The Parker 88 (later Place Vendôme and Rialto) is very much a nineteen eighties pen, straight and slender. It began life in 1987 in the UK. At first glance it’s a Vector with delusions of grandeur but there is a bit more to it than that. Bits and pieces were borrowed from other pens: the clip is from the Parker Arrow. It has some resemblance to the Parker 95 and the cap top is reminiscent of the Sonnet.
It doesn’t come across as a collection of bits, though. It’s a handsome pen of its time. The story is that it was inspired by a pillar in the Place Vendôme. This silver-plated version, the Corinth, is very pillar-like. It reminds me of a Victorian lamp post – also the result of classical inspiration.
The earliest models of the 88 had sections in a variety of colours. Later ones were black. This example has rich maroon lacque at the end of the barrel and on the section. Many 88s had lacque barrels. It is very attractive and gives the impression of depth in the colour.
Perhaps the least attractive part of the 88 is the Vector-style nib, something that either appeals or it doesn’t. It’s a good, dependable writer though.
Pen design in the nineteen eighties may be seen as a little eccentric, with pens that are too slender for extended periods of writing for many people. Whether intentionally or not, these slender pens hark back to the hard rubber pens of the tens and twenties, many of which were equally straight and slender. I’m not usually a fan of eighties pens but, having spent some time restoring this 88, I have begun to admire the classical design, rich lacque, silver and gold plating. Totally unlike modern pens or those that preceded it for several decades, it nonetheless works well as a design.