Last night I met up with another member of the FPN-P group and traded in my Kaweco ALSport for a Parker Vacumatic. I liked my Kaweco a lot, but I’ve been so infatuated with the Parker Vac for as long as I’ve been collecting. I put up my Kaweco for sale or trade to fund another purchase (another Parker 51), but when the seller came up to offer his Parker Vac, I jumped on it. It’s not like I can walk inside Scribe and buy an almost 70 year old pen.
I’ve only seen Parker Vacs in photos so I didn’t know what to expect when I finally saw it in person. This pen is on the small side (about the same size as my Parker 51 demi). The first impression I had on it was quite pleasant. I thought it was a beautiful pen, and the details on it are very impressive.
The Vacumatic line was first produced in the year 1932 and continued production until 1948. It replaced the Duofold as the top of the line pens for Parker during this time period. This particular pen I got was made in the second quarter of 1945, based on the fact that the color Azure Blue Pearl was manufactured from 1940-1948 as well as the date code “.5.” on the barrel. It has a single jewel on the cap and an enameled blue diamond on the clip which signifies Parker’s lifetime warranty.
What initially drew me to the Parker Vacumatic was the unique design of the cap and barrel. It’s really hard to capture the depth and complexity of the colors in photos but it’s actually alternating rings of celluloid. The clarity on the body on this pen isn’t superb, but it’s still beautiful and majority of it is still luminous.
The design of the clip is reminiscent of the artdeco movement. They just don’t make the clips exactly the same way anymore. I love the details on it. This one’s called the split arrow; underneath the blue enameled diamond is the word PARKER. I like that the lines on the arrow’s quiver is imprinted very clearly and it’s ornate without being overly decorative.
The edge of the cap also has some beautiful geometric patterns (typical of artdeco designs during those years) on the brass trim. It’s already a bit faint but it’s still visible.
This pen is called a Vacumatic Major, even if there’s nothing “major” about the size. The length of the pen while capped is just a little over 5”. It’s light, but the pen is so beautiful and so well-made that it doesn’t feel like you’re holding cheap plastic even if it’s not a particularly heavy pen.
The balance of the pen is just spot on; I can use it with ease whether posted or unposted.
The nib is 14k gold, although this one’s from a Vacumatic made in 1948. What I found interesting is how the artdeco design on the nib makes it feel pointier when writing. I compared the nib’s design with my TWSBI 580 Diamond and it does look similar in shape and size, but the design on the nib of the Vacumatic gives it a more slender look. When I write with it, it feels like I’m writing with a narrower point than I actually am, like I’m writing with a quill. It also gives a visual impression that it’s slightly folded in the middle, but it’s really just the split arrow etched along the middle.
The first time I tried the pen, it was writing dry. However, I knew that this can be easily remedied. So I tuned it a little when I got home and viola! It writes with a generous ink flow. It rivals the smoothness of my Parker 51 (one of my favorites) with the plus side that it lays down a significantly wetter line and the nib is gorgeous.
If I do a bit of speed writing on it, it’s even more delightful. It has that pleasant feedback on it and the feed keeps up nicely.
Below is the video of a writing sample I made. I wrote all this with little to no pressure on the pen. You can see how generous the ink flow is and how the nib just glides effortlessly on paper.
The filling system is (as the name implies) a vacumatic filler. Being a third generation Vac, it has a plastic plunger made of celluloid material because other metals were scarce at that time (due to World War II). The pen’s diaphragm and filling mechanism works perfectly, though. I filled and refilled it several times in the night because I couldn’t make up my mind which ink to use, and the vacumatic system held up well. This filling system also means that the pen holds more ink than cartridge/converter fillers.
All in all, I consider this pen one of the most beautiful I have in my collection so far. I am glad to have traded for it and I inked it up with Parker Quink black just until I can get a better shade of blue that I can be happy with. It’s already part of my daily carry, after I put it through long and continuous use last night. I love it a lot. For a 69-year old pen, it looks gorgeous!
It needs a bit more polishing, but with a little bit of time and patience, it’s gonna look more beautiful. The barrel’s clarity is still pretty good, but as one veteran collector told me, eventually the celluloid will react to the chemicals of the ink and will cause some amber discoloration on the barrel. It’s best to take it in stride as part of the patina it will gain over time. Still, for its age it looks really well taken care of.
The laminated celluloid of this pen is simply beautiful. I was having a hard time taking a good photo of it to show off the depth and complexity of the design so I just took a video. It doesn’t completely capture the beauty of the celluloid rings, though. I guess the best way to fully appreciate this pen is to see it in person. Suffice it to say that I’m completely infatuated with this pen. I’m eager to find it in other colors, and in a medium point. 🙂