Parker 51 Vacumatic Blue Cedar B

(SOLD) This is a rare, 1946 Blue Diamond Parker 51 Vacumatic in Blue Cedar with a 14k gold Broad nib and a stainless steel "Jeweler's Band" cap with a nickel-plated clip. The pen has been restored, which included a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle hand polish.

Parker 51 Vacumatic with a Broad nib

This is a beautiful and rare Parker 51 Vac. The cap, which typically did not hold up well to daily use, is in excellent condition, but the star of the show is the extremely scarce Broad nib. Most pens made before 1960 came with extra-fine or fine nibs. A medium nib is fairly rare, but a broad nib is extremely rare. The nib is a delight to use. It's smooth but confident, juicy but controlled. It will give you a beautiful line without a trace of hesitation. The tipping material is ample, and of perfect geometry, yet you feel connected to the page at all times, in a way that only a vintage nib is capable of.

It seems that a lot of fountain pen enthusiasts, myself included, love smooth nibs. It's an important reason why we prefer fountain pens over ballpoints. The sensation of a smooth nib gliding across the page is priceless. But how do you know if your nib is sufficiently smooth? Have you ever been tempted to make your nib even smoother? It's your nib, only you know if it's smooth enough, and you're free to make it smoother. But before you reach for that Mylar sheet, there are a few things to consider.

Smoothness is all about perception, and perception is a curious beast. A common theory is that our brain "stores" a bunch of exemplars of previously perceived sensations. When we experience a cue, the brain attempts to map that experience onto its set of exemplars, comparing and contrasting, at warp speed, to arrive at a verdict, such as "is this nib smooth enough?" The problem is, this mapping process is inherently fuzzy, and our perception fluid.

Provided the tines are aligned properly, it's perfectly normal for us to feel a nib's varying degrees of smoothness as we continue to use it. Perhaps you're writing on a flat sheet, or on a fat Traveler's notebook. Or maybe you've just had an espresso. Your hand might feel sweaty, or dry. Or perhaps the air is less humid than it was an hour ago. Perhaps you're tired and slouching over the paper more. I could go on, but you get the picture. The perception of smoothness is in constant flux. You can keep polishing your expensive nib on a pad of Micro-Mesh until you hinder ink flow, or, worse, damage the nib, and it might still not feel smooth enough. An experienced nib mesiter will be able to tell if a nib is smooth enough by visual inspection, followed by a quick test on paper, under controlled conditions. But, most of us are not nib meisters, our subjective perception of smoothness inherently inexact. So, don't worry about smoothness too much. Your brain will thank you for it, and your enjoyment of fountain pens will improve.