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Pen Pit Stop : Parker Sonnet Matte Black


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Pen Pit Stop : Parker Sonnet Matte Black


Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way - no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let's find out how they have withstood the ravages of time.




The fountain pen that arrives at the pit stop today is the "Parker Sonnet" in Matte Black finish. The Parker Pen Company is a manufacturer of luxury pens, founded in 1888 by George Safford Parker in Janesville, Wisconsin, United States. The Sonnet model was introduced around 1994. It was designed by Geoff Hollington of Hollington Associates in London, who describes it as: "The Sonnet was intended to be 'the classic Parker', a truly timeless product, with a really well proportioned cigar shape, clear but updated arrow clip, a generously sized nib and state of the art writing experience." Much more and definitely interesting information about the Parker Sonnet can be found at https://parkerpens.net/sonnet.html.




The model designation on this pen is very faintly and unobtrusively engraved on the side of the cap, and states "Parker Sonnet, France, Y". The "Y" designates the last digit of the production year. The numbering scheme used takes the word QUALITYPEN, and designates the numbers 0..9 to each of these letters. So Y=6, meaning that this pen was produced in a year ending on a 6 (and more specifically in Q4 of that year). My specific pen has small cap bands, and is an earlier model. With the Sonnet model being introduced in 1994, this means that my pen dates from Q4 1996 … which fits with my recollection that I bought this pen somewhere at the end of the 90's. At that time, I had no particular interest in fountain pens. The pen got some use, and then disappeared in a drawer, where I rediscovered it a couple of years ago. Let's have a closer look at it.





Pen Look & Feel
This is an elegant, slender fountain pen with a very classic feel to it. Ornamentation is kept to a minimum: a few gold-coloured small bands, and of course the iconic Parker arrow-clip. The steel F-nib on this pen is also gold-coloured, matching the rest of the pen accents. The Parker Sonnet line was introduced with lots of different variants. I got me the most subdued one, which is the Matte Black version.
The pen has a push-cap mechanism, and can be used unposted or posted (and it posts securely). I actually prefer to use this pen unposted (posted, it feels a bit top-heavy to me). The pen is very comfortable in the hand. When using it unposted, care should be taken when putting it on your desk - being completely round, the pen has a tendency to roll away. The steel nib on this particular pen is a Fine, but one that writes very wet and leaves a very saturated line (especially when you compare it with the rather dry-writing Lamy Safari). I like this nib a lot.

The pictures above illustrate the size of the Parker Sonnet in comparison with a standard Lamy AL-star. Capped, both pens are roughly equal in size. I prefer to use both pens unposted - the Parker pen is a bit smaller than the Lamy, but is still really comfortable to use. The posted Parker is a bit too large for my taste, and feels top-heavy.
Pen Characteristics
  • Build Quality : the pen is well build, and still looks great after more than 20 years. The pen also has some weight to it (owing to the metal parts used in its construction - parts of the cap, plus the threads where the barrel screws into place). The most visible wear has occurred on the band at the nib-section, where the gold-colouring is flaking away (visible in close-up, but barely noticeable in actual use). Some ravages of time, but overall this pen has aged gracefully.
  • Weight & Dimensions : about the same size as a Lamy Safari when capped. Uncapped and unposted it is definitely a smaller pen, but still very comfortable in the hand. This is also a slender pen, especially compared to the much bulkier Lamy Safari. The pen has also some heft to it - it is substantially heavier than a Lamy Safari, with most of the weight concentrated in the cap.
  • Filling System : this is a cartridge convertor pen, that uses Parker proprietary cartridges. Parker sells convertors, but I never use them. I find it much more convenient to just syringe-fill Parker Quink cartridges.
  • Nib & Performance : the gold-coloured steel nib on this pen is well-proportioned for the size of this pen. In size, it sits right between a Lamy Safari and a Pelikan M200 nib. The F-nib on my unit writes like a dream, and produces a wet and well-saturated line. Replacement nib units in different sizes can be found online (just do a Google search on "Parket Sonnet nib replacement", and be sure to take a look at S.B.R.E.Brown's excellent disassembly line youtube video for the Parker Sonnet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkjMuvNKtgc).
  • Price : I don't remember exactly what I paid for this pen, but my best guess is that it was around 200 BEF (Belgian Francs - the Euro appeared in 2002), which is about 5 EUR (in 1996 value). Today, an equivalent Parker Sonnet costs about 99 EUR, taxes included.



My Parker Sonnet Matte Black is a real classic: a slender and elegant pen with minimal ornamentation. Personally, I really like the looks of this pen - which is mainly due to the matte black finish that looks sophisticated without being in-your-face. The pen has aged well over the years, showing only some wear on the gold-coloured band at the nib section.
The big question is: would I buy this pen again? To this, my answer is: PROBABLY. I like to have a classic-looking pen in my collection: my Parker Sonnet fills this niche, but it could have easily been another classic-looking pen. I do use this pen on a regular basis, and love the way it feels and writes. As such, this Parker Sonnet is definitely a keeper.
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  • jmccarty3


  • visvamitra


  • namrehsnoom


  • Honeybadgers


I kinda dig it. I just never seem to ever find myself with a parker in my shopping cart.


Impressive the matte black finish has lasted two decades.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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To me, the Sonnet nibs are too small for the pen, like the Sheaffer Connaisseur. I have always preferred the 75, which the Sonnet replaced.

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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The effort that went into this review and the fine photography is greatly appreciated, namrehsnoom. A review after a long period of ownership is a good idea. I'm looking forward to more in this series.


After buying a few Baoer 388s I took the plunge and bought a 90s Sonnet flighter. It's a fine pen with an excellent nib. I just can't figure you why my handwriting looks awful when I use it.

Less is More - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Less is a Bore - Robert Venturi

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Maybe one of these days I'll just finally buy one. I do need to finally pick up a cross peerless too. But I've got too much stuff on the way. Just ordered the new pineider traveling inkwell, another bottle of 3 oysters, a new col-o-ring book (I'm over 200 inks now) and the new cursive practice book.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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