So this is my first review of what you might call a vintage pen, although I’m aware that opens an unintentional can of worms as to what is and isn’t a vintage pen. At any rate it’s a pen that is no longer in production. Obviously reviewing a pen which may well be 50 years old is a bit tricky, it’s not going to be how it was when it left the Parker factory and mine is not going to be the same as the one you might buy, they’ll have lived completely different lives. All that being said I do think that there is a fair amount I can comment on that would be useful to anyone interested in acquiring one of these pens, so here goes…
The Parker 75 was dreamed up in the 1960s by Kenneth Parker as a way of saving Parker. It was the 60s fountain pens looked like they were on the way out and Parker needed a new pen to re-capture the market. Given that this pen in no small part contributed to Parker surviving the fountain pen dark ages you might deduce it must have been a good one, a deduction which I’m happy to say in borne out in practice. Over the years these came in many different finishes, but probably the most famous, and my personal favourite is the Sterling Silver Cicelé, which is the model I’ll be reviewing.
Obviously the Parker 75 Cicelé isn’t a pen that you can buy new, but they are pretty readily available on the secondary market (a quick ebay search shows 64 for sale at the moment). Price is a little difficult to say conclusively, but for one in reasonable condition I’d say you’d be looking at around £150. As with any vintage pen this may fluctuate, and will vary drastically depending on condition and whether you buy it from someone who will have given it a look over or someone who found it in an old desk drawer. It’s also worth pointing out that the Cicelé is one of the more expensive regular finishes, so if the other finishes appeal to you, you might be able to snag a very good deal.
So let’s start with the overall looks of the pen, which I have to say is a definite strong point of this pen. It’s Sterling Silver with a crosshatch patter engraved on to it which is quite different and not something I’ve seen on other pens (beyond subsequent Parkers). It adds a nice bit of fine detailing to the pen, and is very well complemented by gold trim. Despite being silver I haven’t had much of a problem with my pen tarnishing, which is handy as I’d rather not have to be repeatedly polishing it. I have to admit the patterning on the Cicelé shows some real originality, when you compare it to the bulk of other pens of the era it stands out, something it still manages to do today, which is no mean feat.
The pen is also well designed, it might be a bit smaller than your average modern pen, but it’s clearly been well thought out. There are two gentle flat spots on the section to help you with gripping the pen. Ultimately I hold my pen in a way that agrees with these flat spots, so I like them, If I didn’t it might be a different story. I will say however, that they are not as pronounced as those on say a Lamy Safari, it’s more of a ‘would you like to hold it like this?’ rather than ‘you are going to hold the pen exactly like this’. The pen has a snap cap that makes for easy capping and uncapping. A really clever feature of this pen, is the nib alignment system. If you roll your pen the nib can be twisted in the section, allowing you to compensate for any rolling of the pen that you might naturally do, it really lets you fine tune your writing experience. It’s a really handy feature that I’m surprise just totally disappeared after the 75. The pen fills via a cartridge converter system, it’s Parker proprietary but it works well and makes for easy maintain maintenance and cleaning. Maybe it’s a little uninteresting, but it works well, and you have to consider the climate this was made in, Parker were trying to make the fountain pen convenient so it had some chance of survival, so it’s not surprising they went for a hassle free filling system like C/C.
On to writing, my Cicelé has a 14ct gold fine nib, I believe nibs came in both 14ct and 18ct and different points in production, but I’m 99% sure that all 75s have gold nibs of some description. Another great benefit of the Parker 75 is that the nibs are user swapable, if you just pull gently the nib and feed should come out and can be replaced with another more to your taste. (If you’re going to do this, do a bit more research as their are a few other things you’ll need to know). Parker made a huge selection of nibs for the 75, from Account nibs, to Stubs, to Obliques there is really quite a selection. There is also a pretty ready supply of these on the secondary market, so finding a nib you like shouldn’t be too tricky. As for my fine nib, it’s an good nib, it’s a rigid nib which nice and smooth and puts down a consistent flow of ink. I suppose one criticism would be that it’s not exactly overflowing with character, but I think that’s more because it’s a finer rigid round nib, which is not generally where my preferences lie. That said you can tell it’s a well made nib, so if this kind of nib is what you’re after I’m sure you’d be happy.
So time to sum up, the Parker 75 Sterling Cicelé is definitely an interesting pen, it’s looks have held up very well and make for a good looking pen even 50 years on from it’s creation. It’s well designed and still a very usable pen all these years on, one that will prove to be a dependable writer, and if you can track down some of the more exotic nibs I’m sure you could have quite a unique and interesting writer. So in a nutshell, I’d highly recommend the 75, it’s a great pen with lots of character and innovative ideas.