Parker Arrow 1982-1988
by Jim Mamoulides 1/5/02 - Updated 7/4/03
The Parker Arrow: A Symbol And Three Pens
1933 saw the introduction of a watershed Parker model, the Vacumatic, and with it the now famous Parker "Arrow" clip, designed by Joseph Platt. It follows that given the huge number of pen models Parker introduced since, at least one would likely wind up being named "Arrow" as well.
The first of three pens with the Arrow name was introduced by Parker Canada in the late 1940s: an Aerometric model that was something of an open nib version of the 51, and was produced through the mid 1950s. These pens are very uncommon, coming in solid color barrels and metal caps, like the 51. The pen had Vacumatic type arrow nib, possibly leftovers from discontinuation of the line in the late 1940s, and the pen's aerometric sac protector was stamped "CANADA" and "ARROW", in addition to the normal instructions. Being fairly rare, these pens, in excellent condition, fetch very princely prices.
A second Parker Arrow appeared shortly after the introduction of the Parker 45, and is essentially a variant of the 45 line, the only difference is the Arrow had a plastic, rather than a metal cap. Later Parker UK catalogs show this pen as an all-plastic 45, so the Arrow name may have been only briefly used. The 45 was introduced in 1960, and interestingly, is actually a revamped Eversharp cartridge filler that Parker acquired when it absorbed Eversharp in 1957. The 45 and the Eversharp pens were sold side by side in the early 1960s, being different only in the clip, the way the hooded nib is treated and including identical cartridges, though labeled differently.
A New Arrow In The Parker Quiver
In 1982, Parker introduced a new Arrow, an entry-level fine pen targeted at the $10 to $100 gift market. The new all-metal pen had a tubular flush fitting cap and barrel design and a new style clip design that would be repeated, with some changes, on several following fine and school pens. Collectors familiar with the Parker Vector will immediately recognize the very similar squared off long feathered, but unmarked arrow clip, which was lifted from the earlier RB1 rollerball pen, the Vector's predecessor. The Arrow also borrows the cap top "minus sign" design.
The Arrow is a straightforward and simple, tubular design, with minimal ornamentation and is fitted with a wrapped 23 carat gold plated stainless steel semi-hooded nib. Unlike the Sheaffer Triumph nib, the Arrow nib is not seamless, and shows a distinct gap at the base.
The Arrow was introduced in 1982 in four writing modes: fountain, capped rollerball, twist action ballpoint and pencil. In 1983, Parker changed the pencil from a rotary type to a continuous feed type. The fountain and rollerball pens carry the tubular design the entire length of the pen, while the ballpoint and pencil taper to a point at the barrel end. The clip on the arrow is a plain solid bar with the arrow design cut out and creased into a three facet shape. The spring bar is attached underneath and is fastened to the top of the cap by a tab that enters a cap-top slot.
Arrows are cartridge / converter pens, using the early Parker press bar squeeze converter. Interestingly, as an entry-level fine pen, Arrows came with a "Worldwide Lifetime Guarantee."
The Arrow was introduced in 1982 in three finishes: brushed all Stainless Steel with gold plate trim, anodized Black Matte, and 12 carat all Rolled Gold and silver plate, though silver plate does not appear to be a catalogued model. The line was updated during its run, with an all Stainless Steel with chrome plate model introduced in 1983, a Custom model with a matte black barrel and 12 carat rolled gold plate cap in 1985, and Laque finishes in 1986. All models, except stainless steel, are solid brass base. Plated models were made in plain and fluted versions, though fluted models do not appear in any catalogs or advertisements I have reviewed. Laque colors included marbled green, blue, red, gray, and solid black. Metal trim is gold plated, though on the all stainless models, chrome was offered as an option.
Arrows were intended as entry-level gift pens, and were priced accordingly, with Matte fountain pens starting at US $40.00, brushed stainless and Lacquer models higher, at under US $100.00, to gold and silver plate models priced just above US $100.00. Arrows were made both in the USA and the UK. Arrows were shipped in simple plastic presentation boxes that did a nice job of showing the pen. In 1988, Parker redesigned the Arrow, changing the clip and tassies, and called the new pen the 95.
For an entry-level pen, the Arrow is very well made, and feels very solid. The matte finish pen I reviewed is very tough, this pen having been well used and yet still holding up well, and the brushed stainless pen being very understated, but again, looking very resistant to daily use. I wish I had a lacquered pen to compare.
Both Arrows are 5 1/4 inches long capped and 5 3/4 inches posted. They are middle weight pens being, essentially, thin steel tubes.
The cap snaps smartly on and posts fairly deeply and snugly on the barrel end. The pens are well balanced, capped or posted, though I'm not particularly pleased with how they post, as the cap sits by sliding to a friction fit on the end of the barrel. This is going to mar the finish of the pen over time.
The clips don't have much in the way of spring, designed for dress shirt weight material. The hard edges of the Arrow clip tend to drag against everything it touches, and is a bit on the sharp edged side. Later designs, such as the 95, are much more friendly.
I had three nib sizes to try, fine, medium, and broad, and all were wet and very smooth and even writers. The nibs are a bit stiff, and given the design and the period, I'm not surprised. . These pens would rate as good daily users.
Parker long refill cartridges seem to be the real point of these pens, though the slim converter does a nice job, filling quickly. I have noticed that when left sitting idle, the cartridges tend to dry out very fast in these pens. A definite negative.
I like the brushed stainless finish best, as the matte black anodized finish will pick up dings and scratches faster. As an entry level fine pen, these are good pens, but there are better choices as writers, which is probably the reason they did not survive. I have an Arrow Flighter in my collection, more for being a Flighter than any appeal the line has. To me, it's a 95 with a Vector clip, and says nothing much more compelling. Comparing the two, the 95 is the better pen, with more refined appointments.
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