Parker 51

1948
About This Model

The Parker 51 is generally agreed to be one of the genuinely iconic fountain pens, for its timeless design, revolutionary construction, efficiency, unparalleled durability, and for being a great writer.  It is also among the most sold pens of all time, having been available from 1941 until the early 1970’s, manufactured in plants around the world, and sold millions.  Within each major model there are myriad combinations of color, cap, and other details that have made collecting 51s a serious sport around the world. 51s are available in two lengths: the typical 51 is 5 3/8″ long, but there are also demis, 4 13/16″ long. They are excellent writers, hold a great deal of ink, and are great shirt/jacket pocket pens. Parker 51s are readily available today, although some of their colors and cap patterns are rare.

About This Pen

This Parker 51 Vacumatic-filling is one of my favorites.  Not just because it’s a 51, proving with every fill why 51s are called one of the best fountain pens ever made, and not just because it’s a beauty, from 1949, in shiny India black, with a 10k gold-filled blue diamond cap with vertical chasing. This pen is being featured because it is one of my favorite examples of great pens finding their moment.

This pen was discovered at the bottom of a box of pens, by a champion picker at a rural Wisconsin auction.  It carried the grunge of long habitation in that box.  The picker sent me a couple of pictures, and I approved the purchase of the box for that pen.  Later that evening, I was told that the pen was mine, and that she had already sold the rest of the box to the second-place bidder, without learning what he wanted from it!  So, it was a win.  Then, after I restored and started using it, it became a double win because its wet B nib made it an extraordinary writer.  Some ten years later, it is used more often than all of my pens except my 149, and while I can never successfully list Tim’s Top Ten Pens in fewer than fifteen, it’s always in the first five.

This pen is in the United States and Canada collection.