“Like a Pen From Another Planet!” This is how Parker introduced the Parker 51 in their 1940 Dealer Catalog. It goes on to say, “All the Parker Laboratories – engineering, chemical and metallurgical collaborated for 11 years to develop this history-making… pen.” Shaped like a jet plane without wings — and with a tubular nib never seen before!
The “51” name was selected because it was introduced in the 51st year of the Parker Pen Company, the number was easily translated into any language, and a numerical designation would not detract from their main trademark, “Parker.”
The 1941 version had a tassie on the bottom and aluminum jewels at both ends. Its “Speedline” filler was aluminum (first introduced in the Vacumatic several years earlier). By 1942 only very few pens were produced with two jewels, and a pearl like jewel was used rather than aluminum. The metal filler was replaced with a plastic version.
Some other major model highlights: In 1946 a button filling system was introduced, called the “Red Band,” reducing from 9 to 3 the number of times a user had to press to fill the pen. Unfortunately, it easily broke, and was quickly discontinued. They are now very rare. 1947 brought the “Demi 51,” a smaller version. In 1948 the Vacumatic filling system was replaced with the Aerometric system and the Mark I 51 was born! A sac within a metal protector tube was fitted with a pressure bar which is pressed several times to fill the pen. With the Mark I the “Blue Diamond” clip was replaced with a plain arrow clip. While most 51s have a plastic body and metal cap (Gold, Sterling Silver, Gold Filled or Stainless Steel), all metal Mark Is were offered in Stainless Steel (Flighter), Gold-filled (Signet) and Solid Gold (Presidential). In 1950 the “51 Special” line was introduced with a non-gold nib (octanium — an eight metal alloy), polished cap and black cap jewel. 1958 brought the cartridge/converter filling 51, which failed in the marketplace and is quite rare today. 1969 saw the introduction of the Mark II 51, a major redesign. The 51 was now very much shaped like the 61, including a narrow clutch ring. On the Mark III, introduced in 1971 or 1972, the clip jewel is metal rather than plastic, the clutch ring widened, and a courser barrel thread is used. In 2002 the 51 “Special Edition” was introduced, double jeweled and sporting a sterling silver “Empire” cap, allowing new generations to enjoy the world’s best pen!
The 51 was officially discontinued in 1978, but it is known that production continued several more years in South America using actual Parker equipment. Perhaps over 20 million have been sold in total. Up until 1953 (1959 in Europe) 51s contain a date code stamped onto its barrel. Matching Parker 51 pencils and ball pens were also produced. Please enjoy browsing the Catalog at our selection of Parker 51s — by far the most popular pen ever!