As I mentioned in another post, my first fountain pen was a Parker and right now I wish I can remember what it was. Was because for the life of me I can’t remember where it is now. In any case, I can’t resist talking a bit about Parker and maybe even the iconic Parker 51. Bear with me though, I promise it won’t be too long and I’ll get back to the Parker Sonnet fountain pen soon enough!
Parker was founded in 1888 and was either leading the pack or ranked second during the fountain pen’s heydays in the 1920s to the 1960s. Once again, with the onslaught of the ballpoint pen’s invention and fountain pens’ popularity in decline, Parker has since scaled down their production. However, the name remains one of the mainstays when fountain pens are mentioned. Like Waterman, Parker has also entered the ballpoint pen market and they do have some amazing pieces alongside the fountain pens I am more interested in.
As for the Parker 51, their name was actually derived from the number of years the company had been in operation and were renowned for their reliability and extreme ease of use from weight, balance to the feel of pen on paper. Their production has since been discontinued but were produced in such a large volume – chalking up over $400 million of sales in the 30 years they were produced.
The Parker Sonnet
The Parker Sonnet was first conceptualized and produced in 1993. Now this was a tricky time for fountain pens (as it continues to be!) as you might remember getting your hands on the first gel pens at that time. As if ballpoint pens weren’t competition enough. Gel pens seemed to bring together the best of both worlds – a smooth writing experience at a competitive price.
Gel pens aside, I feel that the product life cycle of fountain pens is much more extended or drawn out. The time it takes for people to be familiar with a new fountain pen and for it to gain traction (or not) is much longer than any other product for better or for worse. This also means that the Parker Sonnet is still being produced to this day. Since then though, the Sonnet has taken on a dizzying array of finishes – 46 in all and that’s just fountain pens alone!
Now a sonnet is traditionally a poem or verse with a defined structure or rhythm. It started off with a “proposition” or a “problem” in a sense or a question which needed to be answered. This is followed by a “resolution” or a way which the problem is solved. Often this happens with a change of tone or pace in the poem. I imagine that the name was chosen because in 1993, Parker would have been celebrating its 105th year and they would have needed a pen which would stand the test of time and perhaps last for the next 105 years.
That might have been their problem statement at a time and what better way to remind the world of a time when everyday writing could be done in elegance and style by the conceptualization and production of a fountain pen to cement their legacy and stand the test of time.
Since there is such a wide variety of finishes, I thought I would focus on just three of my favorites and I will tell you what I like about them including the pros and cons. I thought of going through more of them but that would take more time. Do let me know if you would like me to do that though.
Parker Sonnet Blue Lacquer
This is my first pick since I have always been very partial to this shade of blue. This blue however, is not a matte finish but rather has some depth to it. Almost like a subtle sheen from within. Simple, elegant and classic design complementing the color. This particular Sonnet has a 18k gold nib (though a version with a stainless steel nib is available as well) accentuated by a palladium trim for the cap band and clip.
Some Parker models have reputations of having slight feedback for some reasons even when it comes to solid gold nibs. However, the Sonnet series seems to buck the trend by giving a very smooth and polished experience on various qualities of paper. The detail in the nib is also just exquisite with the trademark ciselé pattern which means “chiseled” in French. You can see this in the close-up image below:
Another thing about the Sonnet I should point out is that some lament that the metal band just at the end of the section just before the nib tends to discolor slightly over the pen’s lifetime of being refilled. While I am slightly skeptical about this since “modern” inks for the most part have their composition and acidity carefully regulated, it never hurts to take extra care to wipe excess ink off this portion of the pen so that the ink does not stay on the band.
Cap and barrel
The cap is fitted and “clicks” into place rather gently. This would be helpful if you were in a meeting or a professional situation and not want to cause a distraction. The cap is not weighty and if you would want to write with it on or posted, it does not change the balance significantly.
Overall, it should provide you with a wonderful writing experience without breaking the bank. On a side note, the deep blue color reminds me particularly of the Montegrappa Ammiraglio or limited edition Aurora 88 Sigaro Blu which is not quite within my budget at this point. In that respect you’re getting something beautiful at a less than half of that price. You can get your own Parker Sonnet Blue Lacquer or by clicking the image above which both open in a new tab.
Parker Sonnet Brown Rubber
This fountain pen absolutely captured my attention when I first saw it. I think I’ve mentioned before but I actually place almost equal important on the design of the pen; Maybe just a bit behind the nib and how it writes. I feel like this pen captures the soul of modernist architecture with its minimal ornamentation and asymmetrical composition. Seen above uncapped, the lines would come together at the cap band and fan out again to the end of the cap.
The nib is solid 18k gold as well and according to some people, feels like “writing on glass”. I feel like Parker really has come into its own when gold nibs are in question and there is little doubt that the nibs on the Sonnet can compare with other manufacturers on an even footing. You can take a look at a short demonstration below of the Brown Rubber in action.
Cap and barrel
My very first thought about the name of this pen were not that positive even if it meant to inform what the material is. Rather than being rubber which I think would provide far too much friction on your hand to write comfortably, the material feels quite soft, more like brushed rubber than an outright rubber of the like used for a latex ink sac. This material is encased in metal with the bands and clip accentuated in rose gold.
I don’t think that the pen is overtly masculine to be honest as the angularity of the lines is well-balanced by the rose gold trim. You can get yours by clicking on the image above or the link for the Parker Sonnet Brown Rubber to get your very own.
Parker Sonnet Metro Black CT
When I first saw this pen I was quite blown away by the detail on the cap. In fact that’s the reason why I am using this rather different image as compared to the ones above for the Sonnet Brown Rubber and Blue Lacquer. This fountain pen is, as its name implies, inspired by the illuminated streets of the modern world.
I’ve always been rather enchanted by the idea of a flight near evening as when I depart or arrive at a city, I would see the twisting, branching glow of streets bathed by streetlamps etching a pattern in the darkness. This pen brings across that sensation somewhat, giving the user a bird’s eye view of the city below. These glowing chrome filigrees encourage you to write posted, on your own journey through our modern world.
The nib of the Parker Sonnet Metro is quite unlike the previous 2 finishes. It looks like latitude lines on a globe keeping with the urban and modern theme. This gives the Sonnet Metro quite a different look as compared to its two other cousins featured here. What remains the same though is the same high standard of craftsmanship in the chrome plated 18k solid gold nib and the unparalleled writing experience.
Cap and barrel
The cap and barrel of the Metro are both in luscious black lacquer; unadorned all the more to highlight the cap. Much like the velvet black of night. Surprisingly, the chrome on the cap doesn’t seem to make the pen much heavier and is fine if you prefer writing posted.
To all who would like to own this lovely piece do click on the image above or follow the link for the Parker Sonnet Metro Black and have a new companion to take on your journey with you.
I do think I have said quite enough about Parker and these three finishes in general. Is there anything else I missed out though? Should I examine and review some other finishes? Let me know in the comments below or better yet, let me know about your own experience and adventures with this series!