Quite possible the seminal Parker fountain pen. First produced in 1941, introducing the concept of the hooded nib and with a production run in multiple countries which lasted for just over 30 years, this must be one of the best known modern day writing implements. Too young to have received a 51 before they stopped production, I came in to possession of mine after my paternal grand father died in the late 1970s/early 1980s (think I was 10-12 at the time).
It was while clearing out a holiday flat that my father and I found a pair of Parker 51s. We took/kept one each. This one, a black bodied aerometric with steel cap and grey cap jewel will almost certainly be UK made and also probably from between 1957 and 1964 (based on the excellent info on the Parker Penography website).
I never really used my 51 as a kid, probably (as with my 45 Harlequin) because it looked dated, however also possibly because it lays down quite a thick line. I’m not sure what the nib size is meant to be, I assume it is a stock medium, but it does write like a broad. In more recent times it has shown just how well made and durable it is as I left it loaded with J. Herbin Storm Grey for several years, with no issues or hard starts, even with infrequent use. In more recent times I’ve treated it better, using an assortment of safe black inks.
It is odd that a lot of fountain pen bloggers talk about ink matching – keeping the colour of the ink close to the colour of the pen. I seem to have gone for a variation here as I stick to black inks because the pen looks like a more serious writing implement, the sort of thing you would expect a bank manager or lawyer to sign deals with.
This does bring about an interesting observation. It was designed in the 1940s (possibly late 1930s) and was probably made for 10 years too long, yet now it looks old but not dated. In the hands of a younger person, to a non fountain pen user, it will probably look like the 51 belonged to their father not grand or great grand father. It has carried across the generations rather well, especially when you look at many of its rivals from its early days, which do now look like they belong to a different age, museum pieces. Not so this Parker.
In the hand this is a very comfortable pen. It is surprisingly large and wide considering when it was produced. The section merges through the cap clutch ring with the body to produce a pleasant continuous curve, which while tapering down to the hood, does not do so at too large an angle. I say this but I suspect a 51 with metal section (if such a thing was made) could be rather slippery to the fingers.
Writing wise I can only go by this one but it is smooth but with a hint of tooth. While I prefer softer nibs it is not unpleasant and I can use this pen without issue for a while. The ink flow is wet, which is why I think it writes more like a broad than the medium it probably is.
In using this pen for the last few weeks I have grown to admire it. Sure it’s not something I am going to use every day, but I can see the appeal to the 51 collector and can also see me bringing this pen out every so often.
Thanks for this post. A nice souvenir to have of your grandfather. It is impressive that the ink sac does not perish after so many decades.
Are there no markings on the barrel to show where it was made and the year? Mine has, but they are worn and I need a loupe to see them.
From the info site I quoted the lower date when mine may have been produced was when they stopped dating UK/Euro made pens – they may have started again later down the line.
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Gino Pagnani said:
My first fountain pen was a Parker 45 given to me by my grandfather in 1965. When he passed I inherited his ’51 which he purchased in the late 1940’s. I still have both pens and they are part of my pen rotation.