Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 187

The vintage Parker '51' is a classic fountain pen that was first introduced in 1941. It was extremely popular, tens of millions being sold until Parker stopped official production in 1972. In 2002, the company released the Parker '51' Special Edition, an upscale version with Empire State Building-inspired caps in sterling silver and gold vermeil. The year 2021 saw the release of the all-new Parker '51' fountain pens. Honourary VPC member Glenn G. in Australia recently acquired three of them --a deluxe GT (gold trim) version and two CT (chrome trim) models---and was kind enough to send in a review and some photos for our blog. 

In Glenn's own words:

"The new version of the classic Parker 51 has proved controversial, with many Fountain Pen Network members slamming the new design.

I too wondered why they changed some of the classic features for no obvious functional benefit, but that’s what they did, and adverse comparisons do seem to be more about what the design is not, rather than what it is. That said, I would have liked to see a better range of nib choices… F or M is rather limiting!

Despite this, I bought myself a deluxe GT version in plum, and requested 2 examples of the standard CT version (midnight blue and teal) as more affordable family birthday presents."

(all photos courtesy of Glenn G. ~ please click on images to enlarge)


"The use of a screw cap rather than the traditional click-on design has attracted the ire of many, and it is indeed annoying at first… to my surprise, I kept trying automatically to click the cap on and off as if it were a classic model, but I was also amazed at how quickly I adapted to the change. I’ve not tried reverting to an original 51 to see how I react to the old-style fitting, but it will be interesting when I do. At least twisting the old style cap will not hurt it.

People have complained about scratchy nibs and poor ink flow; I’ve only inked the teal and the plum, both of which have had no such problems, and I have enjoyed using them both. I’m hopeful that the midnight blue will be no different, but I do realise that nib quality control can be an issue in many brands, including the other majors.

I did find that the teal pen tended to dry after a couple of days of disuse, which is a minor irritation that is easily dealt with; I’ve only just inked the plum as my next daily user, so I don’t know if it will be the same, but it seems likely given that they have the same feed/collector. If so, I can live with it."

"What IS annoying is that the CT pens come with a cartridge only, you have to provide your own converter, whereas the deluxe GT pen does have a deluxe converter included. To me, this is cheapskate, penny-pinching and miserly; depending where you buy it, a converter only costs about $11 retail, and is not much to expect when buying a $126 pen (prices are from Cult pens and now include our GST )."


"I rather expected the metal cap jewel to be ugly, not being a fan of the 1970s Parker 51 models’ caps, but I am please to prove myself wrong… it actually looks quite smart. 

As for feel, the new 51s are normal. I have not done a direct comparison. They didn't seem any different to make it worthwhile.

Would I buy a burgundy CT and maybes even a black GT, funds willing?... yes, I would, but it’s a very personal choice. For many others, the pen is anathema, a despised heresy that will never be added to their collections. So, as always, caveat emptor. 


Our thanks to Glenn for sharing his thoughts on this hotly-debated Parker reissue with us :)

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