The Parker 45 was based upon an earlier design made by Eversharp, whose pen division Parker acquired in 1957, and was released in 1960 named as the “45” in honor of the famous western revolver guns and as a reference to the fact that it could be loaded with cartridges as well as an ink converter.
As well as a new cartridge/converter filling system the 45 also had a new nib design which could simply be unscrewed and replaced as required with a wide variety of nibs available. Aimed at the school pen market the new Parker 45 was simple to use and cheap to produce and became a great success, so much so that Parker, realising that they were on to a winner, began to produce a more upmarket version in brushed steel, known as the Parker 45 Flighter, which in turn led to even more varieties and finishes. Advances in manufacturing techniques also meant that the plastic bodied pens could be produced easily and cheaply which allowed the overall range of the Parker 45 to cover almost the entire market from the cheapest of plastic school pens right up to rolled gold models aimed at the business market and even a (very) few solid gold custom pens.
The Parker 45 Fountain Pens real heyday stretched from the 1960’s into the mid 1970’s where the most varieties, colours and finishes were available. Towards the end of the 1970’s sales were dropping whilst costs were rising, leading to many variations being lost. 1980 saw a brief resurgence from Parker’s New Haven factory in the UK with the release of the visually striking Harlequin 80 range and the Parker 45 TX but even these were not able to revive the public interest and their production was short lived. To cut costs the Flighter pens were simplified in design with fewer parts and the range was cut to just a handful of models, and eventually to just one model – the Parker 45 Flighter Flighter GT.
The 45 was eventually discontinued in 2008 after an amazing production run that saw a huge number of varieties and colours produced, but all using the same shell, nib and ink system fitting making parts almost totally interchangeable between pens.