Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker Canadian 51 Set

This set came to me in a trade for some extra parts that I had in my possession.  I was interested in this particular set because it is a Canadian one and the gold caps are in quite good shape.  You can see from the photo below that there is one small ding in the pen cap, but that everything else seems to be in order.


I first started with the pencil.  Vacumatic pencils were rotary pencils, meaning the cap is twisted to load the lead and to expel new supplies.  I used 0.9mm black lead in this pencil and it is ready to go.  I polished the cap and cone with metal polish and then cleaned up the pencil body with a combination of scratch remover, polish and wax.

The pen presented no particular problems other than the need for a new diaphragm and general clean up.  I thoroughly cleaned all of the parts above, paying particular attention to the barrel and any stray pieces of the old diaphragm that always seem to stubbornly stick to the barrel, just inside the top where the vac filler sits.  The breather tube, another problem area, was in good shape with no cracks or  holes.   The nib was a pleasant surprise as it is probably a medium, which is always a nice find as so many of these vintage 51s have fine nibs.  I used a debutante sized diaphragm on this 51 and the re-installation went well.  I polished the cap and nib with metal polish and the barrel, cap, and hood with scratch remover/polish/ and wax.  The blue diamond (which I failed to capture above) was devoid of its blue coloring. To replace this, I use Testor’s Enamel Model Paint Number 110 – Blue. I dip a pin into the paint and get a small amount on the pin head. I then touch the pin head in the diamond and the small amount usually fills the diamond perfectly without spreading over the edges. The resulting pen and pencil set is below.


The date code is located on the barrel, at the point where it meets the trim ring and the hood.  It reads



Thus, the pen is a Dove Grey Canadian made set from 1946.  You can see from these photos that the pencil has discolored (the last photo in the box is the most accurate).  This is attributed to the fact that they were made from different materials.  The pens were made of Lucite and the pencils were made of Celluloid.  The celluloid has not stood up as well over time.  These Dove Grey pencils tend to turn darker and greenish.


Referencing the excellent book on Parker 51s ~ Parker 51, by David and Mark Shepherd – gives some background on the box that this set came in.  It was a designed by Robert Gruen and Associates of New York during the 1940s for Parker 51 sets.  Another Gruen presentation box appears in my post of April 9, 2010 – Double Jewel Parker 51.  This box is a little different in that it is a lighter faux leather and designed for single jewel models.


The photo below is the best representation of the color difference between the pen and the pencil of this set.  Aside from discoloration of the pencil, this is an excellent set and representation of Canadian Vacumatics for a collection.



May 9, 2011 - Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Dude, you really do a fantastic job with those old pens! I use a Parker 51 that belonged to my grandfather, and the nib is worn to his “holding pattern.” I also use three Sheaffer cartridge pens with the clear barrels that were fairly cheap at their time of sale but are very good pens. I get a lot of weird looks here at college when I whip out a real fountain pen!

    Comment by Banister | May 11, 2011 | Reply

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