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Parker 51 Popularity


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#1 Intensity

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 04:26

For the uninitiated, what is special about P51 pens in terms of writing feel or use specifics that makes them so desirable among fountain pen connoisseurs? This is not a sarcastic question, I'm genuinely interested. I have one teal aerometric P51 with what I think is a medium nib, and I'm in the process of trying to identify its exact variant. It's a very smooth and very wet writer, pleasant to hold, though I wish it had a stub nibs instead of round. Having looked through some posts in this section, P51s seem to be held in very high esteem. I'm not sure if it's any "better" or "worse" than my other pens (significantly more and less expensive), and I'm curious about things that make the pen special and should make me appreciate it more. At the moment, I feel like I'd rather have a makrolon Lamy 2000 instead, with a similar hooded design.

Edited by Intensity, 22 October 2017 - 04:32.


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#2 Pickwick

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 07:07

It was one of the most advanced pens of my generation,  well designed and made to last. Ones who owned them during their production liked them for their ruggedness and reliability, along with I guess it was an iconic pen of the period with its futuristic design. 

 

I can understand some members today finding this pen unattractive, so they do need to be placed in the era they were produced in which I believe 20 million were made before production ended.  They must still be popular in some countries more than others given Chinese pen manufacturers seem to be producing millions more reproductions but failing in the high quality of the 51! Which is to be expected given the cheap price.


Edited by Pickwick, 22 October 2017 - 07:08.

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#3 max dog

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 08:34

If you are fortunate enough to acquire a 51 in good order, it will write as good or better than any fountain pen produced today, and the fact it is 60+ years old is impressive and will probably last another 60+ years.   The ply-sac in the aerometric appear to be indestructible.  



#4 NinthSphere

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 14:46

Slick design with a slip cap that comes in multiple sizes, colors, & cap variations, has good capacity & smooth nibs, albeit stiff. And, like max dog said, the aero fillers hold up well, as does the rest of the pen, so you can score unrestored examples that just need a good flush & wipe down & have a solid pen that's already had a long life, but will still probably outlive you.

 

You can get stubs for the 51 btw. Factory stubs you might have to kill for, but you can find nibs that have been retipped to stub.


Edited by NinthSphere, 22 October 2017 - 14:53.


#5 BillH

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 15:02

Get one in working order and just use it for a bit... they grow on you quickly, and they are almost as addictive as Pelikans  :lol:


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#6 Intensity

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 16:10

Thanks :)

 

How would you characterize ink flow out of a P51 with something like a medium nib?  Mine came with ink (from a friend), and I can't tell if it's the ink or the pen that's completely eliminating any shading and basically yielding a high and very even flow (almost looks like writing with a marker tip pen).  The ink is Montblanc MST Diamond Blue, and other reviews show some shading.  So I can't tell if it's just the pen.


Edited by Intensity, 22 October 2017 - 16:11.


#7 ENewton

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 16:22

I am sure that others will have comments on the internal design of the pen, but as a less sophisticated user, I would praise the Parker 51 for being smooth and wet, pleasant to hold, elegantly shaped, durable, capacious, and available in subdued colors (as opposed to the garish plastics used for some other pens).



#8 ENewton

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 16:32

At the moment, I feel like I'd rather have a makrolon Lamy 2000 instead, with a similar hooded design.

 

Have you every used a Lamy 2000?  I thought I would want one also, but then I borrowed the Makrolon version from a friend and found that the balance made the pen uncomfortable for me to hold.  



#9 mitto

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 17:40

I can't say why but the P51 gets me excited everytime I grab one to look at as well to write with. I can say I am a perfectionist at least when it comes to my P51s. I buy P51s and I buy NOS P51 parts and keep upgrading my 51s with NOS gold caps, rare and uncommon caps, NOS barrels/hoods and exotic B, BB and Factory stub nibs. Well, I believe I spend too much money on my P51s but I never regret doing so.

I adore my 51s. Restoring them. Playing with them. And ofcourse writing with them.

Edited by mitto, 22 October 2017 - 17:56.

Khan

#10 mitto

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 17:45

Deleted being double post.

Edited by mitto, 22 October 2017 - 17:46.

Khan

#11 inkstainedruth

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 18:15

Get one in working order and just use it for a bit... they grow on you quickly, and they are almost as addictive as Pelikans  :lol:

 

And generally less expensive....  ;) 

I find that 51s are a perfect size and weight for my hand.  Like ENewton just said, I found Lamy 2000s to be much heavier (although I like how they look).  

In their day 51s were a relatively expensive model (there's a site that calculates inflation rates, and the $12.50 US cost back in the day is equivalent to about $140 now).  But they still sold maybe 20 million of them.  That says something right there. :huh:  

Every part of the pen, from the collector to the hood to the Lucite body, was designed for function.  The cost of the pen all went into the R&D (unlike a lot of modern pens,  which are often designed for looks -- and I have a Cross Verve which is a prime example of form over function: it's cool looking but the two-piece nib design means you wind up with ink all over your hand unless you hold the pen way high on the section).  The streamlined design was, I gather, pretty revolutionary and futuristic back in the day -- yet in the 21st century they don't look old-fashioned (and frankly, is also more comfortable to hold -- I really like my Pilot Metropolitan, but people with larger hands have complained about the step-down section).

No, they're not bling-y.  And some people just don't like the look of the hooded nib (I've heard complaints that they look too much like a ballpoint because you can't really see the nib).  And yeah, the design is such that the nibs are in fact pretty much nails.  But if I have to do a huge amount of writing, one of my 51s would be a go-to choice.  

Most of mine are F, I think.  I have a couple of EFs, a couple of Ms, and one English-made OM or OB nib.  For most of my writing, I prefer the Fs, but the EF 51 Vac is great for writing extensive notes.  

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#12 Intensity

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 20:05

Here's my pen, if anyone can help with identification.  I can tell that it's a teal aerometric version, probably an earlier one.  Nib appears to be medium (the writing was done with this nib).  "Made in the USA".  There's ink in the pen, so the nib is partially coated.  Also the plastic of this pen is a dust magnet!

 

I don't know if it's the ink or the pen, but the line looks like it was written with a thin-tip marker, surprisingly to me. 

 

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(next to Lamy Safari "Petrol")

 

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"USA" "51" engraved on the barrel and also Made in the USA on the filling mechanism

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Edited by Intensity, 22 October 2017 - 20:31.


#13 josepllcs

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 20:14

It seems to me that you own a P51 special.

Edited by josepllcs, 22 October 2017 - 20:16.


#14 Intensity

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 20:23

I was just about to add that perhaps it's the Mk III "Demi", looking at parkercollector.com.

 

Special is supposed to have a black cap jewel, whereas mine has light translucent gray.  I should have taken a better photo of that.  And the cap is supposed to be chrome for Special, whereas standard or Demi has a matte cap (mine is matte).  I also don't see the 51 Special being made in teal on that webpage.

 

edit:

YRApTwO.jpg

 

Lj6Zjed.jpg


Edited by Intensity, 22 October 2017 - 20:32.


#15 NinthSphere

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 22:59

It's a Mk 1 demi. Mk III would have a flat end & not be a demi.

 

edit: That's a more complex Mk system than I typically see used. Yes, going by that, it would be a Mk III demi. 51 on the barrel is the date code.

 

What paper are you using?


Edited by NinthSphere, 22 October 2017 - 23:11.


#16 Intensity

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 23:32

It's a Mk 1 demi. Mk III would have a flat end & not be a demi.

 

edit: That's a more complex Mk system than I typically see used. Yes, going by that, it would be a Mk III demi. 51 on the barrel is the date code.

 

What paper are you using?

Thanks, I thought it might be MKIII based on the description at http://parkercollect...m/parker51.html

 

"The MKIII Demi was also offered In 1950 when the model was redesigned with a metal casing, or sleeve, around the pli-glass sac that was shorter than on the larger model and the metal bar was curved like an "U" around the sac leaving it open (in a style later repeated on the Parker 21). The imprint on the filler now read "To fill press ribbed bar four times. Wipe front end. Pen point down, with soft tissue. Use dry writing Superchrome ink."

 

Which is what mine has.

 

It's definitely a Demi size-wise.  It measures 129mm long capped and about 118mm uncapped tip to tip.

 

P.S.: Fabriano BioPrima EcoQua 85g/m2.  It's great with all the other inks/pens so far, but this combo is surprisingly penetrating.  The ink actually feathers and slightly bleeds through with normal writing.  This paper withstands watercolor type drawing pretty well, for reference, but is no match for this ink.  Interestingly it works fine with Clairefontaine paper and even shows some shading.  99% of my inks look better on the Fabriano paper, to the point where I developed dislike for Rhodia and Clairefontaine, except this one.


Edited by Intensity, 22 October 2017 - 23:42.


#17 welch

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 21:41

The nib looks perfect.

 

- Pens can be tuned dry or wet;

 

- paper can be soft, as slick as clairfontaine, in-between, and even dry: I'm finishing a Staples grid notebook -- $3 each -- that seems to gulp down ink. No feathering or "blotting", plenty of show-though, but it wants me to use an English generous-medium P-51 nib. 

 

- ink can be dry or wet; shade or not under different conditions.

 

(This is just an expansion of Bo Bo Olson's "lesson of three": ink, pen, paper)

 

Your results can be a combination of any of the three (or four) elements. I have wet 51's, dry ones, bad nibs ("wrote on bricks"), un-tuned nibs just waiting for a tune. Of the few things I'm certain: you have a P-51 demi with a hoop-filling aerometric filler, and your nib looks splendid. That's a lot!


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#18 Intensity

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 22:49

Thank you for the evaluation and identification!  The nib is indeed perfect to write with as well: the entire experience of the size, shape, weight of the pen, and the way the nib feels on the paper are a very pleasant coherent experience.  I don't know how to explain it really, since it's a subjective evaluation, but it just feels right.  I have pens that write smoothly and I have nothing bad to say about them, really, except that they don't feel like an extension of my hand when writing.  This pen really feels comfortable, almost as if I'm not holding anything while writing.  I just can't help feeling slightly regretful that the nib is not a stub, as I always prefer my handwriting with a stub as opposed to rounded nib.


Edited by Intensity, 23 October 2017 - 22:50.


#19 pajaro

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 00:03

If that pen has a nice wet flow and a medium nib, as the writing sample indicates, it is to be prized.  I have had mediums which are drier.  That's more to my taste, but most people might prefer them wetter. 

 

I have used a fine nib 51 since 1970, and it is my favorite pen.  A little wet, but very smooth.  Now I protect it.  I also have a similar 51 with a stub made by Minuskin.  It's nice and has wet flow with some line variation.  These come up for sale sometimes, and are worth having.

 

I still have several 51s in different generations of 51 and in different colors, including fantasy colors.  They are the first fountain pens I liked, and I still like the aerometric 51s best of all pens.  The Vacumatic 51s are OK as well, but I don't care so much for them.  Sacs give out after a while.


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#20 Hanamizu

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 01:12

OK, here's one reason why the "51" is such a good pen. Last week, I found a blue vacumatic "51" underneath a pile of papers. It's been at least 6 months since I had laid eyes on it. I tried to write with it and it worked just fine from the first stroke. The pen was made in 1946, which is pushing 3/4 of a century ago. This is the second time for me that a "51" that has been neglected for a long time was still was ready to go. I don't know of any other pen that performs so willingly. No showy nib, but it just works.








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