Pen Doctor: Side by Side: The Parker

Pen Doctor: Side by Side: The Parker

Side by Side: The Parker “51” and the Hero 100

If you‘re an enthusiastic fan of the Parker “51”, you might wish that this greatest of all pens were still in production. You’ve probably looked at Parker’s new 51 SE and its hefty price tag. You’ve probably also read the reviews and comments, from which you’d have learned that the 51 SE looks like a “51” externally but is so different internally that it’s a “51” in name only. This means you’re right back where you started, wishing Parker still made the “51”.

Well, Parker doesn’t make the “51” anymore, but you can stop wishing. The Shanghai Hero Pen Company, which grew out of the ashes when the Communist government nationalized foreign holdings in China, is making pens in the original Parker factory in Shanghai, and one of the company’s best-selling models is the Hero 100. The Hero 100, which looks much like a Parker “51” Mark III, is as close as you’re going to get to a “51” without seeing PARKER “51” on the barrel.


When you take a real look at the 100, you see a pen with a very attractive brushed cap that looks like stainless steel. The metal color is less brown than most stainless, though, and it is remarkably attractive. Barrel colors are burgundy, turquoise, and black, and there is also a Flighter version (pictured in this article). Plastics are solid, not at all cheap or cheesy, and the overall fit and finish of the pen is as good as that of the original “51”. Surprised? So was I; I had been expecting to see a cheaper, lightweight, less finished appearance like that of the Hero 329 and 330, steel-nibbed pens that are designed to sell for much less than the 100’s sticker tariff. Here’s the 100 shown posted, with a 330 for comparison:

The clip, instead of the classic Parker ring-mounted version, is a Sheaffer-style spring-loaded clip, and it is very sturdy. Other small differences show up in the metal jewels on the cap and at the end of the barrel; there are 61-style tassies at both ends of this pen, but with turned metal jewels instead of celluloid. But this is not a 61; it has the diameter and heft of a “51”, and it lacks the heat-embedded arrow that Parker added to the 61’s hood as part of its 1950s style makeover.


For all practical purposes, the Hero 100 is a “51”. It has an aerometric filler, and its internals is so much like the guts of a “51” that the feed and the 14K nib are interchangeable with their Parker counterparts. The hood is longer, like that on a Parker 61, but that is to allow Hero’s slightly revised design to fit.

The catch comes when you start comparing parts beyond the nib and feed. Here‘s where it gets really interesting because the 100 is actually finished better than a Mark III “51”! Like most “51” Mark I pens, the 100 has a sac guard that is sturdy brushed stainless, while the Mark III’s sac guard is made of thinner material with a bright finish. That particular “51” feature made its appearance with the advent of the Mark II, and while it is admittedly less costly than its predecessor, it also looks and feels decidedly cheaper. Here are pictures of the two pens’ fillers:

Take a look into the barrel of a 100 Flighter, and you will see a solid plastic barrel, trimmed down and sheathed in the same way as a Sheaffer Snorkel Masterpiece. Look inside a Parker Flighter’s barrel, and you’ll see an empty metal shell. This is a small point, but the Hero’s barrel, with plastic reinforcing its shell and with a solid tassie, is less likely to suffer the dings so common to the barrels of Parker “51” Flighters.

Speaking of metal barrels, both Parker and Hero use metal threads in their Flighters’ barrels. But on the Parker, those metal threads mate with the plastic threads of the connector that holds the filler to the front end; on the Hero, the connector threads are metal. (There’s a plastic connector inside; what you see is a connecting ferrule like that on a Parker 61.) This, like the sheathed plastic barrel, is a small point; but it is one that suggests, overall, a more durable pen. learn more about pens nibs by clicking here

If I wanted to find something to pick at, I could point out that the tassie jewels on my pen aren’t both polished smooth; they both show machining marks, with one being very slightly rougher than the other. Golly gee whiz, what a terrible disappointment…

But How Does It Write?

It’s a “51”, remember? That should tell you all you need to know. When I filled my Flighter for the first time, I found it very slightly toothy, and the flow was dry, as I’d expect from a “51” OOTB (Out of the Box). A few minutes adjusting the nib for a nice wet flow and smoothing it, and this pen writes as well as any of my “51”s. Hero is noted for fine nibs that tend toward extra fine, but the nib on my sample, while still extra-fine, is closer to a true fine than I had expected. The dealer who sold me the pen says that the whole lot he currently has in stock is this way.

In Conclusion

If you know me, you know that I am firmly entrenched in the “vintage” camp. I don’t buy modern pens, and while I admire many of them I really don’t have any desire to own them. That has all changed. The Hero 100 is the modern pen I had been waiting to fall in love with. I’d almost say it’s a vintage “51” in modern dress. And that’s something!


The Hero 100 is selling in the USA for $55.00, and at that price, it’s one of the best bargains since Pepsi gave you 12 full ounces for only a nickel. You can get it from either of these dealers: Norman Haase, His
Ray Adams, Wood ‘N Dreams

I have no business affiliation with either of these gentlemen, but I am a satisfied customer of both.

Recommended Reading

Parker 100 — an Evolution and a Revolution in Design

Parker 100 — an Evolution and a Revolution in Design

When I first saw the new Parker 100 last year I had mixed feelings. The Parker “51” has been one of my favorite writing instruments for many years and this new visitor appeared to have an attitude… ‘move over cousin “51” you’re a has-been and I’m the new kid on the block!’

Well, once in my hands for review I can say the Parker 100 is a modern complement to the “51” yet this pen has qualities and design to make it stand quite separate and apart from anything ever produced by Parker. The design is borrowed from legend and brought to the 21st century with modern materials and technology. Slightly larger than the “51” or “61” I find it is still quite light and just as manageable as its smaller cousin. The 100 weighs in at 1.25 oz, slightly twice the weight of the “51” and only .25 oz more than the smaller Sonnet. So given the slightly larger profile, the lightweight makes this an almost identical feel in the hand. Learn more parker pens at

The Parker 100 is 5 5/8” (142mm) closed and almost 6” (150mm) with a cap posted. The barrel is 0.498” (12.66mm) diameter, noticeably larger than my “51”s yet has a very light and comfortable fit. The satin-brushed caps and striking new style clip gives an appearance fit for the new generation. The clip is tight and gives a firm grip, and notably a smooth and solid fit when it is posted.

The trim is 23K gold or silver-plated gold trim with a high polish finish that contrasts nicely with the matte finish of the brushed caps. The metal end jewels are a bright high polish finish but are recessed so they would do not appear to be exposed to scratching or abrasion. I really like the appearance of the hooded nib and find a very slight flex, maybe not a part of the intentional design, but nevertheless we are very conscious of this performance and are able to coax a slight line variation.

The ballpoint, pencil, and rollerball are almost identical in size and they feel in the hand. Each weigh-in at 1.25 oz. The pencil is a twist-action clutch repeater, the lead is gravity fed and stored under the eraser. The ballpoint also accepts the new gel refills.

All gold trim Parker 100 fountain pens have 18K gold nibs. All silver trim fountain pens have 18K gold rhodium-plated nibs. Parker 100 caps are finished in a shimmered gold or shimmered graphite effect, and the barrels are lacquered in a choice of five modern colors. The barrel colors are Smoke Bronze, Diamond Blue, Honey White, Opal Silver, and Cobalt Black.

The filling system is either an ink cartridge or ink bottle with the Deluxe piston fill converter. Fountain pen nibs are available in XF F M and B. Parker 100 fountain pens are beautifully gift-boxed, and include a black velvet pen pouch.

So where does this model slot in the Parker family line up? I would say right with the vintage or modern “51” SE and the Sonnet.

Pen in hand image courtesy of Pentracer Joseph Camosy

Parker 100 pens are available from Fountain Pen Hospital

© 2004 Len Provisor.

The Parker Duofold Monoplane

The Parker Duofold Monoplane

May 1927, Charles Lindberg achieves the first solo flight across the Atlantic, igniting the world’s fascination with flying machines and the endless possibilities of the future. World records for speed and distance were being broken on a regular basis. Amelia Earhart followed one year later in June 1928 to become the first woman aviatrix to fly across the Atlantic.

Rewind to 1921, when the Parker Pen Company introduced their new oversize Duofold fountain pen, with a patented bright red design with black ends which “Rivaled the beauty of the Scarlet Tanager”. The Duofold pen was hugely successful, and when unbreakable Permanite was added in 1926, demand grew so rapidly that the war for market share exploded.

The primary combatants were Sheaffer, with their oversize Lifetime flat top. Waterman stubbornly maintained hard rubber, making it available only in black, red, or red/black mottled and ripple patterns. Wahl Eversharp’s oversize Personal Point in 1929 eventually led to the Doric in 1930.

Fountain pens were big business, and serious advertising campaigns were launched to keep brand names in front of the worldwide market. What better way to keep the public’s attention than to ride the excitement of those modern flying machines?

Kenneth Parker purchased this plane in 1928 for $ 18,230. Extra specialist equipment included a turn and bank indicator, so the pilot could determine changing direction in the dark and extra-large landing lights in case of a roaming cow on the local pasture landing strip. Unique to this plane was the ability to fold the wings flush against the fuselage. Practical for storage, but invaluable when an unexpected landing forced the plane into a field too small for take-off. The local farmer would then use his tractor, horse, or mule to tow the plane down narrow country roads to a more suitable field for departure. How incredibly forward-looking and clever!

November 1928 in Chicago and Amelia Earhart christens the giant Fairchild FC2W2 monoplane “The Duofold”. This was one of the most modern and powerful aircraft in its day. Coincidently, this was the same model aircraft used by Richard Byrd to fly over the Antarctic the following year; and he carried a Waterman pen. Waterman advertised this achievement in their national advertising. The Fairchild plane also flew around the world in a record-breaking twenty-three days. Imagine the newspaper headlines, the excitement, and the crowds at local airports whenever The Duofold flew into town. This was one of the most famous airplanes in the world…and everyone dreamed of a chance of a thrilling ride.

This aircraft had an enclosed cabin for four passengers and one pilot. Construction was metal sheeting upfront around the engine and pilot cabin, metal tubing, and wood framing, covered with sheet canvas. The giant 410 hp Wasp engine was capable of propelling this plane to 140 mph and climbing to an altitude of 19,500 feet. I saw this very plane recently, and it was a humbling experience. Difficult to believe that it was state-of-the-art in its day.

Immediately after the christening, The Duofold took off on a Grand Tour of America, visiting dealers in most major cities. Within a few months, as many as 2,300 guests were taken aloft for the thrill of their lives. Often flying over cities, Duofold’s were dropped to demonstrate the properties of the unbreakable Permanente. Dealers would display the pen to amazed crowds, who could not buy them fast enough.

This same promotional stunt was repeated in England, with a smaller similarly decorated DeHavilland “Puss Moth” taking the place of the Duofold plane. English crowds considered this stunt a typical example of American excess and were not overly impressed.

As further aeronautical world records were achieved in speed and long-distance travel, the giant red and black Parker Duofold monoplane was shared in the limelight at these events.

Many years later this aircraft was sold to an airline, flying a shuttle route from Key West in Florida to Havana, Cuba. Eventually, it is believed, the Duofold found a final resting place in the deep blue waters somewhere off Cuba, where it is now most likely part of the beautiful coral reef.



Without reservation, this book now stands as the definitive reference source on the Parker “51” the world’s most successful fountain pen.

David and Mark Shepherd have a passion for the Parker “51” which started with David’s use of the “51” in his schooldays and today has built up a collection that is one of the most comprehensive in the world. During his collection process, he has acquired substantial expertise in the subject which provided the impetus to write this book. As a retired Dentist in England, he is fortunate to have had privileged access to the Parker archives at the Parker Pen Co Ltd in Newhaven. David’s son Mark became involved in this project after graduating from Oxford University and starting work as a solicitor in London, spending much time researching the archives and helping to shape the structure of the book. Mark’s input into this book has been invaluable and he is also responsible for the extensive photography.

The “51” fountain pen was originally Kenneth Parker’s idea. As Geoffrey and Steven Parker, grandsons of Kenneth Parker, a state in the Foreward of this book “To us, the “51” is Kenneth Parker…and looking at a “51” today always brings him to mind.

The contents of this book, with many never before seen materials from deep within the Parker archives, is a journey along with Kenneth Parker, his design team of mechanical engineer Marlin Baker, patent attorney Ivan Tefft, and metallurgist Milton Robert Pincus. David Shepherd now documents the chronology of the “51” which actually started in 1928 with Parker’s desire to get into the ink business by developing a quick-drying ink. The ink was strongly alkaline, a new pen material was needed, and along came DuPont Pontalite, later renamed Lucite. The book now takes off as a 13-year adventure of research and development trials and successes to develop a pen unlike anything ever produced before or since. The final design was one of some complexity, with the pen’s 23 separate components requiring 238 different operations to manufacture, 42 of which were done by hand-produced to a tolerance of one-thousandth of an inch. Yes, the book almost reads like a novel, with the highly detailed structure of every development in manufacture and marketing almost every page has a startling discovery that finally sees the light of day.

The structure of the story begins with the history of the beginnings, the very root of design tracing to the first button filler of 1914. David explains and well illustrates with original designs and photos of developmental models and concepts. Illustrated are the major components of the product and detailed information on early test marketing, which was cleverly conducted in faraway markets of South America out of the glaring eye of the American markets in case of failure or disappointing results. Fundamental problems were identified, such as with the ink collector design. Continuing, David documents the evolution of the design from First Year Vacumatic filler, to American, English, and Canadian production. The mystery of the infamous Red Band filling system is finally fully explained, in part as a result of the huge garage sale lots found by pen collector Roger Cromwell a few years ago, containing perfectly preserved pens and parts belonging to a former Parker metallurgist.

“Glancing out his office window one day, Kenneth Parker noticed a marker sign on the highway running beside the Janesville factory. It read U.S. 51. On a business trip to New York he dined at Toots Shor’s restaurant, he noticed the address on the menu…51 West 51 Street. He decided on a name.”

The story continues with elaborate illustration and text concerning metamorphosis from Vacumatic to Aerometric fillers, the Demi size “51”, Liquid Lead pencils, ballpoints, and the desk pens continuing up to the 2002 Special Edition model. David and Mark document the great variety of style designs, aluminum and plastic jewels, prototype colors and cap designs both original and modern, prototype nibs and fillers, clips, inks, and some really strange-looking demonstrators.
Also illustrated is a huge variety of packaging and gift boxing, dealer point of purchase displays, and sales techniques are also explained. Almost everything documented in this book is new information that has never been disclosed before.

Did you know there was a “51” nib made in Arabic medium and broad, plus a broad music stub?
Prototype nibs included a three-way slit, a flat pointed nib, a totally flat and layered top, and bottom nib, and most outrageous, an experimental rubber-coated nib.

Furthering the great value of this simple yet complex pen is the role played by the “51” in world-historical moments. In 1941 the saga of Parker “51” manufacturing switched almost immediately after the introduction to war production efforts and the products they made. Advertising documented the use by famous individuals in peace and wartime, by Presidents, Generals, and world-famous personalities. The influence of post-war aviation, increased public transportation made the development of the high altitude leak-proof Flighter. This was “AA-1 priority” as Kenneth Parker would state. Post-war aviation demanded the next level of development for the traveling public and Parker created a design concept copied by almost every major pen manufacturer.

David and Mark conclude the book with extensive provenance, dating by barrel imprints, cap designs, anatomy drawings, key dates, valuations, and price guidelines. Extremely well researched and written with stunning photography this book is now the icon of Parker’s “51” reference. Adding to the value is an elaborate Glossary and Index making for easy quick reference, a chronology of key dates, and even has an illustrated Parker family tree. I can certainly say this was a wonderful discovery for me to read and highly recommend this as a choice book for any pen collector, modern or vintage. I would even say that after reading this book you can easily slip into any conversation with serious “51” collectors and have as much or more information for a knowledgeable discussion. The value of information far exceeds the modest $80. retail price making this book an easy reach for any serious or even casual pen collector.

Parker “51”
Hardcover, 169 pages, 8 ½” x 11”, dust jacket, full-color illustrations, index, and glossary.
Available worldwide.

David Shepherd will attend the 2005 Chicago Pen Show and autograph his books.

Check out for A brief guide on acrylic paint

James Bond Shooting Pen

James Bond Shooting Pen

The story begins in an anonymous hotel room when Pentrace reader Willis reports a pen sighting while watching the Bond movie “Never Say Never Again” on TV. With the details posted on the message board, our intrepid agent 007 (jeff Peirce) who was monitoring communications that night, reports back with the information that the pen is in fact a Mont Blanc 149 (old style) with a Union Jack flag on the barrel. He is also able to confirm that the very pen is now in the possession of “M” (Mike Mihlberger of Office&Things).

Flying down to “M” the following day, 007 records images of the pen on a special disposable camera and arranges for “Q” (jeff’s son James) to digitize and compress the images and relay them trans Atlantic to Pentrace HQ in Ireland.

Unbeknownst to our agents, the evil operatives if ISP were conspiring to thwart the successful transmission of the images, but reckoned without the resources of 007 who, having battled with the system many times before, had arranged for duplicates to be sent by both “Q” and agent 006 (Brian Nelson). Despite several dastardly attempts by the evil email operatives, the images were digitally enhanced and safely transmitted to the website for examination by international pen experts…

The movie “Never Say Never Again” was not one of the “official” Bond movies. It wasn’t directed by Cubby Brocolli and didn’t feature the famous opening theme or shooting sequence. It saw the return of Sean Connery to the role of Bond after many years in what was in effect a remake of “Thunderball” with a twist. The villain was Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera) and it was she who met her demise on the end of a rocket-propelled by the MB 149 shooting pen, leaving only a pair of smoking spike heels behind!

It is unusual for a person with the refined and educated taste of Bond to carry a fountain pen with a gaudy flag emblazoned on it, an image more suited to a British seaside resort souvenir shop, but the props people obviously saw nothing wrong with redecorating the precious resin. Another Mont Blanc was employed in the film “Octopussy”, this one a Solitaire with a listening device in the removable blind cap. The Solitaire was filled with a concentrated mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, a combination which can be approximated by mixing equal parts of Penman Saphire and Private Reserve Tanzanite.

“M” displays the pen Union Jack pen from time to time in his shop but refuses to sell it or even quote a price. He was given it by Mont Blanc in the early days, and it is certainly a great conversation piece. Even better is the fact that it remains within the pen community and is not lost in some back-lot prop store.

Many thanks to Mike Mihlberger for allowing the pics to be taken and published here, to James Peirce for the technical work, Brian Nelson for the backup support, and most of all to Jeff Peirce who was both Producer and Lead Cameraman.

To end on a quote from the film:

“We’re not allowed to give endorsements.”

Bond to Fatima Blush, who insists that he put in writing that she was his greatest love.

Next time you’re asked to check your MB 149 at the door, you’ll know why!

Pen Doctor: Adjusting flow in a Parker

Pen Doctor: Adjusting flow in a Parker

Adjusting flow in a Parker “51”

Mike Walton asks Frank Dubiel while noting that the shell of a Parker “51” must touch the nib, saying that if it contacts the nib too tightly it will restrict ink flow. Is heating the shell and either pressing the nib against the shell or the shell against the nib a reliable means of increasing or decreasing inflow in a “51”?


First off, I have to disagree that Frank. I’ve seen innumerable “51”s whose hoods were very close to, but not in contact with, the nib, and in fact, the hood on my “regular carry” pen doesn’t contact the top surface of the nib. That said, it’s certainly desirable that these parts touch, as the hood is part of the capillary system by which ink is brought to the nib tip.

Heating the hood is generally, I think, a bad idea. Most “51” hoods are acrylic, which will take a lot of heat without even hinting that they want to bend, but some are polystyrene plastic, similar to the stuff used in the 61, and these won’t take nearly that much heat without going limp. Which is which? Unless you’re very experienced with the “51”, I wish you good luck guessing.

To adjust the flow in a “51” I use three techniques, all of which require that you remove the hood. The first is adjusting the tine spacing. (Please don’t just grab the pen and force an X-acto knife or other metal-destroying object between the tines; you will damage the slit walls.) This almost always results in a need to realign the tines and smooth the tip, but it is often easy and effective. Sometimes the fit of the hood is too close to allow the tines to be adjusted, and in these cases, I use a small rat-tail file to remove a very small amount of material from the inside of the hood where it lies adjacent to the nib. The last method, which I use primarily to restore flow on pens that quit from time to time, is to heat the feed and bend it very slightly toward the nib. The bend is in the vicinity of the breather tube’s vent hole near the back of the feed. Be careful here, as later feeds are plastic, not hard rubber, and don’t like this treatment at all!

Leaking Targa Nibs

Grady Walter asks: I have two Sheaffer Targa (slimline) pens. Both have developed mysterious leaks that appear to originate around the outside edge of the inlay portion of the nibs. Is there a way to eliminate this leak? Ink appears to build up around the underside of the nib more quickly when the pen is capped.


This is an unfortunate failing of Sheaffer’s otherwise wonderful Inlaid Nib®. The first line of defense is Sheaffer’s own service department, where you may still be able to get exchanges for defective parts. Send an email to Sidney Brown to see whether she can help you. If not, a possible remedy is to disassemble the pen and flow shellac between the nib and section shell. To get the shellac to flow easily, you’ll need to dilute it with denatured alcohol. Capillary action will draw the fluid into the space, and you can then dry it by placing the part under a lighted incandescent light bulb. I’m also investigating the use of a product that is intended for sealing cracks, but I don’t yet have enough data to recommend its use.

Finding Replacement Pen Sacs

Milt Butler asks: I purchased several old ink pens that need to be refurbished. Many of the pens have ink sacs that are missing or are so hard that they break. Can you tell me where I could buy replacement ink sacs?

Rx:There are several good places to buy sacs. The two that have the best variety are the Pen Sac Company and Wood Bin Ltd, which are manufacturers; but many pen dealers also have sacs for sale. Here’s a shortlist of good sources, in alphabetical order:

Fountain Pen Hospital
10 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007-2218
Web site:

Web site:

The Pen Sac Company
P. O. Box 4470
Carlsbad, CA 92018-4470
Web site:

Wood Bin Ltd.
R.R. # 6, Simcoe
Canada N3Y 4K5
Web site:

I’ve written an article on sac replacement that you may find useful. There’s a copy of it on Pentace, but the copy on my own site is revised and improved. Click to read the article.

Yet More on Waterman CF Converters!

Rx:I reported that Fahrney’s, in Washington, D.C., ( has Waterman CF converters. (They call these parts “Lady” converters.) From Nick Sweeney comes a note that Peter Tweedle ( also has these converters. Peter is probably a better source for European collectors.