Parker pens

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or, view individual pen images:

1926 Duofold Senior
1940 Duofold pen & pencil
late 40s Vacumatics
Assorted early 51s
1950s Parkette
Parker 61 capillary filler
Parker Arrow student pen
Parker Jotter ballpoint
Parker 75s, sterling & gold grid
Duofold Centennial pen & pencil
Parker Frontier
Parker Vector rolleball & calligraphy set

Parker pens are probably the most extensively chronicled and avidly collected of vintage pens, and it is easy to see why. Few other pen manufacturers have exhibited such consistently high levels of style, technical innovation, quailty, and commercial success. There doesn't seem to be a bad period for Parkers (as there is for most other makers), and there aren't many "junk" Parker pens out there -- just about everything Parker made is of interest both to the collector and to the user.

One of the reasons I like Parker is that over the years, they've maintained the most diverse lineup of just about any manufacturer, a lineup that now ranges from the humble but serviceable Jotter ballpoint up to limited edition fountain pens selling in the four figures. Also, Parker has also never forgotten the value of technological research and development, and the firm's list of contributions to writing technology ranges from the button fill and the Lucky Curve feed through to the Vacumatic filler, and the revolutionary 51. Even their less successful technological ventures, like the capillary filler 61 and the liquid lead pencil are notable for their ambitiousness.

The Parker story begins in 1889, when George S. Parker established the company as an outgrowth of the small business he'd had making reliable pens for his telegraphy students (transcribing Morse being one enterprise where you don't want to have to wrestle with your pen). Capitalizing on several patents, chief among them for the so-called "lucky curve" feed (which curled outward to touch the inside of the barrel so as to draw ink out of the point when the pen was not in use, minimizing the danger of leaking), he quickly moved to a commanding position in the young fountain pen industry.

The introduction of the Duofold in 1921 is one of the events that marks the beginning of the golden age of fountain pens, when both style and technical innovation drove the market to ever-greater triumphs. Racing neck and neck with arch-rival Sheaffer, Parker introduced celluloid "Permanite" pens later in the 20s. In the early 30s, Parker stole a march on other penmakers with the Vacumatic, and less than a decade later they set the competition further with the 51. Parker (with Sheaffer) was one of the few U.S. firms left standing after the winnowing of the fountain pen industry during the 1950s and 60s, thanks to its remaining active in the low price market. Most recently, Parker has changed hands a couple of times; first, they were acquired by Gillette (who had previously purchased Waterman). In 2001, both Parker and Waterman were taken over by office-supply giant Sanford (famous for its "sharpie" markers), and Parker has introduced several models (including fountain pens) at lower price points, and has retained the trusty Duofold Centennial and Sonnet series.

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network
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