It had originated in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in Palermo, Sicily. Giacomo da Lentini, credited with having brought it into being and in its earliest forms, it was restricted to expressing courtly love. However, by the time of the Renaissance, the Sonnet had evolved into the chosen mode for expressing romantic love, which perhaps explains its popularity as a poetic form in languages around the world.
But drop the term Sonnet, and fountain pen lovers will not think rhyme or metre and relate it straight with Parker, who had first gifted the world the hugely successful and equally loved Sonnet in the early 1990’s. Two things before we proceed to take a serious look at the pen. One, even for those who scoff at fountain pens that are less than half a century old, the Sonnet is still highly desirable. And two, the Sonnet was designed by Geoff Hollington of London, whose apparent brief was to come up with a fountain pen design that would be versatile and attractive enough to replace the Parker “75”, which was then the model spearheading the Parker offensive. The Sonnet had initially been offered in a whooping 18 finishes!
However, the pen that we will discuss here is the Fougére: a silver patterned pen with gold filled trim. It has a broad cap band and was offered as a fountain pen, roller ball, ball pen and a 0.5 mechanical cap on- cap off pencil. Mine is fitted with the two-tone 18K solid gold rhodium nib.
If naming a fountain pen after a particular form of poetry was a coup of sorts for Parker, calling this particular model the Fougére was certainly the coup de grace. For while the term Fougére comes from “fern” in French, it is celebrated as one of the main olfactive families of perfumes. Perfumes of this type, made with a blend of fragrances, where the top-notes are sweet, with the scent of lavender flowers and often containing additional notes of herbs, spice and or wood are especially popular as fragrances for men. The association is typically male, though the perfume and poem combination of the Fougére is a killer. As a matter of fact, such is the enduring appeal of the iconic Fougére that a 25th Anniversary edition was also launched. It will not be out of place to mention here that the Fougére continues to be one of the most sought-after Parker models by collectors.
Come to think about it, by the time the Sonnet Fougére was conceived and designed, the fountain pen had already evolved to a stage where no now innovation could be introduced that would take the breath away. Besides, in their own ways, the fountain pens are fairly simple products with an almost straightjacketed symmetry, their sizes and shapes constrained by ergonomics, their forms forced to follow their functions. This naturally restricts the space within which fountain pen designers can operate in. Add to it the fact that most fountain pen brands have very distinct personality types and the designer’s domain is further hemmed in as it is anathema to cross the boundaries that brand identities specify. Thus, it is often the really very small things, at times a combination thereof, that add up to make a particular model a winner. The Sonnet Fougére is no exception either. That is triumphs, as a supremely functional piece of art despite remaining well within the creative constraints is what makes the Sonnet Fougére the kind of sought-after status that it has created for itself, that too, being of relatively recent origin.
I will not question the patience of the readers by delving into the mundane – what is necessary for silver to be graded sterling, the way the Fougére balances in the hand of the beholder, the relative advantages of a cartridge / converter as a filling system, or sing paeans about the arrow clip of the pen – being a respectable member from the house of Parker, all these things are well taken care of, as is the norm, as opposed to being the exceptions. Suffice to say, as an instrument of writing, the Fougére is of excellent quality and is of the type that one can safely carry to a deserted island as the one accompanying implement, if one were to be banished for the rest of his life. That said, I cannot resist the temptation to slip in that I have a particular fondness for the fern motif that is worked upon the body of the Fougére and for some inexplicable reason love the silver getup with the golden accents, especially now that mine has acquired a weather-beaten patina, a tarnishing that somehow adds character that pristine shine of sterling silver just cannot match.
The Sonnet was intended to be ‘the classic Parker’, a truly timeless product, which explains the well-proportioned cigar shape, clear arrow clip, a generously sized nib and, as I learn from the connoisseurs, a state-of-the-art writing performance.
When the Parker Sonnet was originally conceived, the strategy was to offer the Sonnet in several designs, priced accordingly, so that one model could be offered in a wide price range.
There were four different nib styles designed to be fitted on the different price ranges. The top line Sonnets had an 18K solid gold two-tone nib, highlighted with rhodium plating. The next level had engraved 18K solid gold nibs. The next price range had 23K gold-plated, stainless-steel nibs and the cheapest Sonnets were fitted with simple stainless-steel nibs. Nib grades offered were also exhaustive Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Extra Broad. Customers could also order special nibs, such as oblique and italic version.
Parker Sonnet Fougére: I call it the Parfum de Coeur, the perfume of my heart. Do I need to say any more?
For more information: https://www.parkerpen.com/sonnet-pens.html