PARKER SNAKE #37 & #38

This blog is reprinted with permission by its author, Ramon Campos at out of Spain.  Thank you Ramon.

PARKER SNAKE #37 & #38

Preamble: The Mystique of the Snake.

The snake has always held a mystique unlike any other. From ancient times snakes held people in awe, their sinuous movements, the colors, and the patterns of their skins dancing through the air, hypnotizing their beholders.

The snake’s green eyes and stare at you, riveting you to where you stand. You feel weak at the knees seeing this beast so near to your heart. You can feel your heart pounding and the blood rushing through your veins. You cry out, but not a sound comes out. Your mouth is dry. Can this thing be real? Are you hallucinating? You step back and gasp for breath, perspiration beads on your forehead, you shake your head and rub your eyes… it is real a Parker snake #38. (The Pennant Magazine. August 1991, page 1).

A rare Parker #38 ring top. Courtesy of Gary and Myrna Lehrer (
A sterling Parker #37 eyedropper with keyhole vent nib. Auctioned in December 2014 by Golden’s Appraisal, Auction & Estate Services, Woodstock, GA.
A gold filled Parker #38 eyedropper. Courtesy of PBA Galleries, Berkeley, CA. (image © Justin Benttinen)

Snakes! One of the legends among pen collectors is the Parker “Snake” pen, a black hard rubber eyedropper filler pen decorated with a sterling silver overlay or gold-filled metal overlay, like-emerald cabochon eyed snake wound, one around the barrel, with indicia space reserved for engraving owner’s name and, other, around the cap. These pens have a length range between 130/140 mm. mounting a #3 nib.

A Parker #38. Courtesy of Gary and Myrna Lehrer (
A #38 mounting a Lucky Curve round hole nib with “lazy S” imprint. Courtesy of PBA Galleries, Berkeley, CA. (image © Justin Benttinen)

It was made for a few years beginning in 1906 being presented by Parker as “this odd and fantastic design is of a snake’s body. The eyes are set with green stones.  Certainly, a unique covering for a fountain pen.”

A late and singular button filler Parker #37 sterling silver overlay. Courtesy of Gary and Myrna Lehrer (

For whatever reason, a mystique fascination surrounds this pen a make it one of the most desirable pens made. Maybe these models are Parker´s most famous overlay design pen, a coveted Holy Grail of pen collecting.

Details Parker # 38 pen. Each Parker Snake has a particular, unique and exclusive design.
Parker #37 sterling silver overlay imprints

There does not appear to be a unique pattern in curling snake design, so we can see indiscriminately snakes crawling up or down both in barrel as cap.

No two snakes are alike too; each overlay is the result of a unique artistic work. Although inspired on a basic design template, each of them is individually hand embossed and chiseled by a goldsmith artist.

Overlay pens are marked “PARKER FOUNTAIN PEN. PAT. 6-30-91. 1-3-05. DESIGN PATENT PENDING. Additionally, only in silver pens, it is marked too “STERLING” follow of an “H” inscribed in a square; the Geo. W. Heath Co. craftsman engraver hallmark. The inscription «DESIGN PATENT PENDING» and the «H» on the barrel overlay can be engraved on the band near the nib or on the band near the barrel end, indistinctly.

Parker #38 gold overlay imprints.

There is no uniformity in the location of these overlay marks.

There is no a particular feature on the Lucky Curve #3 nibs mounted on the Snakes; although it are mostly observed with a key or tear hole, there are also nibs with round and heart hole.

Some nibs tipe found on Parker´s Snakes.

For those who taste the signals of authenticity, we will say that in many cases silver overlay observed, the bite of the right arm of Heath’s mark is slightly deformed.

The Geo. W. Heath Co. hallmark.

The quoted Geo. S. Parker patents 455,023 and 778,997 involved advances for cleanly writing for fingers and clothing as well as a better flow of ink.

These patents improving the fit of a section with the barrel, and the construction of a feed with whereby surplus ink will be collected near the point of the pen while the pen is in use, but will be positively drawn back into the barrel when the pen was inverted.

Geo. S. Parker patents 455,023 and 778,997.

In 1910 the Snakes were already discontinued, being this segment of catalog covered by the new Swastika design. However, we have been found Snakes button self-filling models and caps characteristics that allow us to observe that the model was manufactured, at least, until 1915.

In 1997 Parker took advantage of this fascination with snake models to launch a modern limited edition.

1997 Parker Snake limited edition.
A #38 eyedropper with Lucky Curve keyhole nib. Auctioned by Bonhams´ house in February 2011 (image © Bonhams).
Parker Snake #38 overlay
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One Comment

  1. Richard Swicegood
    Posted March 8, 2021 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Elegant and well versed blog/article! Loved every minute reading it!

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