Have you ever seen something so beautiful you just had to have it? Something that just makes your heart stop, something that makes you obsess over it a bit too much, especially once you think you have a chance of obtaining it, even though it’s just a material item?
That’s how I felt about the Parker Vacumatic the first time I saw one. There was just something so Wow! about that stacked celluloid, with bright lines of color so equally interspersed with dark that they look like a skyscraper at night. Of course, on my journey with vintage fountain pens, it’s often the celluloid that gets me. It’s just gorgeous.
I thought about the Vacumatic a lot, watching numerous eBay auctions go to someone else because I wasn’t willing to spend the money. Finally the stars aligned (along with my finances and just the right auction) and a Vacumatic was on its way to me! I should also say here that I was also waiting for just the right pen to be up for sale. It had to be restored and in working order, preferably one of the slightly larger sizes, and definitely at least a medium nib. Check, check, and check. I crossed my fingers and hoped it was as nice to write with as I’d imagined.
This particular Vacumatic is a color called Golden Pearl. It’s kind of a fancy term for brown, but honestly it’s absolutely beautiful. The imprint is clear, with the date stamp showing it was made in 1941. (Thank you, Parker, for not making me guess like I usually do on my vintage pens!) I was incredibly pleased to find that the nib is in better shape than it appeared to be online, and the trim is in great condition. The barrel transparency is wonderful, letting you really see the huge amount of ink this thing can suck up.
I know, I know. But how does it write?
My first dip test was all I could’ve hoped for. The pen was incredibly smooth with very little feedback, which is how I like mine. I did use just a little micromesh to tune it up a bit, and then I was reaching for it every time I needed to write.
I did start to have problems after a couple days. The ink flow wasn’t keeping up with my writing speed, and the tines were constantly picking up paper fibers, essentially clogging itself. I’d filled the Vacumatic with Diamine Autumn Oak. Diamine can be a bit of a dry ink, and I know oranges often crust over. I flushed it out and refilled, but that wasn’t helping. I started to really worry. Was I going to have to send my precious Parker back? Would I get another one for such a good price? Did a pay too good of a price and now I was getting what I deserved?
It turned out the nib and feed were slightly misaligned, a small and simple fix I should’ve found right away. The Vac is now filled with Monteverde Horizon Blue, a lubricated ink that truly adds to the smoothness and makes for a lovely writing experience. I can’t say that I regret my purchase at all, and it’s so nice to see there’s some truth to the hype behind these pens.
Now there are other colors to collect!
If you want to know more about the Parker Vacumatic, I highly recommend checking out this article by Richard Binder.
Do you own or have you tried a Parker Vacumatic? I’d love to hear about it!
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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.