Parker Vacumatic

 

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I believe this is the first vintage pen I’ve reviewed on That One Pen and boy is it a nice one to start with. First, let me be honest here, I don’t know much about vintage pens. I’m certainly not a vintage collector but seeing so many Parker Vacumatics and Parker 51s at the Philadelphia and Long Island pen shows put the vintage bug in my ear. So, I spent some time surfing the fountain pen forums and ebay listings looking for a quality vintage pen and eventually came across this Parker Vacumatic on ebay. It has been wonderfully restored and, compared to prices I was seeing at the pen shows, I think I got a reasonably good deal. It wasn’t a steal by any stretch, but I feel comfortable that I got very good value for my dollar. Importantly, of all the Vacumatics out there, I’ve always liked the ones with the black and blue checkered look so I’m especially happy to find this little gem.

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I’ve been using the pen consistently for about a week now and, although not a perfect writer, it’s darn close. I’m thinking seriously about sending the pen off to get the nib tweaked a bit. Given the investment I’ve already put into the pen, a few more bucks to get the nib closer to perfect would make some sense. It is a fine nib but to me, it writes closer to a medium. Actually, the best way to describe the writing would be to call it a wet fine. So, I might send it off to get the nib thinned a bit and maybe get closer to a wet, extra fine writer. The pen is currently loaded with Kon Peki which flows especially well. I may try something like Parker Quink or Waterman Florida Blue that might be a bit stingier with the flow. I’m open to other suggestions as well. Do you have an ink you use in pens that write just a bit too wet for your tastes?

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In terms of size and feel, the Vacumatic is also close to perfect. The posted length of the pen is ideal for my relatively small hands. The grip width is just a touch on the thin side for what I prefer but still comfortable. The gold nib is fairly small and matches the overall design of the pen beautifully. Even though the pen has been restored, everything about the writing experience just screams vintage to me. It’s a cool feeling writing with something so old yet so effective.

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Filling the Vacumatic could not be easier. Insert the nib into the ink bottle and depress the plunger 5 or 6 times and you’re ready to go. Being a restored pen, the tension of the plunger is tight but not too tight. I don’t have a lot of experience with Vacumatic plungers, but this one seems to work as well as these systems should. As you can see, there is a cap that covers the plunger and there is no discernible seam between this cap and the body when closed. Again, an old pen that just plain looks and works great.

Rating
I really, really dig this pen. It most certainly would be a “Carry It” pen for me, but the cost of the pen and the fact that it is vintage most likely means that it will not spend a lot of time in my pocket. For now, I’m keeping it in a pen case and leaving it safely on my desk when not in use. I suspect, as time passes, the reins will be loosened.

Analogy
Frankly, I’m having trouble with coming up with an analogy here. The Parker Vacumatic may be the oldest thing I own. It’s certainly the oldest thing I own that gets used on a regular basis. So, think of something old that is also cool looking and still works like a charm and you’ve got a good analogy for the Parker Vacumatic. In short, it’s a winner!

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4 thoughts on “Parker Vacumatic

  1. Thanks for the excellent post on the Parker Vacumatic. I’ve been a collector of vintage Parker pens (and other makers) for decades. It’s nice to see someone getting the vintage bug. There are a few things you might like to know. The cap that covers the plunger is called a “blind cap”. I suppose the name comes from that fact that this plunger cover is supposed to fit seamlessly so that it isn’t noticeable; you’re “blind” to it.

    Parker made the Vacumatic from 1933 – 1948. Your Vac is a one of the later ones. The last digit of the year the vac was made is engraved into the barrel after the “Made in USA” and looks like .9. This would mean the vac was made in 1939. Ambiguous digits like a .4. can be resolved because of the many style differences between the early and later vacs. In the case of your vac, the longer blind cap marks it as a later vac. I can’t quite read the year from your picture because that part of the engraving is dark. Perhaps it is a .3. or a .5. that would indicate 1943 or 1945 as the year of manufacture.

    I have a blog at myantiquepens.com that features a different pen from my vintage collection in each post. I haven’t covered a vac yet, but I’m sure to do so soon because I have around 15 – 20 of them.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about writing with your vac. They are as durable as they are attractive.

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