The Parker 21 Curse

My first Parker fountain pen, purchased off eBay about a month ago, was this Parker 21:

Parker 21 Fountain Pen

Originally sold on eBay as a “Super 21”, when it arrived it turned out to be a normal 21 with a Super 21 cap.

This quickly became my favorite pen (as it has a Fine-Medium nib) and daily writer. I carried it around in my shirt pocket and used it for everything.

Unfortunately, after about a week it started slowly seeping ink into the middle finger of my writing hand. Close examination revealed hairline cracks in the hood (the part of the pen that holds the nib).

I was able to repair the cracks with a minute amount of SuperGlue, and then used shellac to seal the threads of the hood to the section. This worked fine, and the pen stopped leaking.

A few days ago, I was flushing the pen out with water at the sink in my bathroom, when I set it down for a moment. It rolled off the counter, and fell to the floor. When I picked it up I saw what I expected – worse cracks near the clutch ring on the hood.

More superglue and shellac were ineffective this time.

Parker 21 Dissasembled

At this point, I’ve retired the pen to storage. I’d like to replace the hood, but the one source on the Internet that has (green and red) Parker 21 hoods has not yet replied to my email inquiry. Sending it off to a “pen doctor” would cost more than I paid for it in the first place.

Sure, I could just go buy another 21 on eBay – but this pen was my first Parker, has a GREAT nib, and it’s just a sentimental thing.

I won a bid for what was supposedly a Parker 51 on eBay last week, but when the pen arrived it was an *actual* Super 21 – a 21 with a 51-style nib, and the same cap that my dark-blue 21 has. However, it has issues – it was stored nib-down for a long time, and all the ink dribbled out, flooded the cap, and stained the hood. What ink was left in the pen has dried in the collector. I’ve flushed, filled, and soaked it in water twice so far, and it’s still not flowing to my satisfaction.

So, right now, my count of “Working Parker fountain pens” is “one”, it being a Parker 51 Special currently filled with Baystate Blue ink.

Update: Since this entry was written, I’ve picked up two more Parker 51 Specials off eBay, and will be putting the Parker 21s into my parts box. Unfortunately, they’re just not worth the cost to fix.

6 thoughts on “The Parker 21 Curse

  1. Parker 21s are notorious for developing those cracks…it’s just a function of the plastic that was used.

    On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a better fountain pen than a Parker 51.

  2. I still like my 21 (a Super) in spite of the potential for cracks in the hood. According to Richard Binder the later 61 suffers from the same problem as the 21. Yet I don’t see the same kind of negative posts about the 61 that I do about the 21s on the pen boards. Anyway, I don’t baby mine, but I am careful with it. I don’t like my chances of finding another 21 in the same color, for the same amount that I paid for it, in the same excellent condition, a second time on ebay.

  3. i just bought a parker 21, and it is my first pen. it is in mint condition, having never been used. no cracks, no leaking, still in the original box. The bladder was perfectly clear, and not even a scratch on the cap. it writes wonderfully and i hope to get some use out of it before it begins to crack as seems likely

  4. Try “isellpens.com” the hero 616 looks just like the Parker, writes great no leaks.

  5. Concerning repairing cracks in parker 21s. I restore and repair fountain pens and have had to repair many cracks in 21s,.the best and strongest way i’ve found is instead of using glue i use pure acitone, It’s a mildly strong solvent that will soften plastic.Just spread the crack slightly and using a artist paint brush lightly dab both sides of the crack over and over until the plastic is softened.Don’t let the acitone dry between coats.press the crack together until a slight bead of soft plastic is showing.wrap the area with vinyl tape as tight as you think best.let set 24 hours to cure,this forms more of a weld than a glued surface.Remove the tape,sand and polish.with practice the crack will hardly show if at all.To sand I use a micro mesh kit the paper grit runs from 1500 down to 12000 grit and is great to refinish plastic. These kits are available at any professional automotive paint supply shop. Hope this helps.

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