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Ralph Prather Custom Parker 51


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29 replies to this topic

#1 Doug C

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 19:57

I am sure that most of you that are Parker 51 afficianados know the name of Ralph Prather as one of the preiminent customisers of this iconic vintage pen. What I was not familiar with is that he actually lives in my neck of the woods (i.e. New Mexico).

Under the direction of Mike Smukula, we recently formed a New Mexico Fountain Pen Club, and have had two meetings to date. Ralph showed up at the meetings, and I had to say that his website just did not do justice to the incredible pens he brought for us to oogle.

I have a single Parker 51, a circa 1945 1/8th gold cap single jewel Vacumatic. I bought it from Pendleton Brown, who is no stranger on FPN.

Even though I am more of a contemporary pen fan, I liked the pen quite a bit, but found it would intermittently spit out ink, which made it impractical to carry.

This is where Ralph comes into the picture.



Appearance:

5/5

I contacted Ralph and said that I had a donor 51 that I would like to see 'Pratherized'. I gave him some general direction in that I would like one of his metal plungers (he custom makes them), a hammered cap since the original was a little rough, and any other creative aspects that he chose to incorporate.

To me, the result is stunning (pictures by permission of Ralph Prather). He even chose to the name the pen 'All that Glitters'. He hand hammered the cap, but also decided to make it a double jewel with a transparent blind cap with the plunger also being gold plated and hand hammered so when you turned the pen, both the cap and the plunger would shimmer in the light. He also changed out the jewels to a bright red.

As he phrased it (and no cracks here, since I am a conservative, but I'm sure he had no political connotations), G Bush 41 had a thousand points of light, but this one has over 3000.

Actually, he said that there are approximately 3750 on the cap, and 250 on the plunger.

He also mentioned that this is the first one he had seen with a vermeil clip, with all of the others being bronze.

Just beautiful.



Nib:
4/5

Since the nib had already been modified by Pendleton Brown, there is nothing more to say. He left it as is.

Filling System:
3/5
The venerable Vacumatic system, modified wth the all metal system that Ralph installs.
Slow to fill and empty, but other than that, without fault.


Overall Value:
5/5
For the amount I paid, Ralph turned my 51 into something very special.

Conclusion:
5/5

Over the last few years (as I get older) I want all of my pens to have a special meaning. This custom pen certainly qualifies in that Ralph not only captured that elusive quality that I wanted, but he actually made it into a usable heirloom.

I can't say enough good things about his talent, craftmanship and integrity.

Enjoy the pictures.

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Edited by Doug C, 07 September 2010 - 17:11.

the Danitrio Fellowship

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#2 Glenn-SC

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 21:14

That is just too cool!

As a very happy customer of Mr Prather I believe anyone who chooses to get a custom "51" will be happy with the unique pen they get.

#3 Aysedasi

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 21:33

Unusual, of course, but the looks of that one do nothing at all for me, I'm afraid.

#4 Doug C

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 23:03

Unusual, of course, but the looks of that one do nothing at all for me, I'm afraid.




Damn, Aysedasi, and I was just going to ship it to you.

I guess I'll just keep it.

No problem. Everyone has different tastes. I love it.
the Danitrio Fellowship

#5 Glenn-SC

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 23:49

Damn, Aysedasi, and I was just going to ship it to you.

ME DOUG!!!!
SHIP IT TO ME!!!!!!!
:thumbup:

#6 Doug C

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 23:58

That is just too cool!

As a very happy customer of Mr Prather I believe anyone who chooses to get a custom "51" will be happy with the unique pen they get.




Send me your address Glenn and I'll be sure and get it off first thing tomorrow (or the next day, or the next, or........).
the Danitrio Fellowship

#7 sotto2

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 00:43

Awesome piece of work!

ekfh5f.jpg


#8 amble63

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 03:35

Very nice. I'm quite taken with the plunger for some reason.
Colour is its own reward - N. Finn

#9 Chi Town

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 03:56

Ya know what is so "kool" about life? 1. Knowing that the talent exists for a regular guy, to be able to modify a Parker 51 and have it come out so incredibly kool like this and 2. To see how excited that talented person has made someone with his own two hands and 3. To know that I have had the opportunity to shake both of these men's hands due to an idea I had for starting a Pen Club in little ole New Mexico and both of these super gentleman are in the club. How "kool" can life be?

Mike

            Visconti Last Lira aka Luigi Einaudi #63 of 975, Stipula Yellow Da Vinci Carbon Fiber T, Stipula Model T, Vintage Fountain Pens, Delta Amerigo Vespucci LE, Pelikan Special Edition Sahara F/P, TWSBI Micarta, Danitrio Mikado, Genkai, Nakaya Decapod Cigar, Watley in Woodgrain, Marlen Yellow Liberty LE, Santa FE Style Custom "51" made by Ralph Prather, president New Mexico Pen Collector's Club.


#10 Nikolaos

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 09:00

Beautiful!!

I have 2 custom 51s that Ralph made (the Titanium and the Vespel) and I love them both. They are truly special works of art and Ralph is the nicest person to communicate with.

I did a review of them a while back on FPN

http://www.fountainp...y-ralph-prather


Nikolaos

#11 bayport714

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 10:13

I am proud to own a pen that Ralph made. It is with Ralph now for a tune-up and I miss it greatly. It is truly a work of art.

#12 GirchyGirchy

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 13:52

Very cool! What's the price, if you don't mind telling us?

#13 Doug C

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 17:15

Very cool! What's the price, if you don't mind telling us?



Thanks for the comments guys (Hi Mike).

I'll leave it up to Ralph if he wants to discuss pricing since this was a customization of an existing pen I had.

You can look at his website (I believe it is Pratherpens.org?) for pricing on his completed pens.
the Danitrio Fellowship

#14 Aysedasi

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 17:32

Unusual, of course, but the looks of that one do nothing at all for me, I'm afraid.




Damn, Aysedasi, and I was just going to ship it to you.

I guess I'll just keep it.

No problem. Everyone has different tastes. I love it.


I ought to say Doug that I've seen other examples of Ralph's work which I covet very much. It's just this one which doesn't quite float my boat..... But I'll happily have it if you're desperate to gift it to me...... ;)

Edited by Aysedasi, 07 September 2010 - 17:32.


#15 Doug C

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 20:44

Unusual, of course, but the looks of that one do nothing at all for me, I'm afraid.




Damn, Aysedasi, and I was just going to ship it to you.

I guess I'll just keep it.

No problem. Everyone has different tastes. I love it.


I ought to say Doug that I've seen other examples of Ralph's work which I covet very much. It's just this one which doesn't quite float my boat..... But I'll happily have it if you're desperate to gift it to me...... ;)




Unfortunately, I sent it off to Glenn since he seemed to like it so much.

(now watch as Glenn, poor soul goes to the mail box day after day to find nothing...).
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#16 jniforat

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 20:59

wow, doug, that 51 is absolutely gorgeous!!! i really hope to see it at the next meeting!!!

#17 Doug C

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 21:08

wow, doug, that 51 is absolutely gorgeous!!! i really hope to see it at the next meeting!!!



You will see it along with (I hope) Skip's stupendous Titanium Prather.


(So Ralph, have you gotten enough free advertising for a while from your rabid fans???).


Wonderful pens.
the Danitrio Fellowship

#18 777

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 12:09

The most interesting "51" I've seen yet! I'm not so into the hammered thing but I love the transparent blind cap idea!

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


#19 Rena

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 13:39

Wow, Doug! I'm really enchanted with the Prather 51s, and yours is another beauty! One of the things I've been impressed with regarding his work is the detailing he does on the fillers — really neat to see yours in the clear blind cap. Congratulations!

#20 RalphP

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 00:19

Wow, Doug! I'm really enchanted with the Prather 51s, and yours is another beauty! One of the things I've been impressed with regarding his work is the detailing he does on the fillers — really neat to see yours in the clear blind cap. Congratulations!


Thanks Rena (and also to those above for their comments).

The All Metal Vacumatic Ink Pump evolved from some applied ideas of a friend of mine and machinist mentor, Johnny Hicks. They just seemed to be more appropriate than plastic, especially in the titanium pens.

Then several years ago at a Pen Show in LA Ernesto Soler showed me a beautiful brown stripe pen with a hand hammered copper cap that had been made for him by Brad Torelli. It was a most beautiful pen but he had seen the all metal vac fillers and asked if one could be done for his pen. So, thinking about it for a while, the idea came to do an ink pump rod in hammered copper to sort of match the cap. One was done but it will likely be the ‘one and only’ as copper is very difficult to work with on the lathe. Also made for this pen was a hand hammered clutch ring to match the cap & ink pump rod.

This sort of lead to various applications of a non-traditional ink pump rods… some are made of titanium or aluminum, some with cabochons of red coral, opals, jade, onyx, turquoise and what not.

Making these is certainly a fun diversion from retirement. A few assorted examples:

Orange Anodized Aluminum

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Red Anodized Aluminum & Titanium


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Black Hard Rubber

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Blue Stone and Speedline Filler Adaption


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Standard with Clear Blindcap

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Blue Shimmer


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Blue Shimmer


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Green Marble


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Better stop here – these are way too many pictures.

Ralph Prather






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