Review – Parker Classic Pen and Pencil Set (GT)

Have your eyes ever glanced over something where you “knew” what it was but had to double take because something was just “wrong” about it? That’s what happened to me when I first came across the Parker Classic pens. I thought they were Jotters, Parker’s very popular, least expensive pen, but something was just… “off”. And indeed it was, after purchasing it and comparing it to my Jotter at home I discovered that it is a bit different (mainly in thickness), but does that improve anything?

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My version (the GT, which I think stands for “gold trim”) is a super simple design. The barrel is a cylindrical piece of stainless steel that screws together in the center. The front third tapers down to a hole, through which the nib protrudes when activated (on the pencil there is a small lead pipe here, extending the length slightly). And the back section of the pen ever so slightly tapers down to the click mechanism. Both the top clicker and the arrow-shaped clip are done in a gold-colored, chrome-like finish, and “Parker – Made in U.S.A.” is very minimally engraved at the separation (on the back half).

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The clip does a very good job, being more detailed but just as strong as the clip on the Jotter, and actually affixed to the metal and not on its own separate (if unremovable) band. The clicks on both the pen and pencil are quite satisfying, the pencil more so because it is slightly shorter (thus having less traveling distance) and more firm (it also has rings near the top to help distinguish between the two in the pocket). Because of its length, the pen one does seem a bit floaty. The pencil’s click button also pulls off to reveal a usable pink eraser (it’s nothing special), and when that is removed, the lead reservoir (for .5mm leads). The design of the pencil here means that the mechanism is fully attached to the front part of the pencil, and unscrewing the back does nothing to hinder the operation (other than making it less comfortable) or allow for any maintenance.

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I haven’t mentioned the ink/lead yet because there isn’t really much to talk about. The black, fine cartridge (standard Parker type) and HB .5mm lead the two come with is exactly as you’d expect. Relatively smooth, almost dark, and mostly break-and-water-resistant. The main difference in handling comes from the size. They are a bit longer than the Jotter, at 5¼” (pen) and 5 3/8” (pencil) long, but it’s really the diameter that makes the difference, being 1/8” smaller at their widest of ¼”. This doesn’t make them much lighter, but it does make them nicer to use for someone like me who likes smaller barrels on their pens, or is trying to store things more efficiently.

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It is an upgrade from the area of 3rd tier pens (like the Jotter, which is above semi-disposable pens, which are above fully disposable pens). It has more refined, nicer feeling, and is just as durable. But it isn’t too much of an upgrade unless you really like the slim dimensions (like me). The fact that it’s apparently been discontinued is a hint at whether or not people really thought it was worth upgrading, but I’m a fan, and at a decent price I think they are serious competition for the Jotter in the pencil case. I’m keeping mine around, and it’ll probably last me a lifetime.

Review – Parker Jotter Stainless Steel

There are many pen brands out there, specializing in various things. Most Americans who know more than nothing about pens would recognize the Parker brand as a longtime quality maker. One of the least expensive, most accessible, and longest running products they make is the Jotter ballpoint/gel/rollerball pen that utilizes Parker’s own refill type. I have here the “all stainless steel” version, how does it hold up?

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The pen itself is obviously all stainless steel. At the back is a very pleasantly tapered click button, followed immediately by the clip shaped as the famous Parker arrow. The pen from there slowly bulges and then tapers down to the end where it almost seamlessly meets with the pen’s point when it is not retracted, with only a slight seam 1/3 of the way down the pen where it is unscrewed to be refilled.

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Now I can’t speak to the Parker brand refill this pen came with as I don’t remember how it wrote and I currently have a Monteverde refill inside (that writes very well, as I said in my review). But I can talk about the feel and sturdiness, both of which are superb. The click mechanism is a bit different and it just feels not as advanced as some of the more modern pens, but it is very solid and satisfying. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just feels older (like using one of those drafting pencils that have been in production for 60 years). And the steel finish is very easy to grip, while beings stylish and well-wearing. Scratches and such barely show up, keeping the pen looking nice and professional for some time.

Overall it’s a great pen, and for the price (a little more expensive for the “all stainless” one) it is easily a great value as one pen could last a lifetime (though refills might not be cheap). It’s hardy, with a time tested, solid mechanism, and while it doesn’t look as nice or handle as well (or have as many expensive materials) as the more expensive ballpoints out there it still looks professional, fits in with both modern (stainless) and retro (colors) styling, and can take a rough and tumble life. It’s a tough little trooper.