The Vacumatic replaced the Duofold in 1933 as the Parker flagship line of pens. Production lasted through 1948 in the US and 1953 in Canada. The first models were known and marketed as “Golden Arrow,” followed briefly as the “Vacuum Filler” then “Vacumatic.”
Parker had bought the rights to this design from Professor Arthur O. Dahlberg in 1925, an instructor in machine design at the University of Wisconsin. Parker spent 5 years and $125,000 perfecting the mechanism.
The Vacumatic filler mechanism consists of a spring-loaded plunger attached to a sac-like rubber diaphragm. Depressing the plunger distends the diaphragm to expel air from the pen, and releasing the plunger sucks ink directly into the pen’s barrel. The whole barrel is used as the ink reservoir. The diaphragms are flexible parts that will break down over time.
The Vacumatic sported three filler mechanisms during its life. Two were made of a metal tube and known as the Lockdown Filler and Speedline Filler. Wartime needs saw the introduction of the Plastic Filler.
DuPont supplied the plastic for the body, which was made of alternating rings of celluloid. The horizontal rings alternated clear celluloid and opaque or pearlescent creating barrel transparency and visibility to the ink level.
During the life of the pen, it sported four clip designs, all variations of the new stylish landmark feathered arrow, designed by Joseph Platt of New York, which is now synonymous with Parker.
The very first pens, known as the Golden Arrow, were test marketed in July 1932. As with the Duofold, Parker quietly distributed 60 Golden Arrows to a store in Chicago. During July, the store sold nine Wahls, seven Sheaffers, six Parkers, two Swans, and one Waterman. The first week of August the Golden Arrow hit the shelves, during the month the store sold 15 Golden Arrows, one Parker Duofold, and one Swan.
My pen is a standard Vacumatic, manufactured in 1946, Q2. It has the Blue Diamond Clip and the color is Gold Pearl. The pen was refurbished prior to my purchase. It has an age-appropriate plastic plunger but the color of the plastic plunger is incorrect – oh well.
The nib is solid colored with the Parker Arrow and a date code stamped on it indicating it was manufactured in 1946. The cap has a peaked black plastic jewel.
I wrote very nicely when inked with the Pelikan 4001 black. There is a little feedback but I attribute that to the paper, it’s pretty thick. And (don’t let me forget), Vacumatics are PITA to clean.
Evacuate the ink by depressing the plunger slowly. Release to draw water into the pen and slowly depress the plunger to expel the water/ink. Repeat this process until a) your thumb falls off, b) the cows come home, c) the grass grows or d) you decide that it is “good enough.”
- Capped length 128.5mm,
- Uncapped length 119mm,
- Barrel diameter 12mm,
- Cap diameter 13.5mm,
- Pen weighs in at 17g.