Parker 51

Parker51aHere, the teal blue Parker 51 has a deep green color

It’s simple. It’s perfect. It’s a fountain pen. It’s the Parker 51. Much ink and many pixels have been spilled and typed in the name of this fine pen. Frankly, a vintage pen ignoramus like myself can’t add much to the discussion other than my own personal experience and thoughts so that is what you’ll get here. I bought this restored pen with a new sac on ebay from a seller I have had positive dealings with in the past. Compared with the prices I saw for 51s at the Philly and Long Island pen shows, the $120 I paid seemed fair. Considering it may now be one of my two or three favorite fountain pens, $120 seems all the more reasonable. As for the age of the pen, the “Made in USA” followed by  “9.”,the teal blue color and the “Parker” imprint on the cap band makes me think the pen originates from July to September of 1949. As such, the pen body is made from poly(methyl methacrylate), also known as Lucite. Remember plexiglass? Same stuff, just not clear like plexiglass.


Let’s talk about the writing experience. Mine is a Parker 51 Aerometric with a fine nib and it seemed to me that a classic pen deserved a fairly classic/conservative ink so I loaded mine with Waterman Florida Blue. If I had some blue Parker Quink I would have used that instead. (By the way, how the hell do I not have blue Parker Quink in my collection?! Seriously, isn’t a bottle of Parker Quink essential for any serious pen nerd?) In a word, the writing experience is…fantastic. I L…O…V…E the way this pen writes. The nib is stiff enough to feel like it will tolerate plenty of use and abuse but also produces a fair amount of line variation. Maybe it’s because my handwriting is entirely utilitarian (on a good day), but line variation and ink shading are not big deals for me. Still, it is fun to work with a pen that you know can be an everyday workhorse and still give your writing some genuine character. I have noticed that, after a day of disuse, the 51 takes a couple inches of writing to get going (see the word “Parker” in the picture below – it’s a bit lighter than the rest of the text). Otherwise, I have not experienced any issues with skipping or other typical troublesome nib concerns. As for weight, balance and feel, all are nearly ideal. While the weight is ideal for my hand, I do find the Lucite material to be a touch slippery and the length of the pen to be a tad too long. Perhaps the purchase of a demi 51 is in my future to address the length concern but neither the minor issue of feel nor the less than minor issue of length will stop me from using this pen every chance I get.

Parker51kHere, the pen has more of a deep blue color

Parker51lRhodia White and Rhodia Yellow – As you might expect, the pen releases more ink onto the thirstier yellow paper

Of course, you can’t talk about a Parker 51 without mentioning the hooded nib. Personally, I love the whole design aesthetic of a hooded nib as the pen manufacturer is saying, “Hey, we’re not trying to be flashy here. We’re going to focus on making a workhorse pen.” Is the Parker 51 a tad bit boring? Yes. If you want sexy, go for a modern Visconti. If you want understated simplicity and a pen that only draws the attention of genuine pen freaks, then get yourself a well-maintained/refurbished Parker 51.

Parker51fWait, now we have a softer teal color going on here.

Rating and Conclusion
I cannot recommend this pen enough. It’s an absolute “Carry It” pen for me and I plan to do just that every day. Give my this Parker 51 with Waterman Florida Blue, two Energel-Xs (one blue or black for general writing and one in purple or green for grading) and a TWSBI Mini with whatever ink is matching my mood that week and I’m good to go for all occasions. One last comment – how about that color?! It’s blue, it’s green, it’s blue-green…Depending upon the light, this pen has a anything from a midnight blue color to a soft teal complexion – very cool. Anyway, here’s my bottom line: find a way to budget a Parker 51 for your collection and find a way to do it soon. You can’t have this one, but thankfully there are many more like it out there. But don’t wait because I’ll be looking for more 51s in the days, weeks, months and years to come and I’d hate for us to be bidding against each other. 🙂

Parker51CollageNow the damn thing looks almost black in some of these pictures!


10 thoughts on “Parker 51

  1. It was a coincidence reading your review as my wife presented me with a burgundy 51 with the gold plated cap for my birthday today. It was ‘new, old stock’, and has never been used. I normally prefer medium nibs but mine is fitted with a fine. This takes some getting used to as I think I’m too heavy handed, I need to perfect writing with the nib at the correct angle. I shall use this as my daily carry at work. A truly beautiful pen.

    1. Hi Andy – Thanks for stopping by and happy birthday! What a great present. Can you see the small lettering on the body of the pen to determine the year of manufacture? Enjoy it. I know I’ll be enjoying the heck out of my 51.

  2. Man. I thought I was done buying pens for the year. Maybe I’ll pick one up at next years Philly pen show.

    Do you have an esterbrook? I recently acquired one and love it partly because it writes like a dream, partly because it was made practically in my home town. Id love to know how these two compare.

  3. Hi Tony – Thanks for reading and commenting. I do not have an Esterbrook but I did demo a couple at the Philly show and came dangerously close to pulling the trigger. I wasn’t confident in what I was doing and felt like I needed to learn a bit more before I consummated the purchase. With the Parker 51 and Vacumatic purchased, and Esterbrook is likely next on the vintage list.

  4. Gorgeous pen! I got to test out the Parker 51 at the Long Island pen show and now it’s on my list. Out of curiosity, who was the eBayer you purchased the pen from? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alice – Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the Parker 51 is gorgeous in its simplicity and functionality. Every time I use it I can’t believe I’m writing with something that is about 65 years old. The ebay seller’s user name is ros7261. The guy/gal has done thousands of transactions on ebay and has a 100% rating. The 51 was the second pen I bought from him/her and both have arrived in excellent condition. I did some minor adjustments to the nib of the first pen I bought from him to make it a less wet writer but that was more a personal preference than any issue with the pen itself.

  5. I just have to boast. I worked for ParkerPen (Aust) Pty.Ltd,. in Sydney,Australia for over fifteen years.

    Please note the no space between Parker and Pen. This is how it was on our letterhead,not a typographical error on my part.

    I held a range of positions in the company. Even today, nearly forty years since I resigned to have my children,I still have the fondest memories working with such a wonderful company,and endorsing a fantastic product.

    I concur, the Parker 51 is a lovely pen indeed.

    Thanks for this thread,and the memories.



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