SOME of the the Items on Exhibit in 2008
Waterman Safety
This is a safety pen; the cap removes and the nib can then be extended by turning the knob on the bottom of the pen. The pen itself is made of black hard rubber.
Waterman Toledo
Made of rippled red and black hard rubber and the overlay done by the Toledo gold works in Spain; probably as commissioned by Waterman.
Parker 46
Made of black hard rubber with a gold filled taper cap with a chased design overlay and a corrugated mother of pearl covered barrel. The pen was filled with an eyedropper. ca.1905-1915
Parker CX, 45, 57(Aztec) and 15

Parker CX - Made of black hard rubber with gold filled satin overlays on both the cap and barrel. The pen is adorned with flowers into which ruby red stones have been set. The pen is filled with an eyedropper. ca. 1905-1915

Parker 45 - Made of red hard rubber with a cap topped by a mother of pearl button and a gold filled band. The barrel is covered with corrugated mother of pearl. The pen is filled with an eyedropper. ca. 1905-1915

Parker 57 - Made of black hard rubber this is pen was named after the Awanyu Aztec and is adorned with a sterling silver overlay on the barrel and a band on the top of the cap. It is filled with an eyedropper. It was also made as a #58 which had a gold filled version overlay of identical design. Both the gold filled version and the sterling silver version were also made in a full covered pen, covering the entire cap and barrel. The pen is filled with an eyedropper. ca. 1905-1915

Parker 15 - Made of red hard rubber with a cap adorned with a gold filled filigree overlay. The barrel is covered with alternating mother of pearl and abalone and adorned with 2 gold filled bands. The pen is filled with an eyedropper. ca. 1910-1918


  In order to understand how rare the pens made in the early 1900’s were one must know a bit of history. This era was before the advent of plastics and nearly before the advent of the automobile. Pens were fairly unheard of except for dip pens and quills. Much of the United States was in rugged and unrefined areas and often in a hostile environment. Travel across the country was by horse, stagecoach, wagon or rail.

  To put this in a historical context, a few dates are relevant:
1830s Though indigenous rainforest dwellers of South America have been using rubber for generations, it was not until 1839 that rubber had its first practical application in the industrial world. A Brief History of Rubber (based on Wade Davis, One River, 1996) (
1908 “Henry Ford said, ‘I will build a motor car for the multitudes’ and the first Model T rolled out.” Chronicle of America; Daniel, Clifton; pg.560; 1990
1909 “The first completely synthetic plastic was Bakelite, produced … in 1909.” Britannica, Micropaedia, Vol. 9; pg. 504; 1986

  Since plastics were not yet available, various early pens were being manufactured out of hard rubber. Occasionally metals, woods, bakelite and other materials were used for making a pen. As was true of those early pens, the first hard rubber pens were made as dip pens; that is, one would dip the pen in ink and write a few strokes and then dip the nib again and again until the text was completed.

  Parker’s manufacturing site was located in Janesville, Wisconsin, and only there. Thus the marketing of pens to remote areas was probably not frequently done. Indeed, most manufacturers of that era only had one facility to make pens; and it was typically in the northeast. As the more progressive areas developed, there was a modest increase in the need for a pen. As a result, a few (and probably only a very few) retailers opened establishments for the sale of pens; and usually as a sideline to other items.

  In the case of Parker and other manufacturers, retailers could directly buy pens from the companies making pens. While there are no known documents to confirm the number of pens sold during that era, the scarcity of their current existence suggests the numbers were very modest. There was almost certainly a paucity of red hard rubber pens since the red hard rubber was somewhat more expensive and they would only be sold by special order. It is speculated that most purchasers preferred a black pen which further suggests that fewer red pens would have been sold than black ones. Again, based upon this writer’s “best guess” very few retailers existed in the south, west, southwest, midwest, northwest and southeast.

  As if that wasn’t enough to cause a shortage of the beautiful red pens, they seem to have been somewhat more brittle than the black pens. Thus, for the few that were sold and were thereafter saved by someone, there was probably a significant number broken over the years.

  Various individuals have toured the Parker archives and were shocked to discover that only 6 red hard rubber pens existed there. In this exhibition, you will have the rare opportunity to see twice that number. To the most ardent collector of these beautiful pens, one might say this is the “Holy Grail” of pens.

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