Parker pens are pens made by the American company Parker. They can range from antique high-end fountain pens made in the late 19th century to modern-day ballpoint pens. Those produced in the 19th century are classed as 'antique pens', whereas 'vintage pens' are those manufactured from the start of the 20th century up until the 1980s. Pens produced later than this are described as 'modern' examples.
The Parker company was founded in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1888 by George Safford Parker. Parker patented his ‘Lucky Curve’ feed in 1894, which remained in use until the 1920s. The feed was an elongated ink feed which curved around to touch the inside of the barrel, meaning ink was drawn back up inside when the pen wasn’t in use.
Despite the popularity in the United States for the lever-fill mechanism, first developed by rival company Sheaffer, Parker used its own button-fill mechanism in its range such as the high-end Duofold model released in 1922.
This was replaced in 1932 by the Vacumatic range, which featured a new diaphragm filling mechanism and a transparent barrel which made the ink supply visible. The company established itself as one of the world’s top pen manufacturers, and went further by developing a hugely successful quick-drying ink called ‘Quink’ in 1931.
Main article: Parker 51 fountain pen
During the 1960s and 70s the company, along with all other fountain pen manufacturers, faced stiff competition from ball point pens. Parker began to produce its own range of ballpoints, and aimed its fountain pens squarely at the high-end market, including unusual gadgets and sterling silver cases.
In 2000 the brand was purchased Newell Rubbermaid, who own a number of pen companies including Sharpie and Waterman. Today Parker produces pens across the board, from inexpensive school ballpoints to luxury fountain pens.
Parker pens are amongst the most popular with pen collectors, due to the huge number of variations available. The Parker 51 has appeared in hundreds of styles over the years, and there are a large number of niche collectors that focus purely on the 51 model.
Other popular models include the early Vacumatic pens of the 1930s, the Parker Sonnet and the Parker 75.
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