Jump to content





Dearest Friends and Visitors of the Fountain Pen Network,
We have started implementing the changes we promised here: Upcoming Changes To FPN
Please do read the linked message above.









Photo

Parker 51 Vs. Parker 61


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 classenigma

classenigma

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:18

Did the Parker 61 ever eclipse the 51 in any way? The filling mechanism was the big differentiator early on but when they both went cartridge/converter/aerometric did progress go forward or back?

Edited by classenigma, 10 February 2013 - 07:19.


#2 pajaro

pajaro

    Amblin along like I had good sense.

  • Premium - Ruby

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,403 posts
  • Location:SE Michigan

Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:56

I have an English Parker 61 with a wet English medium nib that works perfectly with the capillary filler. It's a nice pen, and putting the capillary filler in a bottle of ink for about thirty seconds is a charming experience. I can't say there are any problems with my 61, but others seem to have issues with the filler. A 61 with a converter should be a great pen.

That said, the 51 medium aerometric is the one I use daily. Probably its finer line is just more easily managed for me than my 61's near-broad line. I have a bunch of other 51s and they work great also. I have a couple of 51 vacs that I use infrequently. The old black 51 vac beater stays filled and writes first time, every time every few months when I use it. The only reason I use other makes of pens is curiousity.
"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

#3 Jerome Tarshis

Jerome Tarshis

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 982 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, California

Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:16

"Eclipsed" is a word that makes a big statement. Having, in the opinion of some, a better nib than the Parker 51 does not mean the 61 eclipsed the 51.

No pen Parker has made since the 51 has eclipsed the 51. Or come close. Parker could with reasonable sincerity advertise the 51 as "the world's most wanted pen." Never true of the 61, or the 75, or the Sonnet, or the current version of the Duofold. As Tony Fischier explains on parkerpens.net, one reason why Parker developed the 75 was that the 61 was a disappointment in the marketplace after the 51.

The 51 was a well-designed and well-made pen, but its desirability arose from more than that. It stood in the public mind for American know-how and an open and strong social system and above all it stood for the America that played such a large part in winning World War II. The good America. The 61's years of production were 1958-83. Not the same perception of America, or of fountain pens, during those years. (And I speak as one who was an adult when the 61 was introduced.)

#4 icardoth

icardoth

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 830 posts
  • Location:Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted 10 February 2013 - 15:24

The two major problems with the Parker 61 were the difficulty to change ink colors and the clogging produced when the pen was left unused without soaking. Most fountain pen users didn't soak their pen before leaving them unused for some period, of course collectors or pen lovers would never do that.

Parker 61s produced in Argentina were never capillary filling nor cartridge/converter. All of them were aerometric, just as the "51".

#5 OcalaFlGuy

OcalaFlGuy

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 12,219 posts
  • Location:North Central Florida USA
  • Flag:

Posted 10 February 2013 - 16:55

"Eclipsed" is a word that makes a big statement. Having, in the opinion of some, a better nib than the Parker 51 does not mean the 61 eclipsed the 51.

No pen Parker has made since the 51 has eclipsed the 51. Or come close. Parker could with reasonable sincerity advertise the 51 as "the world's most wanted pen." Never true of the 61, or the 75, or the Sonnet, or the current version of the Duofold. As Tony Fischier explains on parkerpens.net, one reason why Parker developed the 75 was that the 61 was a disappointment in the marketplace after the 51.

The 51 was a well-designed and well-made pen, but its desirability arose from more than that. It stood in the public mind for American know-how and an open and strong social system and above all it stood for the America that played such a large part in winning World War II. The good America. The 61's years of production were 1958-83. Not the same perception of America, or of fountain pens, during those years. (And I speak as one who was an adult when the 61 was introduced.)


I don't consider myself any expert on 51's but thanks for a very well laid out (IMO) "argument" Jerome. :thumbup:

Bruce in Ocala, FL

#6 wekiva98

wekiva98

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 205 posts
  • Location:Orlando, FL

Posted 10 February 2013 - 18:59

Sorry, but I’ve never been able to get excited about 61s. I don’t particularly like the original filling system, and if I want a high-end cartridge-converter pen, which is what the 61 line eventually became, I’d just as soon have a Parker 75. I have to presume that the 61 survived so long in the marketplace because its style appealed to a certain kind of high-end customer Parker wanted to keep. For me, however, 51s and 75s make the 61 pretty much redundant.

#7 christof

christof

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,338 posts
  • Location:Confoederatio Helvetica

Posted 10 February 2013 - 20:03

The Parker "51" is very iconic and probably one of the best made pens ever.

...but I have a weak spot for the Parker 61 as well. In my opinion it is a very elegant designed pen. And yes, I think more elegant than the "51". Well, the capillary filler is elegant as well but unfortunately not that reliable, but with some luck, you can find a very good one.

I wrote about my very humble collection of 61's H E R E

...and with some luck you can find exceptionel variants...
Posted Image
Parker 61 Presidential solid 14ct. gold

Edited by christof, 10 February 2013 - 20:08.

Posted Image
. . . click here . . .

. . . my current S A L E S . . .

#8 richardandtracy

richardandtracy

    Museum Piece

  • Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,185 posts
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:09

In my opinion the P61 was a flawed, but great pen.
The c/c version was more usable as an every day pen than the capilliary pen.
However, the great downfall (to me) was the destructible nature of the plastic and adhesive used in it. The burgundy (in particular) microcracked in use and eventually fell apart. With my one it took 25 years use as a daily use pen, though I have seen the indicative sheen on the plastic of a black hood too. The connector on the c/c version does sometimes slowly disintegrate when in contact with ink and the adhesive for the arrow let go quite easily.

On the other hand, it is beautifully elegant and slender. The shape is amazing to look at and sits perfectly in my hand, and I have never met another nib as good as the average P61 nib. The weight is even lower than that of a P51 and tires your hand even less during a long writing spell.

On balance I prefer the P61 to the P51, but can see why people prefer the P51.

Regards,

Richard.

#9 MCameron

MCameron

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 57 posts

Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:24

Did the Parker 61 ever eclipse the 51 in any way? The filling mechanism was the big differentiator early on but when they both went cartridge/converter/aerometric did progress go forward or back?


Great question that led to some very interesting replies. In my view, the 51 was a revolutionary step (arguable, but barely so) from everything that preceded it, while the 61 was an evolutionary step from the 51. The 61 has a great nib and was designed for a more streamlined world (think Corvettes and space programs) than the 51. At the same time, the push to be more modern than the 51 led to some quirks of design and manufacturing that produced some of the more legendary aspects of the 61: brittle plastic, fillers prone to clogging, and hood ornaments that fell off quite easily.

But even with all the fuss and bother, I love 61s. I've had many 51s, both aeros and Vacs, and kept only two...mostly because I feel I ought to in order to consider myself a fountain pen collector. On the other hand, I've got about a dozen 61s and am always looking for more.

But I tend to cheer for the underdog in a lot of things. :rolleyes:

Mike

#10 WayTooManyHobbies

WayTooManyHobbies

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 677 posts
  • Location:Rochester Hills, MI
  • Flag:

Posted 12 February 2013 - 12:46

Did the Parker 61 ever eclipse the 51 in any way? The filling mechanism was the big differentiator early on but when they both went cartridge/converter/aerometric did progress go forward or back?

This topic really rings a bell, since I'm carrying a 51 Vac Demi and a 61 C/C today. I also have the parts of another 51 Vac spread across my repair bench.

Personal opinion here, but the 51's design was revolutionary. The thing that strikes me with the 51 is how mature the design seems, even though it is obviously a fairly large departure from previous types. Parker even nailed down the details of the new materials, or got tremendously lucky. It's common even now to find Aerometric 51s that just need a good flush to be back in perfect working order, and the Vacs are nearly as durable except for the retained technology of the diaphragm. Contrast that to the Eversharp Skyline or Waterman's Hundred Year Pen, which show significant material degradation.

The 61 design was, I think, an attempt to take the next revolutionary step in design. For whatever reason, though, it was not as successful a leap. The capillary filler was a brilliant but flawed concept, and the materials were not as durable - it just feels like the pen is not as mature a concept as the 51.

That said, I think both the 51 and the 61 are wonderful pens to use. I also think the 61 is a more handsome pen than all but the double jewel 51. I think the 51 is, though, a more impactful pen in terms of advancing the technology.

#11 nxn96

nxn96

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,115 posts
  • Location:Near Chicago, Illinois
  • Flag:

Posted 12 February 2013 - 17:01

Keep in mind that the 51 and 61 came from different periods and attempted to address different fountain pen-related issues; both of which impact how those two pens are viewed in retrospect.

The 51 was developed in the late 1930's when there was no competition from ballpoints to speak of, and a lot of the design focused on resolving the technical issues associated with Parker's proprietory ink, Quink. Conversely, when the 61 was introduced, competition from ballpoints (especially from Parker's own Jotter) was intense, and the technical issue was a "cleaner" filling system (Possibly anticipating the coming cartridge era?)

If the capillary filling design that Parker came up with for the 61 wasn't "revolutionary", it was certainly marketed as such. There was even an ad showing Herbert Hoover staring admiringly at his 61 filling itself!. Still, it was an era when fountain pens in general were facing serious competition from ballpoints and cartridges shortly proved to be the more practical "clean filler" solution (and portable too).

#12 fernobre

fernobre

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Location:Lisbon
  • Flag:

Posted 13 February 2013 - 19:52

IIn my collection I have and use regularly two 51's and three 61's (two capillary and one aerometric). Besides the filling system (that works perfectly in my capillary 61's), the major diference I feel is that the 61's are a little bit thinner thar the 51's; nevertheless both fill very confortable in my hand.

#13 Barry Gabay

Barry Gabay

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 774 posts

Posted 14 February 2013 - 22:59

This is a very informative thread. I have been reading & enjoying all of the opinions. Include me in the group of writers who love the 51, both vac & aero fill. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to acquire quite a few different nib grades (including EF, F, M, B, and italic) on US models. Have also found a few English models. All are great performers, totally reliable and virtually indestructible. After more than 30 years of fountain pen collecting and more than 50 years of using fountain pens, the 51 remains one of my favorite models. Although I like the 61, I have not had one perform great, and I assume it is the capillary filler which bothers me. Reading this thread though has inspired me to try once again to get my 61s clean and operating well. I do have one English c/c 61 with a wide, wet medium nib. I use it with Parker cartridges, and it writes as wet and as reliably as any of my 51s. Thanks again for all of the interesting input!

#14 psfred

psfred

    Donor Pen

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,126 posts

Posted 25 February 2013 - 03:50

The capillary filling system is neat, but it caused problems and doubtless didn't help sales much, but the fountain pen was already being left behind in the market in favor of ball points.

The real failing of the 61 is the injection molded polystyrene -- in the words of one of the polymer chemists at SABIC "that was a mistake". In 1958, it was not possible to injection mold acrylic resin, particularly not in the thin sections required for the 61. The "51" is machined from solid stock, not molded.

Polystyrene was the new wonder plastic of the era -- easily molded, appearently stable, able to take color very well, a modern wonder. Sadly, Parker used a formulation that shrank and cracked, becoming both distorted and 'glassy', with the sad results we all know. Sheaffer also used polystyrene injection molded pens (TD and Snorkel) with no problems at all, and all the Imperials I've seen from later years are intact unless obviously abused (one appeared to have been stepped on). I don't see many Snorkels or TDs with shrunken plastic, although I do have a few that appear to have cracked in use. They may have learned the lessons of unstable polystyrene in the first TD models (the fat ones) though -- those are well known for damaged plastic, particularly shrunken and cracked barrels that no longer seal so the pens become useless.

Had Parker used the same plastic as Sheaffers, we might have a different view of the 61. Lovely pens, I like using mine, but very intolerant of careless pen hygiene!

Peter

#15 nxn96

nxn96

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,115 posts
  • Location:Near Chicago, Illinois
  • Flag:

Posted 25 February 2013 - 15:50

The capillary filling system is neat, but it caused problems and doubtless didn't help sales much, but the fountain pen was already being left behind in the market in favor of ball points.

The real failing of the 61 is the injection molded polystyrene -- in the words of one of the polymer chemists at SABIC "that was a mistake". In 1958, it was not possible to injection mold acrylic resin, particularly not in the thin sections required for the 61. The "51" is machined from solid stock, not molded.

Polystyrene was the new wonder plastic of the era -- easily molded, appearently stable, able to take color very well, a modern wonder. Sadly, Parker used a formulation that shrank and cracked, becoming both distorted and 'glassy', with the sad results we all know. Sheaffer also used polystyrene injection molded pens (TD and Snorkel) with no problems at all, and all the Imperials I've seen from later years are intact unless obviously abused (one appeared to have been stepped on). I don't see many Snorkels or TDs with shrunken plastic, although I do have a few that appear to have cracked in use. They may have learned the lessons of unstable polystyrene in the first TD models (the fat ones) though -- those are well known for damaged plastic, particularly shrunken and cracked barrels that no longer seal so the pens become useless.

Had Parker used the same plastic as Sheaffers, we might have a different view of the 61. Lovely pens, I like using mine, but very intolerant of careless pen hygiene!

Peter

I'm not disagreeing about your comments re: the plastics used for the 61, but was that a "known" issue back in the days the pen was actively produced, or a problem that came up later on as the pens "aged"? I know the clogging capillary fillers were a contemporary issue for Parker, but I was just curious as to whether they were also dealing with the plastics issue as well.

Again, just curious about this point.

#16 Romagno

Romagno

    Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. Vergil

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 514 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 25 February 2013 - 21:10

The 51 was a well-designed and well-made pen, but its desirability arose from more than that. It stood in the public mind for American know-how and an open and strong social system and above all it stood for the America that played such a large part in winning World War II. The good America. The 61's years of production were 1958-83. Not the same perception of America, or of fountain pens, during those years. (And I speak as one who was an adult when the 61 was introduced.)


I was 7 when the P61 was introduced. Although my mother used a teal Aero P"51", I was never allowed to even touch it. I was confined to Sheaffer school pens and a Parker 45, which I used from 7th Grade through medical school.

So, I cannot speak to you contemporaneous observations on the "51"'s socio-politico-cultural significance. However, I do have some observations about the "51"'s success. I bought my first about 10 years ago: I was struck by its balance, durability, superb function and its clean, utilitarian but aesthetically pleasing design. In short, it was a home run.

Kind of reminds me of the Maytag washer and dryer that I bought in 1982 - a product of a very different America - but both still running perfectly.

A good product is a good product. Which may be the problem with the P61. It added little to its predecessor except a hinky filling system and brittle plastic. I like my 61's, but my "51" Flighter is always inked, always with me.
"... et eritis odio omnibus propter nomen meum..."

#17 psfred

psfred

    Donor Pen

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,126 posts

Posted 26 February 2013 - 03:17

The original TD pens were a decade old when Parker introduced the 61, so it's hard to tell. They also didn't use a metal ring around the end of the barrel like Sheaffer did, and while I've never seen a Sheaffer Snorkel or TD barrel burst by overtightening, that is the second most common problem in a 61 (or a Hero 100, for that matter since it's a fairly direct copy).

Parker missed on the plastic used in the 45 too, as they tend to become soft and get serious dents in them from the cap retaining springs.

I'm not privy to the details of how Parker chose their plastics, but I sure wish they'd have used something better for the 61. They are lovely pens, but the majority of them now seem to have become useless.

Peter

#18 grimakis

grimakis

    Parker "51" First Year

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,015 posts
  • Location:Connecticut, USA

Posted 26 February 2013 - 16:16

In my two-pen case, I usually carry both a Vac "51" and a Cap "61"

I like the styling of both pens, but here are my reason that the "51" is overall better.

  • Girth; The "51" is slightly larger, wider, and personally I find it more comfortable to hold.
  • Easy to flush; The capillary filler of the "61" is much harder to flush out.
  • Cap clutch on the "51" grabs clutch ring; on "61" it grabs the hood.
  • "51" Lucite feels more durable.
Overall I prefer the "51" but I'm sure that there are many "61" lovers out there.

#19 pajaro

pajaro

    Amblin along like I had good sense.

  • Premium - Ruby

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,403 posts
  • Location:SE Michigan

Posted 26 February 2013 - 21:29

You could like both pens, because they are very different. It's interesting to have different pens.
"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

#20 paperballs

paperballs

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 129 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:25

If the capillary filling design that Parker came up with for the 61 wasn't "revolutionary", it was certainly marketed as such. There was even an ad showing Herbert Hoover staring admiringly at his 61 filling itself!. Still, it was an era when fountain pens in general were facing serious competition from ballpoints and cartridges shortly proved to be the more practical "clean filler" solution (and portable too).


Was it Hoover or was it William Holden? Is this the ad you're talking about?

Posted Image

#21 classenigma

classenigma

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:51

http://file.vintagea...8vh8fsq9psj.jpg

http://myoldadz.com/...ens19570921.jpg

http://myoldadz.com/...pen19571026.jpg

http://farm8.staticf..._a5c47f351e.jpg

Herbert Hoover/Carl Sandburg/Doris Day/Bob Hope

Edited by classenigma, 28 February 2013 - 06:55.