Dating parker 51 pens
This was despite the fact that the 51 was never terribly inexpensive (the entry price of .50 in 1941 equates to about 0 in today's money).
The 51 forced competitors yet again to respond to Parker innovation, releasing their own "hooded" pens that were generally not as revolutionary inside as the 51.
Parker's 51 ads from these early years are worth a note: because magazine printing had not yet reached the stage where color photographs could be rendered economically, most advertisers (including Parker) relied upon paintings or drawings of the product.
Parker commissioned several beautifully detailed renderings of hands holding the new pen, many by an artist signed "ARTZYBASHEFF;" some of these images are reproduced on this page and elsewhere on the site.
This period also saw brief production of the "Red Stripe" 51, which used a modified button filler rather than the Vac-style unit (today these are quite rare, and often puzzling to journeyman collectors).
The 51 continued on from this point with little change, aside from a brief flirtation with cartridge/converter filling in the late 1950s.
Concealed inside the hood, however, was the 51's secret weapon: a complex finned acrylic molding called a "collector" that could keep massive amounts of ink on tap right next to the point without leakage.
The original 51 shared its filler with the contemporary Vacumatic, including a breather tube to equalize pressures inside and outside the pen to reduce leaking under adverse conditions (such as air flight).
With the materials problem nailed, Parker moved on to the next vexing issue: if you use an ink that dries quickly on paper, it will dry just as quickly inside the point, leading to annoying skipping and uneven writing.
Toward the end of its career, the Moore company produced the "fingertip" point, a narrow gold point overlaid onto a rounded metal section (Sheaffer later used this concept for the Inlaid Point on its PFM.
Montblanc developed its "wing point" in the 1950s, which although not hooded was at least more harmonious in form with the curvy profiles of the pens to which it was fitted; during the 1960s, these points sometimes got partial hooding.
Held in place by spring contact with the protruding clutch ring (preventing scratching of the barrel), the 51's slip cap was much more effective than those used on eyedropper pens in the previous century (and thanks to the improved ink flow path, the cap did not have to make an ink-tight seal).
The early 51's had blue-diamond arrow clips and end-jewel assemblies simlar to those of the contemporary Vacumatic.