photo by David Isaacson
In a 1944 internal Parker memorandum, demonstrators are offered to dealers, with a “clear collector”, at $2.50. Here we assume that the “clear collector” refers to what we now call the transparent hood. It would appear that the all-clear demonstrator was not introduced until later in the “51” lifecycle. The earliest all clear demonstrator that the author has found is dated last quarter of 1946. After that we see plenty of 1947 and 1948 dated all-clear vacumatic “51” demonstrators, with the majority dated 1948. A missing piece to this puzzle seems to have been found in a Parker ex-employee find last year in the San Francisco area. The discovery included two amber colored demonstrators with a Parker work order stating “Remake white clear”, hand dated 1946 (the card inventory date is 8-45). Knowing that in 1944 the demonstrator only had a clear hood, and this piece of evidence, we can now conclude that the all-clear demonstrator was probably introduced sometime in 1946.
photo by David Isaacson
Rarest amongst the “51” demonstrators is the Red Band. The Red Band filler was produced in 1946 for a very short time in an attempt to solve the problem of the flooding collectors. The front section of the Red Band is the same as the vacumatic “51”, with the same style hood and collector. The main difference is the filler mechanism and barrel. The filler is a spade-type filler, pushed by a button housed in red threads. The barrel is slightly longer and has a short blindcap with a breather hole. In the demonstrator you can observe the unique finish of the inside of the barrel, where it is slightly concave to accommodate the filler. It should be noted that around the same time, Parker developed the “V.S.” and there are demonstrators of these. Although also a button filler, the barrels are not interchangeable due to the difference in fillers. The author has only seen one of the Red Band demonstrators outside of the Parker archives.
Vacumatic “51” demonstrators were made in other countries as well. The author owns a Canadian demonstrator with its distinctive high-placement blue diamond clip unique to Canadian production. This demonstrator has a black barrel and clear hood, with Canadian imprints and nib dated 1948. The barrel is hotstamped “Demonstrator. Not for Sale.” There are also all clear Canadian demonstrators. In addition there are English-made all-clear vacumatic demonstrators, with English imprints. The one owned by the author is dated 1949, following English production of vacumatic “51”s which continued a few years later after it ceased in the U.S.
In 1948, with the introduction of the aerometric models, new demonstrator versions were also introduced. Parker introduced the all-clear aerometric demonstrator for its sales people. These had a clear hood, barrel and connector ring. In addition, Parker introduced a companion continuous feed pencil demonstrator with a clear barrel. These are very unusual and hard to find. These demonstrators are rarely marked with any imprints.
A twist in the aerometric series, is the large number of pens found with only a clear hood. According to recent literature found, these so called half-demonstrators, with just the clear hood, were production versions sold to the public. The purpose was simply a marketing ploy. Parker was hoping to have its customers demonstrate the new pen to their friends, and thus increase sales. These half demonstrators were available in both full and demi sizes.
In closing, it should be noted that a lot of fake demonstrators have been made and continue to be made in South America. Some are sold as such, and come in a wild range of colors. Others are made to deceive, and are sold as original. Sometimes it is very easy to tell the fakes, as their internal finish tends to be rough and are rather cloudy. Others are very good and can deceive the experienced and inexperienced collectors.