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Comparison:: Vintage Student Pens

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#1 Pfhorrest


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Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:28

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Both of these great pens are regular ones in my rotations. They are vintage models from two of the most famous pen companies in the world. I decided to do a comparison review to address each of the pen's shortcomings (only in relation to each other, of course).

Quick facts:

Parker 21:
Nib: Hooded "octanium" steel nib, Extra Fine
Body: Plastic
Cap: Stainless Steel
Filling system: Aerometric
Cost: $20

Pelikan Mk. 10:
Nib: Partially hooded gold-plated steel nib, Oblique Fine
Body: Resin
Cap: Resin
Filling system: Piston
Cost: $20

Appearance and Design:

Parker: 9/10
Pelikan: 9/10

The Parker's timeless (according to some) design is elegant, functional, and simple - a rare combination. The stainless cap (Lustraloy) contrasts well with the dark black plastic.

The Pelikan's design seems a bit more modern, with slightly angular ends and an oddly-shaped clip. Brass furniture is a nice touch on a pen designated for the student market, and the resin has a depth unmatched by that of the Parker's plastic.

The two pens are tied in appearance as far as I'm concerned - it's very hard to choose a pen that trumps the other in this category.

Construction and Quality:

Parker: 9/10
Pelikan: 7/10

The Parker is nearly perfect as far as construction is concerned - the hooded nib is perfectly aligned, finish is suprisingly good for a lower-market pen that the Parker 21 was, and the stainless cap has no dents or scratches. All threaded parts come together flawlessly.

The Pelikan's piston is superb - extremely smooth, suprising for a vintage pen. The polish on the resin is perfect - there are no rough spots or uneven surfaces anywhere. However, there is quite a bit of play in the clip and the cap and barrel interface when the pen is capped. Although there has been no side effects of this, it's a bit dissapointing.

Parker is the winner!

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Weight and Dimentions:

Parker: 6/10
Pelikan: 7/10

The Parker lacks a bit in the ergonomics department - it's uncomfortable unless I hold it in a strange position. The nib is a bit too small for comfort, and it's way too light, almost feather-weight.

The Pelikan is much better, with a more open nib and more space to grip the section - it fits better in my hand than the Parker, although it too is a bit small.

Pelikan is the winner!

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Nib and Performance:

Parker: 8/10
Pelikan: 9/10

This was a close call. The Parker extrafine is very smooth and glides across the page, with a suprisingly large sweet spot for an extrafine. The Pelikan nib is an Oblique Fine, an uncommon size (as I assume) that is also very smooth and with a large sweet spot. However, I must give the Pelikan the upper hand, since the steel nib actually does have a bit of flex! It's not as much, as, say, a Lamy semi-flex 14k nib, but it is there and it is very pleasant.

Pelikan is the winner!

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Filling System:

Parker: 9/10
Pelikan: 8/10

As much as I like piston and cartridge pens, the Parker's aerometric system is very nice. A few quick squeezes of the bar, and the pen is ready to go. This is very useful for times when I don't want to fiddle with pistons and clean up the accompanying mess. The Pelikan piston is very smooth and holds quite a bit of ink, more than the Parker.

Parker is the winner!

Cost and value:

Parker: 10/10
Pelikan: 10/10

There's not much to say here. Two excellent vintage pens that could be had for the fraction of the cost of a comparable modern one. I applaud both Parker and Pelikan for designing these pens.

Although the final score has a difference by 7, I tie both pens since they are such great writers. Not faultless, but the benefits far outweigh any little quirks.

Thank you for reading.

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The sword is mightier than the pen. However, swords are now obsolete whereas pens are not.


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#2 spot



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Posted 28 December 2009 - 17:38

nice review!
I have two '21' myself. I am currently using one and it is a great writer. Maybe small and lacks the 'royal presence' of the Parker "51", but it has still the timeless look of its big brother. I will sell them both soon, I have 4 great pens in use already and the Parker 21's are left unused.
"To remember what needs to be remembered is the secret of success" Nisargadatta Maharaj

#3 streeton



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Posted 02 January 2010 - 06:56

Phorrest, thanks for a great review. I noticed a Charcoal Safari in your photo - I have one inked with Noodlers burgundy with the 1.1mm nib. This is my best writer - truly superb and I'm wondering how your charcoal safari compares with the two you have reviewed.

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