The Duofold was a fountain pen created by Parker in 1921. It was twice the cost of other pens at the time, costing seven dollars. However, it was perhaps the pen that put Parker on the map, and, even now, regarded as one of its legends.

The original pen was a button filler. Like most fountain pens of the day, it used a sack inside the barrel to hold ink. A button under a “blind cap” on one end of the barrel Pushing the button bowed a pressure bar, which, in turn, compresses the sack. Release the button, the pressure bar straightens, and the sack expands, creating a vacuum, and draws ink into itself. It was designed to be two pens in one. It would have one configuration with a small blind cap and a regular cap to be a pocket pen, and a desk base and a tail blind cap to be a desk pen. It was offered in black, lapis blue, red, and green. However, the most famous color was “Pompeii Brown”. This color looked more like orange, and earned the pen the nickname of “Big Red.”

Production of the original run ended in 1933. In 1945, General Douglas MacArthur used his Big Red to sign the Japanese Surrender from World War II.

The Dufold name was revived in 1939 for a line of smaller pens. These were closer in size to a Parker 51, and had a filler like the Vacumatic. These pens are not prized by collectors as the earlier pens, but do have a following. Production of this line ended in the fourties.

In the eighties, Parker created a new pen named “Duofold.” Like the new VW Beetle, is was the Duofold of old, made to contemporary styling. In addition to black and a few “Big Red” limited editions, they had some ncie marbled finishes. Though it had a bottle converter, this new pen took ink cartridges. Again, this pen proved popular, and was used to sign a number of treaties, including the INF Treaty. Microsoft Word Version 6 used a roller ball pen version on its splash screen.

I own a Duofold from each era—a Big Red, a 1944 stripped pen, and a 1995 modern one. The modern pen is my “signing” pen, used to sign my house documents (mortgage, etc.), and my Ketubah.

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