George Parker patented his first pen in 1889 when he was still teaching telegraphy students how to transcribe Morse code. In 1894, he invented and patented his "lucky curve" feed system, which greatly reduced the leakage that was a common problem of early eyedropper fountain pens. By 1905, Parker’s Lucky Curve pens were a force to be reckoned with in the growing fountain-pen industry.
The Parker Jack Knife Safety pen arrived in 1911. Its cap could be screwed down to the pen’s body, making it ink-tight. One especially prized model had a transparent, amber, Bakelite body. Other Parker pens from the 1910s include the no. 15, a ladies model with a mother-of-pearl barrel and black hard-rubber caps that were either crowned by a semi-precious stone or covered in gold-filled filigree. The Parker no. 16 was a very small pen with gold-filled filigree, while the descriptive name of the Black Giant pretty much sums up its utilitarian design.
The Jack Knife evolved into the "Big Red" button-filler Duofold in 1921, which was advertised to "rival the beauty of the scarlet tanager." Duofolds in Mandarin yellow and lapis lazuli followed in 1927. Vintage yellow Duofolds are extremely collectible, but a blue model named for the Zaner Blouser calligraphy school is one of the most rare Parkers ever made.
In fact, as a group, the vintage Parker Duofold fountain pens from the 1920s are extraordinarily beautiful writing instruments. Jade pens made out of a branded plastic called Permanite were sold in a variety of sizes (Junior, Ladies, Senior) and in sets with matching mechanical pencils. Some Duofolds had pearl handles and caps, veined with black plastic. Apple green and "Modernistic blue" were other popular colors, as were moiré-patterned fountain pens, which ranged from pink to blue.
The Vacumatics followed the Duofolds in 1932. These pens held twice as much ink as those that had preceded them (102 percent more, to be specific), and, for the first time, the clip on the cap was shaped like an arrow, which would become a symbol of the Parker brand. These were also Parker’s first mass-produced pens. Some had horizontal layers of silver alternating with translucent plastic, which allowed the user to see how much ink was left in the pen. Codes were printed on all Vacumatic barrels, making them relatively easy to date today.
A Junior Vacumatic was introduced in 1934—the Golden Web pattern from that series lasted only from 1936 until about 1938, making it a particularly prized Parker for collectors. Even more rare is the Imperial Vacumatic from 1939, which was produced to compete with the Sheaffer Crest.
That same year, 1939, the company finished developing the pen for which it would become best known, the Parker 51. Released in 1941, the pen used a new, quick-drying ink, which m...
The original Parker 51 had a quick-action, vacumatic-type filler, but in 1948, this was replaced with an aerometric filler, which was actually similar to some of the sleeve-filler systems that had been around for 40 years. 1948 was also the year the pen’s arrow clip was redesigned.
Parker 51s are not especially valuable, so collectors who want to actually use one to write with would do well to choose a post-1948 model, since they tend to work better. For collectors who want to find a 51 to put away, look for models with solid-gold caps, Empire 51s, pens with small aluminum "jewels" at the bases of their clips, and the pre-production models tested in Venezuela, Columbia, Spain, and other climates with high humidity to test the tolerances of the ink.
Other notable Parker pens from the post-war era include the Parkette, a low-priced, lever-filler model from the early 1950s that looked like a 51 but was marketed to students; the Parker Jotter, which was Parker’s 1954 entry into the ballpoint pen wars (the 51 Jotter resembled the famous Parker 51); the self-wicking (but, at $20, expensive for its time) Parker 61 from 1956; and the Parker 75 of 1964, whose silver, engraved, grid-pattern body was an instant classic.
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Mary Joan O'Leary, Janesville, WI (1926-2013)Gazettextra, December 9th
18, 1976. During her senior year in high school, Mary Joan began working at the Parker Pen Company. After graduating from Orfordville High School as class salutatorian in 1944, she became a full-time employee at Parker Pen until the birth of her children...Read more
A Sublime ExperienceThe New Indian Express, December 9th
Employing the resplendent hues of acrylic paint and the grey tones of a Parker pen, they celebrate the themes of life, culture and nature. Surekha has always experimented with colours and thoughts. Though she was brought up in the Nilgiris, she carries...Read more
It's True!Daily Star Online, December 7th
true Genelia D'Souza did her first modeling assignment at the age of 15, after being spotted as the bridesmaid at a wedding. She was selected for the Parker Pen commercial with Amitabh Bachchan, just two days before her exams, and had to shoot the next ...Read more
A Tribute to My Triumvirate of Heroines (VI)AllAfrica.com, December 5th
The Company gave an examination at the end of the course and the first student in each secondary school was given a gold plated Parker pen engraved with the year and the Company's logo. The top three students in each region were invited to their ...Read more
Thelma Parr, Janesville, WI (1916-2013)Janesville Gazette, December 4th
She worked at the Parker Pen Co. and later for the Agricultural Extension Office located above the Janesville Post Office. Her future husband, Harold, worked at the Post Office, and together they raised their four children on a farm on the outskirts of...Read more
The mightier wea'pen'The Asian Age, November 23rd
But Biswanath's favourite is a Parker pen, which he bought for `35,000. “Apart from the brand value, the quality of the nib is so good that it would feel like it will last forever,” he says. Actor Ganesh Venkatraman, who says he and his father used to...Read more
Revealed: The Secrets of History's Greatest PenForbes, November 21st
Ask most serious pen enthusiasts, and they'll probably return only one answer. The greatest pen ever made? It has to be the Parker 51. Released in 1941 by the Parker Pen Company, the 51 was streamlined, functional, and crafted with the artistry of a...Read more
Parker YMCA: 'We did it. We finally did it.'hngnews.com, November 13th
His great-grandfather was the founder of the Parker Pen Company in Janesville and started what became a long legacy of giving back to the community. Parker was quick to note the family's donation to the new YMCA was not the only one that mattered or ...Read more