Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker 51 Pencil

It is time for another pencil post to break up the fountain pen stuff…though they are all related. This week’s find is a very neat Parker Vacumatic 51 Writefine Pencil, dating sometime between 1940 and 1948, the Vacumatic 51 run.

These pencils were sold to match the corresponding Vacumatic 51 in both barrel color and cap design.

Here is the photo of the pencil before I had a chance to clean and polish it. The twist mechanism works perfectly and the eraser and lead supply are full.

I polished the lead cone and cap with a jewelers cloth.  I then polished the barrel with scratch remover, finishing polish, and buffed on a coat of carnuba wax.  Below is the finished product.   The lighting does not do the pencil justice.  It is the Cordovan Brown color.  Remember that the four standard Vacumatic 51 colors were India Black, Cordovan Brown, Dove Grey, and Cedar Blue.  Measurement is 5 3/16 inches long.

These pencils were usually not date stamped (until the Aerometric 51 pencils came along) so I have no idea of the date of the pen.  It is marked that it was made in the U.S. and as it is a Vacumatic pencil, the 1940 to 1948 date range is as precise as I can get.  During WWII some of these were produced with plastic internals to save materials for the war effort.  As I mentioned above, the lead is advanced by twisting the cap clockwise.  This method changed as the pencils paired with Aerometric 51s came in the late 1940s.  These aero pencils advanced the lead by pushing, or clicking the cap.

I do not have the corresponding Vac 51 for this pencil, but I do have a Cordovan Brown Vacumatic (Canadian Production) that comes quite close.  Here they are together in a few different poses.  The pencils were made of celluloid and the pens of lucite, causing the pencils to age darker than the corresponding pen.(see for this information)   This is certainly true of the pen and pencil below, though they are not an original pair.

In perusing the various writing instrument websites, I often come upon questions as to what types of modern mechanical pencils are recommended.  Many opinions exist, but at $15 USD this came as a good alternative with some good history behind it.  Most 51 pencils are found in a set with the pen, but occasionally one can be found on its own, and if priced right, I would grab it..

For further Vintage Pencil Articles, please revisit ~

Did He Say Pencil? Dated April 2, 2009, which covers a Junior Vacumatic Pencil and a Belmont Pencil.

Sometimes a diversion into pencils is a good thing, but I promise to get back to Fountain Pens next time.


April 17, 2010 - Posted by | Fountain Pens and Pencils, Parker 51, Parker 51 Writefine Pencil | , ,


  1. What size lead does it hold? Interesting, that the older the pencil the wider the lead in my experience. I have a P45 mechanical pencil, and would guess it’s a 0.9 mm +

    Comment by Sandy | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. Considering you’re one of the few that touches on pencils, I’m all for this, especially Parker.

    I’ve got a large number of those silly inner metal tubes that need the cracks fixed, alas.

    Comment by Eric O. Costello | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. I love your blog (and your Parkerphenalia)! I own a Parker 45 mechanical pencil. I need a threaded tip (for the end where the lead comes out). I can send photos of the end (where the tip should be) and the whole pencil. I would appreciate hearing from you to know…
    * Can you send me the part?
    * Can I send you the pencil and have you put on the part?
    * If “no” to both of the above, do you know who might stock the part?

    Thanks for any help you can give me. I have a sentimental attachment to this pencil and would like to save it from the trash can………Chuck Jones

    Comment by Chuck Jones | July 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. I have a problem. I fed a .7 lead into a Parker Vacumatic pencil. It’s too small. It should have been a .9 or 1.0. The lead went in. I can’t get it out. Any ideas on how to expel it?

    Comment by Jake | April 22, 2011 | Reply

  5. Hello, I wish to buy the Parker 51 Mechanical Pencil (0.9mm or 1mm).
    Since, these are discontinued, can someone tell me where I can buy them?

    Comment by Manoj Goel | May 30, 2011 | Reply

  6. I have a parker 51 pencil but when I twist the pencil it has a rough spot in the twist and the tip never comes out can somebody help me? thanks

    Comment by mrcin01 | April 12, 2017 | Reply

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