Parker Pen Company

The Parker Pen Company is a British-American manufacturer of luxury pens, founded in 1888[2] by George Safford Parker in Janesville, Wisconsin, United States. In 2011 the Parker factory at Newhaven, East Sussex, England, was closed, and its production transferred to Nantes, France.[3]

Parker Pen Company
IndustryWriting instruments
Founded1888 (1888)
FounderGeorge Safford Parker
HeadquartersFrance (after 2011), ,
Area served
Key people
George Safford Parker, founder,
Kenneth Parker [1]
ProductsFountain pens, ballpoint pens
ParentNewell Brands


George Safford Parker, the founder, had previously been a sales agent for the John Holland Gold Pen Company. He received his first fountain pen related patent in 1889.[4] In 1894 Parker received a patent on his "Lucky Curve" fountain pen feed,[5] which was claimed to draw excess ink back into the pen barrel when the pen was not in use. The company's first successful pen, released in 1899, was the Parker Jointless. The Lucky Curve feed was used in various forms until 1928.[6]

From the 1920s to the 1960s, before the development of the ballpoint pen, Parker was either number one or number two in worldwide writing instrument sales. In 1931 Parker created Quink (quick drying ink), which eliminated the need for blotting.[7] In 1941 the company developed the most widely used model of fountain pen in history (over $400 million worth of sales in its 30-year history), the Parker 51.[8][9] Manufacturing facilities were set up over the years in Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Mexico, USA, Pakistan, India, Germany (Osmia-Parker), Brazil and Argentina.

In 1955, the company introduced its Liquid Lead pencil which used liquid graphite to write like a pen. Unfortunately, the Scripto company had introduced a similar product called Fluidlead a few months previously. To avoid a costly patent fight the companies agreed to share their formulas with each other.[10]

The company bought retailer and catalog company Norm Thompson in 1973, and then sold it in 1981.[11] In 1976 Parker acquired Manpower just as the temporary staffing market was surging. In time Manpower provided more revenue than the pen business. A 1982 spinoff, Sintered Specialties, Inc., became SSI Technologies, a manufacturer of automotive sensors.

A management buyout in 1986 moved the company's headquarters to Newhaven, East Sussex, England, which was the original location of the Valentine Pen Company previously acquired by Parker. In 1993 Parker was purchased by the Gillette Company, which already owned the Paper Mate brand - the best-selling disposable ballpoint. In 2000 Gillette sold its writing instruments division to the company Newell Rubbermaid, whose Sanford Stationery Division became the largest writing instrument manufacturers in the world at that time, simultaneously owning such brand names as Rotring, Sharpie, Reynolds as well as Parker, PaperMate, Waterman, and Liquid Paper.

With commercial competition increasing upon the Parker jotter's classic metal ink refill cartridge design from low cost generic copies produced in China, as Parker's unique design patent for the cartridge expired, Parker's sales began to be drastically adversely affected. In July 2009 Newell Rubbermaid Inc. in response announced that it had decided to close down the Parker production factory at Newhaven in England with the dismissal of 180 employees from the facility, and relocate production to France.[12] The following month, Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced that the factory in Janesville, Wisconsin, was also to close the remaining operation there producing Parker Pens (which eliminated a further 153 manufacturing jobs). The company press release stated: "This decision is a response to structural issues accelerated by market trends and is in no way a reflection on the highly valued work performed by our Janesville employees over the years." Newell Rubbermaid offered 'transitional employment services' along with severance pay in compensation to the dismissed workforce.[13][14]

Subsequently, Parker has abandoned its traditional retail outlets in North America. While some of its former staple Jotter pens may be found in retailers such as Office Depot, the Parker line has been moved to upscale "luxury" retailers in an abandonment of its former business model of quality manufacture combined with mass market appeal and pricing. With this commercial strategic move Parker also altered its traditional product warranty on its high end pens, changing the former lifetime guarantee to a two-year warranty limitation.[15]

Parker Pen Company holds two British royal warrants, one from Queen Elizabeth II (since 1962) and one from the Prince of Wales (since 1990).[16]

Prominent users

Parker Jotters are said to have been a favorite choice of President John F. Kennedy for signing legislation and to give as gifts.[17][18]

Famous models

Key models in the company's history include:

  • Jointless (1899),
  • Jack Knife Safety (1909),
  • Duofold (1921),
  • Vacumatic (1932),
  • "51" (1941),
  • The Jotter (1954),
  • 61 (1956),
  • 45 (1964),
  • 75 (1964),
  • Classic (1967),
  • 25 (1975),
  • Arrow (1982),
  • Vector (1986),
  • Duofold International (1987),
  • 95 (1988),
  • Sonnet (1993), and
  • Parker 100 (2004)

Parker Vector

The precursor to the Parker Vector was introduced in 1981. It was a simple cylindrical plastic cap and barrel roller-ball pen called the "Parker RB1".[19] In 1984, Parker added the FP1 ("Fountain Pen 1"), with essentially the same design. The RB1 and FP1 models were produced until 1986, at which time Parker revised the pen by lengthening the cap and shortening the barrel and renaming the new pen the "Vector Standard". Presently, there are four models available (in plastic and steel): the fountain pen, capped rollerball, pushbutton ballpoint, and pushbutton pencil.[20]


  • Products offered by the Parker Pen Company as of 2012:[21]
5TH TechnologyI.M., Ingenuity, Sonnet, Urban
Fountain pensDuofold, Premier, Frontier, Sonnet, Facet, Esprit, Urban, I.M., Vector, Jotter
Ballpoint pensReflex, Facet, Executive, Esprit, Frontier, Urban, I.M., Vector, Jotter
Inks and refillsQuink, 5TH Mode

See also

Parker brands and models

Notes and references

  1. "Parker Pen History - Pens - Internet Ink". Internet Ink. Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  2. "Sorry". Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  3. "Pen factory closure plan revealed". 16 July 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2018 via
  4. "George safford parker". Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  5. US patent n.512319 Archived 11 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "Parker/en - FountainPen". Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  7. "Sorry". Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  8. "Parker Penography: PARKER 51". Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  9. "Books About Pens". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  10. "Vintage Pen Blog". Archived from the original on 6 September 2017.
  11. Hambug, Ken (20 November 1989). "Portland's Norm Thompson is 40 and still growing". The Oregonian. p. C9.
  12. Sussex Edition Archived 26 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine; BBC News.
  13. Parker Pen Newhaven closure plan revealed Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Argus, 16 July 2009
  14. Sanford leaving Janesville Archived 23 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine,, 19 August 2009
  15. Parker Official Website Archived 9 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  16. "PARKER CELEBRATES THE BRITISH MONARCH". Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  17. Loring, John. "The Presidential Pen - the first fifty years". John Loring. Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  18. "John F. Kennedy Parker Jotter Pen". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. JFK Library and museum. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2017. President Kennedy's Favorite Pen
  19. Note: The RB1 name stands for "Rollerball 1".
  20. When Parker Pens Ruled Archived 12 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine; Tuesday, December 7, 2010; article; The Wall Street Journal; comment: about the relaunch of Parker Pens held at the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle. Pictured are two Parker Vectors with polished steel finish; retrieved ???.
  21. "Welcome to Parker". Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
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