I inked up the Parker Vacumatic Maxima (c. 1942) with Montblanc Albert Einstein ink back on December 27th, so it was inked up for just under 8 weeks. MB Albert Einstein is a gray ink and the Maxima is the silver pearl finish so there was a little color matching going on in the selection. Albert Einstein is one of Montblanc’s limited edition inks.
I haven’t been inking up my vintage pens very much these days but this is my first choice when I’m looking for a vintage pen to ink up. I love the finish, despite showing some wear from age and use, and I like the way the pen writes. The pen is not an exactly perfect size for my hand and the section feels just a bit small for me. Despite this the pen is still comfortable enough for long writing sessions.
It holds a lot of ink which partially accounts for how long this was inked up. But another reason is that I rarely carry it in my shirt pocket so it doesn’t travel much. I have this aversion to carrying vintage pens in my shirt pocket due to a fear of them leaking or spitting ink.
And this one did spit out some ink when it was close to empty. I did learn that Montblanc Permanent Grey takes a little extra effort to wash off skin but it doesn’t stain iPhone screens if it’s not wiped off for a couple of minutes. The ink shot out as I reached for a pad while holding the uncapped pen in the same hand. Despite this there wasn’t any noticeable ink in the cap that needed to be cleaned out so it wasn’t like this pen was dripping ink. Other than this incident the performance was great, no skipping or hard starts with a nice even flow.
Cleaning was tedious as is the case with every ink in a vacumatic but it was about as easy as I could hope for.
I’ve decided to set the Parker Vacumatic Maxima aside for now so it will spend some time in storage. This leaves me without any vintage pens currently inked.
The pen was inked back on April 3rd so it lasted just over two months.
I’m told the nib is officially a fine (it’s not marked) but it’s as thin as many of my extra fines (the western ones). It put down a consistently fine line right until the very end. There was a skip and then it went dry later in the same sentence. The nib is stiff without any spring which I like. The ink, combined with the fine line, make this a quick drying ink suitable for any paper.
The nib is 14kt gold and the nib finish itself is gold. I prefer a silver finish but I can live with gold on this pen.
The Vacumatic filer is a real pain to clean. It’s just repetitive filling and flushing of the pen along with a lot of shaking. I left it to sit overnight on a tissue to let any remaining ink wick out.
The pen is such a great writer and such a pain to clean I considered refilling rather than flushing, but I decided I needed some variety so I’ll pick a different pen. I’ve yet to decide what fountain pen and ink will replace it. I do want to get Bordeaux back in the rotation.
Last week was a good week for acquisitions, and they arrived this week.
First up is yet another Esterbrook 8440 nib. The base is stained with red ink but the gold is in better condition than the other 8440 nib I have. No doubt the staining kept the price down.
Then my Parker Vacumatic collection grew by one with the addition of a 1944 Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major in Golden Pearl (aka Brown Striped). The transparency is very good and it has an XXF nib.
The bargain of the bunch was a batch of 6 Esterbrook nibs. Three were the common #1550, but the three nibs below are new to me. The first two are the uncommon #1314 flexible fine nibs. One was in the original box and seems either unused or lightly used. The third nib is a 2314-M Relief medium Stub which is new to me although I like my other Relief Stubs. I usually avoid flex nibs since they’re lost on me but I have this need to collect every Esterbrook nib and this deal was too good to pass up..
I haven’t inked any of these up yet, but that’s what weekends are for.
The Parker Striped Duofold Senior is a pen I’m conflicted about. It’s in the best condition of any of my vintage pens and I love the color. But it has taken some getting used to and I’m still not comfortable writing with it. The pen is from the third quarter of 1945 and it’s the red/gray model, which I’ve seen called Dusty Red or Dusty Rose which both seem appropriate. It has a fine nib and is equipped with the plastic plunger. The Senior is the largest of the Striped Duofold models.
I’m still extremely ignorant about vintage pens so I wouldn’t have pegged this as a Duofold, figuring it to be a Vacumatic. It seems that this was also a problem in it’s day, with confusion between the top of the line Vacumatic.
Senior is the largest model of the Striped Duofold … which features the marble striped celluloid on a pen which is essentially a Parker Vacumatic.
Richard Binder’s site says the Parker catalog called my pens color “Dusty Red (Maroon)”. Like many sites, he refer’s to these pens as “Striped Duofold” to set them apart from the classic (in my mind) Duofold.
The book “Parker Duofold” by David Shepherd and Don Zazave says Parker called the material “Laidtone”. It also says there were 8 models, 4 colors and over 100 variations.
The Senior is the largest of the Striped Duofolds, but just barely big enough for me to find comfortable. As my hands age I’m finding small pens more and more uncomfortable. If this is the largest model I won’t be buying the other variations. My biggest issue is that the section is short, much shorter than I’m accustomed to using. This makes the pen a bit awkward to hold with my natural grip, especially longer writing sessions. My natural grip puts my thumb above the section and my finger on the threads. I’m getting used to holding the pen above the section which is more comfortable.
I’ve only inked the pen once, with Rohrer & Klingner Leipziger Schwarz. The pen holds a lot of ink and filled easily with one push of the plunger. The pen is nearly mint. Transparency is excellent, without any signs of ambearing, making it easy to see the level of the ink. Only the threads seem a little less than mint. I have to apply a little extra pressure to get a good seal when I close the cap, otherwise the pen can open while being carried in the case.
The 14K V-Design find nib is stiff like my other vintage nibs, which is my preference. It’s a smooth writer with a consistent flow and no hard starts. It’s not my smoothest nib, but I like a nib that I can tell is touching the paper. It doesn’t bite into any paper I’ve used.
The pen posts and remains well balanced, but that’s the opinion of someone who doesn’t post his pens.
I’m conflicted when using this pen. As mentioned, the short section is uncomfortable with my natural grip. I’ve been holding the pen above the section which isn’t as awkward as it seems. Since the section is short I’m not holding the pen very far from the nib and it helps that the threads aren’t sharp. My main concern is marring the finish over time.
It seems every time I get a new pen I want to call it my favorite. But that’s not the case here. It’s certainly one of my favorite looking pens, vintage or modern. It’s the vintage pen I have that’s closest to “new” condition. I’ve gotten used to writing with it, but it loses points for making my adjust my grip even though I’m getting used to it.
Despite looking like I measured things to the 1/1000th of an inch, these aren’t that accurate. I don’t want the calipers touching/scratching the pen so there’s some wiggle room.
Length (Capped): 5.318″ (135.08 mm)
Length (Uncapped barrel): 4.841″ (122.98 mm)
Diameter (barrel): 0.486″ (12.36 mm)
Diameter (at cap band): 0.533″ (14.05 mm)
Section Length: 0.424″ (10.77 mm)
Section Diameter: 0.320″ (8.14 mm)
Manufacturer third quarter of 1945 (date code 5 with one dot)
For me the Parker Duofold “Big Red” has always been the classic fountain pen. That was even before I knew what a Parker Duofold was and I still considered it orange. In 2011 I added a Bexley Poseidon in “Duofold Red” and figured that was the closest I’d get.
This year I discovered vintage pens and expanded my horizons. I just added a 1928 Parker Duofold Senior with an eBay purchase, The dual bands and flat tops date it around 1928 or 1929. Another pen considerably older than me so clearly vintage.
It doesn’t make much sense to do a formal review of a vintage pen. Both because each one would be different and because I just starting my vintage education.
I filled the pen with Pelikan Brilliant Black and have been using it since. It holds a lot of ink which it drinks in using a button filler. Thanks to all that ink I’m still on the first fill.
The pen is in good shape, especially considering its age. I hope I’m in such good shape when I get to be its age. But it’s not perfect. I’ve found ink inside the cap.There’s also ink along the wings of the nib and along the slit. It doesn’t seem to be an outright leak, but it also seems to be too much for simple nib creep, especially since I haven’t experienced any nib creep with Brilliant Black in other pens. There hasn’t been so much ink that it’s leaked onto the paper or my fingers. I have trusted the pen enough to use it at work, but not to bring it into meetings or carry it in my pocket.
The pen is very comfortable to write with. Being made of plastic hard rubber (I’ve no idea where I got plastic from, fixed now), it’s light despite its size. Even posted its light and well balanced. I’d have not trouble using it posted if I wanted to. The nib is stiff which is a quality I like since flex is wasted with me. The pen fits comfortably in my hand. Flow is consistent without skipping or hard starts. It’s a fairly wet writer for a thin nib. The nib is about as thick and wet as I would want in a daily writer. I’d actually prefer it to be a little drier but I can probably handle that with a different ink.
The nib is 14kt. gold and labelled “Parker Duofold Pen”. I don’t know it’s official designation but it writes like a fine which is my nib of choice. As mentioned, it’s also a stiff nib.
The pen is still on its first fill. Well, first fill for me. The Pelikan Brillant Black does evaporate off this nib fairly quickly. Pauses over a minute can cause skipping on the first letter after the pause. But just placing the cap on the pen, without bothering to tighten it, solved this problem.
I love this pen. I want to avoid saying “favorite pen” every time I write about a pen. And I have to acknowledge the thrill of having this his classic pen hasn’t worn off. But I’m going to say it – this is destined to remain one of my favorite pens. I can clearly see myself getting additional Parker Duofolds, even a similar model. I’ve crossed over from accumulating to collecting, at least for vintage Parkers. Although, if I think about it, maybe I’m just a more focused accumulator.
There’s a lot of information about Vintage Parkers out there. Jim Mamoulides’ PenHeo.com website is one great source of information including a nice article about the Parker Duofold Flattops of the 1920’s.