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Thread: Parker 51 availability

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    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Parker 51 availability

    After searching fruitlessly on eBay (because there is no other option) for a 51 in dark blue with gold cap, I was just about to give up on ever finding a 51 that I might enjoy. Then this popped up on the classifieds:



    Now that is a model I could accommodate in my literal handful of pens...


    … alas, this also seems almost impossible to find in this condition and at this price (it was $115).


    So, in today's market, and ignoring the price-inflators that populate eBay, what are the frequencies of the various 51 models that can still be found at sensible price?*





    *not talking about super rare things here.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    I think one of the most puzzling part of appraising a Parker 51 is the lack of clear explanation on what makes some of them expensive and the other ones not.

    If I can put it simply, it depends on these:

    1. Nib
    Some rare nibs like gold factory stub (beautiful rare creatures) will justifiably drive the price up. There are also octanium steel alloy factory stub nib (I have one) which is not as rare as the gold one, but still can hike the price up significantly. Most Parker 51 on ebay have F or at best M nibs. These alone shouldn't increase the price of the pen.

    2. Cap
    There is a website dedicated to the classification of rareness of the Parker 51 cap (just search "Parker 51 cap"). So there is no reason for us not to be able to see if the pen we're buying has one of the rare caps or not. If yes, high price, if not, regular price.

    3. Color (of the barrel)
    Some colors are more uncommon than the other. The elusive "plum" color will fetch higher price than others. I personally love the Dove Grey, Cordovan, and one of the many blues that I can't remember the name at this moment. So you can expect to pay the premium for a nice plum Parker 51 compared to a black one. Slightly related to the barrel, some of the earlier ones have a "jewel" at the end of the barrel. These are uncommon and looks cool, and can affect the pricing of the pen.

    4. Size
    This one is easy, the bigger, the more expensive. Although in usage, the Demi Parker 51 is often perfect, not to mention cute.

    5. Condition
    This affects all the above. A superb condition, plum Parker 51, with a rare cap, and gold factory stub will be at one side of the spectrum (read: Very Expensive), and the black Parker 51 with F nib with ordinary steel cap on the other end. Both could write equally well, but the price difference could be incredible.

    Another related aspect that may or may not affect the price is the filling system. Some people including myself much, much, much prefer the vacumatic filler because they are cool. Some prefer the aeromatic filler because they are convenient and familiar. I also love the vacumatic filler because their cap is (to me) a lot more handsome than that of the aeromatic filler. So it's subjective but could affect how much you are willing to pay.

    Hopefully this helps demystify some of the haze around Parker 51 pricing.
    Last edited by penwash; March 5th, 2019 at 08:44 AM.
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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    As a survey of P51s, I can find no rhyme or reason to their pricing structure. I sold one recently that I thought was at the top of a possible price for the pen (had a few dings in the cap and was definitely user grade), but was told what a "reasonable" price it was to sell a black P51 with no bells or whistles for $75.

    P51 is one of those pens that I find is all over the place regarding pricing and has enough hype around it that high prices aren't a deterrent for many.

    *I* wouldn't buy one for more than $60-$70 and it had better be in really nice condition, but other folks...

    Scouring ebay and such does come up with good deals from time to time but even then: it takes time.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    I saw a new 51 on the other place for $300, not sure why I would buy it because after the first fill it would be worth $100. I like a 51 that looks like it has lived a little, there are so many around that there is a 51 for all tastes.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    One can find 51s in all flavors at a pen show. Not uncommon to find restored pens with nothing special in the 75-125 range in quantities sufficient that you could not significantly change the supply and demand equilibrium.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Thanks, penwash, AzJon. I do kinda get the idea regarding certain hard to find models. Unfortunately, as has been seen, on eBay the prices vary wildly among the easy to find models too. Ah well, no matter.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Hi

    Due to the lack of pens in all my local SH shops and grossly overpriced often junk in my local Antique shops, I have to buy most of my pens on eBay, and find that their is no rhyme or reason behind the prices pens sell for, an example being, I was watch two almost identical Parker 51 Vacumatics, same colour, same cap, same condition. One ended at £20, the other ended at £120.

    I collect 51's and never paid more than £30 For Any of them.

    One thing you have to watch with eBay is that there are loads listed with a high BIN price, these have been on there for years and almost never sell, but it does give the impression to the uninitiated that they are worth far more than they are. Remember they made millions of them with are large percentage of those pens still in circulation so they are by no means rare.

    Some colour or caps are more desirable and those prices reflect their desirability only.

    Paul

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Of course the prices for 51s in eBay vary. That's the nature of the beast but it's an opportunity, not a problem. Learn eBay skills and you can find some terrific bargains. That's where I source more than half of my stock and I search for good quality, low priced pens so that I can pass low prices on to my customers.

    Because there are so many of them out there, the Parker 51 is one of the easiest pens to get what you want at a good price.
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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Yeah prices on ebay are insane. I count myself very fortunate to have found a 51 custom in an antique mall in repairable condition for under $50. All the other pens there were wildly overpriced, broken, and/or junk.

    If you check ebay listings every few days for a month or two—or use saved search and notifications on your phone app—chances are you will find a reasonable deal.

    Also, for those that don't know, the sacs in aerometric 51s are pretty long-lived so unrestored pens with good nibs probably just need a flush and maybe light buffing.

    PS: also filter for "buy it now" sales and sort by newly listed and save that search as well. I have gotten a deal or two thus way also.
    Last edited by azkid; March 6th, 2019 at 01:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    That's the thing. I do check my saved searches very regularly. Part of the issue is I don't really have a way to assess accurately from pictures/descriptions (perhaps inevitable), another part is that I don't have a lot (or indeed any) faith in sellers that I don't know - and let's face it, I don't know any sellers really. As a general statement I am beginning to feel that given my remoteness from anything other than eBay, all vintage pens should be off limits.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Should be possible to see a good number of 51s at the SF pen show (assuming you're still going). Esterbrook barrels too, maybe?

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    I hardly ever buy from a seller that I "know," but what I do know is that on ebay "I get the item I paid for or my money back" and if the seller didn't describe it properly, he has to provide a shipping label and pays for me to return it.
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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    That's the thing. I do check my saved searches very regularly. Part of the issue is I don't really have a way to assess accurately from pictures/descriptions (perhaps inevitable), another part is that I don't have a lot (or indeed any) faith in sellers that I don't know - and let's face it, I don't know any sellers really. As a general statement I am beginning to feel that given my remoteness from anything other than eBay, all vintage pens should be off limits.
    I know few or none of the sellers I buy from. It isn't a matter of having faith in them. As Chrissy says, if the item is not as described the seller must refund you and a return label will be provided. Your geographical location isn't relevant.
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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    That's the thing. I do check my saved searches very regularly. Part of the issue is I don't really have a way to assess accurately from pictures/descriptions (perhaps inevitable), another part is that I don't have a lot (or indeed any) faith in sellers that I don't know - and let's face it, I don't know any sellers really. As a general statement I am beginning to feel that given my remoteness from anything other than eBay, all vintage pens should be off limits.
    On the flip side, I've managed to grab some nice pens because the price was low, the pictures were garbage, but the gamble payed off. That doesn't always work, mind you, but that landed me an old-style Pelikan M600 and, most recently and appropriately, a first year P51 with a solid sterling cap.

    Sometimes, its not the quality of the pen you buy outright, but the joy of finding an restoring a pen to function. A simple Sheaffer Admiral is one of my favorite pens, not because its in great condition (definitely user grade), but because it was the first pen I ever restored. It costing $13 didn't hurt either.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Quote Originally Posted by Deb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    That's the thing. I do check my saved searches very regularly. Part of the issue is I don't really have a way to assess accurately from pictures/descriptions (perhaps inevitable), another part is that I don't have a lot (or indeed any) faith in sellers that I don't know - and let's face it, I don't know any sellers really. As a general statement I am beginning to feel that given my remoteness from anything other than eBay, all vintage pens should be off limits.
    I know few or none of the sellers I buy from. It isn't a matter of having faith in them. As Chrissy says, if the item is not as described the seller must refund you and a return label will be provided. Your geographical location isn't relevant.
    I understand what you are saying but geography does play a part here; it often takes two weeks or more to send something here (at the cheapest postal rate). That coupled with the irritation of receiving a pen that has been misrepresented by the seller, the additional time spent lodging a refund request and waiting for it to be agreed by the seller (or having to escalate to eBay resolution centre), the time taken to repackage the item and return to the post office. These are things that potentially sour every speculative transaction.

    Because there are so many of them out there, the Parker 51 is one of the easiest pens to get what you want at a good price.
    Apparently this rule doesn't seem to work for me. Don't know why, but what I can say is I have rarely seen a model that I really like that is also at a reasonable price. Again, I'm not looking at rare models.


    Should be possible to see a good number of 51s at the SF pen show (assuming you're still going). Esterbrook barrels too, maybe?
    While it is likely that I will be able to get to the show for a few hours, I haven't planned on it being a buying expedition, and I don't expect that to change.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post

    Should be possible to see a good number of 51s at the SF pen show (assuming you're still going). Esterbrook barrels too, maybe?
    While it is likely that I will be able to get to the show for a few hours, I haven't planned on it being a buying expedition, and I don't expect that to change.
    Fair enough. A pen show seems like an opportunity free from most of the impediments you've cited is all. A good chance to see what's available at least.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    A reasonable assumption. My main excuse for going to the show is to get a feel for some of the modern pens, take notes on sizes and fit to hand, and then make a decision (if I want to) back home. Modern pens are at least easily available online, and are of course brand new. So basically just going for the try before you buy idea really.

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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    I live in a somewhat remote area and have to buy a lot of stuff online. I often buy on eBay. I just accept that it might take a couple of weeks, and that once in a while (quite rarely, really) I'll have to arrange a return because something wasn't as described. Not only will eBay stand behind me, but PayPal will too, or if I use a credit card (generally I don't because I prefer PayPal), my credit card company will also stand behind me. I always pay attention to the feedback rating of the seller and read the feedback, and carefully read the descriptions and look at all the photos, enlarged if available. I'll also ask the seller a question or two if it's necessary. I've been buying and selling on eBay for 20 years or more, and very rarely have had a problem.
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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    the additional time spent lodging a refund request and waiting for it to be agreed by the seller (or having to escalate to eBay resolution centre), the time taken to repackage the item and return to the post office.
    This suggests some misunderstanding of how ebay now works. As soon as you receive an item that you wish to return, you select "I want to return the item" in the replies on the "contact seller" form. It automatically opens a case with ebay. No choice there at all. The seller has to agree to accept the return and, if the item isn't as described, must issue a label within 7 days or ebay step in and issue it. ebay actually tells the seller that he will be marked down on his dashboard if ebay have to step in to deal with it.
    I've never had a problem with repackaging such a small item like a pen and sticking the return label on there. It's certainly much better than being stuck with something that isn't what you paid for.
    If you live somewhere where ebay might be an important resource, then there are times when you have to use it even though you should use it as wisely as you can. Either that or miss out on the items you want.
    Last edited by Chrissy; March 9th, 2019 at 01:35 AM.
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    Default Re: Parker 51 availability

    Hmm, didn't know about this change. Certainly reduces the turnaround time to a minimum of 5 weeks (still a lot of time though). Not sure that this change makes much difference to how I feel about dealing with eBay sellers. The options appear to be: go with a well-known player and pay a highly inflated price, or go for the cheaper priced items and risk getting a lemon (I've had more lemons than good pens, so my confidence is through the floor in this respect).

    Ah well. It's not that important I guess.

    note: I would have been tempted by the one in the OP except the seller has a postal policy that hammers the overseas buyer.

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