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Parker 61 mk III


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10 replies to this topic

#1 Zaphod

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 18:48

In Finland and Sweden, there's a tradition of the husband giving a gift to his wife on their first morning as a wedded couple. Originally this so-called "morning gift" (Sw morgongåva, Fi huomenlahja) was a quite substantial one, since it in a was to remain the property of the wife and thus function as a kind of insurance. Nowadays, it's fortunately more of a symbolic thing, and in the name of gender equality, occasionaly the husband can get one too.

Thus on my first morning of wedded bliss, I got a small package. I tried figuring out what could fit into a long and narrow package, and was really surprised when I unwrapped a fountain pen. My wife isn't interested in fountain pens at all, yet I was holding a vintage one right in my hands! She was really proud of herself, since she did all the research without leaving any hints at all. She read this forum many times over, but didn't post since it could leave traces of what she was up to.

A quick google search revealed that the pen was a Parker 61 of late manufacture. When I first saw the pen I immediately thought of the legendary 51, yet the pen looked slightly different. The Parker 61 was introduced in 1956 as a successor to the 51, and to make filling the pen easier, it had a capillary filler system, where the pen body contained sheets of plastic very close to each other. When dipping the capillary system in ink, the pen filled itself due to the capillary action. While the system worked, it required more cleaning than other filling system, and in 1969 Parker threw the towel and redesigned the pen as a cartridge/converter pen. Since this was the third iteration of the pen, it's sometimes called "mark III". More information at Richard Binder's site.

My copy is of the c/c model. Some Parker 61 collectors actually prefer this version since the capillary fillers often suffer from years of neglect. Other prefer the capillary system since it was bleeding edge technology when the pen was introduced. Personally I'm very happy with the c/c system, the pen wrote right out of the box.



Appearance & Design

The pen has a very "streamline" design that somehow looks very space age. Original ads can be seen on Richard Binder's reference page about the Parker 61. The ads featuring the new DC-8 also give a great feeling for what the world was like, and what high tech looked like back then.

Although the pen isn't a timeless design as the Lamy 2000 that still looks modern, the slightly dated, modernist look is very sympathic. My pen has a deep maroon colour, and the pen almost glows in a very classy hue of red. The pen has a gold rolled cap complete with hallmark, and the gold goes great with the general colour of the pen. Although I generally prefer steel/rhodium/chrome trim in my pens, anything but gold would look pale next to the gorgeous maroon color.



Construction and Quality

The pen feels solid and shows only little signs of age. The gold rolled cap has many small scratches from other pens, but no other visible damage. The plastic near the joint between section and body has some small scuff marks from the cap, but else the body is in great shape. It's probably been polished with something, it's hard to believe that a pen of my age is so glossy!

The original build quality was in other words good. The end jewels look a bit as if they where added as an afterthought by the designer at Parker, they somehow break the smooth lines of the pen a bit.



Weight and dimensions

The gold rolled cap is heavy. Occasionally I use the pen posted, but I prefer to use it unposted. The entire pen weighs 18 g with a converter and ink, and without the cap the pen is a lightweight 9 g. Since the pen body is tapered, the cap slides quite far when posting. Thus it's not as unbalanced as you'd expect from the figures. The tapered body also means that the pen feels quite small in your hand.

Since my daily user is a Waterman Hemisphere with a body in laquered brass, the Parker feels very light. Although it's light it doesn't feel flimsy or fragile.



Nib and Performance

The Parker 61 continues with the hooded nib design from the 51. The nib on my copy is a medium one. My pen is made in England, and according to some sites the English nibs are broader. I would most certainly call it a medium-broad one, though the line width also depends on the paper used. My other pens are much more consistent in line width over different kinds of paper. The nib has some flex too, and if I push the nib to hard, the line goes from a medium to a broad. Unfortunately I'm not good at calligraphy so I can't produce nice examples of what the nib can do.

The nib is usually reliable, but if I raise the pen to a steep angle with the paper (say >50 degrees), the nib starts snagging on fibres and minor flaws on the paper. When writing with afterthought at a desk, it's not a problem, but jotting down quick notes can sometimes be problematic. I tried switching to a more lubricating ink (Waterman) and this reduces the problem. Is this due to the sweet spot left by the previous owner?

Filling system and maintenance

The pen is a c/c. Thus maintenance is easy, and using a cartridge or converter is straightforward. Of course after reading all about the groundbreaking capillary system, c/c is a bit of "meh". I have, however, read stories about the problems some people have had with the capillary system, and thus I'm secretly happy I have the c/c version.

Cost and value

Since the pen was a gift, I can't really comment this. The gold rolled cap increases the value and desirability a lot, and I'm, not sure I would allow myself spending money on that kind of luxury. I do think the gold cap looks much nicer than Lustralloy and gives the pen a heirloom quality.

Conclusion

Nice pen. I was surprised how reliably it wrote when I popped a new cartridge in the pen. The pen hasn't seen daily use since it felt far too valuable to carry around the university. Now that I'm graduating, I hope the pen will see much more use.

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#2 Aysedasi

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 20:34

Looks like a beauty to me! I have a grey one but mine is a capillary filler with a broad nib.

Lucky new husband you!

I hope you gave your new bride something splendid too.....?

#3 lovemy51

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 21:20

sick.gif *green with envy*. i have a vista blue capillary p61 and love it! i think the c/c is a more practical one and it's in my wish list. thanx for the nice review and sharing pix of your beautiful pen!!

#4 Aysedasi

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 21:29

I confess my capillary filler was in great condition when I bought it and works superbly - can there be any easier filling system to use?

#5 lovemy51

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 07:06

QUOTE (Aysedasi @ Aug 25 2009, 02:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I confess my capillary filler was in great condition when I bought it and works superbly - can there be any easier filling system to use?

quite right! but changing inks is very difficult.

#6 richardandtracy

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 08:37

You lucky, lucky, lucky thing.
I had a maroon one identical to yours, which lasted me 25 years of hard use, and it spoilt me for any other pen type. Not even the P51 compares - some come close, but the P61 is the better writer in my view.

Of the two filler types, I prefer the c/c, it is much less maintenance to keep it working properly.

Look after it, you have a beautiful pen. The plastic is relatively soft & will probably scratch, but it does polish quite well. I suspect there is a slight foot on your nib that causes the scratchiness at higher angles. This could be dealt with, but use will smooth it off too.

Thank you for the review.

Regards,

Richard.


#7 Bill Smith

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 00:20

Congratulations on the 61!
"Life moves pretty fast, if you do not stop and look around once and a while you might just miss it."
Ferris Bueller



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#8 rahulg

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 06:51

Gorgeous pen. great colour. Though I believe the P61 hoods were made from a a different plastic, that tended to shrink over time. The example in my possession has a shrunken hood, which however does not compromise on the pen's functionality. Congratulations on your new pen and for being blessed with a lovely thoughtful wife. You could write a thank you note with the pen, throw in some flowers and surprise her!

Regards,

Rahul G


Edited for typos

Edited by rahulg, 27 August 2009 - 06:52.


#9 Aysedasi

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 07:47

QUOTE (lovemy51 @ Aug 26 2009, 08:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Aysedasi @ Aug 25 2009, 02:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I confess my capillary filler was in great condition when I bought it and works superbly - can there be any easier filling system to use?

quite right! but changing inks is very difficult.



I wouldn't say difficult really - a little more time consuming. But I took advice and got myself an ear syringe bulb thingy, which makes it an awful lot easier and quicker.


#10 goodguy

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 13:50

Nice review, thank you for sharing your pen with us.
I had several Parker 61 but to me I found they all suffered from the same problem my Parker 51 did and that's a lack of feedback.
Maybe its because of the hooded nib.
In any case I love its design and I did find them to be very good reliable pens.
Enjoy smile.gif
Respect to all

#11 Zaphod

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 16:38

QUOTE (Aysedasi @ Aug 25 2009, 11:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Looks like a beauty to me! I have a grey one but mine is a capillary filler with a broad nib.

Lucky new husband you!

I hope you gave your new bride something splendid too.....?


A pendant, Snow Flower by Kalevala Jewellery, a Finnish jewellery manufacturer. Afterwards we figured out we had spent almost the same amount o money. More importantly both were very happy.

This was almost 2 years ago, actually. I only now got around reviewing the pen.

QUOTE (Aysedasi @ Aug 27 2009, 10:47 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (lovemy51 @ Aug 26 2009, 08:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Aysedasi @ Aug 25 2009, 02:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I confess my capillary filler was in great condition when I bought it and works superbly - can there be any easier filling system to use?

quite right! but changing inks is very difficult.



I wouldn't say difficult really - a little more time consuming. But I took advice and got myself an ear syringe bulb thingy, which makes it an awful lot easier and quicker.


I'd love to someday try a 61 with the capillary system, since it represented the state of the art when the pen was created. I've read about the ear syringe trick too and will use it if I end up buying a capillary filler.

QUOTE (goodguy @ Aug 27 2009, 04:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Nice review, thank you for sharing your pen with us.
I had several Parker 61 but to me I found they all suffered from the same problem my Parker 51 did and that's a lack of feedback.
Maybe its because of the hooded nib.
In any case I love its design and I did find them to be very good reliable pens.
Enjoy smile.gif


Yes, I understand exactly what you mean. Using the 61 has been something of a learning experience. The pen doesn't like quick jotting on bad paper, actually I'm retraining writing italics, since that feels more "right" for this kind of a nib. I guess modern pens have stiffer nibs to cope with us that have learned to use ballpoints.

edit: removed a duplicate quote.

Edited by Zaphod, 27 August 2009 - 16:39.







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