The town of Janesville, Wisconsin is speaking up about the future of the Parker Pen archives.
You might remember we mentioned last month that the iconic pen company was closing down its Newhaven manufacturing plant and shifting everything to France. Pen collector Tony Fischier, who runs ParkerCollector.com, has launched an online petition to keep the company's extensive archives of pen designs and classic Parker writing instruments in Newhaven.
(If you're a Parker buff, you really should read Fischier's report on his visit to the Parker archives in June 2009.)
But it seems Janesville isn't going to concede without making its own pitch for the materials. A retired police officer has started a letter-writing campaign to have at least part of the Parker Pen archives returned to the town and also asked the city council to pass a resolution requesting the same, according to the Janesville Gazette.
“Gee whiz, if they never hear anything from Janesville, they’d think we’re not interested,” Lembrich remembers thinking.
“I wanted it to be known to them that we are interested in getting even a portion of it returned to Janesville. We are the birthplace of Parker Pen, and by right we should have some of it here.”
Janesville is the town where George S. Parker founded his pen company in 1888 and received his first pen patent. The Lucky Curve (1894), original Parker Duofold (1921) and Parker 51 (1939) were all created while the company was headquartered there.
The excellent Parker Pen history at Our Newhaven explains that, in the '40s, Parker opened a manufacturing facility in Newhaven, Sussex at what was then the Valentine Pen Company. The first Parker pen manufactured there was the Victory. The plant expanded over the following years and, by the '70s, had more than 1,000 employees.
When a group of British investors bought the pen company in 1985, the headquarters – and the archives – moved to Newhaven. Since then, Parker has been sold and resold and is now owned by Newell Rubbermaid, through its office products subsidiary Sanford, which also owns Sharpie, Paper Mate and Waterman.
The main Parker pen plant in Janesville closed in 1999, but through everything, at least a small part of the company's operations, including a pen repair division, had remained in the town, until the announcement last year that even that remnant will be shuttered.
Newell Rubbermaid also confirmed last year that it will be closing the Newhaven facility in late 2010 and moving pen production to Nantes, France.
Norman Baker, MP for Newhaven, told the BBC:
"Parker Pen has for many years been the flagship employer in Newhaven, and this is a bitter blow for the town which is already much worse hit by the recession than other towns nearby. It is also the end of an era."
So far, the company hasn't released much information about what is to become of the archives.
What do you think, readers? Should the Parker Pen archives stay in Newhaven, go back to Janesville, or move on to France with the company?