The Parker 25 Revisited

I sold a Parker 25 this week. I’ve written about this pen before. I didn’t like it and I said so, only to be rightly rebuked by several people who not only appreciate the 25 but hold it in high regard.

That forced me to reassess my own ideas about the pen. There are two things I can never force myself to like: the squashed appearance of the nib and the strange shape of the barrel. Against that I must say that the pen writes adequately well and just because no-one else made a suddenly tapering, narrowing barrel is no reason why Parker shouldn’t do it.

I have to accept that the 25 is a pen that is almost entirely problem-free and it sold in numbers that reflected that. This flighter is so robust that it could be used as an illustration for the word “robust”. It uses the cartridge/converter system that I don’t really like but most of the rest of the world does. In timely fashion, someone reminded me* that the filling system is of little consequence; what really matters is what happens when the ink is in the pen and the 25 is faultless in that regard. Not admirable, outstanding or inspiring, you understand, but faultless.

What about the barrel? Why does it have that sudden taper followed by a narrower part of the barrel? Does it serve a purpose? You may say that it enables secure posting but the Swan Leverless 1060 I am drafting this with posts perfectly securely without this abrupt taper. Like many, many other pens, the rear of the barrel of the 1060 tapers gently to reflect the shape of the cap, making a pleasantly balanced design. The 25 is not balanced, pleasantly or any other way.

Not everything has to be balanced, as the great builders of the Gothic period celebrated, but the Parker 25 isn’t Chartres Cathedral. It’s an inexpensive fountain pen that many people like and which will still be writing in the 22nd century. I won’t be around then and even if I was I still wouldn’t like it.

*Thank you, Jens!

21 thoughts on “The Parker 25 Revisited

  1. The Parker 25 is the pen I can stick in my pocket, not have worry about too much, as you can pick them up cheap’ish, don’t really have to worry about them breaking and pretty much they write without issue even if it’s been in my pocket for weeks. Saves my worrying about losing one of my expensive pens when out.

      1. Well, yes if you put a refill in it, analogous to putting a new cartridge in your 25. I admit this is getting a little far-fetched but I defend my arguments to the death.

  2. The pen is about the same length with the cap posted as when its capped. Could that be a design decision? Perhaps the cold drawing process didn’t allow for a gradual taper. The designer is still alive so perhaps someone should ask him why the barrel has that odd step.

    I do like the pen. It’s just so reliable and writes pretty well.

  3. I have to say I like the Parker 25 — in fact, I have both the black and stainless versions, in both the fountain pen (medium point) and the ballpoint. I once took the stainless fp on a work trip and used it for extensive daily notetaking for almost two weeks. With backup cartridges, it did great!

    But I understand it’s not for everyone’s taste, expecially those fond of hard rubber and celluloid. And to speak of my current everyday pen carry, it’s a 1945 1Q Vacumatic in azure blue. I load it with 1930s blue-black Quink (vintage ink from vintage bottle with the round profile).

    But those are just two of many — too many — fountain pens I have.

    1. Thank you, Robert. It’s a good thing that we all like different pens. I did try to be fair to the 25 this time. It has its good points. There were some good pens made by a manufacturer of your name, particularly in the 1950s!

      1. My sister got me a Burnham pen once, but it wasn’t a success. I’m a lefty overwriter (I think that’s the term), so I find that nearly all flexible point fountain pens are difficult-to-impossible to use. So it was with the Burnham pen. (I sometimes joke that my ideal pen nib is a carpenter’s nail.)

        Oddly enough (or maybe not) I find best success with pens that are designed for use by kids. They apparently have bombproof nibs that are highly tolerant of misuse and awkward hand positions. That would be me.

        Why bother with a fountain pen at all? Well, I don’t always. I’ve spent months when the only pen in my pocket is a vintage Jotter ballpoint with a Schmidt easyflow 9000 refill in bold.

        By the way, your model 25 has a section and Parker badge on the clip that are *blue* — I’ve never seen that before; my stainless version has a black section and badge. But the pen was designed in the UK, and perhaps more variants were available locally than made it to the States?

      2. There are very colourful 1950s Burnham school pens with screw-in plated steel nibs – as hard a nail as you could wish for. Worth looking out for in eBay but watch out for those with deteriorating casein.

        And yes, I think English production of the 25 has variations.

  4. Did the Burnham school pens have a model name or number? I just took a quick look on ebay UK and there was a number of Burnham pens, but none looked like a school pen.

    1. I’m sure they do have model numbers but I’m no expert on Burnham! I had a look on eBay too, and at the moment it’s all the pricier gold nibs but keep looking – the plated nib versions will turn up. They look just the same as the others: marbled patterned casein cigar-shaped pens.

      1. I think I missed it — checked both UK and US ebays without result. But I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thanks! (Not that I’m in need of more pens…)

  5. It’s is a beautiful pen! If it was a cathedral it would be Coventry. I wanted one at school in the 70s but ended up with an Osmiroid. I’ve got a couple since and they are nice reliable writers. Easy to use and a reasonable pen to write with. Definitely work a try. As for the design, it works for me. Bear in mind I like 60s and 70s pens. Ones that looked to the future

  6. Cheap and easy to use–how about an Osmiroid? A selection of nibs to suit most hands, the body is not too skinny, and they’re cheap. I still use my old school pen (c.1967) every day.

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