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PenInHand: September, 2017

Parker Trench Pen in red brown and black mottled ebonite c1916-1918

by Jim Mamoulides, September 30, 2017

PenHeroParker Trench Pen in red brown and black mottled ebonite c1916-1918

Click the image above to see a full screen slideshow

The Parker Trench Pen was designed to meet the writing needs of World War I American soldiers in the field who could not bring bottled ink with them. The pen is a standard Parker Jack Knife Safety eyedropper pen with an extra-long end cap intended for storage of ink pellets. Parker claimed that the pen could store enough tablets to make a half pint of ink.

PenHeroParker Trench Pen cap detail showing Jack Knife Safety imprint

The pen was introduced in 1916 and production continued through 1919. It uses the 1912 patented screw on safety cap and was initially offered with a choice of clipless or with the 1916 patented washer clip for a small additional charge.

PenHeroParker Trench Pen ink tablet containers

The barrel is the same as a self-filler without the button fill mechanism or the hole in the bottom of the barrel for the button. To refill, the user would take one or two tablets out of the end cap, unscrew the nib section, drop them in the barrel, add water, and the tablets would dissolve, making ink. This eliminated soldiers having to carry ink bottles. Parker recommended two tablets for the first use and subsequent fillings would only take one tablet due to pigment residue left in the barrel. Tablets were available for 10 cents for a package of 36.

PenHeroParker Trench Pen nib section showing Lucky Curve feed

Trench pens came in four sizes in 1916, with the prices increasing with the sizes: $2.75, $3.75, $4.25 and $5.25.

In the 1918 catalog, the Trench Pen models and prices were:

  • Number 20 - $3.00
  • Number 23 - $5.00
  • Number 24 - $5.00
  • Number 25 - $6.00

PenHeroParker Trench Pen in red brown and black mottled ebonite c1916-1918

Clips were sold separately:

  • German Nickel Silver - $.25
  • Gold Plated - $.75
  • Solid Gold (Green) - $5.00

Identification guide and features:

PenHeroParker Trench Pen in red brown and black mottled ebonite c1916-1918

The Parker Trench Pen is an ordinary hard rubber eyedropper fill pen with an extra-long end cap for storing ink pellets so the user does not have to carry an ink bottle.

  • Colors included black, red brown and black mottled ebonite with matching cap, barrel and section, and red ebonite with black section and end cap
  • German nickel-plated trim offered in 1916, later models offered with gold plated trim
  • Cap unscrews
  • 14 karat gold Number 2 nib stamped Parker Lucky Curve Pen
  • Nib grades offered included fine, medium, coarse (broad), half-stub, stub, manifold, oblique, stenographer, bookkeeper, and ballpoint each with flexible options
  • Parker Lucky Curve feed
  • Eyedropper-filler
  • Long black ebonite end cap for storing ink pellets
  • Four model sizes

Performance

This Parker Trench Pen is a very rare red brown and black mottled ebonite made c1916-1918. The 4 9/16 inch long pen has a 5/8 inch long end cap and is fitted with a Number 2 solid gold unhallmarked nib. The clip is nickel plated. The pen is very well made, with everything fitting together tightly.

PenHeroParker Trench Pen in red brown and black mottled ebonite c1916-1918

The 14 karat gold nib is has an attractive stamping. I did not fill or dip test the pen as it was loaned for photographs. Based on other same period examples of Jack Knife Safety pens, I would imagine the nib writes quite nicely.

PenHeroParker Trench Pen nib section

The imprints on the cap and barrel are light but clear and hard to make out in the highly marbled ebonite. The pen is small and feels very good in the hand, though I would not post it given its age.

Parker Trench Pens are rare enough in black or red ebonite. It’s possible that once they served their purpose in wartime they were discarded in favor of self-filling pens. This example in red brown and black mottled may be one of fewer than five pens still in existence. It was a real treat to be able to see it in person and take a few photos!


Acknowledgements

Thanks to Andy Lambrou for loaning the Parker Trench Pen photographed in this article.

Thanks to Len Provisor for providing the photo of the Parker Ink Pellet packages.

References

Association Men, Page 313, December 1918

Cosmopolitan, April 1918

Fountain Pens of the World by Andreas Lambrou, © 1995 Zwemmer, London, United Kingdom

Parker Lucky Curve and other Parker Pre Duofolds 1894—1929, by Tony Fischier, © 1995-2017 Tony Fischier and The Parker Pen Company/Sanford Ecriture

Scribner's Magazine, Page 45, January 1919

The American Magazine, December 1918

The Catalog of Parker Fountain Pens, © 1918 The Parker Pen Company, Janesville, Wisconsin, USA

The Independent, Page 157, January 26, 1918

The Independent, Back Cover, November 9, 1918

The National Magazine, Page 565, December 1918

The Red Cross Magazine, November, 1918

The Saturday Evening Post, December 7, 1918

The Six Epochs of Writing, © 1916 The Parker Pen Company, Janesville, Wisconsin, USA

The Youth's Companion, Page 656, December 5, 1918

United States Patent Office Patent 512,319, registered January 9, 1894

United States Patent Office Patent 1,028,382, registered June 4, 1912

United States Patent Office Patent 1,197,224, registered September 5, 1916

 

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