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1987–current

anfangarker's subsidiary in Newhaven in the UK had been around since the thirties and since then had produced a vast number of attractive designs, not found in the US. Especially in the Duofold lines. The 1980's was a tough decade for Parker. Fountain pens had quickly become unfashionable and Parker relied heavily on the proven designs, the Parker "75", the Parker "45", Parker "51", Parker "61" and the Classic. Something radical had to be done to save the writing instrument division. It was soon clear that the 1980's was to be the decade of the UK Parker subsidiary. Several UK-designed new pens were launched over a few years. First out was the RB-1, for Roller Ball. It was launched in July of 1981 and the largest ad campaign in the UK company's history commenced. The RB-1 was soon followed by the similar US made Arrow in August 1981. The introduction in turn was described by Parker as the most massive marketing effort since the launching of the Parker "45" in 1960. anfangut although both the RB-1 and Arrow sold well. They weren't really the life-belts Parker had hoped for and times were getting increasingly harder for Parker. Parker's manufacturing facilities in Janesville were old and inefficient and by 1982 Parker's net income was down with 60%. In December 1982 the Parker factory in Toronto closed down production and assembly line. Only distribution and repair remained. George Parker II decided to bring in a new management team from outside the company, and in an effort to cut costs 25% of the worldwide work force was made redundant. Also several pen models saw price reductions in 1983 in an effort to boost sales. $15 million were invested in a new hyper-modern factory in Janesville and In the autumn of 1984 another member of the Arrow/RB-1 family was introduced, the Vector. The new management decided on a global marketing strategy, which unfortunately failed horribly and Parker Janesville would never again recover from the financial blow. Instead it was Parker's subsidiary in Newhaven who continued to flourish.
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parker centennial duofold

Duofold MK I in Black. Note the two clip versions of the Centennial size and the two versions of ball pens.

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parker centennial duofold

Duofold MK I in Blue Marble. Note the two clip versions of the Centennial size and the two versions of ball pens.

anfangventually Parker Newhaven succeeded in a buyout of the Writing Instruments Division, and in 1986 the corporate headquarters moved to Newhaven, England. The Vector became one of Parker's most selling models and is still around today. Other successful designs like the The Parker 25, the Sonnet, Frontier, Insignia, Parker "100" and the Centennial Duofold all came from Newhaven. Immediately after the UK takeover Parker's new chief executive officer, Jaques Margry, launched plans to commemorate Parkers 100-year jubileee with a new pen. It was both logical and, as it turned out, a successful strategy to base the new pen on the design that originally built the Parker pen company and brand name, the 1920's Duofold. Of course Newhaven had previously had great success in producing Duofolds. The first ones manufactured already during the early 1930's, and later in the 1940's with the Duofold NS, followed by the AF Duofold, in turn followed by a wide range of aerometric Duofolds, referred to as the New Duofold. But the new 1980's Duofold would be more closely based in design on the Big Red, that had built the company before. Margry called it the Centennial. anfangt was to be the most modern fountain pen to date. With a ten day computer controlled manufacturing process, and made from over 130 components it was subjected to 100 quality tests. The large nibs alone, punched out from a single gold sheet, had 21 production stages. Parker boasted that the nib was the largest solid gold nib in the industry. They were hand-slit with a blade fine as a human hair and finished by tumbling for 48 hours in a barrel filled with walnut shells, and then hand polished.

The nibs were were offered in four standard grades and 22 non-standard. Initially the customers had a choice between a 14K or 18K nib, but the 14K nibs were discontinued in March of 1989. The nibs sported an attractive ruthenium arrow motif, and the tips, often referred to as the "iridium", were also made from ruthenium. Ruthenium is a very hard metal that belongs to the platinum family and is inert to most chemicals. The ink feed and collector was computer designed and built not to leak at any "normal" plane altitude, by controlling and regulating the ink by sensitively adapting to atmospheric pressure and temperature changes.

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parker centennial duofold

Red Marble.

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parker centennial duofold

Green Marble.

anfanghe body was made from solid rods of a very sturdy acrylic known as methyl methacrylate, with a trim of heavy plated 23K gold. The ball pen was cap actuated and Parker boasted that it could manage 5,5 kilometres of writing. The Centennial was officially introduced to commemorate Parkers 100 year jubilee 1888-1988, but production had started already in 1987. The 1987 Centennials sported a short, flat clip with the an arrow stapled on it, but this was replaced by a longer and thicker clip in 1988.

The 1988 colours were
• Black
• Marble Blue
• Marble Maroon

In 1988 a Centennial Collector Edition was offered. It was a Blue marble parker centennial with the imprint 1888-1988 on the crown decal. It was offered as a set of a fountain pen, and a ball pen that was manufactured in the UK but assembled in the US. These first limited edition pens were made in 50 numbered sets.

anfanghey weren't sold, but instead offered to VIP's in the US and UK. President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush, resigning Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci each got one; John Gibb, Parker Pen's chief sales executive to the White House during seven Presidential administrations, Peter Bentley, President of the Parker Pen Company, and Malcolm Troak, Parker's manufacturing Director also got one, among others. The pens were engraved on the cap bands with The Parker Centennial and the limited edition number. They were presented in a wooden box, made in Japan.

anfangn 1989 the Parker Duofold in black was selected and used by the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural Committee as the official pen of the inauguration of President George Bush. It featured a gold filled signature on the cap and the official Bicentennial inauguration seal. The first signing was with 33 Duofold pens, and were the 23 nominations for the Cabinet and administrative advisers.

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parker centennial duofold

Orange.


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parker centennial duofold

Black and Pearl.

anfangresident Bush then gave the New York democrat, Senator Patrick Moynihan a Duofold and said jokingly "Put that in your pocket, that's got to be worth two votes now". Over the years there have been a multitude of Limited Edition, Special Edition and Special Purpose Edition Duofold pens offered. These Edition pens are separately covered in the chapter Limited Editions. April 1st 1989 Parker introduced the Duofold International, a smaller sized version of the Centennial, available in the same three finishes of Black, Marbled Blue and Marbled Maroon. The International featured a smaller 18K gold nib with the nib grade options of Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad. It retailed at $250 for the fountain pen and as a set with a ball pen for $375.

For the Christmas holiday season of 1989 Parker teamed up with Newsweek magazine in an ad campaign at 52 US airports around the nation. Huge back-lit posters 3 by 4,2 metres (10 by 14 ft), featuring prominent American military and State Department leaders.

anfanghe signs were also to be found along major commuter rail routes and reached millions of travellers. It was part of Parker's Christmas program, the biggest promotion campaign so far in the company's history with a budget of $2.4 million.

Although at this time in fact a UK company, in a study the same year by Ogilvy & Mather Trendsights of the "most exciting and fascinating US companies", Parker scored as #11, only after companies like Coca Cola, Nike, IBM, Pepsi, American Express and Levi's.

In 1990 a new clip in higher relief that was manufactured to hold to be bent 100  000 times without losing its spring By the summer of 1990 new additions were made to the Duofold line, a 9 mm Mechanical Pencil, a Roller Ball and a new twist action Ball Pen replaced the old cap actuated model. It utilized a unique oil-cushioned twist mechanism meant to make the retraction of the refill silent and smooth. The roller ball would write 2 km and Parker used Swiss watchmaker tools to achieve a ball housing with a tolerance of 0.001 millimetres.

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parker centennial duofold

Duofold Presidential in Solid Gold.

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parker centennial duofold

Duofold Godron Gold.

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parker centennial duofold

Duofold Godron Silver.

anfanghe new pencil was also designed after the 1920's Duofold models "Big Bro". With a large gold filled crown, covering an eraser it used a 60 mm long 0.9 mm wide lead.

The Duofold was Parker's top of the line and was priced there after:
• Centennial $300
• International $250
• Roller Ball $150
• Ball pen $125
• Pencil $125

anfangy September of 1990 Parker started advertising a Centennial fountain pen and mechanical pencil set in Orange as a Special Edition. The fountain pens had a crown with the pendulum pattern. It was offered in a cherrywood box. 1 000 un-numbered sets were initially produced but the design became so popular that Parker continued to make them for several years, adding an International sized fountain pen, ball pen and a roller ball to the line in 1991. In 1993 it was still referred to as a Special Edition, but from 1994 it was part of the regular line.

 

anfanghe Orange was priced higher than the "ordinary" Duofolds:

• Centennial $350
• International $300
• Roller Ball $175
• Ball pen $150
• Pencil $50

In March of 1991 Parker added $25 to the price of all other models and by October 1991 a very attractive design high-end models of Duofolds were introduced. One was the Gold Collection, a cast acrylic pen with a sleeve of brass with deep cut engravings in a Godron pattern, followed by a 5 micron heavy 23K gold plating. The second was the Sterling Silver Collection, similar to the Gold pen, but in solid Sterling Silver. They were offered in all five models of Centennial, International, Roller Ball, Ball Pen and Mechanical Pencil and had the Duofold pendulum pattern decal that was introduced with the Orange Special Edition. They were priced at $500 for the Centennial, $450 for the International, $250 for the Roller Ball, Ball Pen and Pencil.

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Duofold Black GT.

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Duofold Blue Lapis Lazulii.

anfang n August of 1992 Parker added the Marble Green colour to the line, and also the Presidential Duofold in solid 18K gold. It was advertised "one of the world's most expensive pens, the Duofold Presidential, is literally worth it's weight in gold". It was offered in the same Godron design as the Gold and Silver collection pens, but only as an International sized fountain pen and a Ball Pen. The Presidential was priced at $10 000, while the Ball Pen cost a mere $5 000.

In November of 1992 Parker introduced the last design of the Mk I Centennial Duofolds. Again looking back to the 1920's Parker rejuvenated the Black and pearl. "Delicate pearlized acrylic, veined with intense black, echoes the elegant style of the original 1920's finish." It was priced between the Orange and the Godrons at $375 for the Centennial, $325 for the International and $185 for the other models.

 

anfang hus the nine Mk I designs of the Duofolds were:

• Black
• Marble Blue
• Marble Maroon
• Marble Green
• Orange
• Black and Pearl
• Godron Gold
• Godron Sterling Silver
• Presidential

In 1995 the Godrons, Presidential and Black and pearl were discontinued and in 1996 the complete line was redesigned, again following the strategy of the 1920-1930's. The new pens had more tapered ends, a shorter "blind cap" and fewer gold rings. While the gold rings on the caps instead of being uneven in width, were now of the same size and thicker. The new pencil took 0.7 leads instead of the previous 0.9.

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Duofold Jasper Red

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Duofold Jade Green

The new colours were:

• Black
• Lapis Lazuli Blue
• Red Jasper
• Jade Green
• Black and pearl
• Presidential

The Presidential was still only offered in the International size.
In 1998 a new colour, the Pearl Grey was introduced. In 2000 the Black Platinum was advertised, very similar to the Black GT, but with platinum plated trim. It was however not offered as a Centennial nor a Mechanical Pencil. In November 2001 Parker released a Duofold Blue Mosaic Special Edition, inspired by the ancient Roman art form. The pens were produced using a new computer controlled technique that allowed for intricate patterns. The fountain pen was offered in the International size only, Roller Ball, Ball Pen and Mechanical Pencil. They were not featured in the product catalogues but were advertised separately.

 

anfang n December of 2001 the Jade Green finish was discontinued. While two new colours were added to the Mosaic Special Editions, Red and Black, the latter also in the Centennial size. The line-up stayed the same until 2004 when the Pearl Grey, the Lapis Lazuli Blue and Red Jasper finishes were discontinued.

In 2005 the Black and Pearl was phased out, making way for a complete line re-design. In 2006 the Presidential in the Godron pattern was discontinued, Instead the Duofold Ace line was introduced. It sported an intricate spade symbol on both the crown decal and the nibs.

Five new designs were launched.
• Check Marine
• Check Olive
• Check Amber
• Presidential Esparto Gold
• Presidential Esparto Silver

The Esparto Gold was hand crafted in solid 18K gold with a bold Esparto pattern engraving and sported a thin contrasting black cap band. The Esparto Silver was made from solid sterling silver n the same pattern but with platinum plated trim, excluding the black cap band.

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Presidential International.

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Black and Pearl

anfanghe Espartos were offered in the International size only and also as a Ball Pen. The new Ace line did not offer any mechanical pencils, the only finish with a pencil now being the Black GT. In 2007 the Black and Pearl was re-introduced with the Ace spade emblem, again without a matching pencil. In 2008 a completely new size of Duofolds was introduced, the Demi. It was offered in every design, except the Presidential Espartos and in May a new attractive Check colour, the Check Citrine, was introduced. Already in 2009 the Check Olive was discontinued, again proving that green pens weren't selling very well. In 2010 the Presidential Esparto Gold was discontinued. In 2012 the last of the Duofold pencils, the Black GT was discontinued.

The 2012 Duofolds:

• Black GT
• Black Platinum
• Black and Pearl
• Check Citrine
• Check Amber
• Check Marine
• Silver Esparto

 

anfang n the autumn of 2010 the factory in Newhaven was closed down and the Duofold production was moved to Nantes, France. The last pen made in Newhaven was a Limited Edition referred to as the Newhaven staff a Duofold International in Black and Pearl which was presented to the factory workers. The certificate of authenticity stated that it was to acknowledge the dedication of the Newhaven staff. The crown featured the new halo logo and read "Parker Newhaven 1941—2010". It was offered in a black bag with an outer cardboard box inside containing a laquer wooden box with the pen. The rumour is that a production of 180 items were planned to be made, but already after the first wave of 20, items began popping up for sale on auction sites, so Parker allegedly stopped the production and recalled 14 of the 20.

anfango date the Centennial Duofold has been around for a quarter of a century and it is still Parker's top of the line pen. Still going strong and still used as a base both for Parker Limited Editions and also by other pen makers for different finishes. There are rumours of a new line coming in 2013 — we'll see.

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parker centennial duofold

MKII Duofold Grey Pearl

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