and the Galalith Casein.

By Daniel Zazove and Ramon Campos.

Parker pen number 45 with crown cap with a Galalith's pearl.
Parker No. 45 crown cap with its Galalith's pearl.

Galalith is the name of a plasticine substance made from skimmed milk treated with metallic salts and soaps and finally, with formaldehyde. It is hard, takes a fine polish, is odorless and is less inflammable than celluloid which is a guncotton nitric acid and camphor combination. Galalith has the appearance of marble but is far lighter in weight and takes kindly to various coloring processes.

This new plastic was first presented at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair and featured at the Hygienic Milk Supply exhibition held in Hamburg in 1903. John Gollner, then in charge of Parker’s foreign sales, reported its possibilities to the Company after his business trip to Europe in the winter of 1904.

Parker Pen was particularly interested in Galalith as the price of vulcanized rubber had recently risen by fifty percent and the cost increase could not be passed on to consumers if the Company wanted to remain competitive.

George S. Parker immediately sent an inquiry to the German manufacturer’s representative and, as result, several large plates of Galalith reached the Parker factory in January of 1906. The natural color of the substance was white, but with the addition of pigments all sorts of beautiful color variations ranging from coral pink to blue and imitation tortoise shell, unattainable with rubber, was possible.

Unfortunately, these early factory experiments with Galalith failed because the eyedropper filling system did not resist the corrosion produced by permanent contact with the ink acids.

All was not lost however, because in 1908 the Company   began to produce their model No. 45, one of the most beautiful fountain pens of the era furnished with mother-of-pearl and/or abalone corrugate or plain slabs on barrel held in place by two gold bands. The cap was crowned with a Galalith pearl button fixed with a gold band.

Parker pen number 45 alternating corrugated mother-of-pearl and abalone slabs. Cap topped
Parker no. 45 alternating corrugated mother-of-pearl and abalone slabs. Cap topped with a Galalith pearl. Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries, Berkeley, CA. (image © Justin Benttinen).

Months later, Parker would introduce a simpler version with plain or chased barrel; the #50, available in plain hard rubber black, motled, or red, and a black chased model 50½.

Parker fountain pen number #50, and 50 1/2.
Parker pen black hard rubber chased no. 50½ (above) and no. 50 plain red hard rubber.
A flyer of Parker pen and the cap with the Colored Crown advertising. 1908

In the same season 1908/9, Parker offered a new model for college and high school student marketed under the motto “The Cap with the Colored Crown”, and known among collectors as «College» or “Student” Parker pen. The end of the cap was fitted with a little crown to match the College colors. It could be furnished with one, two or three discs, in red, white, green, orange, and purple and harmonize beautifully with the rich polished black of the fountain pen. Parker featured existing models no. 20½ and 21½ priced $ 2.50 and $ 3.50, respectively. They also offered the model no. 24 «click filler» with a colored cap end at $ 4.00. The crown with only one color was 10c extra, two colors 25c extra, and 35c for three colors. The pen could be furnished with the “Cap Fast Clip”, licensed from the 1907 Van Valkenburg clip, and made in German silver, and engraved “Parker” or plain, adding 25c. to the price of the pen.

Parker pen 21½ school and college with colored crown.

Shortly after, with the presentation of the Jack-Knife Safety in 1909, its cap of model No. 45 was also furnished with a brilliantly colored Galalith gemstone.

Parker fountain pen number #45 with mother of pearl barrel and cap stone crown.
Parker No. 45 Jack Knife Safety. Courtesy of Luiz Leite.

In 1913, with the introduction of the button-filler system, Parker began the production of holders fully manufactured from brightly colored Galalith which they commercially called Ivorines.

Primigenius Parker Ivorine fountain pens
Primigenius Parker pen Ivorines. In these early Ivorines, the safety cap and the button blind cap were the same color as the pen.
Early Parker Ivorines furnished with standard black safety caps and matched color button blind cap.
Early Ivorines furnished with standard black safety caps and matched color button blind cap.

Derived from these Ivorines would be the new «College» or «Student» models that appeared around 1916. Maintaining the general appearance of the safety-sealed pens, Parker distinguished them with a blind cap of varied chromaticism made in Galalith. We do not know of any documentation, advertisements, or catalogs of these fountain pens, so we can only record them thanks to those that have survived to this day, although, by mere observation of the different types of blind caps that we have observed, we can deduce that they remained on the market for several years.

Parker “College” or “Student” pens with blind cap in Galalith.
Parker “College” or “Student” pens with blind cap in Galalith, except for the orange color, manufactured in hard rubber. (Courtesy of Tsachi Mitsenmacher).

Also, among rare models, due to their scarcity, Parker «Nurse’s Outfit» pen, with the same color scheme, although inverted, than it would have in the future Parker Duofold, were manufactured with a red Galalith blind cab. The crown and inner cap were made of red hard rubber.

Two Parker Nurse’s Outfit fountain pens.
Parker Nurse’s Outfit fountain pens. (Courtesy of Tsachi Mitsenmacher).

In January 1917 Parker called their dealers attention to the wonderful selling possibilities of the Ivorines.

We cannot accept an order from any dealer for a large number of these pens for the very good and sufficient reason -our present limited supply of crude material. We do, however, want all dealers to have a few because they are new and different from anything sold heretofore.

We have a monopoly on Ivorine and so far, as we know will continue to have until after the war.

Why not work a little strategy in your business? Who are the social and club leaders of your city? Who sets the pace for correct and new things to wear? Who sets the most popular schoolgirl that the others look up to? Find out the favorite colors of these leaders. Then order the cap. Ivorines in these favorite colors. When they arrive in stock, telephone to, or otherwise arrange to have one leader at a time and in a nice, tactful way, say that you have something new in the way of colors in the Parker Pen. That you would appreciate the opportunity of showings it to her as it is new and exclusive.

Then when Miss Society Belle calls, place in her hand the pen which you had previously learned was her favorite color. Explain tactfully what a charming addition one of these pens of a color to match her purse, her dress or writing case, would be. Explain that schoolgirls usually carry the pens with a narrow black and white striped ribbon drawn through a ring in. Do you not think your customers would be pleased with this subtle of flattery? Most assuredly they would. You would find using this kind of salesmanship would make sales as easy as going on a fishing trip next summer.”

 With the advent of World War One and ocean warfare Parker Pen faced the impossibility of obtaining any more imports of Galalith as this material was imported from France. In place of Ivorines, Parker developed two or three colors of Bakelite: a very pretty shade of green, and one or two shades of red and pink.

In 1919 at the end of the war, with the maritime traffic normalized, Parker again began to import Galalith and reintroduced a new version of Ivorines in its catalog in colors of Jade Green, French Gray, Crimson, Royal Purple, Coral, Turquoise Blue or White. These new models featured jaunty black tips and could be furnished in their basic version with a No. 2 nib, or at a higher price, fitted with a trim gold band, a ring for use with neck chatelaine, clip for pocket, or a No. 3 nib. Also featured was a new model No. 66 with a cap crowned with a gold band with a ring for a chatelaine, and a new model No. 84, with the same gold cap and a blind cap covered with gold filled metal.

Parker Ivorine fountain pen ins French Gray color with metal crown in cap.
Parker Ivorine 84-JK (above) and 66-JK SR in color French Gray,
Parker pen Ivorine 1920 Christmas ad.
Parker Ivorine 1920 Christmas ad. Janesville Daily Gazette.
Parker announcing Galalith's reception. November, 1920.
1922 Parker pen Ivorines in catalog.
Parker pen Ivorines from the '20s. Courtesy of Tsachi Mitsenmacher.


Geo. S. Parker introducing these fancy pens in November 1923:

1921 Parker pen Ivorines ad.
Parker Ivorine hand painted fountain pens.
Photo from by Tony Fischier.

“Saturday last I was in Chicago and called at the Chicago office of the company. I found each and every occupant of the office very much excited. That is saying a good deal when it applies to Mr. Clark, the manager of the Chicago office, for he is not the excitable kind. In fact, when Mr. Clark enthuses over any subject there must be a pretty good reason for it.  Well, the reason this time was because they had discovered an artist in Chicago who in turn had discovered a process of hand decorating the Ivorine caps and barrels in such a delicate and beautiful way that it makes them look like a million dollars. I do not believe any words of mine can describe the beauty and novelty of these fountains.  The young lady who developed this has been an art student for a number of years, she has experimented in colors and the application of same to fountain pens and has discovered a method of hand painting these fountains and then , putting on a preparation to protect the painting so that it will not readily, wear, and it really looks as though Mr. Clark and his associates in the Chicago office had good reason to feel enthusiastic. They take these holders, decorate them in quite a variety of designs, both conventional and otherwise, and it makes the possibility of a gift proposition such as the writer has never before seen in a fountain pen. The strange part of it is that the cost of them is such that the entire fountain pen thus hand decorated can be sold for $7,50.  Now please don’t get excited and think that you are going to get a quota of five or ten gross to sell between now and the fifteenth of December for that is not possible. If we get a thousand or fifteen hundred pens total, we will be doing pretty well because each pen must be hand painted. We may get some of these so that we can forward a sample to you by Thursday of this week, but we certainly cannot permit you to take orders for quantities of these.  Mr. Clark’s Idea was that they could break in exclusive jewelry and gift shops that are not now handling fountain pens, offering them this as a novelty and then work in DUOFOLDS and eventually the black line and pencils, I believe his idea is good. Of course, if you get a sample and some old customer wants two or three, we will try and squeeze them out.  The young lady in question has several artists and they can get out, she thinks, about six dozen a day. As a novelty gift proposition, it would be pretty hard to beat. Personally, I do not think I ever saw a more beautiful combination in a fountain pen. When walking up Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I saw in a very beautiful jewelry store, (not our customer), a pen that looked somewhat similar to this. Come to find out, they had little metallic pieces fastened in the barrel and these metallic pieces were enameled, and their prices of these were from $20 and up. In my opinion they were not nearly as handsome as the hand decorated pens which I have described above.  These will be sold at $7.50 and so far as the boxes will go in a fancy box without extra charge. The discount will be the same as on the black line.  I only wish I could tell you that we would have ten thousand of these for you, but it is an utter impossibility. Still, you w/ill have the satisfaction of offering a few of these of a novelty such as none of us have ever foreseen. The young lady artist in question has promised to do no work for anyone else but will devote all of her time and energy to giving us the exclusive on it. Does this not sound good to you?”

The Parker Ivorines were replaced in 1926 by the Parker Pastels.

A Parker Ivorine Coral fountain pen, fitted with a trim gold band, and ring cap for use with neck ribbon.
Parker Ivorine Coral, fitted with a trim gold band, and ring cap for use with neck chatelaine.