Monday, June 15, 2015

Rhymes of the Parker Sonnet (A Review)

It is often said that the Parker Sonnet, was originally designed to succeed the elegant simplicity of Parker 75 pens. The 75-series had already run successfully for over two decades. With a classical yet distinctive Arrow clip, the Sonnets were to carry this legacy through the millennial year and beyond. Geoff Hollington, a London based designer was tasked to make the sonnet rhyme and in due course of time he came up with eighteen different designs for Mark 1 Sonnets, which were successfully released in 1994.  You can find a detailed bible on anything and everything about Parker here.


My Dad had got the lacquer firedance fountain pen back in 1996-97. It was during my schooling years when I had a Camlin Sleek and a Flair Success (a pelikan lookalike) as my grail fountain pens. Those days, it was somewhat mandated (though not strictly) to use fountain pens in government schools, while gel pens had just begun their proliferation, among the private ones. Needless to say, my greedy eyes were fixed on the laque firedance (and a Camlin Premier) from the moment I laid my eyes on the pen. I never knew for years, that it had a gold nib, which was why I was not allowed to carry it to school. 

Luxor India still sells this pen in its online shop, at a price close to $ 100, as I write this review. 

DESIGN (5/6)

The firedance has a mottled lacquer pattern in dark red and black with sparking golden trims. It’s Mark I and a part of the first eighteen sonnets released in 1994, with a distinctive golden arrow clip. 

A golden dazzle preludes the sonnet from the finial end running along the arrow shaped clip before converging with the marbled arabesques of red and black, with a final shimmer from a minimal cap-band. The clip starts with an arrow head before transforming into a slender shaft towards the broader vanes, ending up with the finial rings. Some of the Mark II Sonnets released in 1998 came up with a much broader cap band, which can go well or worse given  your taste.  

On pulling the cap off (yes it’s a snap-on cap), you can notice the golden rings at the start and end of the black plastic grip section. The final symphony is of course played by the usual suspect - the 18k monotone nib glistening at the end of the grip.

The cap mentions a few things in a subtle golden font, the name PARKER SONNET, Parker’s traditional arrow through an oval logo and the date of manufacture, IY  here refers to the year of 1996. In some of the sonnets, you can see the country of manufacture embossed too. (usually I have seen FRANCE)

Further to this, you can observe a unification of design at finial ends of both cap and barrel. A simple black disc does mark the finality in design at both ends of the sonnet. 


On removing the barrel from the grip, you would instantly notice a gold plated metallic thread section, inside which the converter is plugged. With circular cross sections, the parts make an easy fit. A traditional cartridge-converter filling system with a Parker Deluxe Converter gives you an ink-capacity of around 0.5 mL, which might seems limited for extensive writers.


The nib comes in four different nib designs (18k two-tone, 18k monotone, gold-plated steel and steel) across five stock widths - EF, F, M, B & BB (and special widths of OB & I). The firedance has a 18k monotone nib which looks compact and is efficient.

 The tail end of the nib specifies the composition (75% Au) of the gold-alloy used with the traditional diamond hallmark of P-Arrow-P on the left. PARKER and 18 K imprints rest on the body, while an arabesque decor runs along the inside tines towards the shoulders of the nib, encompassing the circular breather hole in between. There is an outer curve which encloses  the nib aesthetics. This one is a medium nib and lays a wet line with a hint of feedback.

Thin fins constitute the feed which along with the nib screws back into the grip section. There is the nib size mentioned in a triangular region at its end.


With a cylindrical lacquer coated metal body, it does give a good feel of length, albeit with a bit of imbalance, while posted. The overall weight of the Sonnets has a significant contribution from the cap. The posted cap might leave you with a dragging feel of top-heaviness.
  • Uncapped Length ~ 12. 3 cm 
  • Posted Length ~ 14.3 cm 
  • Nib Leverage ~ 1.9 cm 
  • Overall Weight ~ 20-25 g

A girth of 1 cm at the grip might seem kind of average but it does match the overall design. 


It retails at around USD 100-105, and might be available at lower street prices. It seems to be a good buy, given the unique make of a lacquer coated pen with a 18k gold-nib. However, you have to be aware that there are a lot of Chinese fakes flooding both the online and offline markets, some of which could be easily identified from the diamond hallmark (P-Arrow-P ) on the nib.

OVERALL (4.8/6)

This 18k nib has a wet flow, with a hint of feedback. The nib is flexible and lays a broader line with a little pressure. There is no significant variation among the horizontal and vertical strokes. These wet lines take almost 7-10 secs to dry with a traditional pilot blue-black ink on MD paper.

Thank you for going through the review.

More pen and paraphernalia reviews here.


  1. Great review! Your article has helped me learn a little bit more about my own Firedance. My pen happens to have a custom formal italic nib, ground by Ward Dunham.

    1. Thank you :) Wishing you lots of happiness with the firedance.