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The Parker Pen Company

The Parker Pen Company

The Parker Pen Company

George Stafford Parker, the founder of the Parker Pen Company, was born on November 1, 1863, in Shullsberg, Wisconsin. His parents, Norman S. Parker and Jane Parker were farmers and quite influential in Shullsberg . George didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and attended instead the Valentine School of Telegraphy in Wisconsin.

After graduation, Parker started teaching telegraphy. To support himself, he accepted a side job selling fountain pens for the John Holland Fountain Pen Company. His students were also his best customers. However, since the pens were not of very good quality, Parker felt obligated to repair them, which he did very well. Understanding the inside of a fountain pen, he started to work on improving it. 

Parker received his first fountain pen related patent. At about the same the Parker Pen Company was founded in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Parker decided to partner with William F. Palmer, a successful insurance agent.  Both men had been friends for quite some time.

Parker obtained the patent for a new ink feed system. He called the pen “Lucky Curve”. This was the first pen to make use of capillary action.

All companies at this time had the problem that their pens, when not in use, kept some of the surplus ink in the ink-channels. When the pen was re-used, this ink produced a big ink stain. Parker solved this problem with an ink feed that was curved and touched the inside of the pen. When the pen was upright in the owner’s pocket, the capillary action forced the surplus ink back into the pen.

Parker employed this special feed mechanism in most of its top-selling pens until 1929.

Today, the Lucky Curve pen is one of the most sought after by collectors. Initially made in hard rubber, it was offered in more than 400 different designs and some of the most beautiful pens ever manufactured by Parker.

The slip-on outer pen cap was patented and the feed of the Lucky Curve pen was redesigned.

The Gold Filigree Lucky Curve Pens were introduced.

In addition to his scientific talents and success as an inventor, Parker understood the importance of market development. In 1903, he embarked on a world tour, hoping to establish overseas distributorships. His first success was the Scandinavian region.

In the years leading up to World War I, Parker announced several technological innovations, including the Black Giant, precursor to the Duofold, and Parker's response to consumer demand for large fountain pens. The Black Giant sold successfully until its discontinuation in 1921.

Development of the "Spear-Head" ink feed.

Launch of the Emblem Pen, forerunner to the advertising pens of today. Companies and secret societies would order the pen with their emblem incorporated for their members.
Introduction of the silver and gold Snake Pen.

Introduction and patent for an improved Lucky Curve feed. 

1914 to 1918
Despite the onset of World War I, business went extremely well for Parker.

Parker introduced the Trench Pen. It contained dehydrated ink in pellet form in its barrel. When added to water, the pellets changed back into ink. This unique design allowed soldiers to refill their pens while remaining in the trenches. The US War Department awarded Parker a contract for the Trench Pen, ensuring the company's financial success throughout World War I.

Russel Parker joins his father’s company, in charge of administration and production.

Introduction of the Jack Knife safety pen. This pen was to be the forbearer of one of the most successful pen designs, the Duofold.
The Jack Knife safety pen solved a problem most early fountain pens had: they were more than likely to leak into the user’s pocket. Hard rubber slip caps were not very reliable and slip on caps could slip off when the pen was in a shirt pocket or in a purse. Carrying the pen nib upward was risky too and carrying the pen downward even more so. In addition, most early pens had vent holes in their cap through which ink could leak. Therefore, solving the problem of leakage due to the cap was the first step towards a pen that was safe to carry, hence the name “safety pen.
By adding an inner cap to a screw-on cap and removing the breather holes, Parker created an ink-tight seal. At first recapping was a two-step process, but this was soon simplified. It then was sufficient to screw down the outer cap, the inner cap would automatically stop against the section and sealed the pen.  This feature was an essential part of Parker’s “Safety-Sealed” system, which provided the company with advertising copy for the next several years.

Annual sales for the first time surpassed $1 million.

Manufacturing and administration were moved to new buildings in Janesville. These would continue to serve as corporate headquarters until 1986.

The Parker Pen Company continued to flourish throughout the 1920s, beginning with the invention of the mechanical pencil.

Parker busied himself with attracting new distributorships throughout Europe, Australia, India and the Orient.

Kenneth, George Parker’s second son, joined his father and brother to improve the company's marketing efforts.

Parker Duofold
The company launched yet another first in fountain pen history, the Parker Duofold. The Duofold is the pen that made the Parker Company into one of the greatest pen-manufacturers in the world.

The Duofold revolutionized pen design with its bright orange-red color and big size. The orange color was initially called Pompeii brown and the pen existed only in one size called SR short for Senior (approx 129 mm long and 16mm in diameter). The pen was highly successful, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a Dufold to write the exploits of Sherlock Holmes and General Douglas MacArthur signed the document ending World War II in the Pacific with his 20 year old Duofold.
The Duofold very quickly earned the nickname “Big Red”, a name that survives to this day. It embodied the feel of the Roaring Twenties – it was big, bold and very jazzy. At $7.00, the Duofold was the most expensive pen on the market. Pleased with the reliability and durability of its latest creation, Parker gave it a 25 year guarantee.

There are at least three stories in circulation regarding the origin of the name "Duofold". One, that it was named for world traveler George Parker's favorite airplane (airplanes were used in the promotion for the pen), except that none of his planes was named Duofold.  Another tale holds that it was named for its ability to be converted from a pocket pen to a desk pen simply by replacing the short blind cap with a longer taper (both were supplied in some Duofold gift sets, and Parker could also supply a "Pen Parker" that allowed the cap to be used as a desk stand).

However, most collectors believe that the name is due to the fact that the original Duofold could be filled with an eye dropper if the filling mechanism failed and was able to be used to make carbon copies (manifolding). 

Black Giant
Discontinuation of The Black Giant.

The Junior Duofold and the Lady Duofold were introduced.
A Black Duofold was added in all 3 sizes.

Parker opened its first manufacturing subsidiary in Canada.

A wholly-owned distribution company opened in London to handle most of Canada's production. This site distributed Parker pens throughout Europe.

Parker DQ
Parker launched a lower-priced alternative to the relatively expensive Duofold, the DQ (Duofold Quality). It was sold for approximately half the price of a Duofold pen ($3.50).

This pen was made in black rubber with a distinctive lengthwise striped finish. It came both in Junior and Lady size, with either a ball-clip or a ring. The imprint on the body was either Parker DQ or Parker Lucky Curve.

Parker began to produce pens in plastic rather than rubber and the green jade colored Duofold was introduced in all three sizes but not yet imprinted as Duofold.

The plastic Duofolds called the Special were also introduced in two sizes the same year.

Another new pen was the Juniorette, which was a Duofold Lady with a clip like the Junior instead of the ring.

For the first time Parker used a durable plastic called Permanite. The new material replaced the traditional vulcanised rubber, which tended to be brittle it also allowed Parker to introduce new colors such as Mandarin Yellow and Blue Marble (Lapis Lazuli), the later is very rare today. The Madarin Duofold SR is today one of the most popular of all plastic Parkers. At the time it didn’t sell very well. According to estimates only every 1 in 500 was yellow.

Parker employed publicity stunts, such as throwing the Duofold out of an airplane over the Grand Canyon to prove their durability. The pen survived the shock and Parker used this widely in their advertising.

In early 1927, Parker introduced a slender and small ladies pen nicknamed “the Pastel.” This was to be a pen for ladies as an alternative for the black Parker DQ (Duofold quality) and the Raven Black, in the low price range and was offered in many different colors. The Pastel sold for $3.50 for the pens and $3.00 for the pencils. The design was similar to  the Duofold , had the same filling mechanism, clip, and general style.

The pen was advertised under the name “Parker Patrician”, not exactly a great choice, since this implied a big pen, not the smallest Parker made at the time.

A top of the line Duofold was introduced: the Duofold De Luxe.

Parker Three Fifty “True Blue”
Parker introduced one of the most sought after of its lower priced pens, known today as the "True Blue." This slender blue and white swirled Permanite pen was called the "Three Fifty" in Parker advertisements and the color was named both "Modernistic Blue" and "Modern Blue-and-White."

Redesign of both the Pastel and the Duofold into “streamlined” versions. The impulse for this redesign came from a new design style: Streamline Moderne, a late branch of Art Deco. This design style employed curved forms and long horizontal lines and was applied to industrial design, including cars, household appliances and the like. It reached its height in 1937.

Parker Three Fifty “True Blue”
Discontinuation of this pen line.

The great Depression cut sales for all pen makers and Parker’s profits were cut in half between 1929 and 1930. By the end of the depression many of the smaller companies had disappeared and the market was now dominated by Parker, Eversharp, Sheaffer and Waterman.

Despite the crisis, all firms tried to innovate. Parker was conscious that its flagship, the Duofold, would soon need to be replaced with something new. The lever mechanism was not very aesthetically pleasing and it had happened that the lever when accidentally pulled created a big ink blob on the owner’s clothes. But even more important, Parker devised a strategy to protect its brand and future margins whilst generating cash during the crisis: it developed a line of cheaper pens.

Parker hired a top designer – Joseph Platt from New York to design the Parker arrow – still a Parker trademark today – and approached the DuPont Company for a new plastic for a new model: the Golden Arrow.

The Pastel pen production stopped. Since these pens were often carried in handbags it is rare to find them in mint condition today.

Vacuum Filler
Parker had been offered a patent for a new filling system in 1927. After 5 years of development, Parker launched the Golden Arrow a revolutionary new pen, and claimed it to be the first self-filler without an ink sac, which was not entirely true. However, the filling mechanism was an innovation. It used a membrane rather than a sac and the whole pen body could be used as a reservoir. The button was replaced with a relatively thick plunger that was used to create a vacuum. It is referred to as the “Lock-Down Fill” or “Twist-Fill”.

The nib was engraved with the new arrow emblem and the pen body had the imprint “Golden Arrow Made In USA”.  The pen was available in Black and Grey in the Standard version (122 – 132 mm) and was an instant success.

Later in 1932 the pen was suddenly named “Vacuum Filler”, no one knows exactly why.  Only the Vacuum Filler appeared in advertisements.

Parker introduced another pen for the lower-priced segment, the Parco, which apparently later became the Parkette. The pen had a lever filler mechanism and a 14 karat gold nib.

Russell Parker died, pushing his father into a depression that would last until his own death four years later.

Another miracle of Parker's pen engineering produced the Vacumatic featuring a sacless filling mechanism which held over twice as much ink as the Duofold. This cutting-edge creation catapulted the Vacumatic ahead of the Duofold in popularity.

The Vacumatic was launched in Standard, Junior and Sub Junior sizes. The nibs were made of gold and platinum, the arrow was in gold. The nib was engraved: “USA/PARKER.”

With the Vacumatic, Parker sales increased by 32% in 1933. Parker now spent ½ of its income to advertise pens. Parker targeted not only businessmen, but also students, since he assumed that those who could afford college education could also afford relatively expensive pens. Parker’s marketing paid off: the Vacumatic helped Parker to become the biggest pen manufacturer in the US.

The Duofold pen still sold but Parker stopped its production. In Europe and Canada the Duofold continued to be produced until the mid 1940s.

Depression Pens/Thrift Time pens
Between 1933 and 1935 Parker produced several cheaper pens in interesting colors, the so called “Depression pens” or “Thrift time pens”. Parker had made a conscious decision not to hurt the brand and its future income by selling expensive pens cheap.

Parker quietly began selling cheap school-pens that were hardly advertised. They sold in dime stores, didn’t have a brand name and resembled the Duofold.  Thriftpens were produced in two sizes, eventually the smaller model was referred to as Duette.

The Duette was produced in a wide variety of colors (up to 30) and was very popular among students. This is also one of the reasons why it is very difficult today to find pens without scratch or bite marks. The production of the Duette was already stopped in 1933 after less than a year.

Two similar economic pens were produced in Canada, the Premiere (same as Duette SR) and the Moderne (same as Duette JR).  Thriftpens also included the Duofold-thrift, the Canadian Televisor and the Challenger.  The Challenger was a mid-priced school pen with a button filler, made out of the same plastic as the early marbled Vacumatic and came in two sizes: Slender and Standard.

Most of the depression pens were produced in marbled designs.

Three transparent laminated versions of the Vacumatic were launched:  transparent burgundy, transparent grey and transparent black. This was achieved with a new transparent plastic by DuPont. The user could now hold the pen to the light and immediately see how much ink was left. The transparent version became so popular that Parker stopped production of all opaque pens during that same year.

1934 also saw the introduction of two additional models in the Top Line: the Oversize and the Slender.

The Sub Junior was replaced by the Junior Slender. 

This year Parker was selling 325,000 Vacumatic units.

Depression Pens/Thrift Time Pens:
The Challenger DeLuxe version was introduced. It was heavier than the Challenger and was offered in the same colors and sizes.

Launch of Victory first produced in Canada for export to the UK and then from 1941 on made in Newhaven in the UK.

Introduction of Valentine, Sister pen to the Victory but with both lever fill and button fill.

Parker added the Senior and the new color brown golden pearl. Two designs were added to the bottom line: the Black Reticular, and the Golden Web.

During the mid thirties a range of special nibs for the Vacumatics were produced, the so called Special Purpose Point. This nib had two identifying stars (very much like those on the famous "star clips") these nibs came in eight different styles, all denoted by a letter:

A Superfine, Rigid, Long nib.
B Superfine, Semi-flexible, Long nib
C Superfine, Rigid, Short nib
D Extra-fine, Rigid, Short nib
E Music Point, Flexible, Long nib
F Extra Broad, Fast Flow, Short nib
G Stenographic, Long nib
H Stenographic, Short nib

The nibs were of the standard size only, except G and H that were also made in the slender size.

George Safford Parker died in Chicago at age 74.

Depression Pens/Thrift Time Pens:
The Royal Challenger was added to the Challenger line.

Around Christmas 1937 the Challenger series was completely redesigned. The Standard and DeLuxe pen clip was now tapered and imprinted “Parker”. The Visiometer ink-vue, a transparent section that allowed the user to verify the ink level was added to the pen. This feature was also added to the Parkette, Televisor and Duo-tone.

50th anniversary of the Parker Pen Company.

Production for the BlackReticular and the Golden Web was stopped.

The new model Junior Debutante was offered.

The bottom line of the Vacumatic was reorganized. The pens became more streamlined and adopted the new Speedline filling system. The new "Parker" Arrow clip was fitted to all Vacumatics, including the Top Line.

In the Top Line the Standard and the Slender became streamlined.

The Junior Debutante was renamed Sub-Deb. The Junior Debutante style did live on but in 1940 moved up to the Top Line in the form of a model called Debutante.

The new Parker Arrow clip first appeared on the Junior Debutante model in 1938 but was fitted to all Vacumatic’s in 1939.

In the Top Line the Blue Diamond was added, which ensured lifetime guarantee for it's original owner.

The 1939 Vacumatic’s were offered in 16 different models:

  • Senior Maxima (16 mm diameter, 139 mm  lenght)
  • Maxima (14 mm diameter, 135 mm length)
  • Major (14 mm diameter, 131 mm length)
  • Standard (streamlined)
  • Slender (streamlined)
  • Junior (streamlined)
  • Sub Deb (streamlined)  
  • Imperial Major Signet (16 mm diameter, 139 mm length) 
  • Imperial Lady Signet (14 mm diameter, 135 mm length) 
  • Imperial Signet (14 mm diameter, 131 mm length)  
  • Imperial Debutante Signet (12 mm diameter and 118 mm length)  
  • Imperial (14 mm diameter, 131 mm length)   
  • Imperial Debutante (12 mm diameter and 118 mm length) 
  • Imperial Ensign (14 mm diameter, 131 mm length)  
  • Imperial Princess (12 mm diameter and 118 mm length)
  • Imperial Coronet, today very rare

Parker 51
The Parker 51 came out of research and was named “51” because this happened on the 51th anniversary of the Parker Pen Company.

Geometric Duofold
The production of the Challenger was stopped. 

In the end the complete range of low-end pens was replaced by a new low-end Duofold model, the Geometric, also nicknamed “toothbrush” Duofold, and later in 1941 by the Vacumatic Duofold range.

The strategy during the depression years to never discount top line pens had paid off for Parker. 

The streamlined Standard pen was discontinued in 1940 and the Major filled the gap.
The Slender was also discontinued and replaced by the Debutante, which was very much like the Junior Debutante but was fitted with the Blue Diamond (lifetime guarantee) and had the two-tone nib.

Parker’s Canadian factory acquired an interest in the Valentine Pen Company in Newhaven, UK. The first products sent out of Newhaven under the name of the Parker Pen Company were assembled from components delivered from Canada.

The first product to be made in the Newhaven factory was the Parker Victory Pen.

Parker 51
Launch of the Parker 51. With its cigar-shaped design and hooded nib, it earned the company prestigious design awards. Its popularity created enormous demand which soon exceeded production. The body of the Parker 51 was designed to look like a jet-fighter from the side (without the wings) and the material used (Lucite) was the same that some wartime planes had in their nose-cones.

The Parker 51 was the first pen that had the nib under a hood. To achieve this Parker had to redesign the nib. The result was a nib which was tubular and rather rigid. The thought behind the hood was not to let the ink have a chance of drying on the way from the ink reservoir to the paper, which is something that happens to most pens that are left uncapped for a while.

The Parker 51 came in 4 different styles and 7 different colors and buyers of this pen had many different options with regard to cap designs.

The Parker 51 was to become the world’s most sold fountain pen and even of historical importance: the Armistice ending World War II on the European Front was signed with a Parker 51 pen belonging to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Vacumatic Duofold
The Geometric Duofold was replaced with a new series of lengthwise striped Duofold pens that came in 3 sizes: Senior (with the diamond mark), Junior and Lady. Initially these were button fillers but soon the aluminium plunger Vacumatic filling system was fitted to them, which later (in 1942) was replaced with the plastic plunger.

A new color, transparent azure blue, was introduced in both lines and burgundy pearl was discontinued.

The Senior Maxima was renamed Maxima to distinguish it from the slender, late 1930's model.

The Imperial Signet, the Imperial Debutante Signet, the Imperial Ensign and the Imperial Princess were all discontinued.

Launch of the last of the Vacumatic filling systems, in all respects like the aluminium Speedline fillers, but since the metal was now needed for war purposes the 1942 plungers were made out of plastic.

The Slender Maxima was discontinued.

A new Duofold was introduced, the Duofold NS (New Style).

Parker 51
A lady’s size Parker 51 called Demi 51 was introduced. The "real" Demi already had the Aerometric filling.

The Demi was made in three different types. Type 0 was a Vacumatic filler and, except for a shorter barrel, in all aspects identical to a standard Parker 51. Type 1 was identical to the Mark II Parker 5, except it was sporting a smaller diameter. Type 2 was also identical to the MK II Parker 51 type 2 with a few design differences and again a reduced diameter.

Parker VS
With the introduction of this pen, Parker made a last try, to introduce an open nib pen. Although this was an excellent pen, customers were not interested, the rage was all for the hooded nib Parker 51.

There are several possible explanations for the meaning of VS: some suggested "Victory successor", either relating to the end of World War II, or to the English model Parker Victory, introduced in 1946.

It is however more probable that the VS stood for “Vacumatic Successor", since the VS was introduced while the Vacumatic line was being phased out.  The VS combined the open nib of the best-selling Vacumatic with the "jetfighter" design of the already best-selling Parker 51.

The VS was more popular in Europe where it sold much better that in the US. Christian Olsen, the Danish Parker representation, continued producing it into the 1950's.

Parker 21
Introduction of the Parker 21, a school pen that was a less expensive version of the Parker 51. It was made in cheaper plastic and with an alloy 8-metal nib rather than a gold nib.

The Parker 21 quickly became very popular and achieved a more than 60% market share among the segment of over $5 Parker pens. Due to the cheap plastic this pen is prone to breakage; especially the section is often cracked.
A redesigned Duofold with a slightly changed filler system was launched: AF Duofold, aluminium filler.
The Senior was introduced.

The Vacumatic line underwent no further changes and was phased out in 1948 since it was outsold by the Parker 51. Production of the Vacumatic did however continue in Canada until 1953.

Launch of the Popular, a unique Parker pen that was solely manufactured by Parker’s subsidiary in Denmark: the Christian Olsen company.

Introduction of a cheap school pen made by Parker but not sold under the Parker brand name following a similar strategy as the Parkette and Challenger of the 1930’s. Neither the Writefine, nor the Parkette survived for more than a year.

Parker continued to explore the potential of overseas markets and in 1949 opened a subsidiary in South Africa followed by manufacturing facilities in France and Mexico two years later.

Parker 51
The Parker 51 Presidential in solid gold was introduced.

Parker VS
Parker VS's production was stopped.

Parker 51
Mark II was launched. It had a brand new filling system that was to be used in all future Parker pens: the Aerometric. Since ink sacs in earlier models inevitably decomposed, leading to a lot of ink “disasters” on clothes, Parker developed a sac in a new tough plastic material, called Pli-Glass. It was see-through and the owner of the pen could see how much ink was left in the sac.

The Parker 51 Flighter was introduced. This pen was made of steel with gold-filled trim and survided until 1960.

The Parker 51 Special was introduced. This pen had the aerometric filling system but in the manner of the Demi 51 with a U-shaped pressure bar. The big difference was that it sported an octanium (eight metal alloy) nib rather than one made of gold and it came with a shiny chrome cap only (the Standard Parker 51 was made in a matte chrome design).

The Parker 51 became so popular that all the other American pen companies were forced to adopt the hidden nibs. The Parker 51 became a status symbol and the company used to get large orders for caps only. The costumers wore the caps in their pockets with the clips visible to let believe that they actually were proud owners of that very popular but also very expensive fountain pen...

Parker 21
Introduction of the Parker 21 “fishscale”. The trouble with this first design was that the ink dried on the feed too quickly if the pen was left unused for a while, but also that it sometimes too willingly released ink when it shouldn’t have and frequently leaked into the cap.

Parker 41
Introduction of the Parker 41. This pen was similar to the Parker 51 except that it was smaller and priced mid-line between the Parker 51 and the Parker 21. The Parker 41 came in bright colors of pink and light turquoise, and was intended to win the attraction of the ladies. However, it seemed that women felt more comfortable with the smaller version of the Parker 51 – the Demi and didn’t warm to the Parker 41.  One reason might have been that the Parker 41 was made of a more brittle plastic and could often not withstand the hard life inside a woman’s purse.

Parker realized that the Parker41handled ink better than the old Parker 21 style, so when the Parker 41 was discontinued in 1951, the complete Parker 21 line was redesigned.

Parker 41
Discontinuation of the Parker 41.

The Duofold line was updated in 1953 when the aerometric filling system from the Parker 51 was fitted. The New Duofold became slightly shorter.

Launch of the Parker Jotter. This was the first quality ball point pen with an unusually large cartridge design. The Jotter wrote more than five times longer than a standard ball pen. The pen also featured a unique rotating point to prevent wear. In its first year, more than 3.5 million Jotters were sold.

Parker 61
After years of intensive research, Parker launched the first self-filling fountain pen, the Parker 61 in time for the Christmas season. This was the first fountain pen to actually fill itself by itself. It didn’t require any action from the user. The pen didn’t have a button or lever or plunger or squeeze bar. To fill the 61 the barrel needed to be unscrewed and immersed, back end (capillary cell) first into a bottle of ink. The pen contained an internal reservoir with a rolled sheet of perforated and embossed plastic.

The holes allowed the ink to ooze between the plastic layers. The feed ran through the middle of the entire rolled plastic sheet. The outside of the capillary cell was  coated with DuPont Teflon® to shed the ink when the pen was removed from the ink bottle and made it almost unnecessary to wipe any remaining ink of. The Parker 61 could hold enough ink to last for six hours of steady writing.

Despite or because of the revolutionary technology the pen was ultimately unsuccessful. Filling the pen required more care than other systems and Parker redesigned the 61 later with a cartridge/converter filler.

Parker 21
The Parker 21 Super was introduced. 

Parker 51
Introduction of the Parker 51 Insignia pen.  This was however really only a renamed Signet pen.

Parker developed what would become yet another industry standard, the tungsten carbide textured ball or T-Ball. Using a superior stainless steel sphere, the pen gripped the surface of the writing paper, permitting skip-free, blob-free writing. The T-Ball became part of the Jotter's design.

New subsidiaries opened in 1958 and 1959 in Australia and Argentina, respectively.

Parker 51
Parker tried a filling system on some Parker 51's with a cartridge or a convertor but this didn't sell well at all so it was discontinued. In 1960 this system was again introduced in the Parker 45. 

Parker 51
The Maxima was introduced with the aerometric filling system and a smaller Lady sized pen with a hooded nib.

Subsidiaries opened in Brazil and West Germany.

The same year, Kenneth Parker, president and chairperson and the only remaining active board member of the Parker family, retired from the company.

The additional logo with the arrow through a circle was added to the cap, aka the "halo" logo.

Parker 45
Parker introduced its first ink cartridge pen, the Parker 45, named after the Colt 45 pistol. This was a low-priced pen that was offered in many colors and finishes. The pen was designed by Don Doman, who had also designed the Jotter, Parker 61, Parker VP, Parker 75, Parker T1 and Liquid Lead.

The design of the 45 closely resembled that of the Parker 51. The pen featured a 14 karat gold nib (very unusual for a $5 pen), which was triangular and very small (compared to prior Parker nibs). The complete nib/feed could be unscrewed and easily replaced and many styles of nibs were offered.

The most extraordinary feature of the pen was however its new filling system. Over the years Parker had experimented with a more portable ink supply. Parker constructed a removable, refillable ink converter. Initially this system was introduced with the Parker 51 in 1958, but people were too used to the pli-glass filler and the feature was again removed.

When the new filling system was introduced in the new Parker 45 in 1960 it was a hit. 

The system was soon introduced on other Parker models.  

Parker 51
End of production of the Parker 51 Flighter.

The Royal British Household awarded Parker the Royal Warrant as its sole supplier of pens and inks.

Also in that year, subsidiaries opened in Peru and Columbia.

Parker VP
Introduction of the Parker VP (Very Personal), a high end pen that was the forerunner of the Parker 75. This pen had a rotating section that allowed its bearer to adjust the writing angle as to fit perfectly in the hand.

The VP also had a removable aerometric filler that was actually a convertor. To fill the pen, the whole filling section could be removed from the pen. Once it was filled, it was simple replaced into the pen. This allowed the pen to be filled without soiling of the hands. Unfortunately this filling system was prone to breakage and unbroken ones are hard to find. The Parker VP was soon discontinued.

Introduction of the Slimfold, a ladies pen.

Parker 17
Introduction of the Parker 17 in two designs, the Parker 17 Duofold and the Parker 17 Super Duofold (ca 137 mm, closed). The Parker 17 was aimed at the low end of the market, but was intended to have enough gold visible to make it stand out from the general range of pens available at the time.
Kenneth Parker characterized the company as being "in the early stages of rigor mortis unless something is done to recapture the higher-priced, gift-oriented business".

Parker tried (as they had before) to capture the broad markets with cheaper pens: Parker 21, Parker 41 and the Parker 45 (Parkers biggest seller in the low-priced market). But Kenneth Parker was not satisfied. The Parker company was always reluctant to appear as anything but a high-class company that made high-class pens, and since the Parker 61 never became the success Parker had hoped for, KP (so called by his employees) wanted to introduce yet another top-line fountain pen, earning higher margins than the cheaper pens. 

Parker 75
Introduction of the Parker 75, a special edition luxury solid sterling silver fountain pen in honor of the Parker Pen Company’s 75th birthday.

This pen was designed by Kenneth Parker and Don Doman. Kenneth Parker wanted the new pen to be aesthetic, innovative, expensive and a good writer. He borrowed the idea of an adjustable nib from the, at the time, not very popular Parker VP,  which he and Don Doman had designed in the early 1960's. He borrowed the filling system (cartridge or converter) from the Parker 45 and the grid pattern from his silver cigarette case.

The new pen was called Sterling Cicelé and cost $25, a fortune for a pen aimed at the broad public. Nevertheless, the pen was a success and a few months later a gold-filled version was offered, the Insignia Cicelé 75.

The Parker 75 became more and more popular over the years and managed to increase its sales even during the “ballpoint” years. Between 1965 and 1981 Parker produced and sold 11 million Parker 75’s of different designs.

Parker 17
The open nib was replaced with a hooded nib.

Parker 45
Introduction of the Parker 45 Arrow. This name was soon replaced by CT (Chrome Trim). This pen was totally made out of plastic and didn’t have a steel cap. This made production cheaper, partly because metal was more expensive than plastic but also because the production process was simplified. Since the Parker 45 sold surprisingly well Parker realized that the pen might have more potential and launched a top line Parker 45 in metal: the steel Flighter. This pen was immediately a best-seller.

Parker 21
The Parker 21 was discontinued.

Parker's first foray into roller balls with the Touche.

Parker 75 
Launch of the Spanish Treasure fleet 75, which is today one of the most sought after Parker 75’s.

The pen was designed by Don Doman, who created this limited edition Parker (one of the first limited edition pens) using gold and silver from a Spanish treasure ship that had sunk off the coast of Florida in 1715.

Parker announced the Classic line of slim-contour writing instruments.

Parker 45
Parker introduced the Parker 45 DeLuxe.

The Parker 45 was now offered in a wide variety of colors and models at different price levels.

Introduction of the Parker 45 Student, also referred to as Happy Colors.

Parker 75
Introduction of the Parker Keepsake 75.  The pen was intended mark important events that one wanted to remember: Anniversaries, Family Birthdays, Special Honors, etc. The basic idea was good but the pen wasn’t a big seller.
A Presidential Keepsake in solid 14 ct gold was also offered at $100.

Martha Parker, wife of George Safford Parker, died.

Introduction of the Automatic Mechanical Pencil or Cartridge Pencil, with the capacity to write up to 50,000 words. 

Parker 75
Parker increased the price of all Parker 75's to $30.

The two Parker Keepsake 75 were discontinued.

Parker 51
The Mark III was launched.

Big Red
Parker launched the Big Red, a bottom line product designed to echo the Parker Duofold. Big Red sported an interchangeable ball pen and soft-tip writing modes.

Parker 75
Introduction of a new Parker 75, the Ambassador, a pen that was very similar in design to the Cicelé.

Introduction of the Flighter DeLuxe 75.

Parker T1
This is one of the most sought after Parker pens. It was made of titanium and had an integrated nib.

Parker 45
Introduction of the Parker 45 Coronet.  This pen was produced by a special process that bound the colors to the aluminium of the pen, which resulted in a pen with both striking colors and durability.

Parker T1
Production of the pen is discontinued. The pen was too expensive to produce.

Parker 17
Production of the Parker 17 was discontinued but Parker continued to sell its stock for a number of years.

Parker 51
Introduction of the Mark IV (approximate year).

Parker launched its first roller ball, the Systemark. This new writing mode featured a fountain pen ink system and a textured tungsten carbide ball.

During the next three years, the Parker Pen Company launched five new pens: the Parker 180 (a dual-line nib fountain pen), the Parker 25, the Parker 50, Ms. Parker and the Swinger, which later became known as the Slinger, a leisure pen that hung around the neck.

George Parker's son, Kenneth, died.

Introduction of the The Arrow collection of writing instruments.

Introduction of the Parker Vector roller ball, which was to become an instant success.

Creation of the Premier collection of luxury writing instruments.

Following a management buyout corporate headquarters moved to Newhaven, England. Despite a world recession, Parker increased its turnover by almost 50% in the five years following the management buyout.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the company launched the Duofold Centenial.

Parker 88
Launch of the Parker 88 (a fancy dressed up Vector), incorporating international styling, precious metals, lacquer and epoxy finishes.

Establishment of the Platinum Club for Duofold owners (US and Australia only).

Introduction of the Parker International fountain pen, a slimmer, shorter version of the Duofold Centennial, and the Duofold roller ball.

Introduction of the Insignia collection.

The Gillette Company acquired Parker that same year.

Introduction of the Sonnet range of pens and the Penman range of accessories.

Re-launch of the Parker 88 range as Rialto.

Introduction of the new Vector range. 

Introduction of the Frontier range.

Sanford, based in Chicago, IL, USA, acquired the Parker Pen Company through its acquisition of the Gillette Company's stationery products group.

  • (Unofficial fan-site with tons of information about vintage parker pens. Run by artist Tony Fischier.
  • Parker 51 Special Edition (Originally official site for re-issue of Parker 51, but seems to have other news about Parker pens, too.)
  • (Hobby site with great amount of information on how to date a Parker 75)
  • Pengallery: Parker
  • (The first Russian Parker hobby source)

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Added by:  Penlover

Date:  1st Mar 09

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