Initially, I was not a fan of the Parker 51 and its hooded nib. I thought it was ugly and why would anyone want to hide their nib? I am a lot of things, and being close-minded is not one of them. Hooded nibs are an acquired taste, these simply grew on me, to the point, I thought traditional nibs were ugly. Good news, I got over that as well.
Having a hood over the nib seems like a great idea – the pen becomes much more resistant to drying out while idle, accommodates temperamental inks, and reduces ink loss due to evaporation. Thus pens write longer using the same amount of ink.
Hooded nibs came into being as a necessary extension of a super fast-drying ink called Superchrome, developed in the 1930s by Parker. Superchrome contains isopropyl alcohol and is fairly corrosive. The ink dried so fast it would dry out in a traditional open nib/feed arrangement while the pen was in use.
The solution was simple, invent a pen for the ink, which became known as “51”. The ink was pulled from the shelf when it became evident that long-term use dissolved the stainless steel nibs on Parker pens and corroded the breather tubes in the “51.”
Here we have my two 51s, (1945 & 1941).
Long after the withdrawal of Superchrome ink, hooded Parker pens remained popular. Hooded nibs were not necessary but they performed more like a ballpoint, from rigidity to resistance to drying, thus making them more susceptible to ballpoint competition.
Parker did a good job copying with their own success, no surprise so did others.
I present my hooded Platignum and my sorta hooded Sheaffer Taranis.
Since the hooded pens have been compared to ballpoints, I decided to give the 51 (inked with Waterman Black) a go against a BIC Cristal. Remember, this is a scientific test published on the Internet prior to peer review – Believe at your own risk.
No surprise, the Parker 51 is far superior, and yes it writes like a ballpoint (very stiff), startup favors the Parker, and the overall appearance of the ink.
The Parker did not have that BIC ink smell that I grew up with and harbor the fondest of memories. I wasn’t going to try the “lint” test – carry the pen in my back pocket without a cap. After a long weekend, the 51 required a hard start while the BIC simply worked.
Hooded pens are still made today, primarily by Chinese pen companies and Lamy. While researching this topic I came across a Wing Sung 601 hooded demonstrator (a blatant Parker 51 knock off). Lacking self-control, I bought it ($17 + free shipping!).
Inked up with Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue. I really thought the blue would “pop” in the demonstrator, alas not. Maybe Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki would have been a better choice? Too late now.
With hooded pens, the nib hood protects the nib fins, minimizing evaporation. This model, it also acts to channel the ink to the nib. Examining the pictures note how the ink populates the nib while encapsulated by the hood.
As for the pen, much like the 51, it too writes like a ballpoint. I had no issue with the nib straight out of the box. Actually, I’m rather impressed, considering, but that is a discussion for another day.COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.