20 June, 2022
History Of Parker Pens
Parker pens have a rich and illustrious history but it all started with George Safford Parker in the USA. He originally taught telegraphy though this did not pay very well, so he supplemented his income by selling pens for the John Holland Pens Company. Part of the job was not only selling the pens but also repairing them. The fountain pens he sold leaked frequently and he began to think he could design a better style of a fountain pen that would not leak.
With the help of an early investor in 1891 an insurance broker names W.F. Palmer, George Safford secured $1,000. This bought Palmer half the company and an equal share in the patents and the business. From this, in 1892 the company was legally incorporated and named the Parker Pen Company
His first patent was issued in 1889 and in 1894 he received a patent on his “Lucky Curve” fountain pen feed. It was designed to not leak and to evenly distribute the ink. It stopped the leaking by draining the ink back into the reservoir using a capillary action when it was placed into someone’s pocket. It also helped prevent the fountain pen from drying out. This was the breakthrough patent and it was used in most of their pens until 1928.
When the First World War came about Parker invented the Trench Pen. They were awarded a contract from the U.S. War Department and this ensured the company was still a success throughout the wartime. The pen had small black pellets in the barrel and when water was added it would transform into ink.
By 1918 the company’s annual sales went past the $1 million dollar mark and the following year George’s son Kenneth joined the company. Prior to this, they had some significant launches of products and improvements including an outer pen cap patent in 1898, in 1899 they designed the first jointless pen. In 1905 they introduced the “Black Giant” and developed a new ink feed system called “Spear Head”. Several pens of noteworthiness were brought to the market including the Emblem Pen in 1906, The Snake pen in sterling silver or gold the following year and the Jack-Knife safety pen in 1916.
The biggest change though came in 1921 with the release of the Duofold Fountain pen, which became their most famous pen. The original was made from a bright red hard rubber and was an expensive pen to purchase. Priced at $7, that would equate to $102 in 2020. Many different lines were then introduced over the following years, but the one that stands out is the “Permanite”. This material was a plastic manufactured by Dupont and to show how unbreakable it was, Parker did many different advertising stunts including throwing some into the grand canyon and tossing them from a plane at 3,000 feet to show they could not be broken. Parker was so confident in this pen they sold them with a 25-year guarantee.
Throughout the years Parker continued to innovate. In 1931 they invented Quink ink which is still in production today. Before then, many fountain pen inks were the main cause of clogging in fountain pens. The Quink ink that Parker developed allowed for just the right ink flow, and was non-corrosive and quick drying. In 1933 they created the Vacumatic which had a mechanism that held over twice as much ink as previous and in the same year the famous Parker arrow clip was designed by the artist Joseph Platt.
By the 1950s, Fountain pen popularity had waned and sales at Parker were down. In 1954 they brought out the Parker Jotter ballpoint pen. This was a game-changer for them. It had a large replaceable cartridge that lasted five times longer than the standard ballpoint pen. It is Parker’s best selling retractable and refillable ballpoint pen and since 1954 they have sold over 750 million worldwide. At this time there have been over 100 different colours produced and many variations.
Parker today is synonymous with quality and has continued to innovate since those early days. The company itself went through several changes. In 1986 there was a management buyout which saw the company move to East Sussex in England. In 1993 however, the company was resold to the Gillette Company. At that time Gillette also owned PaperMate which at the time was the best-selling disposable ballpoint. In 2000 the entire writing division was sold to Newell Rubbermaid. They had a stationary division called Sanford which is now the largest writing instrument manufacturer in the world with such brands as Waterman, Sharpie and PaperMate.
The above is a very brief history. The full story is fascinating to read. Read here to learn more about Parker Pens.
The PromotionsOnly Team