not able to qualify my interest but for the rest of the vintage pens evolved in these lots, it was in both cases worth taking a chance. Anyway, the package of pens arrived earlier this week and when I opened it, what should roll out but yes, a beautiful streamlined senior Chinese Red Duofold just missing its clip. I was so pleased and able to just move the clip from the chipped cap one to this pen, that had just arrived. My goodness Maja, it was even the same year."

"But there was one concern and that was the nib. It looked at first like a Parker Vac nib and the bad news was that I had cannibalized the chipped cap pen for its nib and feed for a Lapis Duofold Senior I had bought in parts from David. But, as it turned out, I was wrong about the nib. In around 1940/41 with the growing interest from Parker customers to have their pen nibs replaced, the company produced an official factory replacement nib in somewhat of the design of their current Vacumatic one, but with a different shape (narrower) and with the arrow imprinting having a different configuration. Also, on the heel was engraved an R for replacement and a star to honour the Parker Duofold warranty if this factory original Parker nib was applied by either the company repair shop or a Parker authorized dealer. Parker also replaced the old style Spearhead Duofold feed with their more modern Comb feed because they felt it was a better option. My new Duofold had this replacement feed but with an A imprint to signify that it is an Parker Accountant’s nib and feed. And once I had serviced my new addition and inked it, it was definitely a pen for an accountant and perfect for my journal entries."

"This brings me to the last point regarding this lovely pen, its dating. Regarding that gone is the Parker ‘Lucky Curve’ imprinting, and the imprinting in this case is referred to as the small imprinting. But if this imprinting has the word ‘Duofold’ in the center of the top line in a larger font, the pen dates to 1929. But if it has the word Parker repeated twice on that top imprinted line with the second Parker in place of the word Duofold but also in the larger font, the pen (my pen) dates to 1930. There is no imprinting on the pencil, just the Pat. Date reference at the top of its clip. So there you have it and I will be using this brilliant Chinese Red Parker during the week to come!"

Many thanks to Christopher for sharing his beautiful vintage finds (and pen-hunting story) with us! Christopher told me his write-up could be trimmed down, but I left it intact as I love hearing how people acquired their pens :) 

There's an excellent article written by vintage pen expert David Nishimura on replacement Duofold nibs (such as the one on Christopher's pen) called "Replacement Duofold arrow-imprint nibs" (link to article). For more information on the vintage Duofold (including info on the two barrel imprints referenced in Christopher's write-up), check out this page on 

Best of luck to everyone with their own pen-hunting adventures!

Update (Oct 12.2021):

Since this review was posted, Christopher acquired the proper vintage Parker box for this lovely set!

The Parker box was a gift from fellow VPC member Rene, and it replaces the handmade box that Christopher made for the set....

(photos courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on images to enlarge)

Our thanks to Christopher for the update! What a great ending to a great pen-hunting story :)

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