Mid 1982 and I received a present from either relations or friends of the family. A Parker 45 Harlequin fountain pen and ball point set, complete in a brown and beige hinged box. The latter in hindsight was appropriate to a young teenager for the Flighter, as the Parker 45 was also known, looked distinctly dated compared to the modern and edgy 25s I was using at school.
Oddly enough this pen remained unloved for years until I started using fountain pens again in my latter university days. By then the 45 looked nicer than the 25 and also felt nicer to write with as well. I do not know if the Harlequin came with a gold nib, as I know the 45 had the option, but what I really do remember was the horror of the pen rolling off my kitchen top some time in the early 2000s and the nib being the focal point for the floor. At the time there still was an official Parker repairer in the UK with their name in the address title and so the pen went back to have the nib repaired. On return it was obvious they had just replaced the nib and the new one felt scratchy compared to the original. Any enjoyment using the pen was gone.
Some time after I bought my Lamy Al-Star but before I really started to get back in to pens I happened to stumble across a UK repair site – might have been the Battersea Pen Home, and noticed I could buy a new nib unit, so I bought a replacement – almost certainly a fine. It was an improvement, but still not as nice as the original, and so I stopped using the pen, until this set of articles came up.
Before I cover my recent writing experience, you may note the converter in it is the very cheap Parker slide unit. I’m not sure why this is in the pen or why I bought it as I do have a spare side squeezer. I suspect over time I got fed up with them as you can’t tell ink levels.
So how has it been. Interesting. At first the pen felt scratchy but then I found there is a sweet spot, a bit like people talk about on the Lamy 2000. Find it and writing is smooth, but you only need to be slightly off for the experience to become unpleasant once more. I suspect a few minutes with micro mesh would fix this. Also a larger nib could work much better. I do wonder if my original nib was a medium (which would make sense as Parker normally only ship pens with that size nib in them).
In the hand the pen is quite comfortable. It might be on the narrow side for my preferences but the gentle tapering of the long section means you do not find yourself trying to apply too much pressure to hold the pen.
Looks wise, I must admit I always liked the Harlequin pattern, or should I say original one. I do remember years later walking in to my local WH Smiths (UK stationary and book store chain) to see the Parker Harlequin had been relaunched, but this time rather than the engraved half shields, they were black (filled in ?) instead. Personally the original, as I have, looks better to me.
So what happened to the ballpoint and why is it not in the photos? I continued to use it off and on, but not very much, then I was talked in to trying a Space Pen refill. Would not advise it – the writing experience was worse, however I started to carry it around as a jacket pocket pen. Alas one day I left it on a book where people were signing in as some one asked to borrow it and some one else also used it then ‘forgot’ to put it back.
Did using this pen bring back memories. Yes it did, though more recent and the main one being the horror as I watched the pen roll off the kitchen top. It is an interesting question would I still be using it if the accident had not occurred. I think almost certainly yes, however that situation may also have resulted in me not buying a modern low end Parker pen or two, being disappointed with them, and looking else where. Financially I’d be far better off but my life would not be as rich.
Will I carry on using this pen? Alas not. I’m not going to get rid of it as it was a present and also came to me when I was a kid, but I now have too many others which work just so much better for me.