Fountain Pen Restoration

US Made / Canadian Assembled Parker 51

This week’s pen is another Parker 51.  I don’t mean to repeat myself with another Cedar Blue 51, but this is a bit different.  It was assembled in Canada, and that comes with a little bit of history.

First the restoration ~ the photo below shows the component parts prior to restoration.  The collector and nib are quite clean.  This is due to the fact that I ran them through the ultrasonic cleaner prior to help get them separated.  As you can see, all of the parts are in good shape, and the pen has a plastic speedline filler, consistent with its 1946 date.  The pen is Cedar Blue in color.

cedar T6

I have added a second photo here of the filler unit and nib/feed/collector here for reference.  This is what they should look like prior to insertion to their respective ends of the barrel.  Always put the filler unit in first so that you can see into the barrel to make sure it has settled in correctly and the vacuum effect is efficient.


Below is a photo of the pen after assembly, showing the correct placement of the filler in the rear of the barrel and a successful placement of the shell around the collector/feed/nib.  A bit of tweaking is always necessary to get the nib perfectly lined up in the shell, but this is simple as the collector is friction fit to the barrel and can be adjusted quite easily.

Closer examination will also show that the cap has changed between the before and after photos.  51s present a myriad of combinations when it comes to caps.  There were well over 20 different caps made for Vacumatics, and there is very little guarantee when you find one in the wild that it is the original cap.  Collectors switch caps (I just did here) and it is very difficult (if not impossible) to determine if the cap is original.

The cap that came with this pen was a Lustraloy with plain silver clip.  As this pen dates to 1946 (see below), I felt that a blue diamond clip was more appropriate.  I know it is not original, as it came from my parts bin, but it looks better.  Should I ever resell this pen, it is very important to let the potential buyer(s) know of this change.  I only wish this was a common practice.


On to the history lesson.  Much of this came from the Parker 51 book, by David and Mark Shepherd.  Anyone with an interest in 51s should pick this book up.  It is a great read and the photos are comprehensive.

The date code on the barrel of this pen reads Parker “51” Made in USA T6.  This indicates that the pen parts were made in the Janesville, Wisconsin factory, shipped to Canada and assembled there in 1946.


The Canadian division of Parker was started in Toronto, Ontario in 1923.  It began strictly as an assembly location, assembling pens to be distributed in the UK.  At the time, laws prevented product to be produced and shipped from the US to Great Britain, so the Canadian solution was devised.  Eventually, the Toronto location began to manufacture as well.  During WWII it manufactured war parts for Britain.  By the time the 51 Vacumatic came along, during and after WWII, these pens were manufactured in Toronto, as well as simply assembled there.  This pen (well, at least the barrel) was assembled only in Toronto, based on the T6 imprint.  Had it been manufactured there it would have had a “Made in Canada” imprint and no “T” before the date code.

Business must have been good in Canada, as Parker expanded after WWII and opened up an ink production facility in London, Ontario.  They also began making 51 Vacumatics in England in 1947.


The pen comes with a 1946 marked fine point and fills well.  No nib smoothing necessary with this nib.

So the next time that you run across a Parker 51, make sure to check the imprints ~ they always tell a story.

Note:  Please read Comment Dated 1-17-10 below in which my information above is corrected and further information is provided.  Thank you.  PM


June 9, 2009 - Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | , ,


  1. Dear Folks,

    I just bought an unused Parker 51 fountain and pencil set
    complete with very heavy gold ended case with
    Made in Canada on the barrel.

    Its the Aerometric model for both and the color of the
    barrel is coffee. The caps are SS with grey diamond ends.

    Can you please tell me more about my pens. The quality looks to be more than excellent. I wish I would see USA
    anywhere on these pens but I do not.

    The case is superb and very heavy. I has Parker on the
    top and nothing underneath it as far as words are concerned. The quality of the case is excellent with no marks or any scratches what so ever as well as the pens
    that look to be totally unused over the decades.
    No trace of ink in the bladder and when I press the bladder
    it makes a very unique sound like the sound of a new pen
    but like I have never heard before being a fan of Parker
    pens for longer than I care to admit.

    Please help me date my pens if you can. I would be very
    grateful if you could.


    Lasalle, Que

    Comment by Peter | June 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. The T-prefix date codes surely do NOT indicate Canadian assembly, though it is quite likely they denote Canadian origin of some of the components. T-prefix pens are found in the USA, and are marked prominently “MADE IN U.S.A” — they are not typically found “in the wild” in Canada or the UK.

    I have discussed this at length with David Shepherd, who agrees wholeheartedly with my reasoning — which can be read in more detail here:

    Also, there were NEVER any laws preventing export of pens from the USA to the UK — just high tariffs, which applied in both directions.

    Comment by David Nishimura | January 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. My lovely father-in-law just passed away. He and I shared a love of pens. I have the wonderful job of researching his collection so we can know more about it. He has a Parker 51 T6 very similar to the one you speak of here.

    It is a vacuum fill and I would love to have it restored so it can be used again – I suspect it has not been used in decades, though he probably used regularly when he bought it new.

    Is it possible to discuss repairing/restoring this pen? Do you do this kind of thing as a business as well as a hobby?

    (I loved your first blog post with the composition by your daughter on what her dad does. Wonderful!)

    Comment by MaryAlice Colen | October 30, 2010 | Reply

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