This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Parker 51 is a fountain pen introduced in 1941. Parker’s period advertising called it “The World’s Most Wanted Pen,” a slogan alluding to restrictions on production of pens for the civilian market in the United States during World War II. Parker's continued advertising during the war created a demand that took several years to fulfill after the end of the conflict.
The pen and the ink were both named 51 to mark 1939, the company's 51st year of existence, during which development was completed (U.S. design patent No. 116,097, U.S. Patent 2,223,541 filed). By giving the pen a number instead of a name, Parker avoided the problem of translating a name into other languages.
The 51 was innovative, with its hooded, tubular nib and multi-finned collector, all designed to work in conjunction with the pen's proprietary ink, allowing the nib to stay wet and lay down an even line with either the ultra-fast drying ink or more traditional inks.
With various refinements, the 51 stayed in production until 1972. The most significant design change came in 1948, with the introduction of the improved Aerometric filling system. At the same time, Parker reformulated its ink, reducing the alkalinity, adding a selection of brilliant colors, and calling the new product Superchrome. Like the 51 ink, it also came with a warning that it should be used only in the Parker 51 (or its new little brother, the 21), but the warning was more discreet.
Quink fountain pen ink was not intended primarily for the Parker 51, which generated over 400 million dollars in sales during its thirty-year history. While Quink was fine for use with the 51 pen, it had been introduced in 1931 and Parker's other pens of this generation were just as capable of using it. The Parker 51 was first available in 1941, ten years after Quink's development. Two other inks that were better with the 51 specifically were the later, fast-drying Double Quink and the extra-fast Superchrome.
The pen was not named after the P-51 Mustang fighter plane; but Parker took advantage of the coincidence by comparing the pen and the plane in its advertising. Additionally, a pilot who is suspected of falsifying flight records in his logbook in order to overstate his actual experience is said to have logged "P-51 hours," relying on the ambiguity of the term "P-51" to avoid directly confronting the suspect.
The 51 is popular with pen collectors, and in 2002 Parker issued a lookalike model called the 51 Special Edition. In 2004, the larger and heavier Parker 100 was released.
- Parker 51 Special Edition (Originally official site for limited reissue of Parker 51, but seems to have other news about Parker pens, too. ;)