It also, in my humble opinion, is one of the nicest pen designs ever made. Pens made after Parker stopped using date codes early to mids cannot be dated to a particular year, but you can at least narrow the possible range of years. The cap is also attractive as well as practical: Most of the Vacumatic colors varied from lot to lot, and some pens are now showing discoloration due to age; thus, any two pens — or even the several parts of any given pen — can have markedly different hues or shades. The new plastic is softer and will take scratches more readily; and it also can shrink over time. The imprint on the majority of these pens is at the end of the barrel, near the decorative "jewel", all in one line. But there are almost always traces to indicate that it was there. One does find with regularity "first year" pens with plastic jewels. It is completely devoid of any markings. There are however today reproduction jewels available in aluminium, so this feature alone is not a guarantee that the pen is a First Year. In most examples, the filler will be the standard aluminum speedline filler used on the Vacumatic line of the time, although not all "first year" examples have the speedline aluminum filler.
Dating of Parker "51" pens is easy, down to the quarter it was made; at least for the barrel. I suspect that the real problem may have been high assembly costs due to the lack of any internal provision for automatically aligning the nib and feed with the shell, such as was present in the But there are almost always traces to indicate that it was there. Parker redesigned the filler and the blind cap to save those metals for the war effort. It never leaks, always works and never breaks, well almost Note the red collector. It was named the Parker "51" because Parker felt that they needed a name that wouldn't be hard to pronounce in any country and also easy to remember. They can be easily distinguished from later production by several unique characteristics. In most examples, the filler will be the standard aluminum speedline filler used on the Vacumatic line of the time, although not all "first year" examples have the speedline aluminum filler. Note the distict features, Double aluminium jewels, metal filler with diamond imprint. The body was designed to look like a jet-fighter from the side without the wings, of course and the material used Lucite was the same that some wartime planes had in their nose-cones. Most gold-capped Aero-metric pens have plain stainless-steel clutch rings. This clip is found on coin silver caps, on brushed stainless steel Stacked Coin Band caps, and on matte Lustraloy caps with a single narrow raised band. Baker on January 6, , and issued to him on December 3, From then until , the codes took the form of a pair of digits; the first indicating which quarter and the second the year. Patent No 2,, , which provided improved performance at high altitude and was also easier to use. Silver alone appeared in four different versions: Patent No 2,, , by Marlin S. First quarter, In , the codes for the quarters were changed to simple dots; the accepted reason for this is that it saved in the making of the stamps; rather than having a new code-stamp each quarter, a dot was merely ground off the one for the year. The picture to the left shows an early "First Year" pen with a ribbed hood, similar to the pattern found on the pencils. When the plastic proved too fragile in real-world use, engineers replaced it with red-anodized aluminum. One generally takes the barrel as definitive of the age of the pen as a unit, since caps, barrels and blind caps were usually all made together, and swapping tends to show. First, starting in , the year of making was printed at the bottom of the tubular nib, but of course dating from the nib is inexact at best, as the nib is one of the most frequently replaced parts. One of the ways Parker reduced cost was to make the threaded collar that secures the filler of plastic, in a red color to distinguish it visually from the black-anodized metal collar of the Vacumatic version. The most significant changes are not visible to the user: The Parker "51" Mark II is probably the most functional fountain pen ever made.
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