May 01, 2016


Incipit.  To begin, go to March 2014 in the Redboard for the first posts in this blogExplicit.



April 21, 2016

X-It, Exit

   , for now.

US trademark no. 144,412 for ink eradicator.

           So what am I gunna do now?  What can I do now?  I can keep reading and writing. 

      Sincerely, George. 



      These last few posts have been about dingbats and colophons and explicits, and that’s what 
the illustration in this post is, too.  It’s a finial dingbat to this series of posts, to come full circle.

         “I hold every man a debtor to his profession.  As men, of course, do seek to receive
countenance and profit [from a profession], so ought they, of duty, to endeavour [to give
back to the profession,] to be a help and ornament thereunto, and to visit and strengthen
the roots and foundations of the same, thereby not only gracing its reputation and dignity,
but also amplifying it in perfection and substance.”  –Francis Bacon [with apologies].


April 19, 2016

And who am I?

   , a colophon.

        I am that marginal character–the chronicler, interrogator, and research bum.  I am a notesnatcher and a pensmith, and I have been using pens since the 1950s, collecting pens, in 
a small way, since about 1963-64, visiting antique stores since about 1968-69–my first was the Indefinite Article when it was still on 20th St. East–and researching pens since the late 1970s, subscribing to pen magazines and building a large library of pen books since the early 1980s, attending antique shows since the mid-1980s, setting up and selling at antique shows since the early 1990s, attending fountain pen collector shows since 1992, and participating in online pen message boards since 1996.  I started researching fountain pen patents in 1993, but found a way to do the work online in 2000, and published a book on the subject in 2006.  I collect orange-red hard rubber fountain pens, penholders, nibs, mechanical pencils, pen company display cases and signs, Waterman’s globe-shaped and Underwood’s cobalt-blue-glass ink bottles, the burnt orange #37 and bright orange #41 Canadian 3¢ Small Queen stamp, but only with pen cancels, turquoise blue opaline pressed glass, some neon signs from Saskatoon stores, and I now own the Indefinite Article store sign.  But what this scrivener really collects is history.

George Kovalenko.


April 17, 2016

My Bibliography

   , and my meta-blog.

       And here, finally, is my bibliography. There are other fountain pen bibliographies elsewhere, such as
this one, but this is my bibliography.  It would have fit here in this blog, but I placed it in my meta-blog instead. Here it is, for those of you who haven’t found it, yet, and also on wayback.

George Kovalenko.



April 15, 2016

The Wayback Machine.

   This blog on…

        I am paranoid about losing data.  If I am going to spend all that time and effort researching and writing about something on a pen message board, then it had better have an archive.  It’s why I don’t participate much on Pentrace and Zoss.  In any case, I save everything I write on multiple hard drives and other storage media.  The rule is 3, 2, 1.  Save everything in at least three copies, on at least two different storage media, and in at least one off-site location.  And always update from old, out-dated storage media to new media, but never throw out the old media.  And keep 

at least one old dinosaur machine on which the old media can be played and retrieved.
        I passively waited for Wayback to archive my blog, until I figured out that I could actively do it myself. Now, I treat it like a social media website. You can see the evolution of all the mastheads and the frontispiece pictures there, going back in time.  This is the link for all
four years together, and these are the direct links for the 4 years separately, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.  It’s actually only two years long, but spread out over three years.  The only downside is that some of the early posts, which have been revised and expanded since they were originally placed online, are now fossilized in their earlier versions only because everything beyond the first page, or homepage of a website defaults to the earlier captures of the website on Wayback.  The only upside of this downside is that the earlier versions of the masthead and background colors are also archived.
        So, I have no intention of ever shutting down this blog, but if the blog were ever to die out, or disappear, you would always be able to find it archived there, in the Wayback Machine.

George Kovalenko.


April 13, 2016

Bibliometrics and Citations

        I was undertaking a
bibliometric search, or a citation analysis, otherwise known as “Googling your own name”, and while searching for images of hand pen, and pen in hand, and hand & pen, and hand and pen, and hand and pen kovalenko, and hand pen stock photos, I stumbled upon a truism.  If you google any random set of words, eventually you find porn, “penis instead of a pen”.
        When I show my books and blogs to anyone I call them my “babies”.  There’s a song by the Rankin Family called “Rise Again” that has the refrain, “We rise again in the faces of our children.  We rise again in the voices of our songs”.  And I add, “We rise again in our books and written words”.  It’s our modern version of reincarnation.  Life is short, but art is long.  Well, a few books and articles have been published that have made use of the information in the three volumes of my patents and penmakers books.  The books by David Moak, David Shepherd, Max Davis, and Gary Lehrer, and articles by Ron Dutcher, Rob Astyk, Sterling Picard, and Moak have all been generous with their citations and acknowledgements of both volumes of the patent book and my penmakers book, and it’s very gratifying to see this.  Well, these books and articles are the next generation, and I have taken to calling them my “grandchildren”Now, that’s bibliometrics, too.

George Kovalenko.


April 11, 2016

Fountain Pen Bibliography

      And finally, there’s the fountain pen bibliography. There are others elsewhere, such as this

one, but my inclusive version is too long for this blog, so I’m saving it for a book. Let me know
when you, too, have read all of the books and articles. Then we’ll talk, boy, will we eeever talk!

George Kovalenko.


April 09, 2016

The Missing X-Patents

, and one x-patent restored.

[Posted on L&P on July 21, 2007.]
       And last but not least, here’s one of the disappeared ones.  As you can see from the story told by John H. Lienhard in
“The Lost Patents”, in his online column, The Engines Of Our Ingenuity, most of the x-patents did not survive, and the attempt to restore them has not been altogether successful.  Well, I am pleased to announce here that at least one more of those lost x-patents shall be restored, and a fountain pen patent, no less.  A fellow pen collector and contributor to the pen discussion on the various pen message boards, Deborah Alicen, was instrumental in finding this lost x-patent, and I owe her a debt of gratitude for sharing her discovery with me.  Her name will appear in the introduction in the next volume of my patent book, and the illustration itself will appear at the head of the chapter of US patents.  There are a few fountain pen patents that are earlier than this one, but there are no surviving patent images for those, either, so by default, this one is the earliest surviving US pen patent image, so far.  Seeing as there are no patent images online, yet, I can’t include a link to this patent, so for this one, sadly, you’ll have to wait for the book.  I can’t give everything away. 
George Kovalenko.


P.S.  This series of posts illustrates the kinds of things that can be found in the pen patents, and the type of research that is made possible, if one has a chronological list of all the US pen and pencil and ink and inkwell, &c., patents, designs, and trademarks to work with.  But before I go, here’s a parting challenge.  There are about 11,325 patents, designs, and trademarks from the years 1799 to 1957, and I have looked at all of them, except for the few that are not online.  So who will be next in line to look at all of them?  Mind you, you’ll have to look at and read every single one of them in order to find all the interesting ones, and to discover all the structures, patterns, and connections between them, and to make your own interpretations, and come to your own conclusions.

April 07, 2016

The Word ‘Pensmith’

  , publisher’s devices, and dingbats, and writing devices.

[Posted on L&P on July 18, 2010.]
        The word “pensmith” is a word I cobbled together out of the words “penman”+“wordsmith” in 1992, before I discovered the word being used elsewhere.  It made its first appearance as a surname in the Baltimore region around the late 1840s.  But here are the trademarks and designs that I used as the basis for my printer’s devices and dingbats.  First, you take the Kurta Corp. trademark
1,431,849 for the word “Pensmith”, used since 1986 for a “Computer Program In The Form Of Magnetic Discs”, a totally different type of “softwear” used to run the “Penmouse” graphic tablet in trademark 1,387,314, used since 1985 for a computer tablet that utilized a pen stylus instead of a mouse.  And then take Ormiston & Glass’s trademark 41,380 for “Steel Pens”, used since 1901, an image of a nib with double wings like those of a dragonfly, or firefly, and trademark 41,381 for the word “Firefly” to be used in conjunction with the previous trademark.  The O&GL image in trademark 41,380 looks almost like an illustration of the “flying pen” in US patent no. X2,972, Lewis M. De Spraugh, “Tachygraphy, Or The Flying Pen”, June 29, 1818, a system of shorthand, but it sounds more like an illustration of the words “Pensmith Fugit”.  Now, put all of these ideas together, with those words printed beneath it, and you have my publisher’s emblem on the last page of the first volume of the patent book.  And the second volume makes use of the penmaker “hammer and pen” device, with the words “Pensmith Fecit” printed beneath it.

George Kovalenko.


April 05, 2016

The Writing Hand

   , where it all began.

[Posted on L&P on July 19, 2007.]
        At the beginning of writing is the hand, putting the hand to paper with a pen, that is, the act of the hand writing.  All of this started for me in September 1993 when I discovered the mostly neglected and forgotten, mostly unseen and unread patents for writing instruments, mostly for fountain pens.  I live in Saskatoon, a Canadian city of about a quarter of a million people, and there really shouldn’t be any kind depository library for Canadian patents in a city this size.  But instead, there are two libraries here, the University of Saskatchewan Library, and the
Saskatoon Public Library, with almost complete holdings of the Canadian Patent Office Record.  This is almost unheard of for a city this size.  And on top of that, the U of S library here has the complete holdings on microfilm of The Scientific American magazine, which contain a complete numerical list of all the US patents from the years 1845 to 1910.  Between those holdings and the various later online patent-search websites, I have been able to piece together and research most of the US, Canadian, British, and French patents for writing instruments, and all from this isolated, little vantage point on the rest of the world.  It is truly the golden age of pen research.
        And as I read through the patents online, I kept running across the odd patent illustration that incorporated an image of a hand holding the patented item in question, that is, showing “the hand of the ready writer” in the act of writing, and in the correct position for writing.  I collected all of these pen-in-hand images in a database, or book I call The Hand Writing.  The 1890s Waterman’s advertizing
blotter that appears in this blog post, also called “The Hand Writing”, is the last image in the list, and serves as the back cover of the book.  It shows yet another version of the pen-in-hand image, and the ad’s caption line reads, “The correct way to write”.  As I collected all the patents in my patent books, I annotated all of the entries for patents that had illustrations with this type of hand imagery, and I decided to collect all of them in chronological order.  A lot of these images are also in the lists of some of my favorite patent and trademark images, and together, all of these images are the story of writing in images of hands writing.
        I found US utility patent no.
69,126 quite early in my online patent research, and right away adopted one little part of it, the illustration in Fig.2 of the “fingerpen”, as one of my printer’s devices, the sign of the hand and pen. I now use it both as my publisher’s symbol and as the initial dingbat, the little emblem I use as an ornament at the beginning of a chapter, or essay, or any other text, to signal the onset of writing.  There’s another one that I now use as a finial dingbat at the end of a text, showing a hand at rest after writing.  I found US design patent no. D8,382 way back in 2001, but I can’t post a link to that version of the design since the USPTO has seen it fit to update the original illustration twice since then, and to eliminate the most interesting portion of the image, the resting handLater on, just as a curiosity, searching for the design on the USPTO and Google Patents websites retrieved two other images, separately on both websites at the same time.  At first, everything in Fig. 2 was removed except for the traces of the buttons on the cuff of the shirt sleeve and the notepad rivet, that tiny constellation of three circles just to the right of the middle of the page, but then, as seen in the version of the design presently available online, Fig.2 had been cleaned up and removed altogether, all erased, right down to the buttons.  There is no trace of the hand at all.  But you can see both of these dingbats in my books, at the beginning and end of all essays, and chapters, and sections.  And last but not least, here’s trademark 51,186, an image of an open hand, palm down, but it’s not as nice as the hand in US design no. 8,382.
        This finial dingbat shows a hand at rest without a pen.  At the end of writing, the empty hand is placed palm down on the paper on the writing desk.  The end of writing is the beginning of reading.  What it’s saying is, “I hope you’re having fun reading all this stuff, not just the patents, designs, and trademarks, but also all of these blog posts”.

George Kovalenko.


April 03, 2016

Poor Ink, Poor Pen


        One of the earliest things I remember reading and writing is a little humorous rhyme that 
was often used by children to sign one another’s autograph albums back then.  At least that’s where I first encountered it.  I first wrote it in my brother’s autograph album around 1961, but 
the first time I read it was when my grade school teacher signed the same autograph album with her Parker 51 filled with Waterman’s South Sea Blue turquoise ink.
Poor ink,
Poor pen,
Poor writing,

But it can also be found much earlier.  This is the earliest one I have found, so far, the one above from an 1850 letter from the Poe Archives, a school teacher writing to her sister about teaching.
Poor ink, poor pen,
Poor writer.  Amen.
And then Titivillus sneaks in some errors, and creates some variants of the text.  Here’s a similar one from 1887, but slightly jumbled, so that the rhyme is all screwed up.
Poor Pen, Poor Ink,
Poor Writer, Amen.
Here are two more variations from the 1880s.
My pen is poor and my ink is pail
but my love for you shall never fail!
My pen is lon, my ink is pale,
my hand trembles like a puppy dogs tail.
Here’s a prose, but not prosaic, version from the Woman’s Home Companion, 1908.
Poor ink, poor pen,–perhaps worst crime of all!–the writing crossed upon the page; added to this, handwriting which through carelessness is nearly illegible, and you have a sorry travesty of what a letter should be.
A short ad-poem in American Stationer, Sept 28, 1912, p.39, includes the lines, “My pen is poor, My ink is pale”, but then a Waterman’s pen swoops in to help the writer “As he indites his tale”.

Here’s one from 1927.

Poor ink, Poor pen.
Poor girl, Amen.
And one from 1931.
Though my ink is bad,
And my pen is poor,
Remember me forevermore.
Then back to this in 1943.
Poor ink,
Poor pen,
Poor writer,
It sometimes shows up in this version, found in an autograph album from 1947.
Poor ink,
Poor pen,
Cant think,
Here’s another version from an autograph album from 1969.
No ink, no pen,
Can’t think,
Here’s a longer variant from 2006, remembered by someone as something her mom used to say.
Can’t think, brain dumb,
Inspiration won’t come.
Poor ink, poor pen,
Best wishes, Amen!
And here’s a slightly shorter version from 1956, missing just one line.  Perhaps memory failed at the spur of the moment.
Can’t think,
Brain numb,
Inspiration won’t come,
Bad pen,
Best wishes,
        And then, there are also all the “bad ink” versions of the rhyme. But first, in the 1894 Minutes of the Memphis Conference, p.43, we find, “This journal is very much disfigured by the use of bad ink, bad pen, and careless blotting”.  The rhyme usually comes with a prefacing verse about “brain dumb”, or “brain numb”.  Here’s one from New York in 1850-1900.
Can’t think
Brain dumb
Inspiration won’t come.
Bad ink
Bad pen
Best wishes, Amen.
Here it is alone on Nov 15, 1920.
Bad ink, Bad pen
Bad writing, Amen.
And on Apr 1, 1953.
Can’t write, too dumb,
Inspiration won’t come,
Bad ink, bad pen,
Good luck.  Amen.
Here it is in Detroit on Oct 25, 1934.
Can’t think, too dumb,
Inspiration won’t come,
Bad ink, bum pen,
Best wishes.  Amen.
And in Detroit in 1963.
Can’t think, too dumb
Inspiration won’t come
Bad ink, bad pen
Pencil’s broke, Amen!
Here’s a version from Mar 13, 2007.
Can’t think
Brain dumb
Inspiration won’t come.
No ink
Bad pen
Good luck!
And from 2013.
Can’t think
Brain numb
Won’t come.
Bad ink
Worse pen
Best wishes
And on Jan 10, 2017.
Can’t think.
Brain dumb.
Inspiration won’t come.
Bad ink.
Bad pen.
Best of luck amen.
And another version from a girl in the Convent School of Sion in Saskatoon, ca. 1930.
Block Head, Brains Dumb,
Inspirations won’t Come,
Bad ink, rotten pen.
Best wishes,
        And here are some more versions with “bum pen”.  First, here’s one from Southfield, Mich., but with no date.
Can’t think
Brain dumb
Inspiration won’t come
Poor ink
Bum pen
Best wishes
Then, another one from Nov 9, 1940.
I can’t think
My brain’s dumb
Inspiration won’t come
Bad ink
Bum pen
That’s all
And almost the same one from Aug 8, 2016, but with punctuation.
Can’t think, too dumb;
Inspiration won’t come.
Bad ink, bum pen;
That’s all!  Amen.
And lastly, here’s one from June 17, 1944, that says this is enough.
Can’t write, too dumb,
Inspiration won’t come,
Bad ink, bum pen,
This is enough—AMEN. 
        These rhymes, however, come from a much older tradition, that of inserting marginalia and rubrics and glosses and colophons and incipits and explicits in books written by medieval scribes.  There are surviving examples concerning “Damn this ink”, and “Damn this pen”.  In the exhibit “Technologies of Writing in the Age of Printing” at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, there was a more recent poem written in 1692 by William Math, inside the front cover of a book that he once owned.
Little is the Robin
And less the Wren.
Bad is my writing
And worse my pen.
And if my pen had
Been but better
I might have mended
Every letter.
So now, finally, here is my new secular version of the rhyme.
Poor ink,
Poor pen,
Poor writing–
To that end, one might even go so far as to say that we all need to be our own pensmiths, our own Write Right Wrights, the pensmith’s version, so to speak, of Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web.  So, now, go and abide these three–ink, pen, and writing–but the greatest of these is writing, no matter how poor the ink and the pen.  In other words,
Good ink,
Good pen,
Good writing–
All men!

  George Kovalenko.


March 31, 2016

The Parker ‘Thrift-time’

  , and the Parker Duofold Family.


        In an earlier post I hinted that, “While I was looking at the 1930-35 Eaton’s catalogues, I had found some Canadian listings for the Parker depression pens, including one for the ‘Thrift-time’, which got me thinking about those pens as well, and I thought maybe I’d take up that topic again in a post here, later”.  Well, here it is, and again, I hope these are just the facts.
        Something has been bothering me for years, now, and I have to make my apologies for it.  In September 2004, there was a discussion on Pentrace about various Parker depression pens.  In the years since then, I noticed a curious thing in the listings for depression pens on Ebay and on other pen websites.  There has been a rash of misuse of the word “Thrift-time pens”, everywhere I look.  That name, or some variation of the spelling, is being used as a synonym for “depression pens”.  I hate to say it, but some of the well-respected dealers on Ebay are some of the guilty ones.  In an Ebay auction for a “Premiere” set, Henry Gostony used the name “Thrift Time”.  He’s not the only one, though, just one I don’t mind teasing a bit.  But that misuse of the word was not my intended end result, so let me revisit the whole issue again, and reappraise, and revise, and restate my stand on these types of pens.  A few of the people on Pentrace took me too task about this, but I don’t want to name names because I don’t want to rattle their chains, and pick a fight, and wage that war all over again.
        I asked whether a pen I bought at an auction was a Duofold, or a depression pen, in spite of the fact that it had the BHR tips and washer clip of a typical Parker Duofold, or such lesser models as the Moire, Pastel, and True Blue.  Vance Koven called these latter pens “Sub-Duofoldoids”, an appropriate name.  The grey pearl with red flecks color is the same as Waterman’s “Steel Quartz”.  Parker and Waterman were both members of a cartel that purchased, cured, and provided plastic stock to the industry, so the color was commonly used by quite a few pen companies.  The color is also seen on US-made pens, so the pen is not an exclusive Canadian variant.  My pen has a single cap band, but there are ads that show the same pen with split cap bands as well.  It’s probably the first in the series of what we now call depression pens, and cannot be equated with such pens as the True Blue, or the Challenger, because those were considered Student Pens and carried the Lucky Curve imprint.  They are in the same vein, though.  Here’s another picture of just a
pen cap without a clip, but it’s in the ivory-and-gold color.  The cap is slightly longer than the cap on my Steel Quartz pen, but its diameter and thread are compatible. Here’s a Thrift-time pen and pencil set, another good example of the ivory-and-gold color.
        One participant wrote that he believed this pen had nothing to do with the Duofolds, which is going a bit far because they are related in style.  He meant that they were not Duofolds “anymore than we might wish to say the Modernistic Blue, seen first as a Lucky Curve flattop, later a non- Lucky-Curve streamline, was a Duofold.  They are different pens for different niche markets, i.e., the low-price-point pens from after 1930, or whenever streamlining and loss of Lucky Curve logo occurred, with pens marked just “Parker” without a model name, including at least the Raven, the various Modernistic Blue models, the pens we might with some accuracy label “Thrift Time” pens, the “$3 Pen”, the
Moderne and Premiere, the Televisor, the “Three-Fifty”, or True Blue, and the mutated Challenger”.  My list also includes the Parcos, Parkettes, Parkette Deluxes, DuoTones, Deluxe Challengers, Zephyrs, $5.00 Pens, and $3.00 Pens, or the Thrift-times.  I hope I didn’t leave any out.  If so, it was not intentional.  The Thrift-time is not a Duofold, but it’s based on the Duofold streamline series, and it’s the closest thing to a Duofold in style within the depression line.  They could, however, be described as “Depression era pens”, as Alex Zipperer called them.


        The above ad from the National Geographic from December 1931, and another from the Eaton’s Fall-Winter 1931-32 catalogue, call it “one of Parker’s newest streamlined styles”, and a “Pen with tapered end”.  But nowhere is it called a Duofold.  Even the Parker “D.Q.”, or so-called “Duofold Quality” pen, was not considered as part of the Duofold line.  They were said to be only “like [the] Parker Duofold in everything save size and [pen]point”, the massive, guaranteed nib of the Duofold.  In Glen Bowen’s book Collectible Fountain Pens, p.63, there is a reproduction of the Nat. Geo. ad, said to be from December 1932, but actually from 1931.  Although it isn’t called a Duofold pen in the ad copy, still, it’s definitely within the Duofold type, and the Duofold logo is prominently featured on the page.  The comprehensive list of all Duofold models by Fultz and Zazove in the Spring 1999 issue of The Pennant does not mention these Thrift-time pens.  There are two sizes of pen in the ad, one called the “Parker $3.00 Pen”, and another pen included with the $5.00 set.  The “$3.00 Pen”, also called a “new Parker Fountain Pen Desk Set”, was sold as a boxed set with both a cap, and a taper, and a desk base.  The price information for the set reads “$8.75” in very large type followed by “including Parker $3.00 Pen”, and in much smaller type “$10.75” followed by “including $5.00 Duofold Pen”.  There was also another “Ensemble” with a taper, a cap, a pencil, and a bottle of Quink ink, “the new quick-drying ink”.  The pen included with the $5.00 set was said to be a Duofold, probably in the Ladies size.  This set was listed with the price range “$5.00 to $15.00”, so it was probably also available with Jr. and Sr. sized pens.
        The main body of the ad copy does not call the Thrift-time pen a Duofold as such, but neither does it make a clear distinction between it and the Duofold line, nor does the ad copy imply that it is not a Duofold.  It’s the inclusion of both pen models in the same ad, the $3.00 Thrift-time pen, and the $5.00 Duofold pen, that causes all the confusion.  This ad is plainly selling the Thrift-time under the main banner, but the Duofold logo also appears prominently on the same page, in its usual place at the bottom of the ad.  I would argue that it is a Duofold ad first of all, and the model name is either the $3.00 Pen, or the Thrift-time, but that’s just my opinion.
        This ad is almost unique among Parker ads in this respect.  It is the only ad for a non-Duofold pen to have the Duofold banner.  The ads for the Pastel pens, and the Moires, and the Three-Fifty pen, the pen also known as the “True Blue”, don’t have the Duofold banner.  It seems to me that the name “Parker $3.00 Pen” is an extension of the type of reasoning being used when naming the Duofold Jr. as the “$5.00 Duofold Pen”, and therein my identification of this pen with the Duofold lies, and, some would say, the confusion with the Duofold arises.  Perhaps the term “Parker $3.00 Pen” now has to be adopted for these unmarked Thrift-time pens.  They are at least in the same tradition and styling of the Duofold, and an outgrowth of the Duofold.  That is exactly why Parker choose to advertise these two pens together in the first place.  It just seems to me that the Thrift-time pen is one of the first extensions of the Duofold line in an economy version.  Perhaps we can agree to call it the “Parker $3.00 Pen”, if not the “Thrift-time” pen.
        We need to differentiate between “Depression era pens” and the “Thrift-time” pens because several separate models can be identified within the group of pens often lumped together as such.  First of all, before the “Thrift-time” came along, there were the “Pastel” and the “Moire” and the “True Blue”, also known as the “Three-Fifty”, at first straight-sided and then streamlined.  Then came the “Thrift-time”.  Now, having reviewed all of that, let me tell you about my theory.  As the Depression set in, Parker responded to the downturn in sales of their more expensive pen line, the streamlined Duofold, with the introduction of a small version of the streamlined Duofold.  After having seen and heard about all the different versions of these depression pens, a certain progression suggested itself to me.  My original list of models in the evolution of the “Thrift-time” pen that I proposed consisted of four different models, all named “Thrift-time”, and numbered “Thrift-time #1” to “Thrift-time #4”.  And that’s where that misuse of the word “Thrift-time”, used to lump all those pens together, might have originated.  Thank goodness there’s no archive on Pentrace.  Now, I have revised that list, and this is what I propose instead, with apologies.
        At first, I postulated the existence of depression pen #1, which I called the Thrift-time #1, a small, streamlined pen in the strange depression colors that was otherwise known as the “$3.00 pen” in the December 1931 ad, but definitely imprinted as a Duofold.  They have the black tips and section, and in all other respects look like Duofolds, except for those unusual, unfamiliar colors.  Parker made its own Duofold-lookalike.  What gives me hope that there might be a “Duofold-imprinted-Thrift-time” is the fact that when Michael Fultz learned of this exchange on Pentrace, he invited me to visit him at his pen vault in Chicago to view all his depression pens, but sadly, that didn’t happen.  I retain the Thrift-time #1 imprinted as a Duofold in my model list because a major collector intimated that such a pen might exist, so I’m leaving my options open.  As I said, it’s just a theory, so it’s not written in stone, yet.
        Then soon after, the depression pen #2 appeared, Thrift-time #2, the exact same pen, the “$3.00 pen”, but minus the Duofold imprint.  If no Duofold-imprinted versions show up, this pen becomes the Thrift-time #1.
        Next comes the depression pen #3, the “Premiere”, the familiar depression pen with the metal rivet holding the washer clip, and the blind cap made of the same plastic material as the barrel, and the “Moderne”, with the plastic rivet holding the washer clip.  Only their sections are black hard rubber.  The black tips were eliminated, either as an economizing measure, or as a style change.  There is no Thrift-time #3.
        Last of all, there is the depression pen #4, or the “$5.00 pen”, a slightly upscale version of #3 with three cap bands, and stepped, plastic blind cap on the barrel end, and cap rivet holding the washer clip.  This makes it look somewhat like a smaller cousin to the Challenger, and Parkette, but it cannot be mistaken for either of these.  There is no Thrift-time #4.  We now know that #3 and #4 are known models with their own model names, the Premiere, the Moderne, and the $5.00 Pen, and we should use those names instead.
        So this is the progression, and all of these pens can be called depression pens.  Although others believe that the Thrift-time has nothing to do with the Duofold, I still say this pen started off as the last iteration of the Duofold style, the swan song, so to speak, of the pen that used to rival the beauty of the Scarlet Tanager.  And it ended up as a pen with its own proprietary model name after the fact, the “Thrift-time”, only because the Duofold imprimatur was denied to it, and not bestowed upon this economy line.  There, now, you can get out your long knives.
        Another participant wrote that he believed that we must have a common understanding, or we can’t move on, and by definition, and in accordance with a standard widely-held by vintage pen collectors, only pens imprinted “Duofold”, and called “Duofold” by Parker, are Duofolds.  Once we accept this, the ad in question is crystal clear.  There can be no question that the pen referred to as the “Parker $3.00 Pen” is not a Duofold pen.  It may well be an outgrowth of the Duofold in some respects, just as the majority of pen models are outgrowths of whatever models preceded them, but that question has no bearing on what the pens are properly called.  He was open as to what was the proper term for the specific pen in question, but was not, however, open to the term “Duofold”.

        There is a serious lack of formal data in this area, except maybe in the collections of a few serious Parker collectors.  The problem is that we haven’t seen enough examples of these pens.  Only access to large numbers of pens, or images of them, will solve problems such as this one, of the Thrift-time pen.  We also need to standardize our nomenclature.  I do not wish to see pens labeled thrift-time pens, or depression pens, if they have real model names.  We should always use the correct model names whenever they are known.  But what we’re talking about, and what’s at issue here, are the nameless, or no-name, or unnamed, or insufficiently marked Parker models.  If the term “depression pen” can be used for any and all pens made in that decade, then that term becomes debased and is useless in its inclusiveness.  I realize, now, that I also often use the term “depression pen” when I mean to use a specific term, or model name, such as “Thrift-time” pen, and don’t mean to invoke the full stable of depression pens.  What we have to find out is whether the “Thrift-time” pen qualifies, at least, as a Duofold-type pen, a pen in the Duofold family.
        The “Thrift-time” pens represent the continuity of the old style.  They were also a last gasp of the Duofold style, or look, and a pronouncement of the impending death of the Duofold line, figuratively speaking.  In the same metaphoric sense, it was also a pronouncement that heralded the coming of something totally new, the “Vacuum Filler”, soon to be renamed the “Vacumatic”.  “Thrift-time” is not the official Parker model name for the pen, but it’s the best we have in order to distinguish this particular model.  This was the beginning of the retraction of the Duofold “Guarantee For Life”.  It remained nameless because it was the victim of this retraction of the lifetime guarantee.
        I found a curious little Parker Duofold catalogue dating from 1930 titled “New members of the Parker Duofold family”.  The brochure has eight pages and four folds arranged in two-page spreads, the
front & back cover, spread 2, spread 3, and spread 4.  The back cover also uses the ad lines “Note the Streamlined Shape”, and “Pen [Nib] Guaranteed For Life”, and makes a big deal of the fact that each pen and pencil is “instantly convertible for pocket or desk use” by slipping on the taper or removing it.  For the most part, all the pens and pencils in the catalogue are indeed Duofolds, but take a look at the pens and pencils on spread 4.  The Moire and the True Blue were also included as new members of the Parker Duofold family, even though, if you look closely at the barrel imprints, they are not called, or marked, or imprinted as Duofolds.  Now, the catalogue was published in 1930, just a year too early to include the “Thrift-time”, which was also said to be “instantly convertible”, but if a catalogue similar to this one were published in 1931, it’s a distinct possibility that the Thrift-time would also have been included in the “Parker Duofold family”.
        I propose that we call this model of Parker depression pen the Parker “Thrift-time”, with a capitol “T”, exclusively.  We can still call the other depression pens “thrift-time pens”, with a small “t”, the same way that we call the other pens depression pens, with a small “d”.  In fact, the Parker “Thrift-time” is a “depression pen” and a “thrift-time pen”.  The Parker “Thrift-time” may not be a legitimate Duofold, but it is part of the extended “Parker Duofold Family”.  It’s just a thrift-time version of the Duofold line without a guaranteed nib.


George Kovalenko.