Parker 45 fountain pen review

Parker 45 fountain pen review

I’ve avoided reviewing vintage fountain pens up to now because it’s hard to guarantee consistency. Even new pens can vary a little, depending on the effectiveness of a company’s quality control. So many variables can affect the quality of an old pen that it’s impossible to say if a particular model is going to be a good buy or not.

Parker 45 fountain pen

However, whilst my vintage pen buying record is not great, I’ve had good luck with old Parkers and with Parker 45s in particular. I have two Parker 45s, both bought really quite cheaply, and they are both great.

Parker 45 fountain pen long

The model I’m reviewing here is a traditional black plastic with gold trim and, unusually for a Parker 45, a medium gold nib. Parker 45s generally have steel nibs, often gold plated. (My other Parker 45 has a fine steel nib that is very lovely.) My feeble detective work suggests it dates from the 1960s.

Parker 45 fountain pen nib

The nib is lovely and smooth, though very broad for a medium. It’s a very wet writer and absolutely shows off delicate inks such as this Pelikan Edelstein Amber at their best. The ink on this paper makes my mouth water.

Parker 45 fountain pen cap

The squeeze convertor is fine. It does its job well but at the rate this pen gets through ink its contents don’t last all that long.

Parker 45 fountain pen converter

The cap pushes rather than screws on and posts well. The clip does its job and is the iconic Parker arrow.

Parker 45 fountain pen clip

Parker 45s can be found in a variety of colours and styles. Many have silvery caps and furniture. They are often overlooked, hidden in the shadow of the 51 or Vacumatic, and so can be found for a fraction of the price of those (admittedly very lovely) pens.

Parker 45 fountain pen converter logo

They are an excellent first step into the world of vintage fountain pens.

Parker 45 fountain pen handwritten review


  1. By coincidence, I also wrote about the Parker 45 on at almost the exact same time (May 16, 2014) as you did. While our reviews generally focused on different aspects of the Parker 45, we both mentioned that it was unusual for these pens to have a gold nib.

    I had the good fortune to be contacted on Facebook by Geoff Parker, the great-grandson of the founder of Parker Pens, George S. Parker. Geoff’s father lead the design team that designed the Parker 45. Geoff explained that when the Parker 45 was first introduced (in 1960) all Parker 45’s came with 14K nibs. It was only after the pens became successful that Parker decided to use the Octanium nibs on the less expensive Parker 45s. Geoff said that Octanium was named after the fact that the steel alloy was made of eight different metals.

    The Parker 45 nibs can be changed by simply unscrewing them and screwing in a new one. Thus it’s easy to put a 14k nib into a less expensive Parker 45, which might also explain why some low-end 45s have 14K nibs.

    Harvey Levine

    1. Thank you for stopping by Harvey and for leaving such an interesting comment. What a wonderful website you have!

      1. Ian: Thanks for the kind words about my blog; much appreciated. I also like Pens! Paper! Pencils! very much and have added a link to it on my blog. I especially like your Retro 51 Tornado rollerball review.

        I hope you’ll review other vintage fountain pens, especially those made in the UK like Conway Stuart and Onoto.


        1. Thanks again Harvey. The main reason I haven’t reviewed many vintage pens up to now is that I don’t have all that many. I’ve got a Parker Slimfold (which is lovely) and a Faber-Castell 663 (which is lovely but the nib needs a little work), as well as a couple of Parker 45s. I don’t have a great track record with buying vintage pens that actually work properly, I think due to a lack of knowledge and a lack of funds to buy anything reliably decent. I’ve been learning a lot from your site.

  2. I have used Parker 45’s since I was about 10 years old when my grandmother gave me one. They are, even today, my pen of choice as they are solid performers and just keep on working very well. The nibs are a breeze to change and can be stripped down and cleaned very easily.

  3. Thanks for your lovely article. I love Parker fountain pens and I’ve had a Parker Falcon for years and have just started collecting them and also Parker 45s, too, so your article has been most helpful. I have 2 now – the Parker 45 Arrow, like you show in your article, in burgundy and deep blue. They are lovely. I wondered how you knew the nib was gold and not gold plated?

    1. Back in the early days when Parker 45s were manufactured, it was considered that the highest quality pens would always come with a gold nib. The Parker 45 Signet, being a top-of-the-line model would necessarily have a gold nib. Gold-plated nibs were assumed to be an attempt to fool the public into thinking that a “junky” pen was really a quality pen. So a Parker 45 with a gold looking nib pretty much had to be real gold, not plated. For some of the plastic versions of the Parker 45, the lower tier Parker 45s, the nibs were silver color, but never gold-plated. A big problem with gold-plated nibs, besides the fact that they didn’t have the “feel” of a gold nib, was that the plating would quickly start to flake off giving a mottled gold and silver look, eventually becoming all silver colored. If you find some old “cheapo” pens at a flea market, you will sometimes see some traces of gold plating on a mostly silver colored nib. They look terrible!

      Harvey Levine

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