Don’t missed out on Parker Rialto 88.

The Parker Rialto formerly called Parker ‘’Place Vendome’’ or Parker ‘’88’’, this pen has an excellent balance of aesthetic and ergonomic form that is easy to handle and gives comfortable writing performance. The Parker “88” was released in 1988, but a Parker internal document shows that pen was first introduced in 1987 in the UK. Parker wanted the name to chime with the release date and ‘’88’’ looked better than “87”, so the official launching year is still 1988.

The design of Parker “88” was allegedly inspired by the French fashion centre in general, and the French square Place Vendôme in particular, Parker advertised the “88” as a tribute to the beauty of the contemporary European design. The Place Vendôme being “the majestic square that is home to the world’s finest jewelers”. The history of the Place Vendôme square dates back to 1702 when it was laid out to commemorate the conquests of the armies of King Louis XIV. Later the famous column was erected by Napoléon Bonaparte to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz. The spiralling relief was made from bronze plates made from captured enemy cannons and was designed by Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret. It originally had a statue of Napoléon on top. Well the Parker “88” pens didn’t really resemble the Place Vendôme column, save in shape, but maybe that was enough.

Some might say that Parker 88 is a fancy dressed up Parker Vector, and they will be right. The cap has a more rounded crown compared to Vector and a round bright metal inserts. The clip also borrowed from Parker ‘’95’’, and has a much-refined design, with a detailed arrowed point and dense feathering lines. The first Parker “88” had a 22-karat, gold plated stainless steel nib with ruthenium tip which was offered in the sizes Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad. It was fitted with a cartridge or converter and was offered as a fountain pen and capped ball pen.

The Parker “88” came in three types of finishes over solid brass, either Plated, Matte or Lacque:

  • Plated finishes are fluted all 22 carat gold plate with Cornish pattern engraving and maroon section and button, or fluted all silver plate with  Corinth pattern, dark green section and button.
  • Matte design featured a brass body sand blasted and sprayed with epoxy resin powder and heat cured to produce a hard-wearing surface. Colours included Black, Navy with maroon section and barrel end, and Blue or Gray with dark green section and barrel end.
  • The Lacque design was created by the application of successive layers of colours to a prepared brass base, creating a very appealing finish in Lacque Blue or Maroon with dark green section and button, Ivory (white) Lacque with maroon section and barrel end, and Black Lacque.

All models came with 22 carat gold plated trim. In August of 1992 the complete line of Parker “88” was redesigned. The gold filled pen, trim and nib were now in 23-karat gold and all sections and plastic trim were black, as opposed to the earlier coloured sections. The high end pens were still offered and two new lacque metallic designs were introduced in Maroon and Grey. Also two new matte finishes were offered, Matte Black and Matte Dark Green. While the Laque Navy and Matte Grey were discontinued.

In September 1994 the name Parker “88” and Place Vendôme were discontinued, but the line remained under the name Rialto. So the old French Place Vendôme suddenly became Italian! (Rialto is a district in Venice, Italy).

All finishes were available until the line was updated and renamed Rialto in 1994.

The line was indeed also redesigned although the features were the same. The easiest way to see the difference between the pens is that the later model had “Rialto” engraved on the body band and that the nib was engraved, while the nib of the “88” was not. The only change in the line was the introduction of the Lacque Metallic Blue.

The Metallic finishes were either too expensive to manufacture or didn’t sell very well, since all the Metallic designs except the Maroon were discontinued in 1995. Also the Matte Dark Green was no longer offered.

The three new attractive designs were added at 1997 – Lacque Rialtos, the Lacque Lava, Lacque Dusk and Lacque Aqua.

This line-up remained until 2006 when the Rialto was beginning to fade. All the lacque finishes, save the Black, were discontinued and only six finishes remained. In 2007 Parker made an overhaul of the complete line and discontinued several Parker designs including Parker Rialto.

Performance

I don’t really know where to start with the Parker Rialto 88. To help me to compare performance, I placed Parker Rialto fountain pen and Parker Vector fountain pen on the table. Have to say that first impression I had that Rialto does look like Vector, but has more grown up look and colours are more shiny on pens with lacque finishes.

In hand, Rialto feels heavier then Vector, thanks to the all-metal construction. The Parker Rialto, like the Parker Vector, is a small and slender pen at 13cm long capped and 15.7cm long uncapped (posted). The cap easily posts onto the plastic knob end of the barrel and stays snug. Posted, the Rialto looks quite long and thin. Pen has a good balance when capped or posted.

Inked and put to paper, Rialto glides smoother on paper then Vector. Pen can be fitted with Parker ink cartridges or a Parker converter for use with Parker bottled inks.

The Rialto clip is more refined and definitely more eye-catching than the Vector. It works just like the clip on the Vector, springing enough to slip on even a heavy shirt and also sits quite low in the pocket.

Rialto nib vs. Vector nib

Read some comments on Fountainpennetwork forum that Vector nib can be installed into 88 pen and got very curious. I decided to check it out is it true or false.

As I don’t have an old model of 88, I used Rialto and Vector fountain pens to compare. I placed both models in front of me, unscrewed nibs from both pens and swap them.

Here is the moment of truth and a bit of disappointment.

The fact is a Vector nib does not fit a Rialto barrel, because the diameter of the nib is narrow and I was unable screw it in, nib sits very loose inside the barrel.

Same with the Rialto nib, I was unable to screw it into Vector barrel as nib is wider then barrel and was unable to fit it.

My personal verdict is the nib swap is impossible.

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