You may be thinking to yourselves, why Parker 25’s? Fair question. They are not the most desirable Parker Pen by any means, neither are they the most expensive Parker, they're not even manufactured any more. There were not many variations to choose from. Parts are obsolete and trying to source spares is becoming increasingly more and more difficult. So why would I have such an, odd, interest in Parker 25’s?
From school I never knew what I wanted to do, just like many other youngsters at the time I’m sure. I lived in Newhaven and my school was situated just up the road on the cliff. When it came around to do the mandatory work experience my Careers Officer had secured me a placement for 1 day a week over several months in Engineering at Parkers. I felt I was very lucky. There was another work experience option that wasn’t very interesting so this seemed a good choice. I don’t know how or why but I got the Parker placement. I worked in Maintenance and the Toolroom being taught by what I consider to be some of the best Engineers / Toolmakers I have met. I feel I can make that claim as my current occupation involves me setting up and managing apprenticeships in engineering companies around the South East of England. Although the companies I work with manufacture a vast range of products; from pumps to car parts, orthopedic joints, medical equipment, military equipment, very, and I mean very, few come close to the skills, knowledge, tolerances and eye for detail that I learnt whilst at Parkers. The only thing I can compare the type of work we did was high tolerance crossed with jewellery making, it had to work, be manufactured accurately and had to be aesthetically pleasing and unmarked. I completed my apprenticeship and became a Special Purpose Toolmaker at Parker Pen Newhaven, England from 1994 – 2003.
However, I believe the seed was planted many years before at a younger age. My Grandfather, Grandmother, Father and Uncle all worked at various times at Parker Pen. One Christmas my Grandfather gave me a present. When I opened it I discovered two matching dark blue plastic barrel Parker Jotters in a plastic presentation case, one ballpoint and one mechanical pencil. They were the very common typical model, although my Grandfather had them engraved with my name on the barrel. This made them extra special as any one with an engraved pen given as a gift will appreciate. I used them for a while. Then it dawned on me that Parkers have that kind of prestige, reputation, value about them. So I stopped using them, put them in their box and stored them deep in the back of a drawer for years to come. As time passed I obtained the odd Parker here and there. Then I worked at Parkers and that’s when it just got worse! So, I think the fact that I ended up working there too was no coincidence.
So the 25, honestly, when I worked there I really disliked the pen. It did not interest me in the slightest, I couldn’t see the attraction and I didn’t pay much attention to it at all. I just referred to it as ‘the pen with the square clip’. If I had to make or repair tooling for the 25 line, asking colleagues about it and they weren’t sure which model I was referring to, I would say ‘The pen with the square clip’. “Oh yeah that one” they would normally reply!
It was only when I heard they were discontinuing the 25 in what must have been around mid 1999 that I started to take notice. I hadn’t seen many models, if any, come to the end of their life, so although not much actually happens other than the tooling gets put away and parts inevitably lost, it was a significant point whilst working there. I remember it even better because I went to the production line maybe a few weeks before it was due to pack up to talk to the Line Supervisor for one reason or another, a nice lady, I’d often repair bits for her. She handed me a full set of blue trim 25’s FP, RB, BP and MP, all with the date code of what I believe to be the last date code production run, or if not they were very close to being some of the very last to come off the line.
Just so you’re aware the 25 line was a hand assembled pen. There was no automated assembly machine like the Jotter, RB1 (Vector), Frontier or refill lines. Although the individual components themselves were manufactured on automated machines such as injection moulding presses, power presses and deep draw presses, the 25 had quite literally a line of staff sitting one in front of another, maybe 6 to 8 in a row, with bench presses assembling the pens, so quite low volume. Just to put it into perspective the new later ballpoint refill automated machine at the time was capable of assembling, filling and producing 1.1 million refills a WEEK! This was a high output... when working properly!
After leaving Parkers as the employee numbers started to shrink and the plant eventually closed I found the internet and Ebay. This modern wonder opened up a whole new array of Parkers that I had only ever heard of or in some cases never even seen before. I’m sure Parker’s legendary archives has every model and although it was based in Newhaven after Janesville closed, very few staff were allowed in there for obvious reasons. The internet became very helpful viewing and acquiring pens, everything became instantly accessible. This is how I learnt there to be other colour models in the 25 range. Although the 25 kept its square, boxy, futuristic looks with very little change, to the trained eye you could find there were subtle differences produced over the years. I found myself aiming to obtain every model and colour produced . With that now achieved and having learnt every thing there is to know I wanted to share my knowledge with all you other 25 collectors.
Pen collectors collect pens for different reasons, whether it’s because they like a particular pen, nostelgia, the colour, different models, date codes etc etc. Having got every model (almost) and colour the next possible aim was to obtain a set of 25's in every model from every quarter from every year that they were produced. Although having done the rough maths, it then dawned on me there would be several hundred and a huge investment. This idea is on hold for the moment!