Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Featured Pen - Parker 75

I became enamored with the Parker 75 shortly after beginning my travels in the fountain pen world. I found this one on eBay - it was in rather pitiful condition. It was completely tarnished and with it's minor dents and dings, I acquired it for a reasonable price.

The pen is sterling silver and is an earlier 75 as determined by the fact that it has a chrome section ring with a 0 reference, although not the earliest version since it does not have the metal thread section.

This "cisele" pattern was the original pattern used for this pen.

This pen was originally acquired with a 14kt US 65 fine nib. I immediately purchased a French 18kt 94 Medium italic nib from The Battersea Pen Home.

There is one thing unique about this pen. The tassie on the cap is the normal gold tone, however the tassie on the body is not gold but silver. I contacted Lih-Tah Wong of for his opinion and he believes that this may have been a production error, which gives me a unique pen. If this detracts or adds to the value I don't really care, but it gives it personality.

The following is just a small excerpt from Mr. Wong's history of this pen, please visit his website and read more. If you own or are considering this pen, it is well worth the time:

Against the backdrop of a general public that had accepted the ballpoint pen as its preferred writing instrument, the Parker Pen Company was faced with the low-margin products that sold well. Convinced of his company's position producing high-class pens, Kenneth Parker was not satisfied with the popular Jotter and 45 lines. In fact, unless Parker recaptured the high-end (high-margin) gift-orient business, he viewed this condition as being "in the early stages of rigor mortis" for his company.

With the goal of creating a new high-end pen, Kenneth Parker and designer Don Doman collaborated once more and combined various characteristics from past creations. From the 45, they took the filling mechanism of the interchangeable cartridge and piston converter. From the VP, they took the gripping section with its 3 flat surfaces, 2 being ribbed, and the ruled section ring and rotating nib assembly. The idea was to allow the nib to be rotated to the angle preferred by the writer. Mr. Parker often said that this would allow the nib to be adjusted like the "lens of a fine camera." Indeed this single feature would later appear in the advertising campaign for this new pen.

One last detail remained -- how the new pen would appear externally. As this was to be a high-class (read expensive) pen, it would have to be made of precious metal. Gold was too expensive for the market he was after, and so silver was selected. In particular, a high silver content was needed and thus sterling silver with its 92.5% silver content (the rest being copper) was selected.

For the finish, Mr. Parker wanted to use a look that had not been used before on any Parker pen. He chose a crosshatch grid pattern that he found on his cigarette case. Here was a pattern that was tastefully elegant that would age gracefully with the patina of silver oxidation over time. Another plus was that this pattern was simple to produce. And to accentuate the pattern, he would fill the grooved lines with black enamel and added goldplated trim for the clip and ends of the cap and barrel, and used solid 14k gold for the nib.

Thus the Parker 75 was born in 1963 and formally launched at the end of the year.

It was so named to commemorate the 75th year of the Parker Pen Company. It was the fruition of Kenneth Parker's vision to have a high-end pen with a matching high-end price -- $25, almost triple the price of the Parker 45 fountain pen.

[Editor's note from comment by Richard Binder (see comments): "Just as an interesting oopsie, "almost triple the price of the 45" is a little off. The 45 went on the market in 1960 at $5.00. $25.00 is five times that figure, and the 75's success is even more impressive given that number."]

The Parker 75 family proved to be very popular and commercially successful line of writing instruments from Parker Pen Company. Although production was eventually shifted to the Parker factory in Meru, France, this pen continued to be produced until 1994 when it was officially discontinued. The 30+ years produced almost 10 million units.

This family of writing instruments also had an illustrious career in the world's history. It was used to sign some of the most important nuclear disarmament treaty documents by US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush with the Soviet Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin Additionally, a Keepsake 75 was used by Secretary of State William P. Rodgers in 1973 to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement.

Paper is Rhodia Bloc No 16 - click on image to enlarge:


G.P. Ching said...

This pen is a true work of art.

lady dandelion said...

Great review! I especially like that you've taken the time to write about its historical significance in the world politics. :)

TAO said...

A lovely pen and a classic. It had such a long production history but I love the original the most.

Sam said...

Goodness me, but that's a pretty looking pen! Thanks for posting another great review. :)

Patrick - The Norsk Woodshop said...

Great review Julie. I have not read up on the 75's much but they look like a really nice pen. You noted you immediately changed out the nib...was there an issue with the original?

Julie (Okami) said...

Patrick - absolutely no problem with the original nib, in fact I still have it and use it. I'm just a real fan of italic nibs so I swapped it out.

OfficeSupplyGeek said...

Great looking pen, and that writing sample is awesome, Im jealous of your handwriting. :)

Clem/The Archer said...

You've got a very pretty looking pen, Julie! And looks like it writes pretty well, too. Congratulations! :)

Gentian said...

I love the design. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

GrannyKass said...

You've done a lovely job writing about this pen. In 1974 this pen was the first brand new HIGH end pen I ever bought. Up to that point I had been using Parker 51's that I found in antique malls. I'm so happy to know you found one for yourself and like it as much as I've always liked mine.

Richard said...

Just as an interesting oopsie, "almost triple the price of the 45" is a little off. The 45 went on the market in 1960 at $5.00. $25.00 is five times that figure, and the 75's success is even more impressive given that number.

I find it a bit amusing that today so many people like the 75 -- think about how small it is compared to the oversize monsters that everybody seems to wave about. "Bigger is better"? Well, not always.

Julie (Okami) said...

Thanks, Richard - I'll make a note in the post - I didn't check Mr. Wong's info when I quoted from his site.

John Shostrom said...

What wonderful pens the Parker 75s are. A work of art, yet eminently practicle, they are a true modern classic. After receiving my first sterling silver cisele fountain pen in 1970, I've continued to collect the Parker 75 in various styles and finishes. I use one every day. With proper care and regular use, a Parker 75 will last a lifetime and give a lifetime's worth of pleasure.

Nouman Roghani said...

A good post containin lots of knowledge, I like it. windows mobile

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