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Parker Fountain Pen Review

Parker Duofold Centennial Review

Have you been searching for the great “white whale” of fountain pens: the Parker Duofold Centennial?

Like Moby Dick, the legendary Parker Duofold Centennial exemplifies strength and power. It’s a pen that everyone knows, many yearn to own, and only those deemed the mightiest can harness it.

Once captured, this alluring pen is one that every writer is proud to display in their collection.

With a deep-rooted history, the majestic Parker Duofold Centennial is everything that a fountain pen should be. Attaining this elusive fountain pen is the highest accomplishment and shows that you’re a true fountain pen connoisseur.

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Writing With Parker Duofold Centennial Foutain Pen

Parker Duofold History

In 1921, the Parker Duofold made its mark. The first model was considered to be of substantial size for its time - 5.5 inches while capped. Made of unprecedented, vibrant red rubber, this was a fountain pen that stood out amongst the mundane black-barreled models of the time. The original Duofold was only available in one size, the Senior Duofold (though now more commonly known as “Big Red”). When introduced, the Parker Duofold was priced at $7 - almost twice the price of most pens on the market. The reception was initial apprehension. However, it was soon quieted, as the Duofold became the writing instrument of choice in the 1920s. 

parker-duofold-centennial-big-red

1921 Duofold “Big Red” (Source: penhero.com)

Until 1926, this pen was only available in black and its signature red rubber. New hues were introduced later, including Jade Green, Lapis Blue, and Mandarin Yellow. Throughout the years, Parker has continued its innovation through multiple versions of the Duofold.

parker-duofold-centennial-colors

The four original colors of the Parker Duofold (public domain)

Parker Duofold Centennial History

Immediately following the United Kingdom division takeover in 1987, the new chief executive officer, Jacques Margry, wanted to commemorate the company’s centennial celebration. Designated as the flagship of the jubilee, the regal Duofold Centennial series of pens was released in 1988. The design was reminiscent of the 1920s Duofold - the one that built the Parker company. Instead of being made from the original rubber material, the Centennial was formed using acrylic. The Centennial series included fountain pens, rollerballs, and pencils in marble maroon, marble blue, and black. The classic trademark terra cotta color came later.

parker-duofold-centennial-margry-1988-pen

In 1987, CEO Jacques Margry commemorated Parker's centennial with the Duofold Centennial, as seen on the right. (Sources: moreenginnering.co.uk, fountainpennetwork.com)

Almost one year after the Centennial release, Parker introduced the International line of Duofolds on April 1, 1989. They were reminiscent of the classic Duofold design, but were slimmer than their cousin, the Centennial.

parker-duofold-centennial-vs-international

A comparison of the Duofold models. The thinner International is at the top and larger Centennial is at the bottom. (Source: fountainpennetwork)

Parker Collection Releases

In the years that followed, minor adjustments and specialized limited edition Duofolds have been added. Since the creation of the Parker Duofold Centennial size, most releases have been offered in this larger model.

  • October 1991 -The company announces a series of high-end models. The Gold Collection and Sterling Silver Collection were cast acrylics, offered in both Centennial and International sizes.
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    August 1992 - The marble green color and solid 18k gold Presidential Duofold International were added.
parker-duofold-centennial-presidential

The Parker Duofold Centennial Presidential (Source: parkerpens.net - a Parker Pen Co. UK subsidiary)

  • November 1992 - The MK I Centennial Duofold is released, including a black and pearl finish.
  • circle
    1996 - Reverting back to the look of the Streamline Duofold of the 1930s, the restyled design had a more tapered end and fewer rings. A limited edition Normal Rockwell was launched.
parker-duofold-centennial-norman-rockwell

The Parker Duofold Norman Rockwell Limited Edition (Source: fountainpennetwork)

  • 1998 - Pearl grey color was added to the Duofold family of color choices.
  • circle
    December 2001 - The Jade green color was discontinued, but special edition mosaics were offered in red and black.
  • circle
    2004 - Pearl Grey, Lapis Lazuli Blue, and Red Jasper finished were terminated.
  • circle
    2006 - Duofold Ace was offered, with the trademark ace of spades symbol on the nib.
parker-duofold-centennial-mandarin-yellow-125

The 125th Anniversary Parker Duofold in Mandarin Yellow (source: fountainpennetwork)

  • 2013 - The 125th anniversary of the Parker Pen Company introduced a Mandarin yellow Duofold, Jotter, Ingenuity, Duofold Giant, and Duofold Senior as limited editions.
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    2015 - This year's design was again inspired by the 1920s Duofold versions, including the Big Red GT.
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    2016 - The Prestige and Classic collections rejuvenated the Duofold look.
parker-duofold-centennial-prestige

Parker Duofold Prestige in blue chevron (Source: fountainpennetwork)

Parker Duofold Makes Its Mark

The Parker Duofold Centennial has been the chosen pen of famous dignitaries, notables, and heads of state throughout its history.

  • Author of the famed Sherlock Holmes collection, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a known fountain pen user. He wrote stories for four decades, many with his Parker Duofold DeLuxe in hand.
  • Bringing an end to World War II, General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan's surrender and signed a peace treaty aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. MacArthur penned his signature with three different fountain pens. His wife's Parker Senior Duofold was one of them.
  • A Parker Duofold is in the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy, resting on the desk of luxury car founder Enzo Ferrari.
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    In 1989, the Parker Duofold made its way to the White House. It was selected by the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Committee as the official pen used for President George W. Bush.

Parker Duofold Centennial’s Iconic Design

Finding a vintage or limited edition Duofold model can be challenging. However, collectors don’t need to hunt for hours in search of a quality Centennial model. The versions readily available on the market today are the Parker Duofold Centennial Classic and Parker Duofold Centennial Prestige fountain pens.

A True Masterpiece

Though it has seen numerous remodels, strong and powerful design supported by superior craftsmanship has been the basis of every Duofold pen. Each pen is precisely constructed and finished by hand. The Centennial is expertly formulated from 21 individual pieces, manually polished, and assembled to create this coveted treasure. The Duofold Centennial is available in a variety of colors and trims.

Note: Mobile users, please scroll right to view the entire table.

Image

Model

Body Material

Trim Material

Nib Finish

parker-duofold-centennial-big-red

Source: parkerpen.com

Resin

Palladium

Rhodium-plated

parker-duofold-centennial-classic-black-gold

Source: parkerpen.com

Resin

23k gold-plated

Rhodium-plated

parker-duofold-centennial-classic-black-palladium

Source: parkerpen.com

Resin

Palladium

Rhodium-plated

parker-duofold-centennial-blue-black

Source: parkerpens.com

Resin

Palladium

Rhodium-plated

<img src="http://assets.parkerpen.com/is/image/NewellRubbermaid/1931391_dfld_imgps_20?$h-645x125$" alt="Image result for site:parkerpen.com duofold centennial"/>

Source: parkerpens.com

Resin

23k gold-plated

Rhodium-plated

parker-duofold-centennial-prestige-black

Source: parkerpens.com

Metallic Lacquer & Varnish

Ruthenium

Ruthenium-finished

parker-duofold-centennial-blue-chevron

Source: parkerpen.com

Metallic Lacquer & Varnish

23k gold-plated

Rhodium-plated

parker-duofold-centennial-burgundy

Source: parkerpen.com

Metallic Lacquer & Varnish

Palladium

Rhodium-plated

<img src="http://assets.parkerpen.com/is/image/NewellRubbermaid/1931333_dfld_imgps_20?$h-645x125$" alt="Image result for site:parkerpen.com duofold"/>

Source: parkerpens.com

Ruthenium

Palladium

Rhodium-plated

  • Palladium is a silver metal that resembles platinum. It is the least dense out of the three.
  • Ruthenium is a silvery white metal and does not tarnish unless subjected to high temperatures.
  • Rhodium is one of the rarest and most valuable precious metals.
  • All three are a silvery white color, belong to the platinum family, and are inert to most chemicals.

One solid block of hand-cast acrylic is used to create a gorgeous, deep gloss on the Classic models. The precious resin of this pen feels warm and sleek in the hand without being slippery. Each Classic barrel is topped with a gold ring and flat, black end cap.

The Prestige range is constructed of metal lacquer and consummated with an impeccable, laser-etched chevron or chiseled pattern. The barrel end is finished with the same palladium, gold-plating, or ruthenium trim material as the rest of the pen model. Though formed from metal, the Prestige line does not add weight to the writer’s hand.

parker-duofold-centennial-ace-of-spades

The trademark Parker ace of spades (Source: fountainpennetwork.com)

The tapered cap is topped with a finial, featuring the trademark Parker ace of spades medallion. Moving down the cap, the base is completed with a ring made of the same material as the pen’s trim. Etched with the Parker name and logo, the ring seamless divides the barrel’s appearance, whether posted or capped. The threads require minimal effort to twist when removing or capping this pen. Every Duofold cap features the Parker signature arrow-shaped clip.

Hand-Crafted Nib

The 18k solid gold, hand-polished nib endures 21 production stages before being affixed to a fountain pen. Nibs are available in fine or medium sizes. As is common with the Parker fountain pens, the Duofold is embellished with the two-toned signature ace of spades design. Depending on the pen choice, nibs are either rhodium-plated or ruthenium finished. In case you have a change of heart, Parker offers a free nib exchange within the first 28 days of pen ownership. Provided it's undamaged, your nib can be sent in and traded for another one of equal value.

parker-duofold-centennial-nib

Ace of spades nib (Source: fountainpennetwork.com)

Putting the Pen to Paper

In the hand, the Parker Duofold Centennial delivers a well-balanced performance. Due to its length, this fountain pen can be easily used posted or unposted. The large size of the Centennial nib paired with the weight of this pen makes for effortless writing. Users simply need to glide the pen along the surface to produce a smooth, consistent line. There’s enough feedback to feel the paper you’re writing on without affecting performance. You’ll quickly find yourself making up any excuse to scribble down a quick note just to use the Duofold Centennial.

Difference Between Parker Duofold Centennial and International

Note: Mobile users, scroll right to view table.

Centennial

International

Length Capped

136mm

131mm

Length Uncapped

128mm

123mm

Length Posted

173mm

164mm

Weight

30g

24g

Nib Length

23mm

20mm

Max Barrel Diameter

13.5mm

11.5mm

Max Cap Diameter

15.5mm

13.7mm

Comparable size and feel to

Pelikan M800, Montblanc 146, Waterman Exception Night & Day

Pelikan M600, Montblanc 145, Waterman Exception Slim

Despite the differences between the Duofold Centennial and International, both pens have the identical ink capacity and use the same sized cartridges and converters.

Parker Duofold Centennial - Make Your Hand Happy

Pros

  • Comfortable taper
  • No step from section to barrel
  • Smooth threads for painless grip
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    Limited writing fatigue despite substantial size

Cons

  • Almost 4 turns needed to uncap
  • Nib takes time to get used to

A Final Word

One of the most sought after fountain pens, the Parker Duofold Centennial continues to demonstrate its staying power. This pen features the upgraded components of a modern fountain pen while keeping the original Duofold spirit alive. The Parker Duofold Centennial a graceful, symbolic fountain pen - one that every aficionado is in pursuit to add to their collection.

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