The Parker “51” was the single most successful fountain pen in the history of … well … fountain pens! It stands to reason then that throughout the time they were made other companies tried to copy some of the design or, in the case of Russian & Chinese pen companies, just blatantly copy the whole design in its entirity, using cheaper materials, and hide behind laws in their countries that allowed copyright theft.
All of the following pens are modern Chinese clones of the Parker 51 or the Parker 61, though the 61 clones are basically the same pen as the 51 with a silver or gold arrow on the pen body pointing to the nib so that you can orient it quickly and easily – they don’t have the body design of the original 61. While on the subject of the nibs, of course they’re just made out of steel, not the gold of the Parker originals.
One thing to remember is that the brand WingSung/YongSheng is owned and licenced by the Shanghai Hero Pen Company whose main brand is Hero so you often see the 3 names used interchangably for pens with the same product code. They will be the same thing. Jinhao is owned by the Shanghai Qiangu Stationery Company and so is an independent company.
Hero (英雄) , 329, 330
The Hero 329 is one of the oldest and most popular of the Chinese pens and there are plenty of “vintage” models on the market from the 1980s & 90s in excellent condition. They have a reputation of being one of the best quality Chinese brands and are reputed to write well.
They have plastic cap liners so the nib won’t dry up and a 4-finger clutch so the recapping action is very smooth. This model has a similar clip to the Parker VS, so not the arrow clip of the Parker 51. They also employ the Aerometric filler system of the later 51s.
I don’t have the Hero 100 as it’s one of the oldest models and vintage pens now sell for astonomic prices – over £100! There is a modern version but it also sells for upwards of £65 direct from China. They seem to be very well respected though so I’d like to get one soon.
Wingsung / YongSheng (永生) 601 / 618
These are my favourite because they have a modern copy of the Vacumatic filler – there are even some lovely demonstrator versions too, which show off the ink & filling mechanism really well – vintage demonstrator Parker 51s would probably set you back £1000s and wouldn’t look as nice as the modern ones. They have an old-style cap clutch and plastic cap liner so they don’t dry up. They write beautifully and are lovely to use. They might not be as butter smooth writers as the gold-nibbed Parkers but they are at least as good as the steel nibbed Parker 21 & 45.
These are actually the least like a Parker than any of the others but they are an interesting variant and they are clearly “paying homage” to the Parker 51/61, with the hooded nib, gold arrow on the nose and the pastel colour scheme. But they differ by being fatter, having a flattened barrel end and having a converter filling system.
These come in a variety of colours and have a transparent ink window instead of a metal ring in the barrel and they come with the Aerometric filler system. Some have the Parker 61 nose arrow. The caps have plastic liners and old-style clutches but the recapping action is a bit scratchy on a few of mine, making them feel cheap. But they write well and come with standard EF & F nibs. They even have a smaller Demi version for people with smaller hands.
This is a bit of an outlier in that it’s a copy of the modern, rereleased (2020/21) Parker 51 with the screw cap & cartridge converter. They look very nice but I haven’t writen with any of mine yet so I can’t say how they write but I would suspect that they write as well as the Parkers with steel nibs.
This is another in the mould of the Jinhao 85 but they have steel caps – it seems a bit odd to have a different model number for a different cap colour but in all other features they are the same.