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Hoodie Rivals - Parker 51 Vs Waterman Taperite Stateleigh
Posted 13 January 2011 - 21:56
This review compares the iconic Parker 51 with one of those rivals, the Waterman Taperite Statleigh.
As can be seen, both the pens are similar in size and capped, they even look similar from a distance or closer to the untrained eye. The biggest give away that they are not the same is the lever mechanism in the Taperite. I think that from looks alone capped, it's even stevens. I like the art-deco cap fitted to the Taperite, though can't help but think that this was a bit dated by the early 1950's. However Waterman was known for it's conservatism.
Open the pens up and the difference is more obvious. The P51 has a much more streamlined section hood, due to the fitment of a completely covered nib unit. The Taperite nib is not fully covered, so has a more truncated appearance very similar to the early Aurora 88 (another pen on my wish list). Both pens use a similar clutch mechanism, though I have heard from anecdotal comments that the P51 mechanism is more robust. In fact the P51 feels a bit more solid than the Taperite, though both have lasted sixty years and are in good health, so the Taperite must be well built.
Internally the pens are very different. The Waterman uses the decades old lever filler mechanism and the P51 uses the squeeze aerometric filler system. Both are simple, reliable and work well. The Taperite incorporates an ink sac, the perishing of which has led to the untimely end of many examples of this pen simply because Waterman knurled and glued the barrel to the section making them difficult to open without damage. The fact that many P51 pens still use the original aerometric sac points to the superiority of the materials used. I alluded to the conservative nature of Waterman earlier, the lever mechanism being an example of this. Another example of conservatism is the semi hooded nib. This is simply old nib technology hooded as much as possible rather than the all new tubular nib design used in the P51. The retention of conventional nib technology did mean that Waterman could equip their Taperite nibs with a good degree of flexibility and the nibs found in Taperites range from stiff to quite flexible.
Taperite nib and section
P51 nib and section
In conclusion, my thoughts on ownership of these fine pens. Much as I like the P51, I can't warm to it (and I have three!). I find it good looking, robust, reliable and smooth writing but just a bit characterless. The Taperites on the other hand overflow with character. My taperites are a joy to look at and to write with. The P51 writes with a line with zero variation, both my Taperites (the other is a Citation) have a good degree of line variation but for different reasons, the Stateleigh has a firm stub or CI type nib and the Citation a flexible medium nib. Both are very smooth writers, as smooth as the P51.
For me, the Taperite wins this fight but I can understand why it does not hold the same popularity and esteem as the P51. The older technology and the not unfounded reputation which means that buying an unrestored Taperite is a gamble that could mean consigning the pen to the spares bin when servicing is attempted. Get a working example and it is a joy to use, not to mention good value.
Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:46
Posted 14 January 2011 - 04:23
I think you would love an Aurora 88 with a flex nib.
Love the 51's....but love a flex nib. I have 5 88's in varying width but all flexible.
Gonna look for a Taperite now.....
Excellent review. Thanks!
"the last pen I bought is the next to the last pen I will ever buy.."---jar
WTB: Sheaffer OS Balance with FLEX nibs
Porkopolis Penners Blog
Posted 14 January 2011 - 15:31
For myself, I love both models equally, and use both. I have a gray-barreled model Taperite of the same type you reviewed here, which came to me with an impacted nib. I was told it couldn't be repaired because of the nature of the plastic used in the section, etc. But, it was such a beautiful pen that I spent days working with it till I got the nib and feed out, and reset them. It's been one of my constant companion pens ever since.
Posted 14 January 2011 - 16:51
The thing about flexy nibs and the Taperite is that they don't all have one, but even the stiff nibs seem to give good line variation. I am looking for a Corinth and perhaps a Lady Garland (possibly too small) to round out the basic set. There are other variants such as the Crusader and the Medalist too.
Looking at my Taperites, one way to tell if the nib is stiff or flexy is the length that it protrudes from the nib. The stiff nib protrudes about 4mm and the flexy nib about 8mm from the hood.
Edited by Malcy, 14 January 2011 - 16:55.
Posted 02 May 2012 - 05:01
Posted 28 May 2013 - 20:45
Taperite pens are among some of my favourites. Really love the way they write. I actually prefer them to my Parker 51s, and almost as much as my beloved Parker Vacumatics and Sheaffer PFMs.
Really lovely pens.
Writing with pen and ink, is an endeavour both stimulating and cathartic.