Thus, a pen with a 46 code is from October through December of 1936, and pens made in the third quarter are In 1938, the codes for the quarters were changed to simple dots; the accepted reason for this is that it saved in the making of the stamps; rather than having a new code-stamp each quarter, a dot was merely ground off the one for the year.
This means that the codes now had a single digit, flanked and supported by dots at the start of the year, dropping the one beneath in the second quarter, the one behind in the third, and standing alone in the fourth.
Jump to summary chart For those of us concerned with when a pen was made, Parker is the sweetest of all makers, in that many of their pen actually have a date printed right on them.
Not only the year, but which quarter of the year, will appear, giving a very clear sense of just how old the pen is.
They tend to be small and not quite as deeply impressed as the rest of the barrel markings, and decades of wear can render them obscure or efface them entirely.
Modern pens are much more likely to present their codes, but their codes are less easily understood. From then until 1938, the codes took the form of a pair of digits; the first indicating which quarter and the second the year.
Points, on the other hand, bear the brunt of the pen’s daily activity and are more likely to need replacement.
In any event the point’s date code is frequently hidden inside the section, and are much less useful for dating the pen.
An other thing to not get too concerned about is finding a pen has lost its code.
This does not mean that a point whose date code does not agree with the barrel is necessarily a replacement.
Points and bodies were made in separate production lines, not meeting until final assembly, and the lines did generally run to the same schedule.
I understand that this was not brought in until the second quarter of 1938, so the codes for that year should go from 18 to .8. This single digit code persisted until the end of the 1940s, when a second digit appeared.
This practice was evidently started as a means of helping quality control (“What was it exactly that we changed between April and June of last year that made the pens catch fire? While modern Parkers that follow this practice mark only the barrel or cap of the pen, vintage pens generally have a code on the barrel and on the point.
One generally takes the barrel as definitive of the age of the pen as a unit, since caps, barrels and blind caps were usually all made together, and swapping tends to show.