April 25, 2015

A Parker Duofold press filler

[Posted on L&P on Nov 3, 2012.]
        Here’s a very ordinary, well-worn, red-celluloid, Canadian-made
Parker Duofold “Special”.  A “Special” is just a Duofold that’s almost the length of the Sr. pen, but the diameter of a Jr.  It’s just a long Jr.  But if you flip this pen over, it becomes a little more interesting, and a lot less ordinary.  It turns out that it has a crudely made hole in the barrel right next to the imprint.  At first I just thought it was a hole burned into the celluloid by the touch of a cigarette, but there is no bubbling or melting from the burning.  Also the flame would have had to have been extinguished, and it shows no such signs.  Instead, it shows signs of carving and cutting, well-worn and well-polished by lots of localized touching, as if by a purposefully placed finger tip.  The hole is also perfectly in line with the nib and the pressure bar inside the barrel, and the pressure bar shows signs of having been wiped clean, as if with repeated touching with a fingertip or fingernail.


        What we have here is a Parker Duofold “Special” that someone has turned into a finger press filler, or sleeve filler, but without a sleeve to cover the hole.  Or it’s a matchstick filler with an enormous hole, or a crescent filler without the “unsightly” and “awkward” crescent attached to the pressure bar.  Let’s face it.  The button filler is notoriously stubborn and hard to manipulate, especially in the smaller ladies and junior sizes, and especially for someone with small hands, or short fingers.  It’s not the longer Sr. pen in a large man’s hand that’s the problem.  But no matter what size you’re dealing with, you need to be able to grab the barrel securely to manipulate the pen safely.  It requires a lot of mechanical advantage to press the button down and successfully squeeze the sac with the pressure bar.  You need a lot of thumb strength to press the button, and a lot of manual dexterity to place the nib inside an ink bottle, and fully submerge it in the ink, and release the button without tipping the bottle, or splashing and spilling any ink.  You can see why someone would resort to becoming his own pensmith and customizing his own pen to suit his own needs.  And it looks like the pen worked successfully for a long time, from the evidence of the wear to the plastic and the brassing on the trim.  It’s a nice example of something radical that someone has done to a pen, what Phil Munson called a “serious ‘After Market’ alteration”.

George Kovalenko.