Review: Parker 51 Demi, Navy Grey (Fine)


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Yesterday, I got my second vintage Parker pen in the mail. It’s the Parker 51 Demi in Navy Grey with a Fine nib. As I said in previous posts, I don’t really like using fine nibs as I find that the shading is more prominent with medium nibs. I like generous ink flow on my pens, and I generally find fine nibs to be scratchy, dry writers. The only fine nibbed pen that I appreciated was the Waterman Crusader (which reminds me that I haven’t reviewed that yet). Today, all that changed when I got the Parker 51 in the mail.

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I read in a forum that I frequent that any self-respecting fountain pen collector worth his salt should have a Parker 51 in his collection, and since I’ve been enjoying Parker pens these past few days, I decided to try this one out. It’s hard to describe my first impression of this pen. I was a little half-hearted about it because it had a fine nib, but it felt so great in my hand. It’s not too small (like the jotter) and not to big either. It’s a tad on the light side, but the build is just really solid on this pen.

A Parker Demi 51 is a smaller or “lady” version of the full-sized 51. I admit that holding this pen made me want to look for a full-sized 51 to add to my collection. The color is something I don’t see in modern Parkers anymore–Navy Grey. 

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It has one jewel on the cap. It looks dark in the photo but it’s really not that dark-colored in person. I believe that this particular pen was manufactured in the USA in 1953, though I could be wrong. The absence of the date code, the introduction of the Demi line  and the aerometric filler with the hoop around the sac, which is less costly to produce (and says “press the ribbed bar four times…” instead of six) points me to that direction.

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The Parker 51 is perhaps the most sold fountain pen, with over 20 million sales under its belt. Parker 51 was produced to be functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing.

The cap fits snugly in the barrel and pulls of with a slight snap. It also posts comfortably at the end of the barrel. The pen is well-balanced even when unposted, but it’s admittedly more comfortable to use when posted. The Demi feels so good to my hand. For a pen marketed specially for ladies, it doesn’t feel so dainty.

The plastic body (Lucite, I think?) and the lustraloy cap with the iconic arrow clip have a classic “Parker” look. The barrel’s material makes it comfortable to grip the pen for long writing sessions. At first it felt weird to be writing with a hooded nib that isn’t too tapered towards the end, but while writing, it just makes sense.

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The hooded nib prevents the ink from drying up too soon while it’s uncapped. Of course eventually the ink will dry out anyway, but with this kind of hooded nib, it takes longer to dry out than open nibs. The nib is very rigid on this pen and will show very little line variation, if any. The way that it feels on paper is just wonderful.

It glides with a touch of feedback, and the line it lays down is a tad wider than the other vintage fine lines that I’ve grown used to. It’s a very pleasant pen to use. Here’s a video of a writing sample for this pen:

(Sorry, I mistakenly wrote “Dove Grey” instead of Navy Grey. Also, the pen isn’t part of the Inner Peace Pen Club but came in the package with the Lamy Nexx as it was sent by one person)

As mentioned earlier, the ink-filling mechanism for this pen is the aerometric filler with a hoop around the sac. It’s interesting to note that the sacs on these aerometric fillers are made of Pli-Glass, which is a very durable kind of rubber. Many Parker 51’s with aerometric fillers still have the sac intact, unlike other sacs that have cracked due to the acidity of fountain pen inks. These sacs have been in use for over 65 years and they still look as if they have another 65 years of use in them. Pretty impressive. This line of Parker pens was discontinued sometime in the mid to late 1970’s.

All in all, the Parker 51 Demi is a great vintage pen. It gave me a superb writing experience. Plus, the aerometric filler is pretty fun to fill and clean out. Any person interested in Parker pens should try and find this if they can. I hope to someday find more 51’s in cocoa colors.

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