Parker Duofold Centennial

In 1988, to coincide with a resurgence of interest in fine fountain pens, Parker issued the first new Duofold model available in the U.S. since the line was phased out of domestic production in the 1940s. The new model was known as the Centennial in commemoration of the firm's 100th anniversary.

These luxurious pens and pencils are made exclusively in the UK. The basic profile of the old "big red" Duofold was captured, but the mechanicals were thoroughly modernized, including a piston-style converter that could be used in place of the ubiquitous cartridges. The pen is made from acrylic plastic, which is a much stronger and more easily worked material than the original hard rubber and celluloid, but although the Lapis Blue on these instruments is very pretty, it doesn't quite capture the colorful appeal of the old Permanite (celluoid) Duofolds. A superfluity of gold bands is attached, just in case you don't get the idea that this is an expensive pen.

Swallowing very hard at what was (to me at the time) a high price in excess of $250, I bought the pen new in about 1989, adding the pencil (for $125) a year or so later. If the pen is a rather loose variation on the original theme, the pencil is a very faithful recreation of the old "nail" style Duofold pencils.

Both came with a membership in the Platinum club, which entitles me to annual overhauls at the factory (you guys better not copy down my number and use it to get Parker to overhaul your old Pentels).

The line was revamped slightly a year or so ago, giving them more of a resemblance to the "streamlined" Duofolds of the early 30s. There have been a number of limited edition Duofolds, including a recreation of the Mandarin Yellow color from the 1930s, a Douglas MacArthur (Mac having allegedly used a Duofold to sign the Japanese surrender documents ending World War II), a Norman Rockwell (honoring the famous midcentury U.S. illustrator), and one commemorating the START II treaty (the pen has a bit of Soviet nuclear warhead stuck to it).


The Centennial version of the Duofold resembles the original (early) Duofold Senior pretty closely in its general profile; the newer pen has more gold bands, a two-tone 18k point, a spiffy arrow clip (rather than the plain ball-end clip of the original) and generally fancier level of finish. The new pen's "blind cap" is really the opposite of a blind cap (it looks like it can be removed, but it can't, since the entire barrel unscrews to give access to the cartridge or converter).

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network