Parker Date Codes for 1980s and 1990s   Leave a comment

My first fountain pens were made by Parker. They made a variety of different styles over the years, which makes them fun to collect–you can see how tastes changed over the years, and how the technology improved (or at least changed).

Parker also has usually had a date code on their pens. This helps know year of manufacture. This mark is usually small (only really legible under a magnifying glass) around either one of the end of the pen or the cap.

For pens produced during the Eighties and Nineties, they used a rather interesting system (this may have continued into the Twenty-First century, but I personally can’t confirm). The year of the decade is noted by the phrase “Quality Pen.” It lines up like this:

Year of Manufacture

Q U A L I T Y P E N
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

The year of manufacture was based on either another letter, or a Roman numeral. Like the earlier Vacumatic date code, it seems to be the reverse of what one would logically expect, until you understand a practical reason: each quarter, they would remove a mark from the die. So, going from fourth quarter (either an “E” in the Eighties or “III” in the Nineties) to the third quarter (a squared off “C” or “II,” respectively) would involve knocking out a line.

Quarter of Manufacture

Decade Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
1980s E C L I
1990s III II I none

Let’s take an example: I have a Parker 75 with a date code of TE, indicating it was produced in the first quarter of 1985. My Sonnet was produced in the first quarter of 1994, with a date code of “IIII.”

It’s a handy bit of knowledge that can help gauge the age of a pen.

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Posted 2012-10-11 by Mr. Guilt in Fountain Pens

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