While searching for the perfect matching desk base trumpets for his special Parker Vacumatic and radio desk set, Jaime A. found this great ad from 1936. We love these classic Vac desk sets from Parker. The 1930s might have been a miserable time to live, with the economy in the tank, but, man, they had style.
Just one look at this vintage Parker ad, and you know that its painter Norman Rockwell understood pen collectors very well. Sure, it might look a little schmaltzy with two attractive young lovers ignoring one another’s lips under the mistletoe, but they just got new Parker 61s! Of course, they are geeked about their new treasures!
We, here at ThePenMarket.com, hope you get exactly what you want this holiday season!
With respect to all faiths and those without faith, have a Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Hanukkah, a Joyous Kwanzaa, a Fun Festivus, a Super Solstice and a generally warm winter filled with peace and love.
May you get your heart’s desire.
Best wishes from all of us at ThePenMarket.com
A close friend of the blog sent us a card that is ideal for a pen collector. It is the 1900 Parker advertising campaign, and we thought you might get a kick out of it.
It would appear that Parker once again funded the jolly old elf for another year to use his likeness.
Also, time is running out to get your orders in on time for Christmas! In conversations with customers and Postal Officials, a backlog of deliveries is starting to push back the time it takes for a package to arrive via Priority Mail.
When the post office gets a little behind, we cannot guarantee anything, but it would appear your best bet is to have orders ship via priority mail by Dec. 17. The closer you are to Chicago, perhaps the more you can fudge it, but it would be best to have your orders in to us on the 16th to go out with the mail on the 17th.
Today, essentially, marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. It is still one of the most savage wars the world has ever known. It left nearly 2% of the world’s population dead: 23 million. There is a good reason those who fought it were called the Lost Generation.
Yet, there’s no reason wholesale slaughter shouldn’t prevent the tide of marketing.
Parker had a particularly fascinating line of pens aimed directly at servicemen in the trenches. These pre-Duofold pens were considered “sealed” and leak proof. Best of all, you no longer needed fragile glass bottles of ink, which would not withstand the rigors of combat.
Parker sold special ink tablets. These dried tablets could be dropped in a cup of water or any other small container for a nearly instant supply of ink to fill a pen and write your family or sweetheart back home.
These ads come from around 1917, when the United States officially entered the war, which ended Nov. 11, 1918.
Please note the artillery is being moved by horses in the ads. This would be the last war to see horses used with any widespread practical regularity. It also would be the last to see swords and lances issued with actual intent for battlefield use. (Yes, the Japanese issued swords in WWII, but they were strictly weapons of last resort.) Cockades and spikes also saw their last use on helmets. Battlefields would be dominated by machine guns and the newly invented tanks. Oceans were devastated by submarines. And for the first time, aircraft could fly over enemy territory to observe movements, attack with machine guns and drop bombs. Cars and trucks came to play vital roles. Motorized ambulances saved countless lives. And chemical warfare would devastate countless people with agonizing pain and misery…if not death.
Getting back to the ads, I love that a pack of more than 30 ink tablets cost only 10 cents. Do any of these tablets still exist? I would love to see some and try one.
We recently added a classic Eversharp Doric Junior to our vintage pens collection, and it is striking how handsome it remains, despite a great deal of wear. The layers of transluscent greens still flash through history as if impervious to age.
This made it surprising for me to have difficulty finding color advertising for these remarkable pens. True, the Depression was savaging America during the time these pens were produced. Also true, color ads were and are not cheap compared to black and white ads.
Nevertheless, the one thing that really stands out on the Doric compared to any other pen Sheaffer, Parker and Waterman had in production was the vibrant color and patterns in these pens. You would think they would want to make that the most prominent feature in the ad.
This page from the 1932 Eversharp catalog shows the very pen we now carry. It lists the color as Kashmir Pearl. The catalog itself is in color, which would have helped sell it to pen shops around the country. Yet, the print ad below it, which was published in “Time” magazine in 1935 is like all of the Doric ads my search turned up…black and white.
Not once mentioning the colors of the pen, it tauts a never-leak safety seal of some kind. That would have been an especially important feature on the pen at the time, but the only leak preventer I see in the pen is the inner cap, which most major brands had dating at least back into the 1920s.
Also peculiar is that the ad states the pen holds more ink. The Parker Vacumatic more successfully lays claim to that than any other pen that decade. ANNND, it never mentions the adjustable nib prominently featured in the illustration. That adjuster was supposed to help the pen write thinner and thicker lines, a feature you’d think Eversharp would be shouting to anyone in hear shot.
Then again, just listen to the radio or watch TV, and we still have ample ads that don’t discuss the product’s best features. Heck, sometimes, you can’t even tell what they’re trying to sell.
Celebrity endorsements don’t come cheap, but it appears that Santa has been in high demand with every brand who has approached him over the years.
In 1904 he says Waterman is the best. In 1939 he was hooked on the Parker Vacumatic. In between those years, and well after, old St. Nick has been quick to shill for just about every major and minor pen maker in the world.
At first I thought I should chastise Father Christmas for his inability to pick a favorite vintage pen.
Then I got to thinking about the bigger picture. That’s when I realized what a bloody genius Santa truely is.
Santa has to deliver presents to all of the good boys and girls around the entire planet in just 24 hours. This year alone we’re looking at approximately 3 billion children. True, not all of them are good, but for now we’ll give most of them the benefit of any doubt.
In many cases, Santa delivers more than one toy per child. Even if we average it out to just 3 toys per child, that’s 9 billion toys.
That is more than a boatload of toys. Perhaps in a bygone era Santa could get away with 9 magic reindeer, but the jolly old elf will need rockets and more on his sleigh to cart that type of tonnage around the world. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to imagine such a modern sled as that runs up to $500 million or even $1B.
Even a living saint can’t magically generate enough cash for a rocket sled and 9 billion toys in one year…unless…
Unless he cashes in on his celebrity endorsements! By advertising every brand of every product imaginable, St. Nick could easily gin up trillions every year! Coca Cola alone has likely paid him hundreds of billions. Why else would a single bottle of Christmas Coke cost nearly $2?! A dollar of that must go to pay for Santa’s likeness on the bottle and packaging.
As inspired as Santa’s marketing and fundraising is, he can always use a little extra help from the rest of us.
Thank you, and have a Merry Christmas!
Seriously, how effective was this catty Parker Duofold ad from 1931?!
The ad headline reads like a movie synopsis for a cheap melodrama about a bunch of bitchy women who haven’t got much else to complain about in life. In case it is too small on your computer or mobile device it reads: “She laughingly apologized whenever she borrowed a pen, but she left a trail of ill will.”
It is hilarious for all of the wrong reasons.
The copy block only gets better…I mean worse:
“She had an ‘inexpensive’ pen, but it never seemed to work. In buying it, she thought she was saving money. But she only ran into people’s debt by borrowing pens.
“Because her request always met a courteous smile, she little suspected herself of being a nuisance.”
Is it any wonder Parker stopped making “Lady’s” pens not long after this ad came out in 1931?
As bad as the marketing was, the Lady Duofolds were and still are remarkably good pens. They write smoothly and are easy to maintain. We have a very nice one for sale, if you don’t mind aÂ little discoloration. It still works perfectly. CLICK HERE to see this fully restored vintage pen.
When was the last time you saw a poet getting the opportunity to endorse any luxury item?
This Parker ad from 1957 might be it. The legendary Carl Sandburg eyes a brand new Parker 61 and its mess-free filling mechanism in this classic ad.
You would think modern pen makers would be hitting poetry slams across America looking for popular writers to promote the use of their pens. You, unfortunately, are a logical person. We don’t even see best-selling authors getting endorsement deals for pens, computers or anything.
How did the people who famously use these tools the most get left out of the conversation. One would think that any brand of pen or laptop Stephen King, Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling chose to promote would sell off the shelves.
Tell us: Aside from the Mont Blanc writer series (those writers are dead and have no say), when was the last time you saw a living poet…or any writer in a pen ad?
I love old catalog ads such as this one because they go far to help me identify old pens, their sizes and their design alternatives.
I am forever stumbling upon hard rubber Waterman’s from the 19-teens and 1920s, and I am never quite certain which ones were given sterling silver or gold filigree by the factory or by a local jeweler plying his artistic talents to a basic black pen–as was a frequent occurance during that time.
These ads also help to establish various sizes of pen models and their original pricing. For example: The top pen in the ad comes with the exact same gold mounts in sizes 12 (small) through 16 (large). I now know how many pens I will have to hunt down and find if I want that same model in all sizes with those gold mounts.
After daydreaming for a minute, wishing I had a time machine to go back to the early 1920s to buy gold and silver pens for less than the price of a cocktail in downtown Chicago today, I have fun with the advertising copy.
This ad was very challenging to make in 1924ish. There were no computers or Indesign programs to pop it together. Intricate artwork, cutting, pasting and more went into this very expensive ad for its time. However, you can’t help but wonder who the copy editor was.
“Prices vary according to size of gold pen contained”…???
Even then wouldn’t it have been easier to say, “Prices vary by the amount of gold in each pen”?
I guess I can see why Sheaffer always beat out Waterman. According to our last ad post, Sheaffer pens come with a “cunning” box. Waterman’s pens only came with a “neat” box. Who wouldn’t prefer a pen box that can play chess and carry a conversation with wit?
Vintage fountain pen ads are always entertaining. Often hoaky, and usually too wordy, they wouldn’t hold up in today’s ad campaigns. These days 10 words and an oversized, engaging image is thought of as a solid ad. In the early 1920s, you’d get several paragraphs, if not a complete page of copy, that few people read all the way through.
Early attempts at more image heavy ads seem to convey odd messages. No doubt this Sheaffer ad was supposed to be highly romantic. The couple sure looks swell in their evening clothes.
However, on closer examination, doesn’t it seem–a generation after the women’s lib movement–highly disturbing that the man is holding the woman’s hand as she writes. First off, who can write with someone holding their hand? Second, isn’t it almost creepy that he could well be trying to control her hand?
With one hand on her hip, it looks as if she has moxie enough to squirt that guy in the eye with her vintage Sheaffer fountain pen. Nevertheless, he’s still there guiding away.
Oddly missing is an obvious price. Only in the fine print can you discover that the rolled gold set is $16 and the solid gold set is $68. Imagine a solid gold pen-pencil set today going for $68. At the time, however, a Model T Ford was going for somewhere in the vicinity of $200. No doubt you could have gotten a used car for less than $68.
In case you can’t read the normal-sized text, the copy is written from the woman’s perspective, thanking the man for the fountain pen and pencil set. She describes the box the set comes in as “cunning.” She also establishes that “all” women hate sharpening pencils and that the companion mechanical pencil is basically making all of her dreams a reality.
To blazes with diamond rings, necklaces, flowers, chocolates and other traditional gifts of love on Christmas. What every woman really wants is a mechanical pencil in a cunning box so she doesn’t have to sharpen any more pencils.
Why didn’t somebody tell me that years ago?! At least I know I won’t be single this Yuletide season.
Comments and responses are welcome.