Parker Harlequin Pen advert from the 1980s
The Parker Pen Company is a manufacturer of pens, founded in 1888 by George Safford Parker in Janesville, Wisconsin, United States. It is currently owned by Newell Rubbermaid.
George S Parker, the founder, had previously been a sales agent for the John Holland Gold Pen Company. He received his first fountain pen related patent in 1889. In 1894 Parker received a patent on his “Lucky Curve” feed, which was claimed to draw excess ink back into the pen body when the pen was not in use. The Lucky Curve feed was used in various forms until 1928.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, before the development of the ballpoint pen, Parker was either number one or number two in worldwide writing instrument sales. In 1931 Parker created Quink “quick drying ink” which eliminated the need for blotting and led to the development of the most widely used model of fountain pen in history (over $400 million worth of sales in its 30 year history) the Parker 51. Manufacturing facilities were set up over the years in Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Mexico, USA, Pakistan, India and Argentina. Parker pens were frequently selected (often as favorite pens of the signers) to sign important documents such as the World War II armistices, and commemorative editions were sometimes offered.
The company bought retailer and catalog company Norm Thompson in 1973, and then sold it off in 1981. In 1976 Parker acquired Manpower just as the temporary staffing market was surging. In time Manpower provided more revenue than the pen business. A 1982 spinoff, Sintered Specialties, Inc., became SSI Technologies, a manufacturer of automotive sensors.
A management buyout in 1987 moved the company headquarters to Newhaven, East Sussex, England which was the original location of the Valentine Pen Company previously acquired by Parker. In 1993 Parker was acquired by the Gillette Company, which already owned the PaperMate brand, one of the best-selling disposable ballpoints. Gillette sold the writing instruments division in 2000 to Newell Rubbermaid, whose own Stationery Division, Sanford, became the largest in the world owning such brand names as Rotring, Sharpie, Reynolds as well as Parker, PaperMate, Waterman and Liquid Paper.
In July of 2009 the 180 workers at Parker Newhaven, UK, got notice that the factory was to be shut down and the production moved to France.
On August 18, 2009 Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced that Janesville Wisconsin will lose the remaining operations tied to Parker Pen and 153 jobs. “This decision is a response to structural issues accelerated by market trends and is in no way a reflection on the highly valued work performed by our Janesville employees over the years,” the company said. Newell Rubbermaid said it will offer transitional employment services as well as severance benefits.
Info gleaned from Wikipedia