parker bakelite transparent

Parker Bakelite Jack-Knife no. 71 in plush hinged box. Was $6.00. Transparent barrel, gold crown and band on cap with a ring for chain or ribbon. (Courtesy of John Danza).

“We worked out a bakelite transparent barrel with a black cap, on which was a little gold ring and a gold band. It was about the prettiest little thing we have ever gotten out in the way of a fountain pen. It is the kind that makes a lady say «Oh, it’s the dearest thing!», or «Oh, how beautiful!”. Geo. S. Parker in Proxy.

1914 was a great year for new products from Parker, so at the beginning of the year, Parker introduces the PARKER BAKELITE Pen, a wonderful pen which the barrel looks like clear amber and through which may be seen the ink, and the wonderful workings of capillary attraction as harnessed by the Lucky Curve feed.

This year, Parker invested the sum of $2,500.00 advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post and others appearing around March and at regular intervals thereafter until further notice, telling the public about the new SELF FILLER and the new BAKELITE Transparent Pen.

The advantage in having a fountain pen with a transparent barrel is chiefly that one can always see how much ink the pen contains, and that consequently there is no danger of being unexpectedly without ink. The barrel is made of Bakelite which is a chemical composition resembling pure amber in many respects. It is not inflammable like celluloid; it is not brittle like glass; and it has no odor. It is exceedingly cough like hard rubber and is not eastly shattered.

Soon after its invention Parker Pen Company secured the sole rights to use it for the manufacture of fountain pen barrels.

At the time of its appearance, Bakelite pens was manufactured only in Nos. 20, 23, 24 and 25, for one dollar more than the corresponding number in hard rubber, in both eyedropper and button self-filling types, although are more often found as eyedropper filled models.  You could not however see the ink in the Self-Filler as it is contained in a rubber sack which is not transparent. The pen does, however, show how the mechanism of the «Press the Button» Self-Filler operates. 

In 1915 was added the Bakelite variants with chased cap postponing the fraction 1/2 to the different number of the models.

In 1918 the catalog was expanded to practically all models with an unmounted barrel, thus we will also see the Bakelite versions of models 18, 26 and 28 with unmounted cap, and 66, 71, 75, and 76 with band and/or ring on cap.

Parker no. 28 eyedropper red Bakelite. Courtesy of Five Star Pen.

Parker introduced this invention in Fountain Pens so: “Transparent barrel lets you see just how much ink there is in the barrel at all times and shows how the Lucky Curve drains back the ink into the barrel by capillary attraction. This Bakelite Pen was originally made for the use of our salesmen in demonstrating.  Later they were supplied to the dealers for the same purpose. Now we are manufacturing four numbers in Bakelite pens for sale to people who wish something distinctive and unique in the fountain pens they carry.

Parker Bakelite ad. Youth's Companion. October 22, 1914.

What Bakelite Is Bakelite is a new substance, recently produced as a result of scientific experiment and research, which resembles clear, transparent amber so closely that only an expert can detect the difference. As soon as this substance came to our notice, we saw that it was just what we needed to show clearly and conclusively the wonderful workings of capillary attraction as utilized by the Parker Lucky Curve, and we arranged to have a few pens made up with Bakelite barrels for demonstrating.

How We Came to Make Parker Fountain Pens with Bakelite Barrels. At first, we had no thought of making any use of Bakelite for commercial purposes further than the manufacture of a limited supply of transparent barreled pens for our own salesmen to carry. Presently, however, dealers to whom our salesmen showed their demonstrating pens began to ask for the same kind of a pen with which to convince their own trade of the perfect cleanliness produced in Parker Pens by the Lucky Curve. When we supplied these and the dealers showed them to their customers, many of these were attracted by the novelty, and. by the convenience of being able at all times to see just how much ink there was in the barrel and wished to purchase them for their own personal use. The demand from this source became so great and so insistent that a few months ago we decided to manufacture a few of our regular styles of Parker Pens with Bakelite barrels, and offer them for general sale along with the balance of the Parker Pen line. The call for these pens has been so great wherever they have been shown that we feel that, although we stumbled upon it almost by accident, the Bakelite barrel is going to the one of the most popular innovations ever made in the fountain pen business.”

Parker Bakelite no. 25. $6.00 more $0.25 extra for cromed washer clip.

Parker developed three colors in the Bakelite; a shade of green, and two shades in red and pink.

Photocomposition. Current simulation of Parker models no. 75 and no.76 Bakelite.

Cataloged Parker models in Bakelite.

No. 18B–$3.00. This size only eyedropper style.

No. 20SR(Screw Ring)B Baby–$4.00. Fine for a lady’s handbag or a man’s watch chain. Can likewise be furnished in medium or full length at same price.

No. 20B-$3.50. The most popular pen on the market today. Both lengths. Self-filler or regular.

No. 20SRB–$4.00. This is the medium length 20 with a screw ring on the cap. Self-filler or regular, plain or chased barrel.

No. 20½B-$3.50. Same as No. 20 with chased barrel.

No. 20½SRB-$4.00. Can be furnished in long, medium or baby lengths. Ring on cap for chain or ribbon.

No. 23SRB is $4.75.

 No. 23½B-$4.00. This needs no introduction. These have a habit of selling fast.

No. 23½SRB-$4.50. This can be furnished in plain or chased finish, and full or medium lengths.

No. 24B-$5.00. A size which appeals to most men. Both lengths. Self-filling or regular.

No. 24½B-$5.00. Same as 24 with chased barrel. The short length 24 or 24¼ with screw ring is just the thing for a man’s vest pocket.

No. 25B$6.00. One size bigger than the 24. These larger sizes are more in demand than ever before.

No. 25½B-$6.00. Same as 25 with chased barrel. Long or medium, regular (eyedropper) or self-filler.

No. 25SRB-$6.50. Holds a generous supply of ink. Ring on cap for chain or ribbon.

No. 26B-$7.00. This is the size of pen that will become a man’s best friend. Self-filler or regular (eyedropper), long or short.

No. 28B-$9.00, Still bigger. Plain barrel; long or short. Self-filler or regular (eyedropper). Large ink capacity.

No. 28 ½B-$9.00, Still bigger. chased barrel if desired; long or short. Self-filler or regular. Large ink capacity.

No. 66B-$5.50. There is a gold crown and ring on the cap of this pen which makes it fine for a watch chain. Self-filler or regular (eyedropper).

No. 71B–$6.00 A beauty and a big success. Transparent barrel, gold crown and band on cap with a ring for chain or ribbon. This pen is sure to please.

No. 75B–$5.50. Transparent barrel with a wide dull gold-filled band on the cap.

No. 76B–$4.50. Transparent barrel. There is a space on the gold band for a monogram.  A screw ring on the cap costs 75c. extra.

Parker Bakelite no. 66. $5.50. Transparent barrel, gold crown with a ring for chain or ribbon.
Parker Bakelite no. 71. $6.00. Transparent barrel, gold crown and band on cap with a ring for chain or ribbon.

One particularity of these fountain pens is that, unlike their counterparts in hard rubber, do not have the model/size engraved on the bottom of the barrel nor on the blind cap. Other peculiarity about these models is that the Parker translucent demonstrators do not have «BAKELITE» engraved on the barrel and, from the specimens found, it seems to be clear that it have been manufactured in celluloid and not in Bakelite.

Parker Jack Knife Lucky Curve button self-filler transparent celluloid without Bakelite imprint. Courtesy of Five Star Pens.

It is known Lucky Curve transparent demonstrators made in celluloid, non Bakelite. Likewise also are known other pens completely transparent, including the cap and blind cap.

Parker no. 25 Transparent celluloid -not Bakelite-. Courtesy of John Danza.
Parker Bakelite imprints
A Lucky Curve Jack Knife button self-filler completely transparent. Courtesy of Myrna and Gary Lehrer of GoPens.

According to Parker Pen Co., in 1918 the public acceptance of this novelty was evidenced by the fact that there were several hundred thousand of them in daily use and the Bakelite offer had been extended to practically all its unmounted barrel styles. However, there are no other Bakelites in the Parker Archives than the 2X series.

The production of the Bakelite models extends, at least, until 1923 where we see them sharing catalog with the iconic Duofolds.

1923 Parker Bakelite full length catalog.