These are the regular and not the oversize models that cost an arm and a leg. They are simple pens, easy to acquire and not overly expensive but how classic these two pens are ?
These are real vintage icons and I use both for my daily writings.
Itís a ton of joy and satisfaction to use a pen that was designed so many years ago and is still in perfect working condition, takes ink and leaves a smooth wet line on the paper.
Both pens are worth around 80$-100$ and both pens were fully restored by Sean Gosse (SMG) who did a great on both pens.
Itís really funny to think I have all these fancy shmansy pens in my collection but these are the ones I use. For me itís an easy choice simply because they are common, reliable, not expensive and so darn classic.
These pens were made at a time that pens were not a statement but items that were suppose to work hard everyday by everyone and I love this attitude in the vintage pens.
The Balance was made when Parker Duofold was Parkerís top of the line pen. At that time the Balance was with a simple but proven lever filler but when Parker introduced the Vacumatic Sheaffer decided to add a filling mechanism on its Balance and so on 1935 it introduced the Vacuum Filler system.
So letís start.
Isnít this a hard one, the Balance is the prototype of the MB 149 and many other pens, such a simple design but so classic and timeless kudos to Sheaffer that didnít make another Flat Top and designed this pen.
Parker Vac on the other hand looks a little less modern in its approach even though itís much more modern looking then the Duofold that it replaced.
I love the blind cap and the transparent ink chamber.
So who is winning in design ?
I must choose the Balance. There is something so classic in its design and so it wins this round
Sheaffer had reliability issues with this filling mechanism back in the days but today due to new material pen techs like Binder, Ron Z and Sean Gosse can restore this pen and you can expect many years of joy from this pen.
This system doesnít use a sac and so the entire barrel is basically the tank and so even though the pen is not big it holds a lot of ink in it. To operate it you must unscrew the bottom and pull it out, a rod will come out and then you stick the nib in the ink bottle and then push the button hard fast, the pen will such the ink in and you got yourself a big ink reservoir in a rather small pen, very smart and elegant.
Parker Vacumatic is a much more complex filling mechanism. Well not to operate but in its internal parts but as far as I know is considered easier to fix then the Vacuum filler of Sheaffer.
To fill this pen you unscrew the blind cap stick the nib in ink and press the button 5-10 times this will fill the barrel and this system is also very good in holding a rather large amount of ink even though not as much as Sheaffer Vac-Fill.
So who wins ?
I really thought about this one for a long time and simply couldnít make up my mind so I have decided that itís a tie.
Balance, ergonomic and comfort
Both pens are extremely light weight and rather small. The Vac is about 13.5mm capped and 12.5 uncapped.
The Balance on the other hand is 13mm capped and almost 11.5mm uncapped.
So for a guy like me with rather big hands the Parker is a bit more comfortable in the hand both due to its added length and wider barrel but donít think the Balance is no good. It makes you forget its smaller size and is great for use.
These pens are so light weight that there balance is not an issue but if you insist they are both very neutral with makes very pleasant writing experience. These pens are pens I would take with me for long session of writing because of all the benefits I mentioned above.
So the Vacumatic wins this part
Both nibs are 14K, rather stiff and of the same size.
I enjoy them both. They are both very wet but do feel a little different.
The Vac has a M nib and is equivalent to today F nibs it is very very smooth almost to a point of being too smooth. Never the less it has enough feedback to make this a very enjoyable write.
The Balance has a F nib and is much finer then modern F nibs. I would guess itís close to modern XF nib even though I am not sure as I never used an XF nib.
This nib is smooth even though not as smooth as the Vacumatics nib. It has a ton of feedback and is a great nib.
Again I have very hard time to choose which pen wins here but at the end I chose the Balance. Its nib is among my favorite nibs and even though it could be a wee bit smoother and less responsive it is still a very unique nib that I enjoy immensely so this feather touch nib wins but by a very, very small margin.
By numbers the Balance wins and I must admit for now it is indeed my favorite of the two even though I love the Vacumatic and its hard not to ink it and use it often.
Two great pens, both oozing with fun, class and both highly recomended but at the end of the day to me the Vac-Fill Balance wins.
Edited by goodguy, 30 April 2009 - 11:42.