Parker, George Safford

SUBJECT AREA: Paper and printing
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b. 1 November 1863 Shullsberg, Wisconsin, USA
d. 19 July 1937 USA
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American perfector of the fountain pen and founder of the Parker Pen Company.
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Parker was born of English immigrant stock and grew up on his parents' farm in Iowa. He matriculated at Upper Iowa University and then joined the Valentine School of Telegraphy at Jamesville, Wisconsin: within a year he was on the staff. He supplemented his meagre school-master's pay by selling fountain pens to his students. He found that the pens needed constant attention, and his students were continually bringing them back to him for repair. The more he sold, the more he repaired. The work furnished him, first, with a detailed knowledge of the design and construction of the fountain pen and then with the thought that he could make a better pen himself. He gave up his teaching career and in 1888 began experimenting. He established his own company and in the following year he registered his first patent. The Parker Pen Company was formally incorporated on 8 March 1892.
In the following years he patented many improvements, including the Lucky Curve pen and ink-feed system, patented in 1894. That was the real breakthrough for Parker and the pen was an immediate success. It solved the problem that had bedevilled the fountain pen before and since, by incorporating an ink-feed system that ensured a free and uniform flow of ink to where it was wanted, the nib, and not to other undesirable places.
Parker established a reputation for manufacturing high-quality pens that looked good and worked well and reliably. The pens were in demand worldwide and the company grew.
During the First World War, Parker introduced the Trench Pen for use on the Western Front. A tablet of pigment was inserted in a blind cap at the end of the pen. When this tablet was placed in the barrel and the barrel was filled with water, the pen was ready for use.
Later developments included the Duofold pen, designed and launched in 1920. It had an enlarged ink capacity, a red barrel and a twentyfive-year guarantee on the nib. It became immensely popular with the public and was the flagship product throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, until the Vacumatic was launched in 1933.
Parker handed over control of the company to this two sons, Kenneth and Russell, during the 1920s, remaining President until his retirement in 1933.
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Further Reading
Obituary, 1937, Jamesville Gazette 19 July (an appreciation by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright was published simultaneously). No biography has appeared, but Parker gave details of his career in an article in Systems
Review, October 1926.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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