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Parker VP

The Parker VP ('very personal') enjoyed a brief production run between 1962 and 1964, and is best remembered as the precursor to the much more popular and successful Parker 75.

This pen was the product of a ten-year research project into how people wrote and how they held their pens. The researchers evidently concluded (as would other penmakers such as OMAS and Cross) that a grip section with a roughly triangular or tri-lobal cross section was the most comfortable and efficient design. Of course, in the case of the typical fountain pen, this meant that for any given user's grip, the point might not be in correct alignment to the paper. To fix this problem, Parker created an adjustable (rotating) point that could be "dialed" into proper position (the end of the grip section was conveniently marked for calibrating the proper fit). In this way, possibly even lefties could find a comfortable grip (as shown in the advertisement opposite, whose photograph recalls the "hand art" comissioned by Parker for its 51 ads).

Actually, the VP's point and long, narrow feed were in a single unit that was lightly press-fitted into the section, so its construction was not very different from the units used in the 51s and 61s; however, since it was not hooded, it could be easily adjusted and even replaced by the user (some 15 different grades of point were offered, including the big wide italic shown on this example). This "pluggable" open point carried over directly to the 75 (which was also promoted as "adjustable" during its first decade or two of production).

The Parker VP's "Clean Filler" marked the trasntion from fixed aerometric fillers
to cartridge-converter fill for Parker's high-line pens.

Another innovation of the VP that was less successful was the Parker Clean Filler; this was an aerometric filler unit with a very long and narrow plastic neck; it was intended to be removed from the pen, filled from an ink bottle, and then replaced without need for wiping up. The problem with these units is that the thin snouts are prone to breakage, rendering the pen useless (it could not take cartridges).

The VP had roughly the length and proportions of the 61, but was slightly stouter. It sold for $10, which placed it in the middle of Parker's lineup, well below the 51 and 61, but above the $5.00 model 45. Colors were limited to black, blue (as here), and gray; caps were either matté steel or gold-filled, and were etched with a large "VP" near the lip.

An unusual adjunct to the VP line was an asperge (holy water dispenser) which also used the Clean Filler (possibly the Very Clean Filler in this case), and replaced the point with a tiny gold cup.

The Verdict

This pen depends for its collectors' value primarily on its relative scarcity (thanks to a short model run) and to its "proto-75" design (which will motiviate Parker 75 completists to acquire at least one example from the range). Otherwise, it seems (to me, at any rate) to be rather too plain and conservative to excite much lust in the heart of the typical pen fancier. Still, if in mint condition (as is the case with the pen shown here), it's always a good find. Plus, as with just about all Parkers from this period, it's an excellent writer's pen.

If you find one of these in the wild, make sure that its filler is intact and working; replacements are just about impossible to find, and the pen won't use cartridges or converters. You can fill the pen just fine in the normal fashion, without removing the filler unit, so this may be a good way to avoid damaging the filler. Also, note that although they look similar, VP and 75 points do not interchange.

Maker Parker
Origin USA
Production 1962-64
Type Aerometric (removable "Clean Filler")
Point 14k with rotating adjustment.
Construction Plastic barrel and grip section in solid color, metal cap.