Six years ago, while I was home on military leave, my father saw me writing with a fountain pen. He asked me, "Hey you like to use this type of pen? It is an antique and nobody uses them anymore (little did he know he was wrong, as evident by everyone in this forum)." When I told him that I was collecting fountain pens, he walked away and then came back with a gold plated Parker. He told me that he bought it when he was old enough to get a job, and saved to buy it. He also told me that it was the first nice pen he bought in his life, and he wanted to give it to me.
I eagerly accepted. As I examined it, I saw the number 61 and a shield engraved on the cap. My father engraved his name on the barrel. A closer look of the shield with a magnifying glass allowed me to learn that the pen was gold filled. My father proudly boasted, "Unlike your pens, the one I am giving you fills itself up." He said "All you have to do is take out the barrel, and stick the plastic tube attached to the section with the nib facing up into an ink bottle." I decided to try it right away, and put the plastic tube into the bottle. When I took it out of the bottle, I noticed that the ink did not stain or stick to the tube, and went back to the bottle with gravity. I began to draw lines on a piece of paper...but nothing...then suddenly, a line with ink in it. The pen started up and it wrote very smoothly! After all these years being unused, it shows how reliable this filling system is. I typed Parker 61 on Yahoo! search and saw many results. After hours of reading, I learned a lot about this pen. I learned that the pen was a 61 Insignia. Fast forward a few years. In addition to the 61 my father gave me, which was a MkII, I bought a MKI, another MKII, and a MKIII.
From left to right: Parker 61 MKI in vista blue, MKII Insignia, MKII gray, and MKIII teal blue.
The Parker 61 is a descendant of the legendary 51, and from which it's looks come from, as evident when placed next to each other(both in teal blue):
One of the main differences of the 61 when compared to the 51 is the arrow placed on the hood of the barrel, which every 61 has, unless it falls off, a common occurrence(If you have a 61, take care in making sure the arrow inlaid near the hood of the nib doesn't fall out and get lost. Replacements are hard to find):
MKI "First Edition" pen and pencil set
Top box belongs to the MKI, while the bottom one belongs to the MKIII. Unfortunately someone discarded the boxes of the MKII, thinking them to be garbage.
The 61 MKI is the first vintage pen and the first Parker pen I have where the words "first edition" are placed on the pen:
A picture of the 61 MKI next to a more recent 2002 Parker 51 Limited Edition, which is also in vista blue. One can see that the name of the color is the same, but the color shade is a bit different:
All four pens have smooth and responsive nibs, and lay a wet line. The nibs are stiff like a nail, similar to a Parker 51. This comes in handy when writing on carbon paper. The MKI and MKII's feature the capillary self filling system(which can be unclogged by blowing on the plastic tube with your mouth and the nib in water):
The MKIII does not - instead it has an aerometric converter. It is English made. I promptly replaced it with a modern piston converter, which works great. The MKIII also works with cartridges, which makes it very convenient when a bottle of ink isn't around.
I always enjoy writing with a Parker 61. Not only was it's capillary filling system a marvel of technology for fountain pens at the time, but it is reliable, and the pen's looks make it a classic in it's own right. The pen will also always remind me of my father.
Edited by usnavydoc, 05 September 2010 - 16:15.