I have willfully and happily gone from 20 pens to 12 to 6 and now, just three. In fact, I often carry just one. Shocking, I know. Like folks from the turn of the 20th up to the 70s didn’t do just that.
So which do I carry most often?
This black Aerometric sat unused and uninked in Enabler’s Cup of Stasis. The “51”s aren’t typically her speed, so I figured I’d stretch the Parker’s legs for a bit. Ink leeched through the filling unit’s window when I tried to gas it up. Either the Pli-glass sac was damaged, or the sac nipple had crumbled. I didn’t have spare Pli-glass on hand, and a busted nipple wasn’t something I could fix.
Ron Zorn is my Obi Wan when I seek brave new hope for vintage pens. I mailed the pen to him and asked that he restore the Parker to its working glory. While he was at it, I inquired if he would take the Medium-Broad nib in trade for something narrower. Lucky for me, he had an EF in stock.
The sac nipple was fine so the damaged sac was ditched for a modern equivalent from David Nishimura. To finish the restoration, he repaired a cap ding, fixed the inner cap, replaced the cracked jewel, re-frosted the Lustraloy, and polished all the Lucite bits. It took a few months for the lot to come together but good things, and good work, take time.
So why the “51”? Why did a sixty-year old pen displace a pair of esteemed Pilot #15s (a 743 and 823) as my daily driver?
Size and ergonomics are right, as the “51” shows remarkable design genius. There is enough to hold on to, but no more than necessary. The seamless transition between cap and barrel makes for one long and smooth grip section. At times it feels like holding a worn bar of soap. It is tough to beat that degree of comfort.
The slip cap makes it easy to deploy. For journaling and other leisurely writing, a screw cap is no bother. When folks ambush you throughout the day with stuff to sign, drafts to mark, and forms to fill, a slip cap is a kind mercy.
Cap-off time is amazing. Ever get stuck in a two-hour meeting? I’ve had many nibs dry out, especially when the AC is working as it should. Yes, I can revive a stalled nib with a bit of “calligrapher’s elixir” but I can never get used to Blue Black’s bitterness. I’ve had the “51” stay uncapped for twenty minutes and it still wrote when I needed it to. My taste buds rejoice.
Nib feel is firm but grants smoothness and speed that a flex or semi-flex can’t provide. Paired with light overall weight, the pen makes a wonderful, reliable workhorse that just happens to look good.
With all their manufacturing tech, Parker might do well to revive this design. The average convert comes from a ballpoint or rollerball past, and the “51” makes a daunting shift a lot easier for new folks.