Blast from the Past – Parker 51 Special


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Mint, new old stock, Parker 51 Special set with glossy cap and black jewel. Navy Grey, Fine Nib, complete with box.

Parker 51 has been my favorite since I first owned one a few months ago. I totally love how it writes, looks and feels. I bought this mint set of Parker 51 Special (which of course works perfectly right out of the box), and I was so happy not just with the pen but with the pencil. It is so cool. The twist action is so smooth and feels solid. The pencil itself it kind of on the heavy side. Amazing how a pen and pencil from the 50’s survived in such great condition. The box is pretty cool too. I’m definitely keeping it.

I have to admit that it writes almost the same as my Parker 51 Demi, but owning a vintage pen that’s in mint, NOS (New Old Stock) condition certainly is quite different than owning one that looks really used. 

I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I love that it looks perfect, almost as if it just came out of the factory today. On the other hand, I do find that part of the vintage charm is using something that looks worn out, something that bore the marks of its past owners.

The filling system of the mint 51 is perfect (I was afraid that even if it was never inked, maybe the sac had degraded or become brittle) and it left out most of the guesswork one might struggle with in used vintage pens, like whether the last owners left the ink in the pen to dry up over the decades that it has not been used. I like that the sac is still translucent and I was able to see how the ink rushes up as I squeeze on the aerometric filler. Fun!

The nib on the mint 51 writes splendidly, although it’s missing that “broken in” feeling you get from used vintage pens. My 51 Demi, for example, has this peculiar sweet spot which tells me that the last owner probably wrote with it in a way that’s different from how I write (with the clip pointing slightly away from me). But finding that sweet spot gives me the best writing experience for the pen.

My mint 51, on the other hand, still has a very bulbous tipping on it. I can use it and wear it down and make my own sweet spot. A bit of tuning made it a better, wetter writer, but it really doesn’t have that “broken in” writing experience yet. The nib feels thicker and less pliant.

On one hand, it makes for a lesser pleasurable writing experience compared to a thoroughly used pen, but on the other hand, I do get to leave my own mark on it.

In any case, I am happy to add this to my collection. This is probably going to be the last addition to my collection for this year. Next year will be slower, acquisition-wise. I’ve fallen in love with the current daily writers that I have and I think I should enjoy them thoroughly first and take the time to leave my marks on them before I add to their numbers and put them in a long rotation line.

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(Top) Parker 51 Special, (Bottom) Parker 51 Demi with lustraloy cap. The Parker 51 Special is just a tiny bit longer than the Demi.

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