Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Parker 61 Set

 Parker was the first ‘luxury ‘pen I was gifted.  A Parker 45.  Frankly, as a student from a rural middle class family, if it was not gifted, I certainly could not afford to buy one. Growing up in a small village, 25 KM from the nearest Railway Station and 50 KM from the District Headquarters, I consider myself lucky even to have known what a Parker pen was! I owe this fortune to two factors. Firstly, my father and my grandfather had worked abroad, the former in Malaya (now Singapore, then part of Malaya) and the latter in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). A Parker vacumatic pearl design was his proud possession . Secondly, a large percentage of the population of Travencore and Malabar areas which now constitute Kerala had gone to foreign countries in search of work, mostly as clerks, nurses, teachers and accountants. Most of these migrants would earn good money in these alien lands and after a few decades would return to motherland building palatial houses with all modern luxurious facilities and show off their costly watches, pens, cigarette lighters and sunglasses. As a result, the average rural student in Kerala of those days were aware, sometimes painfully so, of the good things in life like luxury pens and other symbols of prosperity.

My second gift pen too happened to be a Parker. In fact not one, but a complete set of Parker pens, a fountain pen and a ball point pen. This too was from a ‘Gulf-returned’ friend, on the occasion of my marriage in 1975. The Mathews family were neighbours of my wife’s family and the source of supply of many coveted ‘foreign’ items like perfumes, saris, etc.

This beautiful peacock green Parker 61 set with gold-plated caps and trimmings was given in a befittingly handsome box, which unfortunately we have lost in the numerous relocations necessitated by the exigencies of service in the Indian Police Service.

The nib is the classic hooded gold one, a design originally developed by Parker, but imitated by numerous wannabes, especially by Hero Pen Company of China. The only nibs I have seen on Parker 61 is a fine writer, but it is possible they had at some time or the other produced, medium and broad nibs too.

The pen is very light weight compared to the big ones like Duofold or Montblanc. I now notice that the pen is very thin also compared to most pens in the luxury segment.  At the time when I came by this pen I had no acquaintance with any other premier pens. Another very interesting thing is that the Parker 61 fountain pen is the same length as the Sheaffer Prelude when closed, but the pen portion by itself is a good2mm longer than the Sheaffer when open and a good 1.4CM shorter when posted.  The pen is 11mm thick at the widest part of the body and just about 1mm thicker at the cap. The overall effect being that of a delicate dainty pen suitable for small handed persons and women. That suits me because I have a small hand.

The ball point pen is 13 CM long and just about 9mm thick. It uses the standard Parker Jotter refill or its innumerous clones.

 It is difficult for me to be objective in assessing this pen, both on account of the sentimental value and my own continuous use of it for several years. I must say to the credit of this delicate looking pen that it has withstood quite some abuse at my sweating hands and the only repair or replacement we have done in its 35 years of use is replacement of the filler mechanism in 2000.

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