The Parker 51 2021 seems to be the most hated fountain pen by the community this year. But on its own, how does it actually fare?
Regardless of where you look, there are many arguments on how the old one is always better, or you can get cheaper ones that look the same but has the modern touch of converters and cartridges.
This post will not deep dive into those issues for the following reasons:
- I don’t own a vintage Parker 51 (*gasp*) and I only tried it twice in pen meets,
- I only encountered Jinhao’s Parker 51 lookalike once when I cleaned a pen noob officemate’s,
- I’m such a noob that I have yet to learn about politics and issues between pen models and brands, and
- A lot of hot takes have already been written. I just want to focus on the pen itself for most of the post. (But I’ll link to some of them at the end of this post.
Now that I got that out of the way, here’s a noob look at the new Parker 51 Deluxe Black GT in with an 18k nib.
The new Parker 51 looks good, no doubt: the gold and black combination is such a classic I think. Its cap band features the brand name and logo, with the date code on the other side, while sporting an arrow clip.
Unscrewing the cap reveals the distinct hood, designed to keep the pen from drying quickly. And since I sometimes hold pens too close to the nib, the hood actually saves me from inky fingers. I never encountered a hard start in the past month that I used this, except when I was close to running out of ink.
Changing inks is easy too with the new Parker 51 since it uses a cartridge/ converter system. You can also use a bulb syringe when flushing the section.
The pen itself is really light to write with, which I prefer. It is also a relatively smooth writer, but that is expected from an 18k nib. A scratchy writing experience would have been very disappointing.
Taking photos of the pen is quite challenging, however, because the resin is such a dust and fingerprint magnet. The pen body’s threads are also in resin, so it is quite scary to screw on the metal cap at times because one wrong move might scratch or crack it. Maybe. Dirt can also get trapped on the resin threads. and the section is already showing some scratches. To be fair, the previous owner is not also sure how it got those perfect-looking marks, but it is most likely from the cap as well.
Aside from the cap, the hood is also quite awkward too. The gap between the nib and the hood looks quite big compared to the Parker 45. Up close, the Parker 45’s nib is actually just longer than the new Parker 51’s, so when you look at the nib while writing, the former looks more natural than the latter, despite having actually similar gaps between the nib and the hood. This matters when you’re aiming the nib on paper. It needs more getting used to, and I don’t remember having this issue when I tried the vintage Parker 51 before.
Since the pandemic has been keeping me stuck at home, there is no need to keep pens clipped on my shirt pocket. But, as pretty as it may look, I don’t think I’ll clip the new Parker 51 as often as I would with other pens because the converter keeps clanging (is this the right word?) inside the barrel. But that is just a minor inconvenience.
Noob verdict on the new Parker 51
If we don’t factor in the price, the new Parker 51 is actually a decent pen. It is light on the hand, writes smoothly, and matches my grip. Discussing the iffy portion was quite wordy because I couldn’t explain them simply enough, I think.
But if we look at how much this costs, things might change. The new Parker 51 with gold nib goes for around $255. That can already get you a number of vintage Parker 51s or modern gold-nibbed pens as well.
I got the new Parker 51 18k gold nib version from a local selling group. This was actually the exact same unit used on Endless Pens’ vintage vs new Parker 51 review, and I got it for relatively 1/3 its regular price (or around 1/2, if you’re getting it from Endless Pens). Though I’m not the first owner, the pen was barely used beforehand. So I got a very nice pen for a really cheap price, lower than a vintage Parker 51 in the local second hand market, I think.
The original price point though might have a specific target in mind, however. Pen noobs come in different kinds, and the new Parker 51 can suit a corporate type of person who has never tried a fountain pen before. A cartridge/converter system makes changing inks easier for the newbie, compared to vintage filling systems. It also looks like a fineliner pen from a certain point of view, which might visually help a newbie transition to nibs much better.
To me, this helps scratch the itch of having a Parker 51, even if it is new, not vintage. But that’s just a noob’s point of view. And I got it for a really good price. I definitely wouldn’t have bought it for $225 though.
Review of related links
“But you didn’t even go into detail about the conflicts, history, and other brands!”
Yes! Because in this point, I would like to lead you to other posts that discussed the new Parker 51, some of which compare the pen to its visual clones too: