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75

Maker: Parker.

The initial idea of the 75 was to make something of a splash for the company’s 75th anniversary; the name, like that of the 88, reflects this connection.  Unlike the 88, this pen was meant from the beginning to sit firmly atop the Parker lineup.

This goal aside, one might consider the 75 either an evolution of previous models or a grab-bag of already-developed components.  The feed, at least at the outset, is largely the same as that on the 45, with slight adaptation for a larger point, and for a slightly different mounting.  The different mounting is pulled from the short-lived VP, which I’ll pursue more carefully in a moment; it also informs the way in which the cap clings to the pen.  The ink containment also follows the 45′s cartridge/converter pattern, although since this appears in almost every pen Parker offered after it’s introduction, to accuse Parker of not trying in adopting it for this model is much like decrying Toyota for using an engine in a given model, just like in everything else they’ve ever made.

The lifting of ideas from the VP is probably the most interesting technical aspect of the 75, and possibly the bravest move from a marketing standpoint.  The VP was short-lived because it used a dismountable filler so given to breaking that it was nearly useless, and since it was not actually a converter there was no option but to use it.  To make a pen that would remind potential buyers of this ill-starred model was courting instant failure, but there was an other side to this coin which Parker, in retrospect wisely, thought was worth the risk.  The section of the VP was moulded to provide an ergonomic grip, not unlike some later German pens, although it was more of a suggested shape where the German pens offer it as prescribed.  Because this shaping enforced a specific alignment of the pen to the hand, defeating a user’s precious ability to rotate the whole instrument to apply the point correctly to the paper while holding the pen at an angle they found comfortable, the VP’s point was made to rotate within the section.  The 75′s section is almost a complete repeat of this arrangement, although with a sturdy metal ring applied at the face of the section where the cap’s clutch finds purchase; the earlier model’s section was all plastic.  The way in which the feed is mounted in the section is also slightly different, a friction grip rather than a screw-thread, which means the points are more easily changed in the 75 and cannot be swapped between VP and 75.

I will admit that academically I found this notion a little shakey.  Now that I have had a chance to try the system, I find that it does work rather well.  The point does not rotate so freely that it is apt to move while one is writing, which was something I feared.  However, since the shaping of the section is so smooth and rounded that it does not insist on being held in the suggested way, this power of adjustment does incline slightly towards novelty.

The foundational model of the pen had a sterling silver barrel with a fine cross-hatched detail; this is reputed to have been taken from an antique cigar case owned at the time by Kenneth Parker.  In later years, this pattern came to be called Ciselé from the French word for “chiselled”, and the term has been applied backwards to the entire model run.  All sub-models of the pen have been metal bodied; in addition to various arrangements of silver, there have been solid gold, gold-plated and -filled brass, and starting about 1979 brass finished with various laquers and epoxies.  There was also an oddly short run in the Flighter finish, not beginning until 1974 and wrapping up in 1990; one assumes common stainless steel was insufficiently grand for the company’s top model.

Parker has the dubious distinction of introducing one of the first modern examples of the Limited Edition pen in the shape of the 75.  In 1965, a “Spanish Treasure” model was offered, using silver recovered from wrecks of a fleet lost in 1715.  This ran until 1966 and cost triple the amount of the standard silver model.  Other LE versions of the 75 included one for the American bicentennial (made of pewter), the Australian bicentennial (opal cap jewel), and one made of brass recovered from the RMS Queen Elizabeth.  There were also various versions made not for general sale, but to honour specific achievements; pens made of spacecraft, or to be used to sign a particular treaty.

About 1970, production of the 75 was expanded to include the company’s French plant, which would as time went by be the only centre of production.  One will thus find pen bodies with either USA or France given as the site of production, and precious metal content expressed in both karats and thousandths.

In the later production, there was a technical change in the point units.  In common with the 45, the earlier point units had a collector built permanently into the section.  In the later models, the buffering combs are attached to the point unit.  This is good in that it allows the whole thing to be easily cleaned (as opposed to the earlier version and the 45, in which an ink-clog in the collector is a serious source of woe), but it is bad in that the units will not swap between sections of different ages.

Important!

I have really just scraped the surface of a very diverse and popular model on this page.  For those seeking more depth, I suggest looking at a whole site devoted to them, Lih-Tah Wong’s Parker75.com, and its extremely meaty fact book.

Important!

There is also an effort underway at the Fountain Pen Network to establish means by which one might work out the date of a 75 to within a few years, rather than a decade or so.  It takes some reading, but if you’re anxious to pin a year on a pen, it might help.

Production Run: 1963 (although commercial release was late enough to be in the ’64 model year) to 1994.

Cost When New: The standard “ciselé” model began at $25 and finished at $155.  The least expensive variant appears to have been the Flighter, which in 1977 cost $27.50, while the most expensive in regular production was the solid gold Presidential which cost $150 in 1967 and $1100 in 1984 (for modern value, try this calculator; you’ll find that the difference between those prices reflects how much the cost of precious metals has run ahead of basic inflation).

Size: 12.9 cm long capped, 14.2 cm posted, 12.1 cm uncapped.

Point: 14K and 18K gold, the latter coming from France.  At the start of the French production there were some points with a 585 content indicator, and those with only a 750 indication appear while US production is still ongoing; when production of this pen was wrapped in the US, the French points gained a large 18K impression in addition to the 750.  There are some examples known of steel and titanium as well, but they’re rare enough that one is unlikely to stumble upon them (especially the titanium ones).

Body: Metal; silver, gold, and brass have all been used, the latter generally but not always clad in either precious metal or finished in laquer or epoxy.

FillerCartridge, capacity approx. 1.2 ml; will accept all Parker converters.

Notice

The combination of plastic threads on the section and metal threads in the barrel means that screwing the pen together to pierce a cartridge will wear the section.  This will lead eventually to stripping of the section threads and a failure of the pen to hold together.  Owners should be careful to press the cartridge into the section by hand before reassembly.

Parker 75 in the initial sterling cross-hatch pattern.

Parker 75 in the initial sterling cross-hatch pattern.

Parker 75 Insignia; as the point says its gold content is 750 and it was made in France, while the body is USA-made, we may assume the section is not quite correct for the exterior.  The section is also a little odd, as it is entirely without alignment marks.

With the cap on, the problematic section is not a worry. The Insignia has a 14K gold-filled exterior, and the cross-hatching is shallower than in the sterling version.

As a vague help in dating 75s without a date code; jewelled versions are later, and later clips have a bigger arrow-head. Exactly what is meant by “early” or “late” is a little fuzzy; the turn-over in both comes in somewhere in the 1970s.

This is the earlier sort of point unit

 

 

If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.

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