If you’ve ever wondered about the Parker fountain pen history you’ve come to the right place. When learning about the Parker pen origin, it’s useful to start at the beginning – with the Parker Pen company history.
The Parker Pen Company History
Who started Parker pen?
The Parker pen origin comes from humble and unexpected beginnings. Wisconsin-based George Safford Parker started not as a maker of pens but rather as a teacher of telegraphy (the long-distance transmission of messages using signalling technology.) To supplement his teaching income, Parker started selling pens for the John Holland Pens Company, and soon his students were his main customers.
What was the first Parker pen?
When the pens he sold malfunctioned, Parker felt obligated to fix them. Soon he became overwhelmed with repair work and decided to invent his own version of the fountain pen. With that, in 1888 in Janesville, Wisconsin, the Parker Pen Company was born. The rest, they say, is Parker pen history.
What company owns Parker pen?
The following year, Parker patented his first fountain pen. In 1891 he found an investor, insurance broker W. F. Palmer, for his fledgling company. With an initial investment of $1,000, Palmer bought half of Parker’s shares in both the patents and the business. As a result, the Parker pen company was officially open for business, and in 1892 the company was legally incorporated. Nowadays, the Parker Pen Company now belongs to two parent organisations: Newell Brands and Polyhedron Holdings.
Parker fountain pen history
The first major breakthrough for the company came in 1894 with the Lucky Curve ink feed system. The feed system was designed to drain the ink back into the reservoir by capillary action when the pen was upright in its owner’s pocket. This helped to prevent the fountain pen from drying out. Parker employed this special technique in most of its top-selling pens until 1928. With the advent of the Lucky Curve system, Parker was now a major player in the fountain pen market.
Unlike most companies, the onset of the First World War did little to slow business for the Parker Pen company, partially due to the invention of the Trench Pen. This pen held black pellets in its barrel, which would transform into ink when added to water. The U.S. War Department awarded Parker a contract for the Trench Pen. This has been celebrated as a major success in Parker pen history, as it ensured the company’s financial success throughout the First World War.
In 1921, Parker introduced the Duofold. Nicknamed the “Big Red”, it embodied the feel of the Roaring Twenties – big, bold and very jazzy. At $7, it was also the most expensive pen on the market. Pleased with their success, Parker guaranteed all Duofolds for 25 years.
Parker’s Duofold family expanded in 1926 and 1927 to include Jade Green, Mandarin Yellow, Lapis Blue and Pearl and Black – all available in a first-of-its-kind durable plastic called Permanite. The new material replaced the traditional vulcanised rubber, which tended to be brittle. Parker used publicity stunts, such as throwing these new pens over the Grand Canyon and out of an aeroplane at 3,000 feet to prove their durability.
In 1988, in recognition of the company’s 100th birthday, the world witnessed the relaunch of the Duofold, now renamed the Duofold Centennial. Like its predecessors, the Centennial met with huge success.
Parker established the Platinum Club in 1989 in the U.S. and Australia for Duofold owners, offering elite privileges and complimentary services. The following year, Parker enhanced the Duofold collection with the addition of the Parker International fountain pen, a slimmer, shorter version of the Centennial, and the Duofold roller ball. Made from solid blocks of hand-cast acrylic trimmed in 23K gold plate, the Centennial proves impervious to wear due to its diamond-polished lustre.
Are Parker Pen company still in business?
Today, Parker remains amongst the top writing instrument manufacturers in the world. Their enduring designs, along with constant innovation, have allowed the famous ‘arrow’ clip to adorn the pens of millions of people worldwide. From their ever-popular Parker Sonnet Pen to their Urban Premium range, Parker pens have remained a popular choice for many. Although now with substantial outside investment and the involvement of holding companies, Parker Pen Company is still in business and thriving.
Where are Parker pens made?
When it comes to the question of ‘where are Parker pens made?’, the history is global. Parker Pens have been made in various places over the years, recently, with transatlantic moves. The company headquarters was based in Newhaven, East Sussex, England, until 1993, when the Gillette Company bought the Parker Pen Company. After the Parker Pen Company was sold from Gillette to Newell Brands in 2000, changes started happening. As of 2009, operations were moved entirely to Nantes, France. Subsequently, factories in Newhaven, England and Janesville, Wisconsin shut, dismissing over 300 manufacturing employees. The Parker Pen Company continues to work out of Nantes, France, to this day.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the Parker pen history. With Christmas around the corner, why not read about our or take a browse over our selection of pens? We have lots of excellent Christmas gifts for your someone special. Discover our range of bestselling Parker 51 Pens, or why not browse the entire range of Parker pens. For help choosing your perfect pen, or if you have any questions, please contact our friendly team today.