The Parker 51 was launched in 1941 and sold over 20 million units in over 30 years. It was recognised as a design landmark and in 1950 it received the Fashion Academy award for exceptional styling, precision, and craftmanship.
Sixty years after launch the new Parker 51 Special Edition recreated the 1942 Parker 51 Empire State, or ‘Icicle’ model with 21st. century technology.
In October 2002 the pen was marketed at $350 with no discounts permitted by Parker. It was produced in two versions, a Black pen with a ‘Vermeil’ Empire State cap and a Vista Blue pen with a solid Silver Empire state cap.
The pen reviewed here is a Vista Blue version. although Parker produced over 42 million Parker 51s only 5000 of these pens were made with a guarantee that it will never be produced again, so it is a rare pen indeed.
The pen does not have a blind cap, as in the original, as the modern filling system does not require it. The 23Ct. Gold filled Blue Diamond clip is a direct copy of the 1942 pen. The Blue Diamond originally signified the Parker lifetime guarantee, a practice that was prohibited by U.S. legislation in the 1950s.
The pen is a ‘double jewel’ model, as were the first 51s, and has a pearlized stud at each end. The hooded section conceals an 18Ct. Gold nib, a newly designed twin channel feed and an updated and more efficient collector.
Perhaps the main difference between this pen and the original is the design of the filling system. Parker possibly thought, with good reason, that many potential buyers of the model would prefer the ease and convenience of a cartridge filling system but added a screw action ink converter that would please those that preferred bottled ink.
The packaging of the Parker 51 Special Edition is impressive. There is an outer box, the mock crocodile case, a polishing cloth, a booklet containing some historical background, filling instructions, and a certificate of authenticity.
The Parker 51 Special Edition is not a cheap pen by any means, but it is a true special edition and as such is most collectable, it probably represents better value than, say, a new Montblanc ‘look what I can afford’ model. This particular example is uninked and, for better or worse, is likely to remain so. I do hope not as such a wonderful pen deserves to be used and shown off.