Monday, December 27, 2021

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 303

From Stuart's modern classic to a vintage classic recently acquired by Christopher...

Christopher writes:

"The Parker 61 was just such an advanced pen when it came on the market in 1956. It was Parker’s next big kick at the can regarding the pen market. There had been the 21, which was targeted at the student and the more conservatively price-conscious buyer, and the 41, which was released around the same time as the 61 but also aimed at the more price-wise shopper but the 61 was definitely a model which stood on its own, mainly because of its very advanced filling system. Parker had invested considerable research time and development money to design this no fuss space age 61 filler and its ease of use made everything else at the time seem dated. Still, and at the same time, as easy as the inking was, getting the old ink out to clean the 61 was seemly another mater. So, in spite of Parker’s ongoing advertising blitz in publications like Life Magazine and Saturday Evening Post, in the end, Parker had to dump the amazing ‘Capillary action 61 filler’ and replace it with their old standby, the Parker aerometric filler. Although deemed probably necessary by the manufacturer, personally I think that it was a step backwards and with it, in the later years Parker did not apply the same earlier quality to the 61. So sadly with a bad rap and customer confusion, the Parker 61 passed on into pen history.

Personally, over the years I have acquired a number of lovely Parker 61s and thoroughly enjoyed using them. Fortunately, I have stuck with the earlier capillary filler model and, granted, it took a wee bit of getting use to, but nothing that would stump an avid vintage pen enthusiast. Still, and more currently, I was blessed with one superb mid 1960s Parker 61 Deluxe set. This set can be easily dated to the mid 60s because it contained not the typical back up matching pencil but a first year, cap-activated matching 61 Jotter ball point."

 (photo courtesy of Christopher ~ please click on image to enlarge)

Christopher continues:

"The set is finished in the Parker rage red, a colour that is deep, but definitely not burgundy. The fixtures are 14K Gold filled but the Parker cap arrow clip is 14K rolled Gold. The fountain pen has a hooded 14K gold, plathenium tipped nib similar to the Parker 51 and also matches both the Lucite feed and collector, but unlike the 51 (which dropped its second barrel end jewel), the Parker 61 maintained its second jewel throughout its entire history. The tassie to complement this second jewel is also 14K gold filled. And I think more as a mark of excellence, Parker applied a tiny thin metal arrow just shy of the nib on the hooded grip section. In the case of this particular set, this tiny embellishment is 14K gold filled but if the fittings are steel, so is this tiny arrow to match. This pen has a smooth fit posting with an overall length of 5 ¾ inches, but caps back to a reasonable 5 ¼ inches. Just a tad longer then the accompanying matching 61 ballpoint pen.

The cap-activated first year matching 61 Jotter ballpoint is also a feature of this set, with the same fittings and cap clip, but as with all Jotters, a single jewel pen. Still, I have definitely saved the best for last, because the so-called jewels in the crown regarding this set are the caps. In 1956, Parker introduced the ‘Rainbow’ cap with their 61 as the Heirloom cap with different layers of pink and green gold. This combination produced a beautiful and stunning effect on both pen caps of my set. There were a number of different Parker 61 Rainbow caps, but in the years that followed, only the Heritage Rainbow cap survived. Parker had its fair share of troubles and challenges with the production of these brilliant caps and eventually they were dropped.

If you are in the market, as a vintage pen collector, for a pen that to my mind ticks all the boxes, the 61 has to be a contender. I am welcoming this fine set into my collection where it will see a lot of good use."

Above: 1957 Doris Day Parker '61' ad from 'Life' magazine

Above: “She Gave Me a Parker 61 (Happy Birthday to Dad)” by Norman Rockwell (1959), which was used in a Parker '61' ad campaign

Our thanks to Christopher for his photo and review of this great vintage Parker set!

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