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 the Quink ("quick drying ink") which eliminated the need for blotting. In 1941 the company developed 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, Germany (Osmia-Parker) 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.
A gold and silver Parker Jotter pencil.
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 Paper Mate 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 2009 the 180 workers at Parker Newhaven got notice that the factory was to be shut down and the production moved to France. On 18 August 2009 Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced that...
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