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Defying Expectations

Posted by Dirck on 30 May, 2012

I have recently recieved a Parker VP in the mail.  I’ve yet to take any snaps, so you’ll have to for the moment imagine the Parker 75 with a black body, steel cap, and no trim ring on the front edge of the section.  In this, I’ve found several of my expectations confounded, and in only one case is this a bad thing.

In an overall sense, what I didn’t expect was to lay hands on a Parker VP with as little opposition an I encountered.  It came from a well-known auction site, it was in a group with some other slightly interesting pens, it’s a rather uncommon Parker… and yet I wasn’t outbid!  Who could have seen that coming?

The next and more pleasing tale of the unexpected attached to this pen is connected to the reason why it’s rather uncommon.  It was only made over a couple of years, and the reason for this was the brand-new filler mechanism.  Let me quote from my as-yet-unavailable page about the VP:

Unlike the “51” and 61, which still saw a large element of the pen stuck in the ink, the whole filler dismounted from the back of the section to reveal a long plastic probe {which acted more or less like a converter, and saved point-dunking}….The “Clean Filler”… represents yet another manifestation of the curse which Parker suffered under until the early 1970s regarding new materials, which had been biting them ever since the choice of plastic for the 21.  That long plastic probe was also a rather fragile item, and the hurried, increasingly distracted pen user of the 1960s didn’t have the time to be careful in remounting the filler in the section.  They broke in droves, and with the exception of a brief flirtation with them in 1967 they were abolished with the discontinuation of the VP, which discontinuation they are generally credited with.

When I won the pen, I thought to myself, “Well, we’ll have to see about getting a new filler.”  Upon getting the pen, and gently soaking the section, I found that despite the long fragile probe being stuck into its mounting with old ink, which only just went gummy by the time the soaking proved successful, the filler was intact and functional.  Since modern replacement fillers cost a little more than I paid for the whole pen, this lucky happenstance fills me with as much glee as my son’s recent habit of 2:30am dance recitals will allow.

There is one last unexpected apparition, and this one is not as pleasant as the rest.  Of the materials curse mentioned in that autophagous quote, barrel plastics were more or less sorted out my 1962, and the VP has no reputation for fragility in this direction.  Thus, while I was absolutely ready for a fistful of fragments in the case of the filler, I was equally unready to find a crack in the barrel about the length of my pinky finger’s first joint.

If that’s the trade-off I have to accept for a functional Clean Filler, I’ll take it.  Past experience gives me an expectation of being able to fix a barrel crack like this… oh, wait.  Well, I’ve also learned to keep my expectations very low.  Hopefully that will see me through.

Today’s pen: Parker “51″
Today’s ink: Noodler’s La Couleur Royale

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