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A Brief History of The Parker 51 Fountain Pen

Parker 51 Pens for Sale

Parker 51 history.

The Parker 51 pen was launched in 1941, was very popular through out its production, and can still claim the highest sales volume of any fountain pen. Its production spanned from 1941 to the early 1970s.

The Parker 51 fountain pen was named because research and development was completed in Parker's 51st year (1888 - 1939). Kenneth Parker said, "The pen was made to look like someone's idea of a dream pen.  When people said it was sleek, but did not look like a pen, we relaxed. That is when we knew the competition had to worry overtime, as well as a good functional pen, we had a well styled one, something that was good to touch and see."

The first Parker 51s used the Speedline version of the Vacumatic filling system introduced seven years earlier on the Vacumatic range of pens. The first year Parker 51 pens are double jewelled, having aluminium jewels on the cap and the blind cap. However, from 1942 the jewel was removed from the blind cap on the majority of production, and double jewelled pens became far less common. From circa 1942 the jewels were also made from a pearlised plastic. At the same time Parker also replaced the metal Speedline version of the Vacumatic filling system with a plastic Vacumatic filler. The Vacumatic 51s were fitted with a Blue Diamond clip, with Parker written vertically down the clip.

In 1947 a smaller sized Parker 51 fountain pen called the Demi 51 was introduced. From 1947 - 48 the Demi had the Vacumatic filling system. However, after 1948 it was fitted with the Aerometric filling system along with the full sized 51, but with a U-shaped pressure bar, see below.

In 1948 Parker change the filling system to an "Aero-metric", which consisted of a sac protected within an aluminium or chrome-plated steel protector/cage. Early Aerometric fillers, 1948 - 49, had the filling instructions "Press ribbed bar 6 times..." marked on the metal sac cage. From 1950 this was amended to "Press ribbed bar 4 times..." and the sac cage was now made of stainless steel with a brushed finish. With the introduction of the aerometric 51, the blue diamond clip was replaced with an Art Deco style arrow clip similar to that first fitted to the Vacumatic pens between 1934 - 38. Circa 1950 another Parker 51 was added to the range, the Parker 51 Special. This 51 differed from the previous 51 aerometric in several ways. It had a U-shaped pressure bar, an octanium nib (eight metal alloy), a smooth polished finish to the cap and a black cap jewel.

Period Parker 51 advert.

Parker 51 fountain pens - some dates and models:

In 1941 the Parker 51 was launched. It had the Speedline version of the Vacumatic filling system.

In 1947 the 51 Demi was introduced.

In 1948 the Parker 51 was changed from the Vacumatic to the Aerometric filling system.

In 1948 the Parker 51 Signet was introduced. It had a gold filled cap and barrel with vertical lines.

In 1949 the Parker 51 Presidential was introduced. It was available in nine and eighteen carat solid gold.

In 1950 the Parker 51 Flighter was introduced. The cap and barrel were all stainless steel with gold filled trim.

In 1954 the Parker 51 Jotter ballpoint pen was introduced.

In October of 2002 Parker released The Parker 51 Special Edition, another generation of the 51, based on the Blue Diamond Empire State 51s of the 1940s.