Parker Fountain Pens, Rollerball, Ball-Point Pens, Pencils Guide-Review
Parker Pen Company remains one the giants of writing instruments industry – a brand that offers fountain pens, rollerballs, ball point pens, and mechanical pencils in dozens of designs, discontinued and still produced, and several collections, a few of which have a long and complex history. Parker manufactures both luxury (some of which rival separate Waterman and Montblanc creations) and casual items, the latter category significantly expanding the range of everyday writing instruments available on the market.
Parker has its share of patents both in the ink and the filling systems department, and it rivaled Sheaffer and other companies throughout the twentieth century, often outmatching competition in sales and popularity. The arrow clip became not only a mark of a company – it transcended the industry, and represented writing and penmanship in general. Today, Parker pens remain highly popular, thousands of various vintage and new items being listed on eBay and other retailers, and sold to collectors throughout the world.
Design and Materials
Sheaffer have their white dot, Waterman have the hexagon, Montblanc the six pointed star – Parker pens sport a logo that became one of the most familiar in writing pens industry: the arrow. In terms of barrel and cap, the company knew how to follow tradition, designing several of its classic collections in the familiar cigar shape, and to innovate, introducing novel cap and body features and trims.
Color and affordable materials always played an important part in Parker design: rich, visually intense compositions has been the preferred path, leaving luxurious precious metal plating to other brands. Nibs are mostly classic, with several hooded modes; roller-balls and ball point systems became a particularly powerful segment in Parker selection, and remains such till this day.
Pens will most often present a resin, acrylic, or lacquer coated barrel, with chrome, gold, palladium, or silver trims. Earlier variations relied on plastic and other synthetic (yet durable) materials. Nibs are stainless steel and gold, with rhodium highlights in some variations.
Duofold stands out as one of Parker most enduring, classic pen designs: approaching its first centennial, it remains ever popular, both in the eyes of collectors and everyday users. A luxurious line, Duofold features resin bodies, black or mosaic decorated, and flattened caps, based on the first flat tops. This genuine classic comes in fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint writing system.
Sonnet is a relatively new collection that pays extra attention to elegance – a prolonged section equipped with a richly, geometrically engraved, gold made, rhodium-plated nib. Trims include stainless steel, silver, titanium, and gold, all demonstrating modern, occasionally futuristic configurations (bringing to mind Montblanc steel Meisterstuck). Comes in all three ink-based writing modes.
Frontier/Premier: two similarly contoured, yet differently designed lines, the latter bearing rare precious metal trims with protruding ornament (resembling separate Montblanc Limited Editions), the former opting for casual stainless steel plating. Both collections carry the latest interpretation of the arrow label on the clip.
Jotter offers another casual pen selection, steel and resin based, this time supported by a range of colors aimed at men and women: black, silver-tone, blue, and red. Modern, Gothic-facade shaped nib extends from the section, anticipating Vector. Comes in fountain and ball-point pen, rollerball, and mechanical pencil modes.
Vector presents a minimalist tubular, telescopic-like design – yet another casual layout, but with more formal, pure aesthetic in mind. A palette similar to Jotter makes this department suitable for gents' and ladies; the simplified, stylized arrow gives the instruments a particularly sleek, aerodynamic appearance.
Performance Collections: Facet, Executive, and Esprit demonstrate Parker's taste and capacity for experimentation with form and shape, as most of these models prefer irregular and imbalanced styling to the classic and traditional. Some of the company's most interesting, riskiest offerings.
We dedicate two additional review to Parker vintage pens, the 51 (1939) and the 75 (1964) editions, both of which have a reserved place in the history of fountain pens.