PART IX. PARKER’S DESK SETS 1930-1933.
A collaboration by Dan Zazove, Chris Odgers, Len Provisor, and Ramón Campos. March 2023.
At the beginning of 1930 Vest-Parker Duofolds, newcomers to the Parker family were introduced along with a set of bridge bases in painted ivory enamel with the four suits—spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs and matching color pencils. Each base was individually packaged in an attractive box and these four boxes in a larger gift box.
The individual bridge bases with matching pencils; ideal for gifts, bridge parties, and prizes, were offered at $6.50. The set of all four was $24.
Also introduced at the same time as the new Vest-Parkers pens and pencils desk set equipped with both a fountain pen ($5.00) and pencil ($2.50), each convertible could be changed in seconds from desk use to pocket use simply by exchanging the cap for the desk taper.
In place of cumbersome old inkwells, desk sets become popular in offices, banks, and hotels, with businesses equipping their facilities with Parker desk sets. Even airlines carried them on their planes.
“Every time you sell a pen, say to the customer, -Now you have half of a modem writing outfit, and then display the base.” Parker continued its commercial promotion and offered its dealers a free oval porcelain Desk Set, complete with a $5 Duofold Junior pen for purchases over $60, or two sets for purchases of $100.
The pen manufacturers, who by this time had already introduced their own desk sets, could now boast of the economic advantages of a desk fountain pen. Parker commissioned Edwin G. Booz Laboratories in Chicago to carry out a scientific survey to determine the efficiency of Parker Duofold desk sets, resulting in the conclusion that employers save 6.26% by equipping their employees with Parker utility desk sets. A sales pitch used by Parker informed potential customers that an employer could save $112.50 a year per office worker by purchasing Parker desk sets, repaying their cost in just a few months.
In the summer of 1930, Parker started an advertising campaign under the slogan «Courtesy writes its intimate letter by hand» with photos capturing poses of movie stars writing letters with their Duofold desk pens. Stars like Joan Crawford, Bessie Love, Lupe Velez, Kay Francis, Mary Brian, or Anita Page posed for Parker ads in a campaign that would last more than six months.