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The Parker 51, introduced in 1941, is a fountain pen. 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 America 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.
A common misconception about Quink is that it was intended primarily for the Parker 51, which generated over 400 million dollars in sales during its thirty-year history. Quink was ideal for use with the 51, Parker's other pens of this generation were just as capable of using it. The Parker 51 was only made available in 1941, ten years after Quink's development. Two inks that were best used with the 51 specifically were the later fast-drying Double Quink and the extra-fast Superchrome.
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). 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 at the time, 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.
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.
- US patent 2223541, Martin S. Baker, "Fountain Pen", issued 1940-12-03
- US patent 2612867, mark H. Zodtner, "Fountain Pen", issued 1952-10-07
- Parker 51 (Penpedia entry for production history of the Parker 51) (Seems to be an advertising link -- production history not easily accessible, if it exists.)
- Parker 51 (Review of book about the Parker "51")
- Parker 51 Special Edition (Originally official site for limited reissue of Parker 51, but seems to have other news about Parker pens, too.)