A couple of months ago, Parker Pens reissued the Parker 51 fountain pen, much to my complete shock and delight. The original Parker 51 is, of course, the iconic vintage pen, produced in huge quantities in the decades before, and fairly easy to find in the vintage pen market, if in varying conditions.


With this new reissue, there are four steel nib colour options (burgundy, black, midnight blue and teal) with silver caps and trim, and two gold nib ones (plum and black) with gold caps and trim, with a substantial price difference between the two. People always ask if the gold nib is worth it, and it’s always tough to answer that. I got the plum with the 18k nib because, as I told Jon, it’s the cost of running a pen shop, and also because, aesthetically, I like the gold cap. Some time ago I decided I was a gold trim person and there was no going back.





How does the gold nib compare? It’s certainly not as bouncy as, say, the Lamy 2000, which also has a smaller nib and is gold, but it does write well, very smooth, with just enough feedback and wetness. There is a tiny bit of extra wetness from the slight bit of give to it, but it’s not what I would describe as a softer gold nib, in part maybe because of the size of it. It’s a great writer. The gold nib Sonnets are softer, bouncier gold nibs. There are so many excellent Japanese fountain pens out there, so it’s always surprised me how much I’ve liked the Parker gold nib pens, and now the Parker 51 is joining the throng.


Here are some writing samples of both the new Parker 51, plum, with the 18k gold nib, with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku, and my vintage Cocoa with Iroshizuku Yama-Guri.







I’ve had several 51s pass through my hands at various stages of my life, including this Cocoa one. It does have a gold nib that is somewhere in between medium and broad, and an aero metric filler, so it has the sac with the metal sleeve. The original 51s in all of their releases and updates and upgrades is a real rabbit hole, and there are lots of interesting articles and stories online to help you learn about them.



The biggest advantage to the new 51s is that with all new parts it’s a bit more reliable. You don’t have to worry about micro cracks or staining sacs and or using newer inks, as some people prefer to use “safer” inks like Waterman in vintage pens. I have some light staining in my vintage cocoa’s sac, some reddish residue from a brown ink. I don’t mind the staining as the pen didn’t arrive to me in pristine condition, but it’s nice that it’s not something I’m going to have to agonize over with the new one.





In other news, I’ve been writing lots of letters these days, many with my new Parker 51, which has already been written dry and refilled several times. What a delight, when your tools are being used abundantly, the last pages of a pad of stationery, a good handful on the way to the mailbox.


Currently reading: Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa

Currently staring with satisfaction at: a line of fresh laundry drying in the sun

Latest life challenge: starting a backyard compost

Currently worried about: the kids drinking smoothies in my bed

Currently looking forward to: summer park picnics



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June 03, 2021 — Liz Chan

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