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The Parker 75 Lacquer Series Review


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#1 maia

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 14:43

The Parker 75 Lacquer Series Review

Q1 1983 Jasper Red Quartz

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First Impressions 4 / 5

With the introduction of the ball pen, The Parker Pen Company was left with their low-end, low-profit products that sold well. Kenneth Parker was not satisfied with the Jotter and 45 lines and since they had to recapture the high-end market (high-profit, gift-oriented), a new pen had to be unleashed.
Both Kenneth Parker and Don Doman (Designer) collaborated into retrieving the bets bits from their collections in order to create a pen that would make the company face the future. Long story short, from the 45 came the filling mechanism C/C and from the VP the gripping section with three flat surfaces (more on this latter).
And so, by 1963 the Parker 75 was launched in Sterling Silver (the so famous Ciselè pattern). Its cost by the time was $25, triple of the 45 FP.
Production ended by 1994 with the introduction of the Sonnet. During over 30 years, both the earliest factory in the USA and the latter in Meru (France) had produced over 10 million units of this respectable pen. There were several limited editions, some were used to sign the most important nuclear disarmament treaty documents by US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, not to mention they're highly collectable. There were several patterns, materials, different sections, tassies, caps, nib grades, you name it. Also, there were special markets like Australia and Italy. For further information check Lih-Tah Wong's Parker 75 website for the best '75' reference there is in my humble opinion.

Talking a bit of my own '75', it is a Q1 1983 Lacquer Series in Jasper Red Quartz finish. This was a gift given to my grandfather by someone to thank him for something I believe. He's given it to my mother since he did not use it, so basically I am the one making the best use out of it. I did not know what Parker this was, until someone here at FPN told me it was a '75'. Later that same day I could identify the pattern and official name.
On to the details, the packing: the presentation box is made out of plastic and inside we are greeted with the pen (we'd hope so). When I first took the pen out of the box, there was a U shaped pillow to accommodate the pen cap. The converter was off the pen, laying on the side of the barrel. The pen was in MINT condition and I believe it was not even dipped. One thing that wasn't anywhere in the box was the Nib Adjustment Tool. I hope to get hold of one later. I believe this accessory was only shipped on the earliest models. Also, I didn't get any papers / books / warranty info that should have been misplaced or kept with the person who bought it. This pen could use a better box (more refined), but it's all right. If I had all the stuff that should come with this pen it would be a very complete package (4.5 / 5 for me), thus the 4 / 5.


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Image courtesy of parker75.com.

Appearance & Finish 5 / 5

Open the box and you are present with a high quality glossy finish pen. Its color is something between a dark orange to a red with black, irregular strokes. This makes the pen very appealing to the eye, especially with the glossy finish of the lacquer. Very nice. Its official name is Jasper Red Quartz, from the Lacquer Series collection. Its construction is remarkable: one cannot point out a single manufacturing issue. It's that good indeed. Mine shows a slight plate wear on the barrel's tassie: it fell out of my pocket unfortunately. One can see Parker had great attention to detail on this pen, the cap closes as it should, very smoothly (glides over the section until it closes). I'm clearly happy with the construction of it, could hardly be better. By the way, I do not post this pen; don't want to risk damaging the great finish.

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Design, Size & Weight 4.5 / 5

This pen has both the barrel and the cap made out of solid brass which is then covered by a great amount of Chinese Lacquer. The design, yet simple, is great. I prefer simple designs to over engineered stuff. The finish along with the GP trims set this pen apart and one notices this isn't your average pen.
There were several tassies and this pen features the Dish ones, Sunburst Top as called by Parker on their engineering sheets. They consist of dimpled tassies each with a gold-washed circular disc filled in.


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Worth mentioning is the amazing gripping section from the Parker VP. Kenneth Parker always said that the nib should be adjustable like the "lens of a fine camera". There are three flat surfaces on the section, the front two being ribbed. You get great comfort with the use of such idea and you can turn the nib to whatever your preference. I believe this is especially nice for the exotic nibs (italic / oblique) where you can use the nib in a rotated place without rotating your wrist or the pen itself. Cool, but efficient as well. This rotation is supposed to be done with the Nib Adjustment Tool, but one can do it with the fingers. Rotating the nib won't affect your finger positioning (at the three flat surfaces) as you should have understood by now.

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On with the dimensions:
- Pen length, uncapped: 118mm
- Pen length, capped: 128mm
- Pen length, posted: 138mm
- Maximum barrel diameter: 10.8mm
- Weight: I couldn't measure it, though this is a hefty pen mainly due to the solid brass barrel and cap. Not your heaviest pen, but certainly above average. Also, the (quality) finish of the product make it heavier.

The balance is perfect unposted. If one posts the cap it tends to be a little heavier at the top end, but nothing unbearable. You can still write lots of pages with it without any signs of discomfort.
If I'd be more exigent, I'd ask for a slightly larger pen (more diameter), but this would have to be accompanied by a larger nib and slight increase in overall dimensions. This is not a problem for me, and the proportions are certainly right.


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Nib Design & Performance 5 / 5

Things just keep getting better and this bit isn't a let down at all! This is a Medium Nib but unlike newer Parker models, this is the proper medium. The line that comes out of this nib is certainly a standard, old-school medium. The flow is properly adjusted (not too dry, not over flow), it is butter smooth to write with this FP. I suspect this is one of the best samples. If all the '75' write like this, what are you waiting for? Go get one yourself! I doubt you can get much better.

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This Nib is made out of 14k (585) Gold, it is hallmarked and is presented in monotone (from the French production). There are 18k nibs as well, not to mention all the nib grades you can think of. Obviously, prices are a bit steep for these (they can go upwards of $75 even on the 'bay).

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Size wise it is not a very big Nib, but then it wouldn't be proportional on this pen. Feedback provides little to no flex. It has a black plastic feed by the way.
This is the best Nib I have ever been across. It is just amazing. Makes one write for hours without fatigue. And then it puts a smile on your face. Ohh, and don't forget the nib rotation abilities.


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The Filling System 3.5 / 5

This is where things aren't so sophisticated. It is a standard proprietary Cartridge / Converter (C/C) pen and it came with a Slim Aerometric Converter. This is not unusual in a Parker, even on the newer pens including the Duofold. Seems like Parker's idea is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The included Converter gets the job of filling up done. Takes four squeezes and it fills up. A downside is the user cannot see the ink level.

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Obviously, if I want I can use a newer Slide Converter or better, a Piston Filler Converter, but I'll leave it as Parker sent it out. I have no issues with any filling system. I just take the time to do it.
Also, using cartridges works just as fine, not much to say about this.


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Cost & Value 4.5 / 5

By 1983 this Jasper Red Quartz and the rest of the Lacquer Series models were retailing for $65. I seriously don't know how much would that be nowadays, but considering a NOS '75' FP can go for well over $150 (on the 'bay) I'd say they retailed for more. I've seen my exact pen in similar condition from a pen website selling for 365€ (can post the link if asked). And believe it or not, I've just checked the site and it's been sold for that money. Does anyone here at FPN got it?
Anyway, it's definitely worth the price, even the €365 in my opinion. If it's new, yes, worth every cent. I know, I would.


Overall Opinion & Conclusion 4.5 / 5

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Well, I am overly happy with this pen. It certainly is a masterpiece (in terms of writing experience and build quality anyway). I wonder why this pen so underrated! I seriously don't understand. It definitely deserves some more credit from the community and from the FP users.
It fits my hand perfectly, the gripping section is great, the finish is brilliant, built like tank, it can even warm your hand (the Chinese Lacquer feels great when it gets warm). If I didn't have this pen for free and I'd come across it, I'd get it in a nutshell (if money was no objection).
Also, I'm fairly surprised noone has reviewed a '75' and I'm sure there are users out there with one...


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As a conclusion, I certainly vouch for the '75'. It works wonders on one's hand. If you can get one, buy it. If it's in mint condition or is NOS, don't let that go away: you might not have the same chance again. If you have big hands, search elsewhere.
Ohh, I've tried to be as much unbiased as possible. I've written about its bad aspects and good ones. This pen is really worth having, really!


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Best regards,
maia

Edited by maia, 07 July 2006 - 17:26.


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#2 acogbill

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 15:47

Nice review, and nice pictures.

I have a 75 too (silver grid pattern) and I love it. It is one of the best pens I've ever used. Like Maia's, my nib is butter smooth. If you ever see one for sale, snap it up!!

Edited by acogbill, 06 July 2006 - 15:53.


#3 maia

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 17:07

Hi and thank you for your support. The pictures aren't the best (taken with a P&S camera), but I did my best trying to focus the detailed bits of the pen.

#4 meanwhile

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 19:05

It's really nice to have another review of a classic pen here - thanks! And a great pen.
- Jonathan

#5 maia

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 12:24

It's really nice to have another review of a classic pen here - thanks! And a great pen.

Hi and thank you.
Don't know if it is the image size who is not attracting people to read the review or comment on it, it takes me less than a minute to download them all (and I'm located in Europe, far from imageshack.us). Besides one can still read the review while the images load...

#6 wdyasq

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 13:36

It's really nice to have another review of a classic pen here - thanks! And a great pen.

Hi and thank you.
Don't know if it is the image size who is not attracting people to read the review or comment on it, it takes me less than a minute to download them all (and I'm located in Europe, far from imageshack.us). Besides one can still read the review while the images load...

Well, I get 18 images and over 12mb of files. I'm on a wireless link in the country with a download speed of about 200kbs and it took me probably 5 minutes to load the pictures. I did have a couple of windows "time out" while it was downloading.

Personally, if I knew the files were this large, I wouldn't have clicked on the link. If I wee still on dial up I would be very upset I had clicked on the link and would probably avoid all posts by folks who post images that size.

It is a beautiful pen. I won't reload the post, large files eat what little bandwidth I can get here.

Ron
"Adventure is just bad planning." -- Roald Amundsen

#7 maia

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 15:58

You can still let it load while you're reading... Besides, I hate lame mobile phone camera shots. While mine aren't certainly the best, I'm pretty sure they can help someone buying one pen or not. And they're 1024 shots, nothing from planet Mars IMO.

#8 BillTheEditor

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 16:39

Don't know if it is the image size who is not attracting people to read the review or comment on it, it takes me less than a minute to download them all (and I'm located in Europe, far from imageshack.us). Besides one can still read the review while the images load...

I'm in the boondocks in Texas, on a dialup line. I have not yet been able to download the pictures, other than the small one at the top of the review. Don't have the time to wait for them. The review took me practically no time to read, so letting the photos load while reading isn't a workable solution.

It does look like a beautiful pen. I have a similar Lapis 75, with a #44 "italic stub" nib (I didn't name it, ask Parker what that means). They are great pens -- imo every fountain pen user should own at least one.

Maybe you could resize the images to something smaller?

#9 maia

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 16:48

So on the big ol' USA you are still on dial-up? Sorry, didn't know about that. I thought it was the other way around. And I even thought about uploading them to USA servers, otherwise it'd be worse... I'll see what I can do re-resizing them.

#10 maia

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 17:28

Pictures have been downsized to bog standard VGA (640x480). Hope it'll get more viewers. Next time I'll just use low resolution photos.

#11 wdyasq

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 19:24

Maia,

An excellent job of resizing. In the US, and particulrly the Western States there are still vast areas where there is not grid electricity, nor wired phone, nor internet or even cell phone service unless one goes to space and back. In even the medium and larger size cities and metropolitan ares highspeed internet is common.

It is my opinion 600 pixel or so wide photos are about all most monitors will handle. With proper resizing software, I use "The GIMP", the size can be kept to about 50kB or so. What you posted looks good here.

Thanks again for two things:

1. Realizing some have a problem
2. Correcting it

It is still a good looking pen and nice writeup...

Ron
"Adventure is just bad planning." -- Roald Amundsen

#12 BillTheEditor

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 20:02

Pictures have been downsized to bog standard VGA (640x480). Hope it'll get more viewers. Next time I'll just use low resolution photos.

That is so much better! Thanks! I enjoyed being able to see the photos.

wdyasq said it better than I did. When you are in the boondocks in Texas, you are really a long way from anywhere (we are about the same area as France, with about a tenth of the population if you don't count coyotes and jackrabbits). The phone companies figure the cows and the goats don't need broadband, and the cable companies apparently don't like to send their crews out into rattlesnake country. I'm just glad that the phone service is no longer routed through barbed wire fences instead of on lines supported on regular poles (most places, can't speak for Lubbock and Amarillo ...)

#13 maia

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 21:31

Hey, I just need the feedback. To be honest, I did not realise many of you were still on dial-up and such. I apologise, my fault. Next time I'll start right away with 640 pics and maybe not so many. This one is already screwed up, many were frightened by the pics and won't come back :(
Thank you for your support :)

#14 Oxonian

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 11:41

Hi there Maia, that is a great pen, I've got one of the Brown Lacquer ones, I have no idea what Parker call it and I enjoy it, as you say the pen sits well in the hand and can be adjusted, something I only found out by accident not very long ago, to suit just about any hand. The nib is firm enough for those that want firmness without total rigidity but there is just about enough flex to give character to the script. I must admit that I didn't realise that they went for that sort of money, I knew that 75's were expensive because the first one that I saw was a Cisele version used to write a prescription for me and if my Doctor used it then it must've been expensive but I had no idea that they were going for the sort of figure you quoted. Perhaps I should whisper this bit because mine cost me £3.00 from a boot sale, I knew that I'd got a bargain but no idea how much of one, it was in its box and had an unused converter in there with it, the cartridge in the pen still had liquid ink in it. I've always wondered if the owner knew that the pen had gone to the boot sale but he'll be out of luck if he ever comes looking. I enjoyed the review and must remember never to complain about how long my BT broadband takes to handle incoming traffic, well not at this time of day anyway. All the best ,Oxonian.

#15 Larry T

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 11:57

Hi Maia.

Great review of a great pen line from the past. I have two 75's, a dark blue one with a gold filled cap and xf nib, and a Cisele pattern with a fine nib. Both are excellent writers, the blue one has the smoothest xf nib I have ever used.

I think you did a great job with the photos too. They illustrated perfectly what you described in the text. I look forward to seeing more of your reviews.

Thanks,

Larry

#16 maia

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 13:26

Thank you for all your comments. Didn't think there were this many Parker 75 owners... They are wonderful pens IMO, and write beautifully. As I said in the review, don't know why it is such an underrated pen.

#17 zorroflores

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 23:08

Quite a well presented review, much like a pro... pen looks wonderful in your pictures.

#18 maia

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 23:13

Quite a well presented review, much like a pro... pen looks wonderful in your pictures.

Hehe, thx. Looked better at the higher resolution.
This was my 1st review tbh, and the pics were taken with a point & shoot camera. :P

#19 LTW

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 14:17

Hi Maia,

Nice review. I added a link to this thread in the WebLinks section of my Parker 75 website.

Larry T your blue laquer with goldplated cap is called the Custom Laquer 75.

Oxonian, your brown laque 75 is likely to be the Thuya. It could also be a tortoiseshell or woodgrain but those two are very scarce. Look on the Laquer series page to see the difference.

Regards,
Lih-Tah Wong
www.Parker75.com

#20 Larry T

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 15:27

Lih-Tah,

I believe I bought the blue one from you at the Michigan pen show a couple of years ago. It is one of my favorites, (I seem to have a lot of favorites) and it is usually in my pocket or on my desk. A very classy pen, thank you.

Larry






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