Parker Vacumatic Standard, Burgundy Pearl, c.1934
My second vintage pen, a 1934 Parker Vacumatic in what was advertised as “Burgundy Pearl”. I’m not sure if this is accurate, whether the colour has changed over time, or whether this really was burgundy.
It was another eBay impulse-snipe, coming in at just under £100. It seems like a reasonable price, and the flex performance is excellent. It’s in good condition generally, but the imprint is barely visible.. I was just able to see a date code with the aid of my loupe.
The business end – nib and feed – has always worked great. It rivals my “T.R. Allerton” 1931 Mabie-Todd Swan for flex – not quite as wide, but capable of finer lines too. I think the Swan writes marginally better, but the Vacumatic fits my hand much better and seems more robust.
I’m not usually one for matching inks to pens, tending towards clear demonstrators, but for some pens it seems natural. This one inspired a search for my ideal brown ink. The well-curated Pure Pens Celtic range of inks I favour didn’t include a brown ink at the time – remedied by the release of Beddgelert in October – but I still wanted a good brown ink. The limited edition SBREBROWN from P.W.Akkerman seemed to look right, but sold out long before I got there.
Instead I bought some Diamine Ochre, which pretty much hit the nail on the head. It’s an odd name, as it doesn’t look anything like what I’d consider “Ochre” to be. It’s also not shown well on their site or anywhere else online. As Diamine 30ml bottles are cheap, I took a chance. I found most other browns to tend too far towards red (eg. Diamine Ancient Copper) or chocolate, or orange… I wanted a mid-brown, the colour of the stain left by dumping a used tea bag on a counter.
I lobbied Stephen Brown and Akkerman to rerelease it; Dr. Brown said it was up to Akkerman. I have no idea if my mini-campaign (getting some FP friends on Goulet Nation to post to Akkerman’s Facebook page, yielding no reply) had any effect, but a month or so later, it was announced.
Upon finding out that SBREBROWN would get a third release, I set up a VisualPing on Akkerman’s site and other alerts, and ordered a couple of bottles within moments of it going live, I think.
When it arrived, I inked up the Parker Vacumatic I’d had left cleaned and empty exactly for this purpose.
It wrote a lot darker than expected, which turned out to be the dregs of some Parker Quink Black that had dried inside… when I’d emptied and cleaned it a month earlier, my profuse flushing apparently didn’t work as well as I thought. It wasn’t filling at all… one of the nice things about these pens is that they’re actually semi-transparent, although it’s tough to tell without holding up to the light. You can see how well they’re filling, though, and this one wasn’t getting a drop.
As these Parker Vacumatics are outside the scope of my expertise (requiring special tools and skills) I opted to have it sent out. The repairer did a good job and even fashioned a replacement finial and jewel that was missing from the end.
So, now it’s back and in rotation, typically with SBREBROWN or Diamine Ochre. I’m less of a fan of Beddgelert than I’d hoped. I’m really hoping neither the Diamine or the Diamine-made SBREBROWN are damaging to this vintage pen… but we’ll see.
In the meantime, I want another one. Ideally the green pearl, as it looks like “The Matrix”.