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Parker 75 and VP

In many ways the 75 can be considered one of the first modern pens. One reason for considering it modern is the filling system. It is possible to use replaceable plastic cartridges, and although Parker was definitely not the first company to use plastic  cartridges (the Waterman C/F comes before the 75 as a succesful cartridge filler, and glass cartridges were used long before that, and within the Parker Company the 45 was introduced as a cartridge filler a few years before the 75), I do think that the option of switching between plastic cartridges and converters defines at least a Parker pen as belonging to the modern era. A second reason could be the finish. After a first series of American made pens, the production moved to France, and the French production introduced many variations of lacquer on metal. Many brands have used that finish over the last decades. Lastly, many collectors argue that the 75 Spanish Treasure Fleet is the first real limited edition pen. It was introduced in 1965. There was a limited number of pens for sale, and those pens were actually made from a sunken and then recovered Spanish silver treasure lost around 1720. The modern era - in this case from 1965 and onwards - has literally been flooded with special or limited edition pens, and the numbering and the use of the sunken silver treasure certainly defines the Parker 75 Spanish Silver Fleet as a modern limited edition pen.

An overview of the Parker 75 pens 1963 - 1994

As you can tell from the headline above, the 75 line was in production for more than 30 years. While dimensions and basic design passed through the 30 years more or less unaltered, finish and also some features having to do with function change several times over the years. Thus, collectors can find a lot of different 75 models, but, unlike many other top-of-the-line pens, only one size.

So, the 75 was introduced in 1963 as the new top of the line pen. In order to signalise exactly that, high class, the first design to be introduced was a solid sterling silver pen in the so-called crosshatch design, see further below.

You can, of course,  categorise the 75 pens in many different ways, but it is undoubtedly useful to distinguish between the initial American production and the later French production. Thus, production started in the US in 1963 and was moved to France, Meru, in the early 70s. Along with the change of production site came a change in pen design; where the American pens were all metal pens, some solid silver or gold and some plated plus a pen in titanium, the French production introduced lacquer pens, but also new designs in metal pens. Now, I'm not an expert in 75s, so if you are interested in detailed and in depth information concerning this pen, you should turn to Lih-Tha Wongs superbly well researched website: Parker75.com

The Very Personal - a forerunner of the 75

The VP was produced from 1962 to xx. Judging from the fairly modest prices it commands, it does not seem to be much in vogue among collectors. I think it is a beautiful pen and great writer, though. The barrel is in plastic and the caps in metal, either lustraloy or gold plate. The design features that eventually are transformed into part of the 75 are: a three sided section with protruding lines on two sides to secure a good grib on the pen, a nib that could be easily turned to accommodate to different angles of writing and finally the nib design. 

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The first year 75

At a brief glance you can't tell a 'first year' pen a part from later pens. But if you take a closer look at the section, you will notice that the the barrel screws into the section via metal threads. And even with the barrel screwed on, you can see the metal part of the section. This section with the part that connects to the barrel in metal was, allegedly, used only a few months after the launch, so it is quite rare. See what it looks like below.

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American 75s

An easy way to distinguish between early and later pens are the tassies, the top of the cap and the bottom of the barrel. In early pens both tassies are flat and closed whereas they are indented, like a deep plate, in later models. To the right you can see 4 different cap tassie designs. From the left:

1) Tassie on a limited edition pen, the Spanish Treasure Fleet  

2) Indented tassie from a later model

3) Flat tassie from early model

4) Cabochon tassie from French sterling pen

As stated earlier, the American pens are all metal pens. You can have a look at some of them below.

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Flighter: The Flighters come in different trim, but a Flighter is basically an all stainless pen. This one is an early model with a tiny gold ring towards the open end of the cap. They also come completely without gold trim on arrow and cap tassie

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Crosshatch: The sterling silver crosshatch design is the epitome of the Parker 75 pen. Refined and yet simple, is is indeed a very attractive design. It is also a very well balanced pen and a joy to use. For the past years my carry-everywhere-pen set has been a pen and pencil in the crosshatch design

Vermeil: A variation of the sterling silver pen above. The silver is covered with a thin layer of gold, it is gold plated. The plating adds a golden hue to the pen.

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Insignia: Along with the silver pens, came a number of gold plated pens (and also solid gold pens, of which, unfortunately, I don't have any). As indicated, the model shown is called Insignia".

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Spanish Treasure Fleet: The pen shown to the left and below is a special edition pen, the so-called "Spanish Treasure Fleet Pen". It is basically a crosshatch pen, but it bears the inscription partially shown here, and also different cap and barrel tassies (you can see the cap tassie above). The pen was launched in 1965 and is said to be the worlds first limited edition pen. What a wonderful idea to use a sunken 'treasure' as the material for a limited edition pen!

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A few pics of the nib and the section ring of the 75. Actually I remember seeing a 75 crosshatch for the first time and of course also the nib. Especially the nib struck me with it's slightly square and slightly folded design! More text below.

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Nib design, sections, section rings and also feeds changed over the entire production period. Directly above the nib and the section ring from my "first year pen". Note the zero on the chrome plated ring. According to Wong, it disappeared around 1968, and you will notice that there is no zero indication in the two pics above.

To the right, two French sections and nibs. The section to the far right is the latest and final section design of the 75. The broad chrome ring had then passed through a series of transformation from the original broad chrome to a broad gold plated ring, an almost as broad gold plated ring and finally the narrow shown in the photo. One point of curiosity: normally late French nibs would have been made in 18 karat gold, but apparently that is not the case with this pen. (The nib might be a replacement, but it does seem to belong to the pen).

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The French pens - Lacquer pens

All lacquer pens in the 75 line are made in France. But nevertheless, it is meaningful to distinguish between to lacquer lines: 

1: A series produced from around 1979 until 1992 (or maybe a bit later). This series offers a pen entirely in lacquer

2: A "Costum Lacquer series" where the cap is gold plated and barrel is in lacquer finish. Produced between 1990 - 1991.

Lacquer pens came in several colours and sometimes you get colour variations within the same colours. I have two red lacquer pens (Jasper Red Quartz to be precise), and comparing the two pens one could be tempted to define them as two different colours. Most of the pens offered are marbleised, but you also find solid colours. 

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Jasper Red

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Jasper Red - but obviously a different shade of Jasper Red is compared to the pen above

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Thuya - the darkest of the brown coloured pens

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Thuya - but somewhat lighter

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Solid burgundy

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Solid black

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Malachite - or green striped 

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Matte black - the Matte series comprised different colours and was the last of the 75 lacquer series

The French metal pens 

The French production comprises at lot of different designs in all metal pens. Some are solid gold or silver, while others are plated. Many are very attractive. For a complete overview of the lines produced and for time span of production you should go to Wongs site (see above). I'm simply offering some pics of some the French metal pens in my collection

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Milleraies - a thousand stripes

Often the same pattern was offered in different finishes. Here you see the "Milleraies" in silver plate with gold plated trim

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MiIlleraies - straight silver plate

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The two caps of the silver plated Milles Rais above.

Below: a gold plated cap of a Milleraies

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Milleraies - all gold plated

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Prince de Galles - gold plated version. It is easy to confuse the "Prince de Galles" with the "Ecossais" below. But note that the grids on the "Ecossais" are closer than on the "Prince de Galle

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Ecossais - not to be confused with the pattern above

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Flammé - and a close up of the cap to show the details of the pattern

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Perlé - and below a pic of the set and a detail from the cap

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Godron - a set of silver plated "Godrons". The pattern is made with much broader lines than the "Milleraies".

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Florence - a beautiful sterling silver pen in vermeil

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Fougère - a pen in sterling silver

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