Parker 51 Aerometric, Teal Blue, B

(SOLD) This is a 1949 full-size Parker 51 Aerometric fountain pen in Teal Blue, with a gold-filled cap, and a 14k gold Broad nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand).

Parker 51 Aerometric, Teal Blue, B, uncapped

I am often asked to recommend a vintage pen for a new fountain pen enthusiast. Say, you've tried a Lamy Safari, a TWSBI Vac700, perhaps even a Pilot Custom 74, and you've swallowed the bug. There are a few vintage models that can be excellent "first vintage" pens, but the Parker 51 Aerometric is probably the safest bet. No, it is not made of a colorful, intricately patterned, modern acrylic, but it's everything else you want in a fountain pen.

Parker 51 Aerometric, Teal Blue, B, nib close-up

Let's start with the nib. Most Parker 51s came with a Fine nib. This particular nib, however, is a Broad, a truly rare model! It lays down a juicy line of about 0.7 mm (on my paper), with a slight stub-like quality. It's dependable and brimming with self-confidence. A firm nib, but feeling soft on paper, thanks to its excellent shock-absorbing properties. It's a perfect nib for a beginner due to its forgiving nature. Yes, it will let you get away with all kinds of quirks of your grip, angle, rotation, and writing pressure. A nib that's ready to write, whenever you command it to. And, it looks as good as new, with ample tipping material, of perfect geometry.

Parker 51 Aerometric, Teal Blue, B, showing the filler unit, a clear sac

The pen has superb ergonomics thanks to the long, streamlined shape, with a comfortable, step-less section, and excellent balance, posted or not. The filling mechanism has just been completely overhauled and will last for decades without having to be serviced. It's easy to use, efficient, and holds a lot of ink. Finally, the appearance. Again, unless you must have a super colorful bespoke acrylic pen, the 51 is a handsome beast. It's somewhat toned-down, classy appearance makes it a great office writer. It will look stylish, but without drawing unwanted attention. The little bit of gold-filled "bling" is actually very tastefully done and adds quite a bit of character to the pen.

The pen is in fantastic condition, without any flaws or defects. One interesting bit about the barrel is that the date imprint is missing. It was uncommon but some P51s did come without a date imprint. It's just an interesting detail, and I thought I'd mention it.

Parker 51 Aerometric, Teal Blue, B, capped

Sheaffer Triumph Vac, Gray Pearl, B

(Sold) This is a 1942 White Dot Sheaffer Triumph Vac fountain pen in striated Gray Pearl celluloid, with a 14k gold, two-tone Lifetime Triumph Broad nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, a complete overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). I work according to current "best practices" in pen restoration, and I use high-quality replacement materials. This is a full-size pen, measuring 5.2" capped and 0.45" in diameter.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac, Gray Pearl, B, uncapped, with the plunger partially extended

During the first half of the 20th century, in the U.S., people learned a handwriting style known as the "business cursive." Such a style called for a pen with a fine or extra-fine nib. Therefore, very few pens made in that era come with medium or broad nibs. A broad nib was utterly impractical in daily writing, but it made an excellent signature pen, used specifically to write checks, sign documents, etc. I believe this pen was special-ordered as a dedicated signature pen. If you love broad nibs, this is your chance to own a fantastic vintage pen. Frankly, it's been a long time since I've seen such a broad nib on this particular wartime model.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac, Gray Pearl, B, nib profile, also note excellent barrel transparency, with the background showing through

The problem with modern broad nibs is that they are often overly polished at the factory. That makes them appear very smooth, but it also causes serious ink flow issues, particularly hard-starts. This type of issue is sometimes called a "baby's bottom" flaw, and it has to be corrected by a skilled nib meister before the pen can write perfectly well.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac, Gray Pearl, B, capped

Sheaffer came up with an ingenious solution for nibs to feel smooth but without the unwanted performance issues. The Triumph nib comes with a slightly upturned tip, which not only gives its owner a superbly pleasant sensation of excellent smoothness, but it also makes the nib  very forgiving of angle and rotation. Do you write with your fingers? Do you rotate the nib from letter to letter and write with a heavy hand? Are you left-handed? Do you have the "death grip?" No problem! This nib can take it in stride.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac, Gray Pearl, B, nib closeup showing excellent condition, geometry, and alignment

Cosmetically, the pen is in amazing shape. Typically, this chrome-plated trim does not wear well, but this one appears to be in pristine condition, which further supports the guess that this pen was only used occasionally, for special purposes. Barrel transparency is excellent, as is the gorgeous Gray Pearl celluloid. The filling mechanism works like a charm, and the pen holds up to 1.8 ml of ink (using the two-stroke method). A superb specimen!

Sheaffer Triumph Vac Sentinel Deluxe Oversize, Blue, B

(SOLD) This is a mid-1940s White Dot Sheaffer Triumph Vac Sentinel Deluxe Oversize fountain pen in Blue, with a two-tone stainless steel cap, and a 14k gold, two-tone, Triumph Broad nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). This is the largest model (Oversize) in the Sheaffer Triumph line-up, measuring 5.2" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

I receive a lot of requests for a vintage pen with a broad nib. Unfortunately, such pens are exceedingly rare. They were special-order items, used primarily as "signature" pens. Writing with such a nib would have been impractical, given the handwriting style, paper, ink, and customs. Today, however, broad nibs are in demand, as handwriting changed, and we now write mostly for pleasure, enjoying broad, wet nibs that bring out the beauty in our favorite inks.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac Sentinel Deluxe Oversize, Blue, B, uncapped with the plunger partially extended

If you've wanted a vintage Sheaffer pen with a broad nib, look for further. This is a beautiful example of the Sheaffer Triumph Sentinel Deluxe, and it is the Oversize model. It is a large and thick pen (at least by vintage standards) and it posts beautifully. so it should be comfortable even for people with large hands. The pen is in excellent condition, without any defects or flaws, with deep, vibrant Blue plastic and excellent gold-filled trim. The cap is in equally great shape. The translucent section is clear, the imprint strong. The pen fills efficiently and holds up to 1.8 ml of ink (using the two-stroke method), which is nearly three times as much as a typical cartridge.

The star of the show is the Broad Triumph nib. It's one of the broadest nibs Sheaffer made at the time (excluding italics), and it writes like a dream. It lays down a juicy line of about 0.7 mm (on my paper) with a light touch. This pen will also perform admirably with a heavier hand and it's very forgiving of your holding angle and rotation about the page. You can flip it upside down for an XF line (it's designed that way). A lot of modern broad nibs are overpolished at the factory causing performance issues, such as hard-starts. This pen, however, never hesitates, thanks to Sheaffer's amazing engineering.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac Sentinel Deluxe Oversize, Blue, B, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry, alignment, and a clear translucent section

The Iowa company called it "Progressive engineering and watch-like precision" and while that's very much true, I also believe these pens are more than just products of good engineering. They have that intangible quality, call it a soul, that makes you want to write all day, every day. They're just so much joy to use.

Sheaffer Triumph Vac Sentinel Deluxe Oversize, Blue, B, capped

Sheaffer Touchdown Valiant, B

(SOLD) This is an early 1950s Sheaffer Touchdown Valiant (TM) in Black, with gold-filled trim and a 14k gold, two-tone Triumph Broad nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle polish by hand. I work according to current "best practices" in pen restoration and I use high-quality replacement materials and specialized tools.

Sheaffer Touchdown Valiant, B, uncapped, with the plunger partially extended

The truth is, most vintage pens (made before 1960) come with fine nibs. Medium nibs are rare, but broad nibs are scarce. The simple reason for that is that broad nibs were less practical in daily writing, be it in the office, at home, or at school. Also, the business cursive taught at schools at the time, called for a pen with a fine nib. Broad nibs were typically special-order items, and finding them today is not easy.

Sheaffer Touchdown Valiant, B, nib profile showing excellent geometry and alignment

If you are a lover of broad, juicy nibs and have been disappointed not to be able to find a vintage pen with such a nib, I have good news for you. This Sheaffer Valiant comes with a fantastic Broad nib. By modern standards, I'd rank it somewhere between a western M and B, but I tuned it wet, so it's going to write a true-to-size broad line for most intents and purposes. A smooth, but confident writer, this nib will bring out the color depth and saturation of your inks. It will make your inks shade and sheen. It will glide across the paper effortlessly, but in a controlled manner, in a typical Triumph fashion. If you've been wanting to add character to your handwriting, look no further.

Sheaffer Touchdown Valiant, B, capped

The pen is in overall excellent condition, without any flaws or defects. Both the plastic and gold-filled trim elements show only very faint surface wear, difficult to see with the naked eye. The ink view section is clear. Frankly, this pen looks as though it was made today and not sixty five years ago. The filling mechanism works efficiently and holds a lot of ink. The Touchdown really was "the easiest pen to fill," as Sheaffer claimed in its advertisements at the time.