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Parker 51 Story

Parker 51 pens |

Ross Adams |

The Parker 51 was first introduced in 1941 and quickly became one of the best selling pens ever. This was down to its unique but stylish looks. Years in the making and development of the pen, it had a hooded nib and the barrel was made from lucite; a tough material made to withstand accidental cracks and scratches.

The pen was named '51' to mark the company's 51st Anniversary in 1939, when the development of the pen was completed. The pen was to be heavily marketed worldwide so the name '51' would be easily translatable to any language. It was marketed as the 'World's Most Wanted Pen' due to the restricted production during World War II.

A specially formulated ink was also released at the same time, it was designed to be used in the Parker 51 only. Advertised as the everyday pen and ink, the '51 ink' dried very fast and was highly waterproof.

The first production pens from 1941 were available in 4 colours, black, cedar blue, dove grey and cordovan brown and were adorned with aluminium jewels, as you can imagine these are now quite rare. In 1942 the aluminium jewels were replaced by pearlised plastic.

The pens were quite expensive at the time compared to their competitors. Some were known to buy the caps alone to put on top of a less expensive pen to show off in their shirt pockets.

The original 51 model ceased production in 1972.

Significant dates:

2002 - Parker released the 51 Special Edition.

2004 - Parker 100 was released, it was a larger version of the original 51.

2021 - The Parker 51 Reimagined was released with slight differences to its predecessor, with a screw cap and more modern ink system.

Queen Elizabeth II owned and wrote with a burgundy Parker 51 from the 1950s onwards. She gave Parker a Royal Warrant in 1962. Other notable users of a Parker 51 are Dylan Thomas and President Eisenhower.