The mystery pen is revealed! Some of you might not recognise this pen (congrats to anybody who guessed it right), and it’s a new one to my collection. Nonetheless, it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites.
There’s a wealth of history to this pen. The brass for the body was salvaged from the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was built as a warship in 1938, and later converted to an ocean liner. In 1970, a fire in a Hong Kong Harbour sunk the Queen Elizabeth, leaving it beyond useless as a ship, but perfect as a source of brass for the Parker 75 RMS Queen Elizabeth, a limited edition of 5000 fountain pens.
Often, such novel limited editions can be all style and marketing, and end up as disappointing pens. However, Parker (especially at this time) had a legacy for the highest level of function and quality – something this is clear in this pen.
The half-torpedo tapered shape is iconic to Parkers of this era, and for good reason. It feels great in the hand, and with the brass, it was the weight and substance that many plastic pens lack.
On the topic of the brass, it is beautiful! I never thought I’d say that about a lump of base metal which spent decades under the ocean, but I (with my somewhat limited knowledge of the chemical interactions between brass and salt water) believe that this has only made the pen more beautiful. It’s impossible to pin down the colour – it can be anything from green to brown to blue, and has a deep and beautiful gradient. The broken-up surface gives a sense of a far more natural adaptation (read: improvement) on the standard guilloche design of many modern metal pens.
This pen comes equipped with a 14kt nib which, unfortunately, has been worn away by years of use and Parker blue-black ink. (I got this pen second hand. I would never commit such a heresy myself!) However, aesthetics aside, this nib is an absolute pleasure to write with. It’s incredibly smooth, and glides over the page with an incredibly satisfying spring. At first, there were some flow issues, mostly solved by a thorough cleaning, although occasionally it can still hard start, especially just after inking.
I must admit, whilst this pen may catch the eye, it’s far from perfect functionally. My primary issue is with the section. In a sad deviation from the overall theme of the pen, Parker decided to use the cheapest plastic section they had. It’s still durable, having barely a scratch after years of constant and less-than-careful use, but it leaves a lot wanting in terms of design. Equally, the indented grips in the section seemed to be designed meticulously to be as far as physically possible from the position of the fingers. This isn’t so much uncomfortable as annoying, and it makes you wonder why Parker seemingly didn’t put a second’s thought into the section. Still, due to the shape and weight of the pen, it is a comfortable writer.
When I received this pen, it was being used with a cartridge, which I hastily replaced with a standard Parker slide converter. Despite the popular hatred, this really isn’t as bad as supposed, although I will probably soon replace it with a twist convertor for extra capacity.
As I said in the introduction, I personally feel that this is one of my best pens, in part because of the unique design and history to it. I love the brass design, which gives it a vibrant look, even for a pen that’s forty years old, and spent a large part of that underwater, and the nib is a pleasure to write with. This pen is absolutely a collectors item – and one of my favourites.
By Oliver Bennett