By George Safford Parker

George Safford Parker (1863 - 1937)

“Another thing I discovered (and I have been guilty of the same thing many times) is that when through with the pen for the moment most men would let the pen lie down on the desk until the pen was again wanted. This might be an hour and it might be two hours. In the meantime, the dry air in the room is constantly carrying off the particles of moisture from around the pen point. When the occasion demanded the use of the pen again, the point was dry, and in order to use it the owner would have to give it a jerk to force the ink around the pen point before he could sign his name. Usually this was accompanied by an expression of various users a fountain pen—they’re no good. They dry up!, so, a desk set was brought in holding two pens, one with a coarse point, such as I like for my signature, and another with a Duofold point for another class of work. In a few days that desk set, and I became most excellent friends. The pens were always in sight, never buried under a mass of papers. I found the points just as moist as though they had been dipped in ink, ready to write the instant they touched the paper, and I must say that ever since I have been using the set it has been a real joy and comfort to me. I cannot but think that there are thousands of men—perhaps you are one of them—who have felt the need for one of these sets and, because of the fact that you have not become familiar with it, have been denied the use of one of the greatest helps and conveniences that can be found on a businessman’s desk.

One of the nice things about the particular set I am using is that it has a ball and socket Joint, so that it can be turned around, and if I want the signature of a man who might be sitting on the opposite side of my desk, I simply have to turn it around and he can take the pen out and use it. Again, I can lay the pens down out of the way when I am through writing. Not only this, but it is very ornamental.

No man need be ashamed of one of these sets because it looks as though it cost real money, and it does. It gives a prosperous and cheerful look to the visitor who comes into the office when he sees the very latest and up to date office equipment on the desk of the man upon whom he is calling.

This little story tells why I use a Parker Desk Set. It is not because my company has now become probably the largest manufacturers of these desk sets, but because the desk set supplies a real need which I have felt for years before the set was created. A few days use and experience with one of these desk sets on your part I am quite sure will make you just as pleased and enthusiastic about them as I am.”

Parker double desk set mounting new socket, in polished black glass base. 1927.


A compilation by Dan Zazove, Chris Odgers, Len Provisor, and Ramón Campos. February 2023.


“Although this part of the factory is really the pencil assembly department, the desk set retainer assembly operations are performed here also. First the retainer is cut down to remove all roughness. Then it is ready for electro plating. This is done in a cyanide solution using the gold as an anode and the part as the cathode. When the electric current is turned on, the gold passes from the anode to the cathode. Thickness of the gold plate depends upon the length of time the part is left in the solution. After plating, the retainer is assembled to the bowl which is the part that holds the pen. In the bowl, a clutch made of brass electroplated and formed oval in shape is used to hold the pen securely in place. If the pen should fit loosely in the bowl, the clutch may be removed and squeezed like the eraser cup in the pencil.

Parker Pen Pencil Assembly. On the far-right side in the back, wearing a vest, is George W. Gilman.


You will remember «that on the fourth floor we explained certain assembly operations on the retainer and bowl for the desk sets. After leaving the fourth floor these retainers and bowls department for a milling operation on the side. Cross bars from blue steal are also blanked out in this department.


Bases are requisitioned from basement stock room. They are then given a good coat of marine glue on the bottom, after which the felt is applied, rubbed out smooth and trimmed. Next the base is cleaned with a piece of cheese cloth dipped in alcohol. The little Parker name tag is not put on. These come on strips of paper which have to be soaked in water to loosen the tag so it can be transferred to the base. The bases are now put in a stock rack where they dry.

 The bowl and retainer assembly are requisitioned from the Fourth floor where they are assembled and also kept in stock racks. Screws, nuts and cross bars are requisitioned from the various departments where they are made, as well as the taper caps which are kept in stock racks. A card record is kept so that a check on all material is available at all times to prevent a shortage in material and delay in filling orders. Once each iI month an inventory is taken of all stock on hand as a safeguard against any possible error in the stock records, which may cause a shortage.

Orders are received every hour from the Main Office by the Order Department. The first stop in filling an order is to select the different bases required from the stock racks. Where orders call for marble or onyx bases and more than one of each kind appears on the order, they are picked with the view to give the dealer as wide an assortment of color as possible as there is great variation in color. The order is now ready to have the retainer assembly attached to the base. The retainer assembly consists of the following parts:

  1. The gold ball with screw attached.
  2. The retainer or shell which holds the ball and other parts.
  3. Slugs or small disk under the ball.
  4. Coil spring which puts the tension on the ball.
  5. The lock washer or small brass washer which locks the swivel screw in place.
  6. The upper cross bar which engages ahead of the screw.
  7. The swivel screw which holds the retainer assembly on the base.
  8. Lower cross bar.
  9. The nut.

The retainer assembly less the swivel screw, lower crossbar and nut is taken in the left hand of the operator and a screw of proper length is selected, the head of the screw being pressed against the lock washer on the side of the upper cross bar having a notch cut in the side to receive the head screw until the spring gives enough to allow the head screw to be slipped into the notch in the cross bar. When it is in the proper position a slight click is heard as the spring forces the lock washer over the head screw, locking in place.

The retainer assembly is now inserted in the whole in the base and the lower cross bar fitted over the threaded end screw and the nut screwed in place. The nut is then tightened down so that when the bowl assembly is attached the ball will rotate on the base, yet not so tightly that it cannot be turned to any desired position by the user. The proper size bowl assembly is selected for the base and screwed on the ball. The pen is tried in the bowl to see that it fits properly.

The bowl assembly consists of the following parts:

  1. The coupling or gold part that screws on to the ball.
  2. Bowl, or receptacle for the pen.
  3. Gold band.
  4. Bowl head, or top which unscrews.
  5. Clutch, or metal band with fingers that hold the pen in place in the bowl.

The set is now ready for boxing. Extreme care is used in packing. The order now passes to the final inspector who gives it careful scrutiny to see that the proper pen has been supplied, tries the pen in the bowl to see that it fits properly, looks to see that the proper tag and display price has been attached, and also that the price and number markings on the carton are correct; wraps bowl and pen in tissue, closes box and carton after which it is passed on to the shipping department.

An extraordinary photo of the Parker Pen Company pioneers; Russell Clements Parker in the forefront, directly behind him sit Bernard Morey Palmer and William Fink Palmer and probably Helen Morrisey behind. In the far background are George Washington Gilman and George Safford Parker. Cuourtesy of Ebay seller randy*rodman. Click on image to see original.


All desks set bases, statuettes, bowls, and heads are thoroughly inspected when received. Each desk set is inspected again after final assembly before shipping for appearance and fit of pen in bowl. The pen itself, the taper and the bowl are wrapped in tissue paper and packed separately in the boxes.”

Russell C. Parker, Vice President and Treasurer of the Parker Pen Company, approving the 1930 rebate dividends with a Duofold Moderne black and pearl pen desk set.