The Parker Jotter is the Parker Pen Company’s second and best-selling retracting refillable ballpoint pen. The first was the Hopalong Cassidy ballpoint. (Later a fountain pen, mechanical pencil and rollerball pen were introduced to the line. However, this entry primarily covers the ballpoint pens identified as the “Jotter”). As with many other ballpoint pens, it can also be converted into a gel pen by simply changing the refill. Since 1954, over 750 million have been sold worldwide. It is priced between $6 USD for lower end models, and $20 USD for higher end models, such as special editions. Because of its quality, the Jotter has become somewhat of a standard by which ball pens are measured. Its refill, originally called the T-Ball (T is for tungsten), had a unique spherical textured metal writing tip now commonly used in the pen industry. The pens are also a popular advertising medium and considered a “premium” promotion. The external design of the Parker T-Ball refill is a configuration now used by many other brands of refillable pens. The Jotter was the preferred pen of President John F. Kennedy
The Jotter is distinguished by a plunger and cap made of stainless steel, a stylized arrow-shaped clip, a plastic or metal barrel and a metal tip end. When introduced in 1954, the pen barrels were made from grooved nylon. Approximately a year later when new colors were introduced, the barrels were manufactured from ‘Hercocel W’ which was more adaptable to the needs of Parker’s marketing department (It could be heat stamped, engraved or imprinted). Originally, the barrels were produced in black, grey, green and red (rust). More colors were introduced in 1955, i.e. turquoise, coral, blue, charcoal, gold (mustard yellow) and grey-green. These colors are more difficult to find due to their relatively short production run. Additionally there were 100,000 demonstrators manufactured in clear nylon and a white version which is somewhat of an enigma. Some believe the white version was developed for the medical field. Others treat it as an experimental color. Whatever the case, it is rare, expensive and eagerly sought after by Jotter collectors. Shortly after introduction an additional model with a stainless steel barrel was added to the line and marketed as the Laboratory Jotter. The first Laboratory models had a barely noticeable polished band on the upper part of the barrel. The collector is advised to look carefully for this band to assure he or she has a true first-run production pen. Some have exchanged the metal barrel with later production barrels that do not have this polished area and represent them as first series examples. Recently, a large number of NOS second year Jotters was found in a warehouse in Thailand. The market was flooded with these pens, correspondingly reducing the values of certain colors of Jotters. In over 60 + years of production, the Jotter has been produced in numerous shades, some quite rare. To date it is estimated that more than 100 different colors have been manufactured. Since the introduction of new colors has usually been tied to various promotions, it is probable that many more will be produced, creating a challenge for the collector. A number of Jotter barrels have a marbleized appearance. They are the result of cleaning the injection molding machines and known as “lunch room” or “end of the day” specials. Some color variations are quite attractive and others are simply strange. If a production run called for blue and the staff had been running gray barrels, the last of the gray material would blend with the blue, producing a blended color barrel. At one time, the company explored the idea of producing these blended barrels, but the concept was never introduced. Some believe the reason was because the company could not maintain consistency, since no two barrels would ever be the same. These pens are collectible and command premium prices when they come on the market. However, they are not prototypes nor production items as commonly thought, but simply a necessary byproduct of the manufacturing process. The so-called “girl’s” Jotter was a smaller version of the original. It was manufactured in the early 1960s and was popular for a time. It came in several colors including black, navy blue, at least three different shades of light blue (teal), bright red, orange, yellow, orange, white, at least two shades of gray, brown, dark and olive green, as well as a clear “demonstrator.” Surprisingly, a dark red or maroon version does not appear to have been produced. Management was always trying to expand the market for the Jotter and commissioned the design department to explore new designs and materials. Additionally, employees submitted ideas and models for consideration. Several of these prototypes or concepts exist in ex-employees’ private collections. When available, they command premium prices. Additionally, the Jotter has been manufactured in Canada, England, France, Australia, Brazil,West Germany, Peru, Columbia, Mexico, India, China and Argentina. The Jotters manufactured in some of these countries are difficult to find and command higher values than the United States or English versions. Their place of manufacture is usually on the pen’s cap. The refill comes in ball-pen and gel styles in multiple colors, as well as in three point sizes. Early in the history of the pen, refills were also available in extra fine and extra extra fine, but were soon discontinued. Boxed sets have been manufactured since inception and are also considered collectible.Today’s Jotters are similar to the popular “ruggedized” version that first came out in 1954 when Parker salesmen stood on the nylon barrel to show its durability. Over 750 million Jotters have been produced since 1954 and production continued at Parker’s plant in Newhaven, England, after being transferred there from Janesville, Wisconsin, USA, in 1999. Parker closed its factory in England late in 2010 and production was moved to Nantes, France. Jotters are now imprinted with “Made in France”. Recently one was offered on eBay at an inflated value. As time progresses, the new variation will become available at more reasonable prices. Collectors can check the reverse of the packaging to determine if the Jotter is of French manufacture. Additionally, some Parker products are produced under license in India and China for consumption in South and East Asia. Jotters from India are commonly found for sale on eBay. Chinese production models are now seen in the large office supply stores. In April 2016 Parker significantly updated the line, introducing a new core range and premium range. Both feature metal barrels, in a variety of colours, named after London Underground stations. Both ranges feature a new clip with an updated arrow design, while the premium range compliments this with more intricate designs on the cap portion of the pen.