Parker "61"

Fifteen years after reinventing the fountain pen with the model 51, Parker created this pen, the model 61, with what has to be the simplest filler yet...no squeezing, no screwing, no levers, no moving parts of any description -- just unscrew the barrel and drop the pen, point up, in an ink bottle for a few seconds, and a wick inside the pen draws in a load of ink.

As if that weren't cool enough, the 61 also cleans itself up after filling; the Teflon coating on the filler repels ink, requiring nary a wipe before reclosing.

This capillary filler was probably the last word in fountain pen technology; although Parker would go on to offer an adjustable point for the V.P. and 75 series pens, and would also create the daring T-1 with its one-piece titanium section and point, the emphasis in the industry was shifting away from the fountain pen and toward ballpoints, rollerballs, etc., and no one has come up with any particularly eye-popping advancements in fountain pen technology since the 61's capillary filler.

The model 61's revolutionary filling system did have its drawbacks, however; they are notoriously difficult pens to flush and clean, although they can brought back to life with a thorough soaking in water. Parker got so many returns and repairs on the 61 that they eventually replaced the capillary filler with a conventional cartridge/converter system.

The 61 was introduced in 1956 with prices starting at a stiff US$20 (in plastic with nickel-plate cap), and was advertised "a gift unlike any on this planet...or any other"; this seems an apt description. Like the 51, the 61 enjoyed a nice long model run well into the 1970s.

 

Ahead of the capillary filler, the 61 is quite similar to a 51, using a cylindrical point and a plastic collector assembly concealed under a fasionable plastic hood. The 61s can be distinguished from 51s by the little arrow inlaid just behind the point, the rainbow cap, and the presence of an end jewel (which few 51s, mostly older ones, had).

This early 61 (possibly from the late 1950s) has the "rainbow" chasing on the nickel plated cap, and the updated arrow clip that began appearing on Parker pens in the late 1940s. It writes well, tho I am not sure I've fully mastered the filling technique, and the pen is occasionally difficult to start (although it works well once started).

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network
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