Parker 21 pencils don’t get a lot of attention, due to "matching pen syndrome." Some pencils, like Waterman Patricians, are worth a lot more than they would be otherwise solely because of the pens they match. Others, like Parker 21 pencils, are worth less than Parker 51 pencils – even though they are exactly the same on the inside.
Until recently, about all I could tell you about the Parker 21s was that some of the clips were convex and others were concave – or, since no one gets too upset if you trivialize a 21, I called them "innies" and "outies," to borrow a belly button reference.
At the Raleigh show last summer, I was offered this grouping of pencils, and I had to accept for no reason other than that they took my vocabulary up a few notches:
By the way, the price stickers didn’t look anywhere near this good when I bought them. The gum under the clear plastic tends to squish out around the edges of the labels and collect all sorts of dirt and lint. The best way to clean these off is with a paper towel, used to gently wipe outwards from the center of the label to clean off the residue. When the edges are peeling up a bit, this will also reattach them. Just don’t scrub them, because it’s easy to strip the white lettering right off.
Starting from the right, these aren’t really Parker 21s:
I threw in a blue one I had just to show off another color. I think these are out there in red, too. The longer cap and blocked-off flat clips reveal that these are Parker Parkettes:
The label on this didn’t provide much new insight, other than I’ve never seen one with a label. Both the cap and the barrel are imprinted with "Parkette" and this one has a date code - third quarter 1950:
As for what I had been calling "innies" and "outies":
"Outies" with regular steel (lustraloy) caps were the regular 21s, while the "innies" were the 21 Special – same price of $3.75 for either one.
That’s the only style of "innie" caps I’ve run across, but the "outies" came in a couple other configurations. When you see the lined caps with the gold filled clips:
Those were the Parker 21 "Deluxe," carrying a $5 price tag.
An "outie" with an all gold filled cap and clip:
Was the Parker 21 "Custom," with a hefty $6.25 price tag:
Higher even than the $5.00 price tag on the plain steel cap Parker 51: