PenInHand: February, 2010

The Allure Of Sterling Silver: Classic Pens CP5

by Jim Mamoulides, February 27, 2010

Parker Duofold
Classic Pens CP5 Modern fountain pen open

Classic Pens introduced its fifth limited edition in 1999 as the solid sterling silver CP5 Celebration Pens, based on the modern and still in production Parker Duofold Centennial fountain pens. The CP5 is an edition of two pens, Vintage, carrying the straight lines of the original flat-top Parker Duofold, the now famous "Big Red" pen introduced in 1921, and Modern, with the more tapered look of the streamlined Duofold, introduced in 1929. The original Duofold ceased production by 1933.

Parker Duofold
Classic Pens CP5 Vintage (left) and Modern (right) fountain pens closed

Parker re-introduced the Duofold as a modern cartridge / converter pen in 1988, calling it the Duofold Centennial, commemorating 100 years of Parker company history. This was doubly significant as this was the first major Parker product introduced after the management buy-out by the directors of the Parker UK business unit from its US parent. The new, Parker Pen, Ltd, was now a privately held British company.

Parker Duofold
Classic Pens CP5 Modern fountain pen cap and nib detail

The modern Duofold's design captures many of the elements of the original flat-top pen, with it's long cylindrical shape, black cap top and barrel end cap, and washer mounted clip. These elements were updated to where the modern pen is as timeless as the original. The cap top and barrel ends are smooth - no coin edges. The cap top has a place for an emblem insert (Parker refers to these as decals), which Parker has used to enhance many different designs, especially limited editions. The washer clip was updated to a longer and very striking version of the Arrow clip, which was introduced on the Parker Vacumatic. In another nod to the Vacumatic, the original nibs were a two-tone version of the Vacumatic Arrow nib. Finally, in addition to cap bands, the modern Duofold gained a lot of trim rings, at every joint on the pen: at the barrel end cap joint, the section joint, and at the nib opening of the section. Parker added gold and sterling silver pens to the Duofold line in 1992.

Parker Duofold
Classic Pens CP5 Modern fountain pen cap and nib detail

In 1995, Parker introduced the Duofold Mandarin Limited Edition, which heralded the new streamlined design for the modern Duofold, released in 1996. The new design featured a tapered cap top, a raised emblem decal, fewer trim bands, and a shorter end cap. The 1996 models introduced the new two-tone "banner" style nib, replacing the Arrow nib.

Parker Duofold
Classic Pens CP5 Vintage fountain pen open

The Classic Pens CP5 is an official Parker Limited Edition. Each sterling silver pen blank was sent to the Murelli company in France and was individually guilloche engraved creating the two deeply cut distinctive patterns on the pens. The CP5 Vintage Moire, created on on a 1928 vintage circular engraving machine, has a flowing vintage pattern intended to reflect engraving styles seen contemporary to the original Parker Duofold, and the pen was fitted with the flat cap top and emblem decal featured on the early style modern Duofolds. The CP5 Modern Fishnet pattern, created on a modern engraving machine, was intended to reflect contemporary design, made from two linear engravings, circular rings counterpointed with a wavy diamond pattern, and the pen was fitted with the tapered cap top and emblem decal featured on the 1996 style modern Duofolds. Both pens use the 1996 "banner" style nib unit. Classic Pens offered 1,888 CP5 sets when the Limited Edition was released in 1999, but only 500 sets were made, due to change in ownership at Parker, making the pens even more exclusive.

Parker Duofold
Classic Pens CP5 Vintage fountain pen cap and nib detail

The Classic Pens CP5 is a hefty pen, and is not particularly easy to post. I would not try. No sense in scuffing the engraving, and if posted, you are writing with a sterling silver baseball bat. The pen can be used quite well with the cap set aside. Parker Duofolds have exceptional nibs and the pens were offered in fourteen grades, from needlepoint to extra extra broad, and including some italics, so you could pretty much get whatever you wanted as long as you like firm nibs. They do write very smoothly and very well.

The Classic Pens CP5 is an outstanding interpretation of a modern classic.

As we go through the year, I'll continue to select sterling silver pens that hold up like this one as work horses, and others that are clearly works of art.


The author would like to thank Classic Pens for loaning the CP5 pens for this article.

Selected References

"Classic Pens CP5 Celebration Pens Vintage & Modern," Classic Pens website

Fountain Pens of the World, Andreas Lambrou, Copyright © 1995, Zwemmer, London, England

Parker Duofold, David Shepherd and Dan Zazove, Copyright © 2006, Surrenden Pens Ltd, Brighton, England

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