Birthday Pens: a Timeline

(This page revised April 23, 2013)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]

When were you born? And what pen, if you wanted one, would you use to symbolize your birth year?

Sometimes, it’s really easy to nail a particular pen to a year. Sometimes, it’s not. This article, which was inspired by a thread on Pentrace: The site for fountain pens that write, offers some ideas for finding a pen to remember when you were born. This information is also useful for general reference, serving as a limited timeline for the evolution of the fountain pen from 1921 to the present.

The Easy Ones: Parker’s Date Coded Pens

Parker has made it very easy to date some of their pens. From the 1932/1933 introduction of the Vacumatic until the 1950s, and again beginning in 1980, Parker has imprinted date codes on its pens. Parker’s Date Coding Systems explains the coding systems Parker has used.

The Hard Ones: Everything Else

Most pens have no date codes, and they aren’t so easy to pin to a specific year. There are a few pens here and there that can be nailed down, such as Sheaffer’s Balance in Blue , a color that was produced only in 1932. The obvious approach, it seems, is to identify the year in which a certain pen model was introduced or a point at which the features of a given model changed in a distinctive way, and use that information to locate a pen that might not have been made in a specific year but can at least be dated to a narrow range of years. That’s what the rest of this article will help you do, by presenting a table listing dates and corresponding pen models or features. Most models remained in production for several years; in some cases, I have indicated in colored type the year during which a given model was discontinued. Certain other events are also marked in colored type.

This timeline is a work in progress, and any further suggestions you can offer to help me add to it will be very much appreciated.

Year Pen Models and Features

1921 Parker introduces the Duofold, in red hard rubber. Wahl introduces the Wahl Pen.
Fountain pen
Wahl Pen, Gothic pattern
1922 Parker adds the Duofold Junior and the ringtop Lady Duofold to its line. (Sheaffer replaces the words SHEAFFER-CLIP on its clips with Sheaffer’S logo. Wahl Tempoint discontinued.)
Fountain pen
Parker Lady Duofold
1923 Conklin introduces the Duragraph. (Sheaffer introduces the White Dot. Waterman introduces woodgrain (“mottled”) hard rubber.)
Fountain pen
Waterman’s Ideal No 01852 in RMHR
1924 Carter’s Ink Company begins manufacture of the Carter’s Pen. Chilton enters the market with its sliding-barrel pneumatic filler. Conklin introduces the Endura. (Duragraph retired.)
Fountain pen
Chilton pneumatic pen
1925 (Crescent-Filler retired.)
1926 (Parker converts production to celluloid (Permanite), beginning with the Duofold. Waterman introduces red rippled hard rubber.)
Fountain pen
Waterman’s Ideal No 01852 in RRHR
1927 Carter’s converts production to celluloid. Waterman introduces two new “Ripple” models, the No 5 and No 7.
Fountain pen
Carter’s Pen in blue celluloid
1928 Parker introduces the Three Fifty in Modernistic Blue (“True Blue”).
Fountain pen
Parker “True Blue”
1929 Parker introduces the streamlined Duofold. Schnell introduces the Penselpen, the first successful combo. Sheaffer introduces the Balance. Wahl introduces the interchangeable-nib Personal-Point. Waterman introduces the Patrician. (Three Fifty retired.)
Fountain pen
First-generation Sheaffer’s Balance
1930 Chilton introduces a new model, with an internal sliding pneumatic tube. Conklin introduces the Endura Symetrik. LeBoeuf introduces its sleeve filler. Wahl introduces the Equi-Poised. (Endura retired.)
Fountain pen
LeBoeuf sleeve filler
1931 Conklin introduces the Nozac. Wahl introduces the Doric and Oxford.
Fountain pen
Wahl-Eversharp Doric (Oversize model, in Burma color)
1932 Parker test-markets the Golden Arrow. Sheaffer produces the Balance in Blue (only year for this color). Wahl introduces the Bantam. (Personal-Point retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer’s Balance 3-25 in Blue
1933 Parker introduces the Vacumatic (briefly called the Vacuum-Filler). (Some Bantams imprinted for the 1933-1934 Century of Progress Exhibition.)
Fountain pen
Parker Vacumatic Standard
1934 Parker introduces the Parkette.
Fountain pen
1934 Parker Parkette
1935 Chilton introduces the Wing-flow. Esterbrook introduces its Dollar Pen. Parker introduces the Challenger. Waterman introduces the Ink-Vue. (Duofold retired. Equi-Poised retired)
Fountain pen
Chilton Wing-flow
1936 Sheaffer introduces a streamlined (“radius”) clip on the Balance. Wahl-Eversharp introduces the Coronet. Waterman introduces glass-cartridge pens for sale in France. (Patrician retired)
Fountain pen
Waterman’s glass-cartridge pen, ladies’ model
1937 Parker introduces the more-streamlined Speedline Vacumatic. Sheaffer introduces the Model 47, later named the Crest.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer’s Crest
1938 Conklin introduces the Glider. Wahl-Eversharp introduces the Pacemaker. (Endura Symetrik and Nozak retired; Conklin is sold to a Chicago syndicate.)
Fountain pen
Wahl-Eversharp Pacemaker
1939 Chilton introduces the Golden Quill. Parker introduces the Geometric (“Toothbrush”) Duofold. Waterman introduces the Hundred Year Pen. (Parker introduces the Blue Diamond. Parkette and Challenger retired.)
Fountain pen
Waterman’s Hundred Year Pen
1940 Esterbrook introduces 9000-series iridium-tipped nibs. Parker introduces the “striped” (Laidtone) Duofold. Sheaffer introduces the Tuckaway and military-clip Balances. (Geometric retired. Bantam retired.)
Fountain pen
1941 Sheaffer’s Tuckaway
1941 Parker introduces the “51”. Wahl-Eversharp introduces the Skyline. (Chilton ceases operation. Doric, Coronet, Pacemaker, and Oxford retired.)
Fountain pen
Parker “51”
1942 Sheaffer introduces the “TRIUMPH” Lifetime, a new line of pens featuring the conical “TRIUMPH” point.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer’s “TRIUMPH” Lifetime
1943 Esterbrook introduces a piston-filling pen (called a “twist” filler) with a streamlined clip. Eversharp introduces the Fifth Avenue/Sixty Four. Waterman introduces the Commando. (Balance retired.)
Fountain pen
Eversharp Sixty Four
1944 Esterbrook converts its “twist” filler to lever filling, creating the Model J.
Fountain pen
1944 Esterbrook Model J
1945 Reynolds introduces the Rocket ballpoint. Eversharp introduces the CA ballpoint. (Both pens are disastrously unreliable.) Waterman introduces the Taperite.
Fountain pen
Waterman’s Taperite Citation
1946 Moore introduces the Finger tip. Parker introduces the VS. (Fifth Avenue/Sixty Four retired.)
Fountain pen
Moore Finger tip
1947 Parker introduces the “51” Demi. Sheaffer introduces the Fineline.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Fineline, metal cap
1948 Esterbrook introduces double-jewel Model J. Eversharp introduces the Raymond Loewy-designed Symphony. Parker converts “51” to Aero-metric filler and introduces the squeeze-filling “21”. (“Striped” Duofold and Vacumatic retired. Skyline retired. Conklin ceases operation.)
Fountain pen
Eversharp Symphony
1949 Parker introduces the “51” Flighter. Sheaffer introduces the Touchdown. (VS retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer”s Touchdown Sentinel
1950 Parker introduces the “41” and “51” Special and reintroduces the Parkette. Sheaffer introduces the Touchdown TM (Thin Model). (Tuckaway retired.)
Fountain pen
The new hooded-nib Parkette
1951 (Finger tip retired. “41” retired.)
1952 Sheaffer introduces the Snorkel.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer’s Snorkel Valiant (second-generation Periwinkle color, 1956 on)
1953 Eversharp introduces the Ventura (the “Burp” pen). Sheaffer introduces the TIPdip. Waterman introduces the C/F. (Cartridge Filler). (Parkette retired. Fineline retired. Symphony retired.)
Fountain pen
Eversharp Ventura
1954 (Waterman U.S.A. ceases manufacture.)
1956 Parker introduces the 61. (Moore ceases operation.)
Fountain pen
Parker 61
1957 Sheaffer introduces the Skripsert, a cartridge-filling design produced in a broad variety of models. Waterman introduces the French-made capillary-filling X-Pen. (Ventura retired. Parker purchases Eversharp. Waterman U.S.A. ceases operation.)
Fountain pen
Waterman’s X-Pen
1958 Sheaffer introduces the Lady Sheaffer, a Skripsert model.
Fountain pen
Lady Sheaffer XII
1959 Sheaffer introduces the PFM. (Other Snorkels retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer’s PFM III
1960 Parker introduces the 45.
Fountain pen
Parker 45
1961 Sheaffer introduces the PFM-styled Imperial.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Lifetime 1500 Imperial
1962 Parker introduces the VP.
Fountain pen
Parker VP
1963 Parker introduces the 75. (Sheaffer again offers a Lifetime warranty, on certain Imperials; TIPdip retired.)
Fountain pen
Parker 75 Sterling Ciselé
1964 Parker introduces the Arrow, a 45 variant with a plastic cap. The white “Arrow” imprint, more like a chalk mark than a permanent imprint, rubs off easily, and Parker quickly deletes it and relaunches the pen as the 45 CT. (VP retired.)
Fountain pen
Parker Arrow/45 CT
1965 (“21” retired.)
1968 (PFM retired.)
1969 Parker introduces the 65. Sheaffer introduces the flat-top economy pen that will be renamed No Nonsense in 1976.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer No Nonsense
1970 Parker introduces the T-1. Sheaffer introduces the Nostalgia.
Fountain pen
Parker T-1
1971 (T-1 retired. Esterbrook ceases operation.)
1974 Waterman introduces the Gentleman.
Fountain pen
Waterman Gentleman
1975 Parker introduces the 25. (“51” and 65 retired.)
Fountain pen
Parker 25
1976 Sheaffer introduces the Targa and relaunches its economy flat-top as the No Nonsense.
Fountain pen
Targa by Sheaffer
1977 Parker introduces the 180.
Fountain pen
Parker 180
1978 Parker introduces the Falcon 50.
Fountain pen
Unique Falcon 50 Prototype
1982 Cross introduces the Century. Parker introduces the Arrow. Sheaffer introduces the Slim Targa. (61, Falcon 50 retired.)
Fountain pen
Parker Arrow
1983 Parker introduces the Premier. Sheaffer adds fountain pens to the TRZ line, introduced in 1981 as a ballpoint. Waterman introduces the Man 100.
Fountain pen
Parker Premier, Athènes model
1985 Sheaffer introduces the Connaisseur. (180 retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Connaisseur
1986 Parker relaunches the 180 as a new member of the Classic line, with a redesigned nib that is no longer flippable. Parker introduces the Vector.
Fountain pen
Parker Vector
1988 Parker introduces the 88 and reintroduces the Duofold. (Arrow retired.)
Fountain pen
Duofold Centennial
1989 Parker introduces the 95.
Fountain pen
Parker 95 Flighter
1990 Sheaffer introduces the Fashion. Waterman introduces the Harlequin.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Fashion
1991 Cross introduces the Signature. Parker introduces the Insignia. Sheaffer reintroduces the Crest.
Fountain pen
Cross Signature
1992 Cross introduces the Townsend. Sheaffer introduces the Fashion II. Waterman introduces the Edson.
Fountain pen
Waterman Edson
1993 Bexley enters the market with its limited-production Original. Cross introduces the Townsend. Parker introduces the Sonnet. (95 retired.)
Fountain pen
Bexley Original prototype
1994 Parker relaunches the 88 as the Rialto. (75 retired.)
Fountain pen
Parker Rialto
1995 Cross introduces the Solo. Sheaffer introduces the Legacy and the Triumph Imperial. (Connaisseur retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Legacy
1996 Cross introduces the Century II. Parker introduces the Frontier. Sheaffer produces the Triumph Imperial Holly Pen, first in a series of annual “Holiday Originals” limited editions.
Fountain pen
Parker Frontier
1997 Sheaffer introduces the Prelude. One first-year Prelude version is the Snow Pen, second and last of the “Holiday Originals.”
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Snow Pen
1998 Cross introduces the Radiance. Levenger introduces the Seas series, based on the Sheaffer Connaisseur. Sheaffer introduces the Balance II. (Crest, Fashion, Targa, and Triumph Imperial retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Balance II
1999 Cross introduces the Pinnacle. Sheaffer introduces the Legacy II. (Legacy I retired.)
Fountain pen
Cross Pinnacle
2000 Cross introduces the ATX. Parker introduces the Ellipse. Sheaffer introduces the Intrigue.
Fountain pen
Parker Ellipse
2001 Bexley produces the Sleeve Filler. Parker introduces the Inflection.
Fountain pen
Bexley Sleeve Filler, open for filling
2002 Parker introduces the 51 Special Edition. Sheaffer introduces the Agio. (Ellipse retired.)
Fountain pen
51 SE with two-tone vermeil cap
2003 Sheaffer introduces the Legacy Heritage. Signum débuts with the De Divina Proportione series. (Legacy II retired.)
Fountain pen
Signum De Divina Proportione Doric, sterling barrel
2004 Parker introduces the 100. Sheaffer introduces the Agio Compact.
Fountain pen
Parker 100
2005 Bexley produces the Stradivarius LE. Parker introduces the Latitude. Taccia introduces the Mother of Pearl.
Fountain pen
Parker Latitude Flighter
2006 Bexley introduces the America the Beautiful and the Simplicity. Cross introduces the Autocross. Sheaffer introduces the Valor. (45 retired.)
Fountain pen
Sheaffer Valor
2009 Bexley produces the 56 SE in ebonite.
Fountain pen
Bexley 56 in red/black ebonite

The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

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