Ever since I laid my eyes on the Prather Titanium 51 a few years ago I wanted to have one. My main interest is in vintage Japanese pens and with that in mind it remained on a wish list. I always enjoyed using my 51 flighter set and it was a Parker 51 that got me all interested in fountain pens.
Last year I attended my first ever pen show in Tilburg. It is small show but I was pretty excited, as it was my first ever pen show. My excitement turned out to be justified as I ran into a titanium 51 that a German seller has on his table. I was very surprised to see one of these pens there, and immediately asked the seller how much he wanted for it. I dashed out of the show to an ATM across the road and 5 minutes later the pen was mine!
Ralph kindly got in touch with me and informed me that my pen was #8 in a series of 22 pens made. He provided me with extra info, photos and answers to my questions
Several weeks later a pentracer had for sale a Prather 51 Vespel. I was seriously considering adding the pen to my collection. Ralph contacted me and shared info about the pen. It was just the extra little “push” I needed and a couple of weeks later my Titanium 51 had a Vespel sibling.
Design and finish
The design of the pen is based on the timeless Double Jeweled Parker 51 pen.
The pen is machined from a solid bar of commercially pure titanium. The machining, fit and finish of the pen is absolutely gorgeous. The satin matte finish of the titanium is stunning and feels really nice when you hold the pen. Every part of the pen is meticulously made and fits perfectly in place. The pen feels very solid but it is not too heavy for an all-metal pen. The cap is a highly polished original sterling 51 cap that adds a lot of shine and acts as a great contrast to the satin finish of the titanium. It sort of becomes the jewelry part of what is an industrial looking pen.
The cap and blind cap both have aluminum jewels that look really great with the rest of the pen. I really like the solid brass filling rod that Ralph made for this pen.
this photo taken by Ralph
another photo from Ralph showing all the components that make up the pen..pretty amazing
The design of the Vespel 51 is pretty much identical to the Titanium but it doesn’t have the brass ring that separates the blind cap from the barrel.
The material Ralph used to create this pen is called Vespel and is manufactured by Dupont. Vespel is a high performance polymer is mostly used in aerospace, semiconductor and transportation technology. It combines heat resistance, lubricity, dimensional stability, chemical resistance, and creep resistance, to be used in hostile and extreme environmental conditions. It is a very expensive material and Ralph explained to me that the rod he used to make this pen came from the same rod stock that NASA used to fabricate parts for the MARS ROVER. Yes this material has been on Mars!
The color of the Vespel pen is a bit debatable. The photos the seller provided made the pen look like it s a deep burgundy. When I received the pen the color was more like a milk chocolate. On some photos it appears dark red on others brown. Ralph sent me some Vespel shavings and when held in the sunlight they appear orange.
Some of the very cool touches on the pen are the vacumatic filling rod that is made out of Vespel just like the two jewels on the pen! The cap is hand hammered and I think complements the pen really well. I particularly like the way it catches light and reflects it in all kinds of directions.
Ralph's photo with info regarding the use of Vespel on the Mars Rover
both pens together
Nibs and filling system
This one came with a very juicy stub BB nib. I prefer fine nibs so I switched it. Now it has the stub BB nib on again and I am really enjoying it . It really glides on paper and works really well even when you are writing at a faster pace.
The Vespel has a smooth fine nib that performs just like any other 51 fine nib! No problems at all and always ready to go
Both pens have different pitch threads on the vac retaining collar from the Parker made 51 pens. Ralph has created a solid brass tool that he gives with his pens to allow owners to self-service their pens, certainly a very nice touch.
Needless to say that Ralph is a true gentleman. A few weeks he offered to service both of my pens free of charge just to make sure everything is in order. The pens he makes are works of art but actually meeting and interacting with him (even online) is an experience of its own.
It is one thing getting some really cool pens, but how often do we get to meet and interact with those responsible for creating them? My experience with these two pens and their maker has taken this hobby to a different plateau.
I am thrilled to have these two pens and they will remain in my collection for good.
photo taken by Ralph after servicing the pens
Edited by Nikolaos, 14 March 2010 - 10:27.