February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
George Parker

George Safford Parker was born of Yankee parents who had settled in the Midwest. After a proper university education he became interested in the newest form of communication - the telegraph. He would go on to make his name in an older form of communication - writing.

Parker enrolled in the Valentine School in Janesville, Wisconsin, noted for its instruction in the operation of the telegraph. While studying there, and later as an active telegrapher, Parker became interested in inventing fountain pens, disgusted with the poor performance of pens of the day. On December 10, 1889 Parker patented his own design.

In 1891, with capital provided by a friend, Parker began operations in a one-room office. He constructed an original pen known as the “Lucky Curve” which solved the problem of unstable ink flow. Pens carried in pockets in the late 1800s would warm from body heat causing the ink to expand into the pen’s point. The user could count on an explosion of this excess ink when the top was removed. Parker’s pen business flourished with this innovation.

Parker worked obsessively to perfect his fountain pens but more importantly he set out to make the fountain pent he everyday writing implement of choice.
For many Americans a weighty, impressive pen was displayed as a symbol of education and status, to be called into service only in ceremonial occasions.
World War I helped trigger a boom in letter writing and sales exceeded $1 million for the first time in 1918. The next year Parker constructed a five-story factory in Janesville.

In 1919 Parker perfected the Duofold pen, pioneering in the style of large barrel-type writing instruments. The over-sized pen was splashed in a bright red-orange and featured a gold nib, melding color into pen design. To promote the new pen Parker offered a 25-year guarantee and dropped Duofolds from planes into the Grand Canyon. The elegant pen cemented Parker’s position as America’s leading pen company.

Parker expanded his business, building another modern plants in Toronto.
He built clubhouses for the workers and made other provisions for their welfare. He became noted as a progressive industrialist who was able to call every one of his 823 employees by name.

In 1933 he ceded active control of the business to his son after 42 years.
In his final years he worked diligently for reform in the penal system and other charitable organizations. Before he died in 1937 George Parker traveled widely, enjoying the Orient, South America and the South Seas, and spent time, appropriately, writing.

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