The Parker Pen Company is a manufacturer of pens, founded in 1888 by George Safford Parker in Janesville, Wisconsin, United States. It is currently owned by Newell Rubbermaid, and headquartered in Newhaven, East Sussex, England.
George Safford Parker, the founder, had previously been a sales agent for the John Holland Gold Pen Company. He received his first fountain pen related patent in 1889. In 1894 Parker received a patent on his "Lucky Curve" feed, which was claimed to draw excess ink back into the pen body when the pen was not in use. The Lucky Curve feed was used in various forms until 1928.
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 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), Brazil and Argentina.
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 Sanford Stationery Division, 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 would be shut down and the production moved to France. The following month, Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced that the Janesville, Wisconsin plant was to close the remaining operations tied to Parker Pen (which eliminated 153 jobs). The company press release said:
"This decision is a response to structural issues accelerated by market trends and is in no way a reflection on the highly valued work performed by our Janesville employees over the years."