COLLECTION OF GEORGE S. PARKER II FROM THE CAXAMBAS FOUNDATION
Established in 1888 by George S. Parker II’s grandfather George Safford Parker, the Parker Pen Company helped change the way Americans and the world would view both the implements and the act of writing with Parker’s patent in 1889 of an improved fountain pen. Parker pens became known because they held greater amounts of ink and the ink did not leak. Slip-on caps patented in 1898 improved the utility but even more importantly the appearance of the pen. By the beginning of the new century this Wisconsin based business was on its way to become one of the largest manufacturers of fountain pens in the world on the strength of both technological advances and design improvements which changed the way pens were perceived. The extremely popular Duofold pen known as “Big Red” was introduced in 1921. Colorful where other pens were black and expensive where others were not, the Duofold became an extremely popular luxury item--a desirable symbol of status that one could nevertheless hope to attain. Extremely profitable as well, the success of the Duofold enabled Parker to expand its distribution centers throughout the world. Parker’s astute marketing of American pens in a wide range of prices and design options ushered in a golden age of fountain pens that lasted from the 1920’s to the 1960’s and kept Parker always number one or number two in world-wide sales. In the World’s Fair year of 1939 Parker completed development of the Parker 51, celebrating 51 years in business. It again paired advanced technology with fashionable styling using exciting new materials such as Lucite. It became Parker’s best-selling fountain pen to date.
In 1956, the Parker 61 was introduced, notable for its advanced, self-filing features and slimmer, more pleasing profile. For its holiday season promotional campaign in 1959, Parker commissioned Norman Rockwell to illustrate a three month series of ads. This would be the third time that Parker and Rockwell would work together. In 1928, his first illustration for a Parker Pen advertisement appeared on page 65 of the December 1 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The next year another seasonal advertisement by Rockwell for the Parker Pen appeared in the December 14, 1929 issue of the Post. Not surprisingly, both the 1928 and 1929 ads were Christmas themed. Now Parker took a slightly different tack with its illustrator now as famous as its pens. The first ad appeared in October with an encouragement to write home often. The November ad had a birthday theme with a special gift that when unwrapped thoroughly delighted father. The final December ad in the sequence was, of course, Christmas based with a young, happy couple entwined under the mistletoe.
This work was reproduced in an advertisement for the Parker Pen Company in the 5 December 1959 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, p. 50.
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