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Parker Vacumatic Junior


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Delphideo

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:57

Parker Vacumatic Junior Grey Pearl

For a long time I avoided vintage pens either out of fear of them being expensive or fear of me buying a lemon that I'd end up having to send to repairs. Here on FPN a certain name came popping up when referring to vintage pens and that was the Parker 51, but I never did like the style, however I immediately fell in love with the Vacumatics. They're just so aesthetically pleasing with their gradiating bands and translucency. I finally decided to buy one for myself. This pen is one of the restored pens from Richard Binder's monthly special tray. I've no affiliation. I'm not an expert on these pens, but someone completely new to them at the moment of this post, and I hope that through the eyes of a newbie to such a wonderful pen I may help others who are also thinking on purchasing a Vacumatic.
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Appearance & Design (9/10) - Glorious celluloid in gradiating silver and black
This pen is almost 70 years old and it does show some wear, especially in the clip and bands, but I think that just adds to its beauty. That such an object was used way before my time and is perfectly functional leaves me in awe. Personal awing aside, the pen is a dark traslucent celluloid pen with gradiating horizonal grey bands that give it a sense of movement and speed. The clip is the split arrow model with little to no chrome. The cap includes two thin worn bands near the bottom of the cap. The chrome here is also gone, but it doesn't detract from the pen's beauty. I think it actually looks good for its age. Upper part of the cap sports a squat faceted design. The cap also has two neat holes at the side. It definately looks like a design feature and not something added later by an owner. Ventilation, perhaps? The pen is from the third quarter of 1946. (Thanks for the clarification, jar!). My score reflects on the pen itself and I'm not deducting points from expected wear.


Posted Image

Junior Capped by Delphideo, on Flickr


Construction & Quality (10/10) - They certainly knew how to make things to last
The pen is made from celluloid. It feels robust while at the same time silky smooth. The pen does feel like it would survive a fall. I'm mostly confident of this due to the large scratch in the blind cap area. The celluloid seems to absorb impacts as opposed to hard plastic where shattering would be more common due to the hardness of the material. Let's head over to the filling system now. In order to access it the blind cap has to be removed. It screws on and off easily while at the same time not showing where it meets with the barrel unless you are looking for it. Both the caps' screws are secured and don't need neither too much screwing or have too little. Quality is excellent. I'd imagine because of the war materials would be scarce and things would be cheaply made, but then the world didn't have a culture of disposable objects like we do today. Things were made to last, not to be used and tossed when finished.

Weight & Dimensions (8/10) - Almost like a Pelikan
The pen is roughly the size of a Pelikan M400 at 12.9cm capped and 15 cm posted. Cap is a screw-on and it is a light pen, again roughly the same weight as a Pelikan M400. It's not a small pen, but since I'm used to pens around the Pelikan M800 size range, it does feel just a bit small for me, but without it being awkward. Posted feels more comfortable, but there is some weight in the back. I'd like to add that I'm mostly a Pelikan user, hence the comparision. The lightweightness is good since I do extended writing sessions and this prevents my arm and hand from getting tired. Also, despite it being light it does feel sturdy to survive a fall from a desk, but that's something I'd rather not think about since it makes me sick to think damage could come to such a pen.



Posted Image
Junior M Nib by Delphideo, on Flickr


Nib & Performance (7/10) - A super wet nib that likes to bite down on the paper
The nib is a medium stiff one, to the point that it reminds me a bit of my Lamy Al-Stars. It's quite a nail that is also elegant and sharp. It tapers acutely towards the tip that for a moment I thought it might have been a fine nib. The nib has a color the hint of rose. I can't confirm if it's gold or plated steel, but it sure looks like gold to me. A small arrow is engraved onto the nib and one can read the inscription "Parker U.S.A. 6. R". It draws a very wet line on good paper, even more than my Platinum Music Pen. I've had the pen help produce some feathering on Rhodia paper but to be fair I was using Noodler's Polar Blue and this is an M nib. Once I changed the Polar ink and switched to a *ahem* cheaper paper, it still wrote wet, but there was no longer any feathering. One thing that surprised me was that the pen has quite some tooth in it. I was expecting it to be smooth, but maybe "binderized" Pelikans have spoiled me. The tooth is obvious on good paper, however; it isn't bad, but it is something unexpected. Below are some writing samples using Noodler's Manjiro Nakahama (Whaleman's Sepia) on Clairefontaine 90g paper french ruled paper.


Posted Image

Junior Writing Sample by Delphideo, on Flickr

Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) - Ridiculously fast and easy
The filling system consists of a rubber diaphragm connected to a plunger system and this has got to be the fastest and easiest way to fill a pen up. You unscrew the blind cap to reveal the plunger filler. In this case it's an all beautiful celluloid postwar plunger. I know I've been using beautiful a lot in this review, but wow, they sure knew how to make some gorgeous pens in the past that even the filling mechanism looks nice! Anyway, you just dip the pen into the ink bottle, press the plunger and release and ta-da! You're set. My father has multiple sclerosis so doing simple things like ink filling with a piston or C/C is a hassle for him at times, but even he was surprised with the ease he filled up this pen to the point that he's considering getting one for himself, too. The pen's barrel carries a lot of ink so you won't have to worry about refilling often. Cleaning is also a breeze with the plunger system. If you want to know more on how it works, please check here. (External link)


Posted Image
Junior Plunger Fill by Delphideo, on Flickr

Cost & Value (10/10) - One great buy
The pen cost me $85 dollars plus shipping and without a doubt it was a great value. However, it looks like the older the pen, the more expensive it gets. I think it's a great buy considering I have pens as good as this one that cost twice as much. It's a real pleasure to use it. After my experience with this one I am thinking about getting myself another vacumatic after this, perhaps a Major so it feels more comfortable in my hands.

Conclusion (9/10) - It's become my daily writer...
...despite its tooth and really wet line. If you want to take a foray into the world of vintage pens, you can't go wrong with this. It's a beautiful pen that shows that aesthetics and function can go hand in hand.

Edited for spelling and new information

Edited by Delphideo, 11 June 2011 - 02:22.

In some things in life it's better to take a Zen approach. If you think too much you won't achieve your goal, wheras if you don't think and let yourself go, it shall be achieved with ease. I find this helpful in writing, kendo and music.

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#2 jar

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 02:13

A small arrow is engraved onto the nib and one can read the inscription "Parker U.S.A. 6. R".


That's where you find what you are calling the serial number.

The significant parts is the "6."

The "6" is for 1946. Which quarter it was made was shown by the dots. In the first quarter of a year there would be three dots, one each side of the number and one beneath. Each quarter they filed one dot off the stamp so in the second quarter there would be the number and two dots, in the third quarter the number and one dot and in the last quarter just the number.

You have a jewel there and I know you'll enjoy it even more in the future.

edited for appalin spallin

Edited by jar, 11 June 2011 - 02:14.

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#3 Delphideo

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 02:24

A small arrow is engraved onto the nib and one can read the inscription "Parker U.S.A. 6. R".


That's where you find what you are calling the serial number.

The significant parts is the "6."

The "6" is for 1946. Which quarter it was made was shown by the dots. In the first quarter of a year there would be three dots, one each side of the number and one beneath. Each quarter they filed one dot off the stamp so in the second quarter there would be the number and two dots, in the third quarter the number and one dot and in the last quarter just the number.

You have a jewel there and I know you'll enjoy it even more in the future.

edited for appalin spallin



Thanks for the clarification, jar. You're right, I can't put this pen down. I love it. Edited my review due to the new information.


In some things in life it's better to take a Zen approach. If you think too much you won't achieve your goal, wheras if you don't think and let yourself go, it shall be achieved with ease. I find this helpful in writing, kendo and music.

#4 jar

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 14:52

A small arrow is engraved onto the nib and one can read the inscription "Parker U.S.A. 6. R".


That's where you find what you are calling the serial number.

The significant parts is the "6."

The "6" is for 1946. Which quarter it was made was shown by the dots. In the first quarter of a year there would be three dots, one each side of the number and one beneath. Each quarter they filed one dot off the stamp so in the second quarter there would be the number and two dots, in the third quarter the number and one dot and in the last quarter just the number.

You have a jewel there and I know you'll enjoy it even more in the future.

edited for appalin spallin



Thanks for the clarification, jar. You're right, I can't put this pen down. I love it. Edited my review due to the new information.



Vacs can be addicting as well as beautiful and wondrous writers.

One more bit of information.

The holes in the cap are original and were quite common during the period. Many if not all pens from that time will have breather holes in the cap as a way to compensate for and balance air pressure changes.

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#5 karana

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 17:54

Does anyone recognise this pen?

Posted Image

It looks like the one here but I can't tell definitively.

#6 Malcy

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 17:59

Does anyone recognise this pen?

Posted Image

It looks like the one here but I can't tell definitively.


It looks like a 3rd generation Vacumatic junior in azure blue.
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#7 karana

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 18:14

It looks like a 3rd generation Vacumatic junior in azure blue.

Worth biting on for $40ish? Restoration status is unknown and having bought from the seller before, his pens are in average cosmetic shape but excellent writers.

#8 Malcy

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 18:19

It looks like a 3rd generation Vacumatic junior in azure blue.

Worth biting on for $40ish? Restoration status is unknown and having bought from the seller before, his pens are in average cosmetic shape but excellent writers.


It looks in decent condition from the photos but of course there is no info about the internals. $40/£25 is ok for this pen.
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#9 drgoretex

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 18:25

Great review. Those Vacs are just fantastic little pens. I have two of them, and both are getting used well.

Tooth - I would advise getting a strong mag.glass or loupe and check the tip. A hair out of alignment can produce an irritating scrape, which can often be very quickly and easily fixed with just a bit of prodding on one tine.

Wet - I have a very wet Vac as well, and tamed it initially with Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue, which is a bit on the dry side. Then went further and loaded it with Rohrer and Klingner Salix (or at other times ESS Registrar's Ink). Both Iron gall, both dry, and both work beautifully with a wet pen. Noodler's Polar Blue is very much the opposite (or has been for me - made a wet pen even wetter, to the point of actually dripping!).

Nice pen there!



It looks like a 3rd generation Vacumatic junior in azure blue.

Worth biting on for $40ish? Restoration status is unknown and having bought from the seller before, his pens are in average cosmetic shape but excellent writers.


Worth biting on, to my mind - if you can get it restored for a reasonable price, you have a beautiful pen. If not, you're only out $40.

Ken

#10 Flounder

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 18:11

I always find Vacumatics double-take beautiful, unfortunately judging by the going rate, everyone else seems to as well :roflmho:
Thank you for your candid review.

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#11 Groovee

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:35

Wow the wonder of the internet never ceases to amaze me.

 

Your posting on the Vacumatic Juior answered most of my questions. I too have recently bought a Vacumatic Junior with the exact same nib markings i.e. Parker USA 6 R and 2 dots. And thank to the replies I was able to accurately determine the age.

 

My sentiments regarding these old pens are echoed by all respondents.

 

Sadly the pool of information here in sunny South Africa is not widely available on the net, hence I have a few questions to all the experts out there.

 

I have managed to successfully dismantle my pen for a good clean and service. The diaphragm has completely disintegrated and the ink feed broke.

 

My questions are as follows:

 

1. I need accurate part descriptions and (sizes incl.) for the ordering of a new diaphragm and ink feed, as well as a few reputable suppliers who ship out to this part of the world;

2. Did this pen come out with a Blind cap tassie/ring?

3. Were the 'trimmings' (clip and tassie) all goldplated, or did some pens come out with silver trimmings?

4. My pen's clip is the color silver. Would it devalue the pen if one were to re-plate the clip & tassie?

5. There are no inscriptions on the barrel of the pen indicating manufacture. Is this usual?

 

 



#12 Groovee

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:35

Wow the wonder of the internet never ceases to amaze me.

 

Your posting on the Vacumatic Juior answered most of my questions. I too have recently bought a Vacumatic Junior with the exact same nib markings i.e. Parker USA 6 R and 2 dots. And thank to the replies I was able to accurately determine the age.

 

My sentiments regarding these old pens are echoed by all respondents.

 

Sadly the pool of information here in sunny South Africa is not widely available on the net, hence I have a few questions to all the experts out there.

 

I have managed to successfully dismantle my pen for a good clean and service. The diaphragm has completely disintegrated and the ink feed broke.

 

My questions are as follows:

 

1. I need accurate part descriptions and (sizes incl.) for the ordering of a new diaphragm and ink feed, as well as a few reputable suppliers who ship out to this part of the world;

2. Did this pen come out with a Blind cap tassie/ring?

3. Were the 'trimmings' (clip and tassie) all goldplated, or did some pens come out with silver trimmings?

4. My pen's clip is the color silver. Would it devalue the pen if one were to re-plate the clip & tassie?

5. There are no inscriptions on the barrel of the pen indicating manufacture. Is this usual?

 

 



#13 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:38

congrats on the pen :thumbup:


Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#14 penmanila

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 11:41

congrats on your vacs. as has already been said, vacs can be habit-forming (the proof of which lies in the 70 or so vacs in my collection ;) sorry, can't get enough).

 

let me just address some questions raised in the thread:

 

1. for vac juniors and majors (even oversizes), a regular diaphragm should do. i order mine from a seller in canada popularly known as "woodbin" (write him at info@woodbin.ca). he ships overseas. other diaphragms i've gotten from other suppliers have sometimes been too thick; woodbin's seems to be just right. he also supplies a vac repair toolkit, if you're in the mood to learn vac repair (not the easiest thing--prepare to lose a few vacs to tuition--but doable).

 

2. the blind cap tassie will come with "double-jeweled" vacs--the earlier ones, prior to 1942.

 

3. silver-pearl vacs came with nickel-plated clips, bands, and tassies (except for a few anomalous mixes, called "reverse trim").

 

4. replating is okay, especially for high-end vacs like oversizes, but it could cost you more than, say, a spare clip or a parts pen.

 

5. not usual--it might be that the markings have worn off, as sometimes happens with well-used pens.


 

1. I need accurate part descriptions and (sizes incl.) for the ordering of a new diaphragm and ink feed, as well as a few reputable suppliers who ship out to this part of the world;

2. Did this pen come out with a Blind cap tassie/ring?

3. Were the 'trimmings' (clip and tassie) all goldplated, or did some pens come out with silver trimmings?

4. My pen's clip is the color silver. Would it devalue the pen if one were to re-plate the clip & tassie?

5. There are no inscriptions on the barrel of the pen indicating manufacture. Is this usual?

 

 


Edited by penmanila, 04 November 2013 - 01:39.

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#15 Groovee

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 12:42

Hey thank a lot for the help. I nearly bought gold plated tassies. Thank for clearing that up. I will contact the woodbin in Canada,  and see whether he has stock of the items I seek.

 

I read on a site that the Junior uses a Debutante diaphragm. Is there a difference between the regular diaphragm that you have mentioned?

 

Look forward to hearing from you.



#16 usk15

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 18:16

That's a great review for a great pen, probably the most classic pen ever made.



#17 penmanila

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 01:32

i've resacced a lot of juniors, and they all use the standard-size diaphragm (single-jewel juniors are the same size as majors--the only real difference is that the junior sports two thin cap bands and the major a fat single one).

 

Hey thank a lot for the help. I nearly bought gold plated tassies. Thank for clearing that up. I will contact the woodbin in Canada,  and see whether he has stock of the items I seek.

 

I read on a site that the Junior uses a Debutante diaphragm. Is there a difference between the regular diaphragm that you have mentioned?

 

Look forward to hearing from you.


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