Fountain Pen Restoration

Pen And Ink Frames

I was playing with my iPhone this morning and came up with three rough frame projects, combining vintage pens, ink, and vintage advertisements, many of which have appeared here over the past six years. No restoration – just some fun. I hope to use these more in the future, when I learn to be a bit more exact.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App


April 28, 2012 Posted by | Carters, Parker 51, Parker Vacumatic | , , | 1 Comment

Two Wrongs Do Make A Right – Parker Signet

Though I am not an avid Parker 51 collector, I have always wanted to find an all gold example.  This limits the choices to two ~  The Gold Plate Signet/Insignia, or the  Gold Presidential.  As I have yet to win the lottery, my sights have been set on find a Signet / Insignia.  The first question is:  Why do I call this pen by two names.  Without getting into the legal details, it is my understanding that Parker initially named this pen the Signet, and due to this name already being used by another fountain pen, they changed the name to Insignia.  Both were introduced by Parker into their highly successful 51 line of pens in 1949, as aerometric fillers.  I have restored, and written about, many vacumatic and aerometric 51s over the past six years.  Here are a few ~

Double Jewel Parker 51 – April 9, 2010

Black and Gold Parker 51 Vacumatic – September 25, 2008

Final Year For Parker 51 Vacumatics – 1948 – January 15, 2009

Parker 51 First Year Double Jewel – June 16, 2010

Parker 51 Canadian Set – May 9, 2011

As you can see below, it took me a while, but I found two Signet/Insignias.   The first is on the bottom of the photo.  It is was a pen with a very nice cap, clean filling unit and medium nib.  However, the barrel had many, many dents and dings.  I have a fellow pen club member who has the tools to take these out, but he advised that if there are too many and they are deep, the lines of the cap will be compromised when the cap is reworked.  So, I set the pen aside, hoping to find a mate at some point.

Recently, I ran across the perfect match.  The pen on the top of the photo had a close to perfect barrel (with imprint), but a cap with numerous dings and dents.  I brought it home for a very low price, and proceeded to mix and match. Though not the ideal solution, and looked upon negatively by the fountain pen purist, it gave me a very nice looking Signet, and a really bad looking one.


Here is the photo of the final product.  Often called a ” frankenpen”  by collectors, it takes parts from two or more pens to make one.  It suits my purposes, though if I ever resell it, full disclosure would be in order.



The following photo shows the two created pens – the top one being a nice example of a Signet and the bottom, well…a scary example.


Parker also came out with a silver model – the Flighter – at the same time.  Here are the Signet/Insignia and a Flighter from my collection.


The imprint on the barrel – Meta D. O’Connell.  Not much information exists on Meta herself, but she was born into a famous Boston family and was the sister of Lenahan O’Connell.

In an article about her famous brother, it is stated:

“O’Connell, named for his Lenahan grandfather, recalls in a book he wrote about the law firm on its 100th anniversary that his father constantly insisted that his children “always write the words down.” The senior O’Connell believed that the spoken word is all too soon forgotten, “no matter how powerful and eloquent.”

“You must always write them down to keep them from being lost and to ensure they will be preserved for future generations,” the father urged his nine sons and three daughters-Joseph F. Jr., Lenahan, Frederick P, Finbarr, Marisita, Kevin, Brendan, Meta, Lelia, Conleth, Diarmuid, and Aidan. O’Connell’s surviving brother Diarmuid lives in Cohasset.”

Perhaps this pen was used by Meta to “write the words down” as insisted by her father.   In any event, I find it is always interesting to search for the names that I find imprinted on pens from time to time.  You never know what you may learn.  In this example, I was able to follow a story that included a famous Boston legal and political family, including brushes with John Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt.


I am not an advocate of mixing and matching pen components to create new pens, especially if you can preserve the original pen and parts, but in this example, as long as it is disclosed at any future sale or trade, I have created two usable pens, and one that I will be proud to display.   The bonus is that the acquisition cost is less for both of these pens, than clean example would sell for.

I guess the lesson is that if you are seriously chasing down an elusive pen for your collection and you find an imperfect example, you may want to take it home and wait for the day when another imperfect pen has a different problem, and the parts can be traded out.

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company, Parker Signet/Insignia | , , | 3 Comments

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

Parker 51 From Alabama

This pen came to me from a pen friend in Alabama who has done a remarkable bit of research on Artcraft Fountain Pen History.  He stumbled upon a Parker 51 in an Antique Store and could not pass up the great deal for this vacumatic fill model.  I did not take this photo until after I had cleaned the parts a bit.  You can tell by the clear collector – they never look like this…

One part jumps out – the cap.  It is clearly a replacement.  You can not see the cap jewel, but it is black and I suspect that somewhere along the line this Parker 51 Special Cap was put substituted.  I contacted my friend and offered to replace it with a spare cap that would be closer to the correct cap.  He agreed and now I have an extra 51 Special Cap that I did not have before.  One never knows when it might come in handy.

You can see that the components are all in good condition and a simple restoration awaits.


I polished the nib and scraped the inside of the barrel until I was certain there were no remaining remnants of the old diaphragm.  After I was certain that all of the parts were cleaned and polished I turned to the vacumatic filler unit and trimmed a debutante sized diaphragm and installed it into the filler.  I was lucky with this one as the old pellet had split up and was easily removed.  Once the diaphragm was cemented to the filler and allowed to dry, I inserted the filler back into the barrel and made sure that the seat was a good one and there was plenty of suction.  Then the feed and breather tube were inserted into the collector followed by the nib.  This was then fit back into the barrel and the hood was screwed back on – carefully making sure that it lined up correctly with the nib.  I tested the pen with water and it filled up – held water – and expelled it correctly.

Below is the pen after completion with a new cap.  I really like gold caps with India Black bodied 51s.  The cap is a “transitional” cap.  These appeared on Vacumatic 51s after 1947, toward the end of Vacumatic production and the introduction of the Aerometric 51 in 1949 ~ thus the term “transitional”   I have no way of knowing if this is the correct cap for this pen as the date code is worn off the barrel, but it looks nice.  It is a much better fit than the cap shown in the first photo above.  As I mentioned, I believe this to be a 51 Special Cap.  Parker began to produce a budget minded 51 in 19500 called the Special.  Without going into a lot of detail, one of the things that set this pen apart from the more expensive 51 was that it had an Octanium nib (in lieu of gold) and a smooth lustraloy cap with a black jewel.  I have a few of these in my collection and the cap above is definitely a Special cap.  So, the substitution is a step up.  It is not a Blue Diamond 51 Cap, but I did not have a clean one of those available.


Here is the pen uncapped.  The nib appears to be a fine.


So, the pen is done and on its way back to Alabama – in a little better shape than when it was found – ready to use.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company | , | 1 Comment

Parker 51 ~ First Year Double Jewel

This is the second Double Jewel Parker 51 that I have discussed.  The first was in this post:

Double Jewel Parker 51 ~ dated April 9, 2010.

As discussed many times in the past, Parker 51s are very popular among fountain pen collectors and the double jewel versions are highly sought after.  They don’t hold more ink, come in more attractive colors, or have better nibs.  They do have a bit more gold and look a bit more substantial, and do often have more ornate caps.  The primary reason is their relative scarcity.

Within the Double Jewel models, the first year models are the most collectible as they are even more rare.  Double Jewels were produced during the entire run of Vacumatic Fill 51s, from 1941 through 1948.  The first year models were different in many ways, and I will cover them later.

Below is the exploded view of the pen.  You can tell that it suffered from years of neglect due to the dirty nib, collector, and very bad cap.  Fortunately, all of the parts are present and in decent shape.  This is good, especially for Dove Grey Vac 51s, which are more prone to cracking of the barrel and/or hood.  They are also more prone to discoloration, which has occurred here as can be seen in the shade difference in photo number two.

After the pen was taken apart, I began to clean all of the parts.  This involves thorough cleaning of all, except for the filling unit which I do not like to subject to moisture.  I scrape any remnants of the old diaphragm from the metal collar and carefully remove the old pellet from the pellet cup.  For a close up of the filling unit see this article posted on January 4, 2010.

Special care needs to be taken to clean the barrel completely of all dried ink and any traces of the old diaphragm, especially near the end where the filler screws in to the barrel.  Also, make certain that the breather tube is crack free and clog free.


Putting a Vacumatic back together is a tricky proposition at times.  The most important items are making certain that the nib assembly sits correctly in the collector and into the hood as the pen is assembled.  A few trials are usually necessary.  Also, reinserting the filler into the rear of the barrel can be difficult at times due to the tendency of the diaphragm to twist on entry.  Always put the filler unit in first so that you can look into the barrel from the front end with a small flashlight to make sure the diaphragm is straight and functional.  Once that is assured, and you can feel the suction when the post is depressed and released, it is then ok to insert the collector/feed/nib and breather tube assembly.

Below is the completed product.  All the parts are the originals and there are two flaws.  First, note the color difference between the blind cap and the barrel.  Fortunately, the barrel and hood do match in color.  Secondly, there is a significant ding on the cap, which I have placed under the clip for cosmetic purposes.  You can see it quite easily when you look at the clip below the R in PARKER.  Other than these two issues, the pen is in great shape and the medium nib writes well.


Here is a photo of the pen posted, hiding the blind cap and looking like a regular old single jewel.


Several components separate the first year pens from the 1942-1948 vacumatic 51s.  Most are visible in these four photos.

First, the date imprint for the first year models is on the blind cap.  Remember that all 1941s were double jewels, as the single jewel began to appear in 1942.  The date appears just above the gold on the blind cap.  The photo below shows where the imprint appears.  In one line across the bottom is written MADE IN U.S.A.  .1.  This means that the pen was manufactured in Janesville, WI during the second quarter of 1941.

Secondly, the caps of first year 51s can be different and also are highly collectible.  This cap is a lined Sterling Silver with a Chevron patterned band.  These are very attractive.   Unfortunately, they are difficult to find in excellent condition and are prone to staining and dings/dents.  As mentioned above, this nib is no exception, with a ding under the clip.  It did clean up well with a jewelers cloth and the gold clip responded well to polish.

A third difference in the first year 51s is that many of them have metal filler units, similar to the early generations of Vacumatics in the 1930s.  This pen does not have a metal filling unit (as visible in the first photo).  From what I have read, this is consistent with some first years.

A final major difference in the first year 51s is that they have metal jewels.  Sometimes on both the cap and blind cap and sometimes only on the blind cap.  This pen has a metal jewel in the blind cap, highlighted in the photo below.  The jewel in my the cap of this pen is not metal, however, and I have read that this is seen (or this could be a replacement cap).

Another difference that I have read about is that these first year 51s can have a larger blue diamond on the clip.  If there is a difference in my pen and a second year, it is slight.


While I was writing this and restoring the pen, I ran across a very interesting chart on the excellent website ~ ~ which shows the reason for the desirability of these first year models.  About 2/3 of the way down this page, the sales chart shows both the growing popularity of the Parker 51, and the very low number of pens sold in 1941.  While these are not production numbers, they do shed some light on the relative scarcity of these.

My collection will never be overly populated with Double Jewel 51s, but it is nice to have a first year model and its history, even with a few flaws.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company | , | 1 Comment

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 | , , | 6 Comments

Double Jewel Parker 51

Finally! I stumbled on this set a while ago as I have wanted to add a double jewel 51 to my collection for quite some time.  Double Jeweled 51s commenced the first year that Parker introduced the 51 – 1941.  First year Double Jewels are priced at a premium and separate themselves in many ways.  They had the date imprint on the blind cap and several caps from first year 51s are exceptional and rare.  The set that I acquired is not a first year set, but I am happy to have finally found one to use.  As a bonus, there is a pencil and well preserved box.

Below, you can see the exploded view of the components.  The only difference from the other 51 Vacumatics that I have written about ~

Black And Gold Parker 51 Vacumatic ~ September 25, 2008

Final Year For Parker 51 Vacumatics – 1948 ~ January 15, 2009

and several others (see Categories at right)

is that the blind cap has a jewel on the end as opposed to the conical blind cap.  Thus the term “double jewel”.  The blind cap for this pen can be seen in the lower left of the photo, with the jewel to the left of the cap.

All of the parts are present below, so the restoration was very straightforward.

I need to clean the pen thoroughly first as there was old ink stains throughout as well as the usual diaphragm remnants in the barrel.  Make certain that they are completely removed before proceeding to put the new diaphragm assembly back into the rear of the pen.  I used a debutante size diaphragm on this pen as with all of these Vacumatics.  The furniture is all gold and I used a combination of my Ultrasonic Cleaner and a jewelers cloth to polish the caps (both pen and pencil), nib and clips.  Note the ring that sits on the barrel between the barrel and the hood.  I believe the gold in the middle of the silver on these rings is gold plate and be very careful cleaning these as the gold plate can wear off.  I was careful to leave this alone and you can see from the second photo below that the gold remains.

I won’t go into detail on the restoration of this set as you can refer to one of the links above or in the Parker 51 Categories on the right of this page.  The most important items to remember, in my opinion, are to fully clean the inside of the barrel, to fully remove the old diaphragm pellet from the filler unit cup, and to make sure that the diaphragm is cut to the right length and seats perfectly in the barrel (use a gooseneck flashlight to confirm this) after the filler unit is fully replaced.

Below is the completed set.

As with the single jewel 51 Vacumatics, the double jewels came in four primary colors – India Black (this pen), Cordovan Brown, Cedar Blue, and Dove Grey.  Three more rare colors were Buckskin (tan), Nassau Green, and Yellowstone (mustard).  As mentioned, the Double Jewels are very highly sought after, with particular attention being paid to first year (1941) models.

The matching pencil is a twist mechanism and is turned clockwise to advance the lead.  The eraser is intact and the lead loads by inserting through the tip and twisting counter-clockwise.  Later pencils, produced with Aerometric 51s had mechanisms that advanced the lead by pushing down on the cap.


This set was produced in the fourth quarter of 1948, at the end of the Vacumatic 51 run.  By this time the Aerometric was being rolled out to replace the Vacumatic Filling system.  This also marked the end of the Double Jewels, as Aerometrics were only produced with a Single Cap Jewel.

The date stamp for these pens is on the barrel, just below the ring.  First year models differ and their date stamps can usually be found on the blind cap.

The box that this set came in is still in quite good shape.  This box is brown faux leather with gold trim and was one of the common boxes designed for Parker and used for Double Jewel sets.  Sets with original boxes certainly make these pens and pencils more valuable and are great display pieces.  I was very lucky to find these all together.

So, after all of these years of collecting, I finally found one of these, was able to restore it, and I look forward to trying it out in the near future.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company, Uncategorized | , | 5 Comments

Parker 51 Damaged Filler Units

Happy New Year!

This past week I worked on a Cordovan Parker 51 Vacumatic.  I have each of the primary 51 Vacumatic colors in my collection, but not Cordovan Brown.  When I had the opportunity to acquire this one to complete the four color run ~ India Black. Cedar Blue, and Dove Grey being the other three ~ I jumped at the chance.  The price was very reasonable, and the photo below will confirm why.  After taking the pen completely apart, I discovered that someone had already attempted to repair it, as is evidenced by the filler unit below.  The top unit is what I found after I removed it from the barrel.  There was no sign of a diaphragm in the barrel which confirmed to me that the pen had been taken apart at some point and an attempt at repair had been made.  It is always a good idea to have extra filling units if you are going to work on 51s and Vacumatics, as this is not a rare problem.  As you can see from the top photo, the cup that holds the diaphragm pellet has been damaged and will no longer hold the pellet and thus the vacumatic filling system will not work.  This usually occurs when attempts to remove the old pellet are done incorrectly or with lack of care.

Fortunately, I had some spare units, accumulated over the years.  The bottom unit was a perfect fit and you can see that it is in fine shape.

I inserted a debutante diaphragm on to the filler and inserted it back in to the barrel.  I have covered 51 vacumatic restoration in many posts and if you would like a more detailed description of the entire process, here are a few links to prior articles:

Black And Gold Parker 51 Vacumatic September 25, 2008

Parker Vacumatic June 13, 2008

This pen is interesting for another reason.  As you can see by the imprint below, it was Made in the USA, but bears a T7  imprint with three dots.  This indicates that is was assembled in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the first quarter of 1947 from parts that were manufactured in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The following was taken from my article of June 9th of this year, and summarizes some of the US /Canada Parker 51 relationships ~

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 (edit: T7 for this pen) 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.

Below are photos of the final result – a full sized Parker 51 / Vacumatic from 1947.  Keep an eye out for the more rare colors ~ Tan, Mustard, and Nassau Green.  They are much more difficult to find, quite expensive if sold as restored, but very desirable, especially with double jewels.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | , , | 2 Comments

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 | , , | 3 Comments

Final Year for Parker 51 Vacumatics – 1948

The most recent pen I worked on is this 1948 Parker 51 Vacumatic.  It is a single jewel ( I am still looking for the elusive double jewel – maybe later this year) with a Heritage Sterling Silver Cap.  As you can see by the photograph below, the pen came with all of it’s parts included, but it was not without major blemishes.

First, the cap jumps out as being very dirty and with minor dents.  Second, the hood came with several deep scratches that I suspect came from someone trying to twist it off with some pliers or similar tool.   The hood did come off, but with doses of heat from a heat gun and my padded section pliers.

I attacked the severely gouged hood with 1500 grit paper and worked it for several 10 minute sessions until all traces of the scratches and cuts were gone.  This did not damage the hood and after polishing the hood with scratch removing liquid, then polish and wax, it looks as good as new.

I cleaned the nib with polish and cleaned the feed, collector and breather tube in an ultrasonic cleaner.

As with all vac repairs the inside of the barrel needs to be completely cleaned out of all old diaphragm remnants in order for it to function properly.  Having done this, I polished the barrel outside using the same process as the hood.

I fitted a new debutante size diaphragm to the plastic speedline filler unit and reinstalled it to the barrel using my vacumatic tool.  Before inserting in the barrel, I made a change to my usual procedure.  I have moved along and am no longer spitting on my vacs!  In the past, I have mentioned that prior to installing the filling unit. I would coat the diaphragm with my saliva to help ease it into the barrel as it is twisted back in.  Well, a product has emerged that replaces this saliva, and is probably a lot more sanitary.  now sells a Vacumatic Lubricant that I would recommend.  It will save you the embarrassment of having people walk by your workbench and seeing you with vintage pen parts in your mouth, and I am sure it is more effective.

Next the cap – as you can see, it was a mess.  I spent several hours over a few days, polishing this with metal cleaner, a dremel, and then a jewelers cloth.  Both the cap and clip now glisten.  The Blue Parker Diamond is absent of blue, however.  I prefer to leave my Parker Blue Diamonds empty if they have worn, but if you want to fill them in, the correct hobby paint is Testors 1110 or 1111.

As with all vacs, make sure the breather tube is clear and has no holes or dents.  This one is fine, but if you do need new tubing, you can purchase additional from Woodbin, who I have linked on my blogroll at the right.


The completed pen is shown below – a Cedar Blue Parker 51 (Vacumatic) from 1948, the last year that 51s formally used the vac filling system.  In 1949 Parker began to market the Aero-metric Filling System.


The Parker Vacs came in four standard colors:  Cedar Blue, India Black, Dove Grey, and Cordovan Brown.  Less common vac colors were Nassau Green, Tan and Mustard.


This pen also has another nice surprise -a rather broad medium nib.  More often than not, fine nibs are found on these pens, and it is a treat to get a bigger nib on occasion.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company | | 3 Comments

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