The Parker 61 – released in 1956 – is a follow-on from the phenomenally successful Parker 51. It is less curvaceous than the earlier 51s, there is an arrow inlaid into the hood above the nib, and it has a capillary filler.
I have an early version double jewelled model in Burgundy with a 12k rolled gold cap marked Made in England. The medium nib has a slight stub to it (which gives the letters a very soft italic quality) and just enough tooth to scratch pleasantly without feeling rough.
Unlike the Sheaffer Snorkel this has the simplest of filling mechanisms. A plastic tube filled with tightly wound plastic sheets. To fill; unscrew the barrel and dip the filler unit into the ink bottle. Capillary action draws ink into the pen. After a few seconds take the pen out.
The tube is teflon coated so the ink just runs off without needing to be wiped. Screw the barrel back on and it’s ready to write. The very first versions of these pens filled by dipping the nib side into the ink, so adverts of the time show pictures of the pen nib down in a Quink bottle with celebrities of the day looking on.
Of course, times had changed since the advent of the ballpoint. The capillary filler is dependable if cared for. If left unattended, though, ink dries up in the filler and affects the pen’s performance. After a few years of seeing returns in their service department, Parker replaced the capillary filler with the rubber sac. Keep the pen filled with ink, flush the filler with water once in a while, and it works just fine. It helps to use safe inks – Parker Quink or Noodlers Legal Lapis are favourite choices of mine.
Without the rubber sac, there isn’t the air pocket that reacts to changes in pressure during air travel which causes leaks in fountain pens. I’ve taken this pen onto planes without any trouble so far.