Parker Standard Vacumatic (late production)

1946 Parker standard Vacumatic, black and gold pearl laminate

The Vacumatic line, introduced in the early 1930s, was the product of an extensive research and development program at Parker. Its major claim to fame was a new filling system which used a plunger acting against a rubber diaphragm. A few quick taps on the plunger drew ink from the bottle up through a breather tube inside the barrel. The entire barrel interior, sealed from the outside, functioned as an ink reservoir; the "sacless" Vac could hold twice the ink of a sac pen of similar size.

Ironically, the Vac really wasn't "sacless", as Sheaffer's internal marketing documentation (promoting their own authentically sacless Vac-Fil system) correctly but somewhat pedantically pointed out. Parker used the word "diaphragm" although it was really an inverted rubber sac. Still, the ink wasn't confined within the diaphragm as with sac pens.

The Vacs were famous for their laminated celluloid construction in a variety of attractive colors. The pearlescent layers were slightly opaque, which allowed the user to see the ink level in the pen (although surviving examples are often too stained for this feature to work). The blind caps were of matching construction, and were machined so as fit in with the pen's smooth lines.

Nearly all Vacs can be accurately dated down to the calendar quarter by searching the barrel imprint for its date code.

While the arrow motif had appeared in the earliest Parker advertising, the Vac was the first Parker to use the now-familiar arrow clip. The elaborate design at left was used on both Vacs and 51s before Parker returned to the simpler arrow design in the late '40s.

The original Vacs had a plunger that locked down with a twist after filling. In 1937, the "speedline" filler, which did not lock, was introduced. The plunger would eventually be made from plastic (as in these pens) to save metal during wartime.

Another Vac, this one from 1947, in gray pearl laminate with nickel-plated trim

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network