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.
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.
By March 1981 US production of the 75s ended and was moved to France according to this Parker employee newsletter and this reply letter to a customer inquiry from a Sales Service representative.
This site was designed as an evolving work in documenting the history behind this fascinating pen. Through its rich variety of patterns and materials, there are many different Parker 75s and a good deal are on display here. Be forewarned, though, since my bias is towards the Parker 75 fountain pens.
The site is organized into sections covering the pens themselves, separated into the following different areas.
The early years when the 75s were made in the US
The later years when they were made in Meru, France
Limited edition 75s
Patterns yet to be identified
The sections used in the 75s
The nibs found on the 75 fountain pens
The different tassies found on caps and barrels
The ink convertors found in 75 FPs
Branches off the 75 family tree:
Listing of Parker 75 advertisements
Prices and availability obtained from Parker catalogs
For those of you trying to identify your Parker 75 by pattern, here is a page full of thumbnail pictures of all production 75 FPs that I have gathered.