Antecedents to Parker's pen first patent


By Ramón Campos.

Geo. S. Parker enrolls in the Valentines’ School of Telegraphy in Janesville, where he proved to be a good student with inclinations in learning Morse code. Afterward, he successfully finalized the studies and committed as a telegraphist at Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Not long after that, he went back to the Valentines’ School, this time as a teacher.

Valentines' Bros, School of Telegraphy ad.

There he sold fountain pens of the time to the students too. The idea of a fountain pen was popular with the students, but the pens were continually giving dissatisfaction. The principal trouble was that there was no provision in them for a steady flow of air up into the ink chamber as the ink flowed out. The pens alternated between no flow of ink at all when the air was trying to force its way up there, or too abundant flow when it had forced its way up.

To Parker, forced to live with the students he had sold the pens to, it was a very great difficulty indeed. He saw the need for a new sort of feed-shaft, so he got a scroll saw, a file, and some other simple equipment and tinkered until he had made up a shaft that would let the air up more steadily.

There was Clarence Wallace Taylor, Principal of the Valentines’ School of Telegraphy, and Parker’s boss in those years, who had patented four pen feeds –US320509, US340166, US346330, and US361468– before Parker filed his first patent. Geo. S. Parker  even witnessed this one Taylor filed patent about telegraphy equipment.

Taylor’s patents are very advanced for his time. In them, we can read the under-feed concept for the first time.

In particular, the Parker patent US416944 is very similar to the previous Taylor patent US361468; both are underfeeding with an independent and removable capillary upper-feed tongue.

Pen patent US320509 granted to Clarence W. Taylor in June 23, 1885.
Pen patent US340166 granted to Clarence W. Taylor in April 20, 1886.
Pen patent US346330 granted to Clarence W. Taylor in July 27, 1886.
Pen patent US361468 granted to Clarence W. Taylor in April 19, 1887.
Pen patent US416944 granted to George S. Parker in December 10, 1889.