Parker Pens – More Than 100 Years and Still Going Strong
Photo from www.parkerpen.com.
The Parker Pen you buy today just might be a collectible tomorrow. It’s true. A Google search for Parker Pen collectors will yield more than 350,000 sites, including clubs, associations, discussion forums, reference archives and collectors interested in buying, selling and repairing vintage Parker Pens. You see, Parker Pens have been around a long time – 128 years to be exact. A brief history of the iconic brand can be found on the company website. Now a household name, the Parker Pen Company was founded in 1888 in Janesville, Wisconsin, and was the brainchild of George Safford Parker, a teacher and pen salesman who was convinced the world needed a better pen and that he was the one to build it.
Feeling compelled to support his customers by offering repair services, Parker quickly honed in on the two most confounding problems confronting pen users: short ink life and messy leaks. It took even less time for Parker to begin working on a fix. In 1889, just a year after launching his new business, Parker obtained his first fountain pen patent, eventually leading to a system that returned ink to the reservoir by capillary action, greatly reducing ink leakage. This was one of many innovations Parker would introduce over the years, including such game changers as fast-drying ink, self-filling chambers, ink cartridges, increased ink capacity, and outer slip-on pen caps.
Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, Parker Pens would distinguish itself as a technological leader. In fact, Forbes science contributor Steven Ross Pomeroy describes one particular model, the Parker 51, as “the greatest pen ever made,” a sentiment echoed by New Jersey collector and Parker51.com webmaster Ernesto Soler. According to these two pen aficionados, the highly stylized, but functional Parker 51 was one of the most popular pens ever produced.
The Iconic Parker 51
A visit to Soler’s website (www.parker51.com) offers a rare glimpse of American technological ingenuity. Per Soler, the Parker 51’s appearance and construction were so revolutionary that the Illinois Institute of Technology cited it as one of the top five best industrial designs of the 20th Century. Completed in 1939 in tandem with the company’s 51st anniversary (hence the name Parker 51), the stand-out design featured a breakthrough fast-drying, sunfast, waterproof ink. The ink was housed in a shell made of Lucite, which, at the time, was a new, highly durable type of shatter-resistant thermoplastic able to withstand the high acidity of the new India Black, Tunis Blue, China Red, and Pan American Green ink options. The body of the pen also was available in a wide array of colors, including Cedar Blue, Buckskin Beige, Cordovan Brown and Nassau Green. Additionally, the Parker 51’s revolutionary curved hood prevented leaks, while continuously surrounding the 14kt gold nib with ink to ensure a quick start every time it was put to paper. And to make absolutely certain the pen would perform under any conditions, early production runs were tested in regions of the world known for their high humidity and/or extreme temperatures. All in all, 300 million Parker 51 pens were mass produced on three continents, with the last production run taking place in the United States around 1972. At its introduction, the base model retailed for $12.50. Today, Soler and other pen enthusiasts describe the Parker 51 as a hot collectible. While readily available, non-refurbished versions of the Parker 51 can be found for around $20, rare examples with unusual body colors or solid gold caps can go for thousands of dollars. Regardless of the price you pay, if you are lucky enough to find a Parker 51 in working condition, you can take special pleasure in knowing you are wielding the same model of pen used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to sign the German surrender papers in Europe at the close of World War II. That alone would make the search worthwhile.
Parker Pens Today
Photo from www.epicmens.com
With its headquarters in England and manufacturing facilities in Saint-Herblain, France, the Parker Pen Company continues to rank among the top luxury pen manufacturers in the world. And as it has done since the company’s inception, innovation rules in both the research labs and on the factory floor. At Parker Pen Company, teams of experts in mechanical design, engineering, materials, chemistry, prototyping, testing and manufacturing all share a common goal – to make a better pen.
At last count, discerning shoppers searching for fine writing instruments could choose from more than 200 styles of Parker fountain, rollerball and ballpoint pens. Available in several distinct collections, each grouping has its own particular aesthetics ranging from classic elegance to contemporary precision to urban sophistication. Think about how you like to dress, work, socialize, and relax, and then choose the pen that best reflects your particular lifestyle and tastes. Nothing inspires confidence more than quality accessories that look and feel as though they were made especially for you. Take a few minutes to browse Epic Mens’ selection of Parker Pens for a closer look at what this historical brand has to offer. Sometimes the best choice really is the one that’s been around the longest.