Review: Parker 21, Fine


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This is one of the pens that I picked up in my first flea market dive. I did find a few other pens but wasn’t confident that I could fix them if I bought them. This one seemed intact except for some brassing on the cap. No clanking sound when I shook it, no brassing around the aerometric filler, and the nib looked beautiful.

The Parker 21 was produced between 1948 to 1965. The pen was redesigned in 1952 because the initial production of these pens (Mark 1) leaked a lot in the cap and the ink dried up after a few days of not being used. This pen’s color is called charcoal grey, which is different from the navy grey of my Parker 51.

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The nib is quite similar to Parker 51’s hooded nib. I believe the nib material is octanium and the iridium point is very bulbous. The nib of this pen looks to be fine, though there aren’t any markings on it. It also looks almost new. In fact it’s the only thing that looked clean about the pen when I first found this. Absolutely no ink stains or signs of brassing and wear.. It didn’t seem like the previous owner used it a lot.

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Size Comparison (Top to bottom): Parker 51 Special, Parker 21, Full-sized Parker 51

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake it for a Parker 51. The size is close to a full-sized 51, though it’s noticeably shorter. The immense difference is when you hold the pen. Parker 51 definitely feels more weighty, and the Parker 21 feels like a low-budget version of the 51.

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Some brassing on the cap

The jewel is also metal instead of black, grey or pearl plastic. The cap is very thin and light, though it slips on comfortably and securely.

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Jewel comparison (L to R): Parker 51 special, Parker 21, Parker 51 full-sized

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The cap has “Parker 21” etched on it and it looks similar to a Parker 51 cap at first glance if not for the thickness, weight, clip and jewel.

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Some brassing on the clip

The clip has a modern-looking quiver with seven lines on it. It looks exactly the same as a Parker 45’s clip. I like the 51’s arrow clip better.

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Arrow clips (L-R): Full-sized Parker 51, Parker 21, Parker 51 Special

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This pen is an aerometric filler, and I’m pleasantly surprised that the sac is still intact. It looked pretty rough when I got it, and I was ready to send it off to Pentangeli Pen Spa and Nibworks for resaccing, but when I tried to fill it with water, there were no leaks. The sac was still soft and the unsightly white stains on the surface washed away easily. That says a lot about the quality of vintage Parker pens. 

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As I mentioned earlier, the nib seemed practically unused. It did not have any wear on it and it wrote incredibly. It’s a very wet fine, and it’s a reliable writer. I’ve been using it for weeks now and it doesn’t dry out, hard start, or skip. Just uncap it and off it goes. It is a bit unforgiving of rotation, though. A bit of rotation will make it write rough.

I’m getting used to a new camera so please excuse the focusing of the video. Also the ink is Diamine Sapphire Blue, not Royal Blue.

Overall, this pen is lighter than a Parker 51. The 51 seems to be better made, what with the heavier barrel and cap, but this pen is also a formidable writer. Again, another great vintage Parker to add to my collection.

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