The Parker Pen Company

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Parker  Logo

Parker is one of the few American historical fountain pens brand remained continuously active to this day. The Parker Pen Company was founded by George Safford Parker in 1888 in Janesville, Wisconsin. Today the company is owned by Sanford, a division of Newell Rubbermaid that also owns Waterman.

Although the company always produced good quality fountain pens, Parker golden age goes from the '20s to '60s, when the company has distinguished itself for its great innovation capacity, obtaining always strong success. Thanks also to the creation of a vast network of branch offices (Canada, England, Denmark, France, Mexico, and Argentina), the company always maintained top rankings in worldwide sales of fountain pens, and was successful also in the ballpoint pen era. Together with Sheaffer, Waterman and Wahl-Eversharp is a recognized member of the Big Four.

Parker
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Models et C.
Brand photos
Instructions sheet
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History

Parker early plant

Parker was founded in Janesville in Wisconsin in 1888 by George Safford Parker, which previously had operated as a reseller for the John Holland Pen Company. George Safford Parker, who worked as a teacher of telegraphy, supplemented its income with the trade in fountain pens. Having to repair the pens that he sold, it began to improve their functioning, and because the pens he changed worked better than the original and had success, he decided to found his own company.

He obtained his first patent (nº US-416944) in 1889, and a subsequent patent (nº US-512319) in 1894 for his special Lucky Curve feeder, which went back inside the pen with a special curved shape that is claimed to be able to call back the excess ink when the pen was not in use. In 1891 George Parker associated with William F. Palmer, an insurer and they incorporated The Parker Pen Company in Janesville.

In fact, the "Lucky Curve" was simply a good feeder, which remained in production until 1928, and was used as a trademark for a number of pens, but there are doubts that the curved form actually had the effect to avoid the accumulation of ink, because much repairers cutted it, because the curved part makes it difficult to reinsert it between the nib and section.

In the early years Parker began manufacturing good quality hard rubber pens. In this period it was famous for her silver overlay pens, and in particular for the Snake pen with a snake shaped overlay, that is sought after by collectors for its rarity, and for the Black Giant pen, characterized by a very large size. Another distinction point for Parker pens was the creation of button filler, introduced in 1913 as reaction to the creation of the lever filler, which was never been used in the company's flagship models, despite is diffusion between all the competitors of that time.

Duofold advertisement from '20s.

Parker continued to produce hard rubber pens with good results, focusing on the functionality of his pens and on the benefits of the button filler, but the real breakthrough came in 1921 with the launch of Duofold, which was a huge success, by getting the company at the top of sales. The creation of a large pen, made ​​of hard rubber of a bright red color, was a revolution in the fountain pen world until then dominated by the black color, and foreshadowed the introduction of the celluloid colors by several years.

The success of the Duofold, despite its price (10 dollars) was high for the time, continued for over a decade in which the models were revised several times, adjusting the production to the introduction of new materials such as celluloid or the new Streamlined style with tapered models. In 1923 was opened a plant in Canada, and was introduced a Lady Duofold model for women. In 1926 also the Parker began to move production from hard rubber to celluloid.

All color for Vest pocket Duofold.

In 1926 was introduced an economic model, the Parker DQ, named such as Duofold Quality and at the end ofhe same year the company introduced also the Pastels models in pastel colors, as an alternative to the Duofold ladies models, sold at a lower price. But with the coming of Great Depression, the company was faced with a critical period.

In 1929 the profits that were enormous suffered a steep fall, many producers failed and others had to sell off their pens at low prices. Parker, that taken years to establish its brand, decided not to devalue his pens, and kept prices high for the Duofold, but in order to compete in 1932 introduced a range of economic models, school-type, for which they did no advertising. These models did not have a name and are usually indicated by collectors as Thrift Time, or depression pen.

A Vacumatic advertisement of 1941.
The Vacumatic arrow clip

The company, the had wisely piled stock in the good period, continued to invest in research, testing new materials and new filling systems, up to the realization, in 1933, of the wonderful Vacumatic, with the arrow clip drawn from Joseph Platt (patent nº US-D088821, who has since then become the company symbol) with a transparent tank thanks to the new filling system with the same name. The new pen reported the company at the top of the market.

In 1939, following a trend initiated by Sheaffer with his White dot and followed by other brands, also Parker adopted a symbol to indicate the lifetime warranty, putting in the head of their pens clips the Blue diamond, a small diamond in blue enamel. Unlike what happened for other brands the symbol was introduced late and for a relatively short period, going to disappear after a few years.

The Blue diamond for lifetime warranty.

Despite the commercial success and the good technical quality of its pens, the Parker continued to invest heavily in research and innovation, and in 1941 introduced a revolutionary model, the 51, between the first pens made ​​of plastic (Lucite) with a characteristic hooded nib, which is necessary for the use of a new quick drying ink (the Superchrome Ink), which tended to degrade the celluloid. The pen, although could not be considered particularly beautiful, and despite being built in ordinary plastic, was a tremendous success, and is probably the most sold fountain model of all time.

The 51 had a number of changes in the following years, such as switching in 1948 to a new the filling system called aerometric, the creation of different versions, including some luxury models in precious metals or with complex decorations for the metal cap. Some of these are extremely rare and highly sought after by collectors.

In the following years the Parker continued introducing of new models and new technologies as the unique capillary filler of the 61 model, or the realization of T1 model in titanium. The company was active in the fountain pen market with luxury and economic models, and at the same time achieved great successes in the production of the new ballpoint pens.

The Parker remained active in the pens market, although since 1976 the company obtained more profit by the temporary employment agency Manpower than from the sale of pens. In 1993 the pen production division was acquired by Gillette Company, which already owned the Paper Mate. In 2000, Gillette gave the division the writing instruments Newell Rubbermaid, which already owned the Waterman.

Chronology

Year Event
1888 the company is founded by George S. Parker in Janesville, Wisconsin
1889 George S. Parker begin to make fountain pens
1891 George S. Parker begin a partnership with William F. Palmer
1892 the company is incorporated as The Parker Pen Company
1894 the company patents (nº US-512319) the "Lucky Curve" feeder
1898 the company patents the slip-on cap
1899 the company patents (nº US-622256 and nº US-635700) the Jointless Pen
1900 the company introduces the gold filigree Lucky Curve
1904 the company introduces a first filling system based on rubber sac squeezing
1905 the company patents (nº US-778997) the spear-head feeder
1906 the company introduces the Emblem Pen
1907 the company introduces the Parker Snake
1909 the company introduces the Red Giant
1911 the company patents (nº US-990288) an improved Lucky Curve feeder, named spear-head
1912 the company introduces the Jack Knife
1914 the company introduces the Black Giant
1916 the company produces the Trench Pen for the U. S. War Department, given to soldiers to write from the front line
1916 the company patents (nº US-1197224) the washer clip
1917 the company retires the Red Giant
1918 Cross became producer for Parker mechanical pencils
1918 the company retires the Trench Pen
1920 the company start producing mechanical pencils
1921 the company introduces the Duofold
1921 the company retires the Black Giant
1922 the company introduces the models Duofold Deluxe with the metal band at the cap edge
1922 the company introduces the smaller size models Duofold Jr. and Lady Duofold
1925 the company introduces the Black-tipped Jade first celluloid models
1926 the company introduces the Parker Pastels
1926 the company converts all production to celluloid, starting from Duofold
1927 the company convert Duofold from raised to flush band
1928 the company introduces two rings on Duofold cap (three for the the De Luxe)
1928 the company introduces the True Blue
1928 Parker acquire Osmia for the european production
1929 the company introduces the streamlined version of the Duofold
1929 the company retires the True Blue
1930 the company introduces the vest pocket Duofold
1930 the company introduces the Vest Pocket Duette model
1930 Parker retires from Osmia and the Osmia GmbH is founded
1931 the company introduces the Quink ink
1931 the company introduces the Burgundy Black Duofold
1932 the company introduces sample of the Golden Arrow, the Vacumatic forerunner
1932 the company introduces the Parco
1932 the company introduces the Thrift Time
1933 the company rename the Parco as Parkette
1933 the company introduces the Vacumatic
1933 the company retires the Thrift Time
1934 the company restyles the Parkette introducing the De Luxe version
1935 the company retires the Duofold that no longer appear in the catalogs[1]
1936 the company introduces the Challenger
1936 the company produces only for this year the Senior for Vacumatic
1936 the company introduces the Golden Web
1937 the company retires the Golden Web
1937 the company introduces the Speedline Vacumatic
1938 the company introduces the Shadow Wave version of Vacumatic
1939 the company completed the Parker 51 development
1939 the company introduces the Blue Diamond life warranty
1939 the company introduces the Duofold Geometric
1939 the company retires the Challenger
1940 the company introduces the Laidtone Duofold
1940 the company retires the Duofold Geometric
1940 the company introduces in South America and the Caribbean
1940 the company retires the Vacumatic Burgundy color
1940 the company retires the Parkette both normal and De Luxe version
1941 the company introduces and then retires the Parkette Zephyr
1941 the company introduces the Parker 51 on the global market
1941 the company introduces the Vacumatic Maxima with round bottom
1942 the company introduces the War time Vacumatic
1942 the company retires the Shadow Wave Shadow Wave versions of Vacumatic
1946 the company introduces the Red band filler on the Parker 51
1947 the company introduces the Parker 51 Demi
1947 the company retires the Red band filler on the Parker 51
1947 the company introduces the Parker VS
1947 the company introduces the new 51 arrow clip
1948 the company retires the Laidtone Duofold
1948 the company retires the Vacumatic
1948 the company introduces the Parker 21
1948 the company introduces the Superchrome Ink
1948 the company turns the 51 to the aerometric filler
1949 the company introduces the Parker 51 Flighter version
1949 the company retires the Parker VS
1950 the company introduces the Parker 41
1950 the company introduces the Parker 51 Special
1950 the company reintroduces the Parkette
1951 the company retires the imprinting date code on USA produced Parker 51
1951 the company retires the Parker 41
1952 the company introduces the 21 Mark II
1953 the company retires again the Parkette line
1953 the company retires stops imprinting date code on the Parker 51 produced outside the USA
1954 the company introduces the Made in USA imprint on Parker 51 cap
1956 the company removes references to the Superchrome Ink on the Parker 51 filling system
1956 the company introduces the Parker 61
1956 the company retires the Superchrome Ink
1957 the Eversharp writing instrument division is sold to Parker
1960 the company introduces the Parker 45
1962 the company introduces the Parker VP
1962 the company introduce 61 second version
1964 the company introduces the Parker 75
1965 the company use a section with plastic threads on the 75
1965 the company retires the Parker 21
1965 the company retires the Parker VP
1968 the company remove the 0 central mark on the 75 ring
1970 the company introduces the Parker T1
1971 the company retires the Parker T1
1972 the company retires the Parker 51 (date uncertain[2])
1972 the company introduces dished ends on the 75

Riferimenti esterni

Note

  1. as reported by Richard Binder here who also reports a subsequent production, demonstrated by the presence of a model with a 1938 dating code.
  2. we use the one indicated as official by Richard Binder in this article.