Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Emerald Pearl, XF Semi-Flex

(Sold) This is a 1946 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major fountain pen in Emerald Pearl celluloid, with gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold XF Semi-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). I use only very gentle restoration techniques and use only the highest-quality replacement materials and specialist tools. The pen measures slightly over 5" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Emerald Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, uncapped

In the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s, the pen industry underwent a major shift toward sturdy, dependable, always-ready, consistent, self-filling pens that were supposed to perform equally well regardless of one's ink, writing technique, paper, air pressure and temperature, and other, sometimes extreme, conditions. Each major brand offered a lifetime warranty on their flagship models, and made sure their pens would not require servicing often.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Emerald Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

In terms of nib manufacturing, there was a definite transition toward less flexible, larger, thicker nibs with plenty of tipping material, so that they would comply with the dominant handwriting style of the era. For most people, including office professionals, Ornamental Penmanship was quickly becoming less practical and was gradually phased out in favor of the more rapid and legible business cursive, such as the Palmer Method. Flexible nibs were still available as special-order items, but the vast majority of gold nibs made at the time were semi-flexible or firm.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Emerald Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, nib close-up

Parker's nib design focused on improving the gold point's ability to absorb vibrations caused by dragging the tip across the surface of the paper. Such vibrations are often perceived as unpleasant, and nib makers went to great lengths to minimize them. The Vacumatic nib was a great example of this new type of design. The nib has variable thickness (strategically distributed), which further improves its "compliance," its ability to seamlessly conform to the writer's movement, responding to even the slightest variation in pressure, direction, and rapidity, while soaking up microscopic paper bumps with ease. This particular nib lays down a line of about 0.3 mm (on my paper) and spreads easily to about 0.7 mm with slight increase in writing pressure. This is not a fully flexible nib, so please do not try to push it beyond its limit, but it can be used rather effectively to instantly add character to your handwriting.

The pen is in excellent condition, without any flaws or defects. The Emerald celluloid has incredible depth, vibrancy, and still very good barrel transparency. The gold filled trim is in equally good shape, and the imprint is strong. The filling mechanism holds up to 1.8 ml of ink.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Emerald Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, capped

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, F, Semi-Flex

(Sold) This is a 1943 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major fountain pen in Azure Pearl celluloid, with gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold Fine Semi-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth. This is a typical specimen of the model, measuring a little over 5" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, F, Semi-Flex

I am often asked for advice regarding vintage fountain pens. One of the most frequently asked questions is what pen do I recommend as a "safe bet," a pen that can easily be considered a top-tier pen, yet one that sells for a lot less than a modern pen with comparable features and performance. Those of you who follow me on Instagram probably know how much I love Sheaffer pens, but, to be honest, it is the wartime Parker Vacumatic Major that makes the best premium vintage pen for beginners and advanced collectors alike.

The Major is a larger pen in Parker's line-up, but it does appear somewhat smaller, compared to most modern luxury pens. Still, it has superb ergonomics, posts extremely well, and feels very comfortable, regardless of your grip. The material is gorgeous, particularly in Azure! The barrel has very nice transparency, which allows you to gauge your remaining ink level with ease. Speaking of ink, the Vacumatic holds a lot of it, up to 1.7 ml (with some variation across models), and comes equipped with one of the most ingenious and reliable filling mechanisms ever made.

With all that being said, the Vacumatic really excels as a writing instrument. It comes with a fantastic 14k gold nib, one that writes at the lightest touch, and when pressed harder, rewards you with a hint of line variation, instantly adding character to your handwriting. It's precise and yet it has excellent performance latitude, laying down a satisfying line in virtually all directions, with luscious long curves and steadfast rapid upstrokes. A fantastic tool with which to take your handwriting to the next level.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, F, Semi-Flex, capped

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, XF Semi-Flex

(On hold) This is a 1946 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major fountain pen in Azure Pearl celluloid, with gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold XF Semi-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth. This is a full-size pen, measuring a little over 5" capped and 0.48" in diameter, very typical of this model.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, uncapped

It's very interesting that a lot of new fountain pen enthusiasts are interested in improving their handwriting, and, in particular, in learning (or re-learning) cursive. There's been a lot of discussion lately about the value of learning cursive, and, often, the fountain pen is thought of as the ideal tool with which to learn cursive. I am not sure if the fountain pen is the answer, but I do believe it offers a combination of features that can be extremely helpful in improving one's handwriting.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, nib profile

The Parker Vacumatic I'm offering today is an excellent penmanship improvement tool. It is a full-size pen (though somewhat smaller than most modern luxury pens), perfectly balanced, with a pleasant tactile sensation, a high-capacity filling mechanism, and an XF semi-flexible nib. The nib is tuned to write at the lightest touch, producing a line of about 0.3 mm (on my paper), opening up to about 0.7 mm, with relative ease. However, this nib is not meant to be flexed a lot, but, rather, it's excels at adding a touch of character, a hint of line variation to your handwriting.

The nib comes with ample tipping material, of perfect geometry and alignment, giving you consistency, virtually regardless of the direction or rapidity of your strokes. Admittedly, the nib produces a more graceful line with rapid strokes, but you can also use it effectively for slow, methodical practice.

Parker Vacumatic Major Fountain Pen, Azure Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, capped

Parker Vacumatic Major "Long" Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, F, Semi-Flex

(On Hold) This is a 1943 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major "Long" in Golden Pearl celluloid, with gold-filled trim, and a 14k gold two-tone, Fine, Semi-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). This is a full-size pen, longer than most of the later Major models, measuring about 5.3" capped and 0.48" in diameter. 

Parker Vacumatic Major "Long" Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, F, Semi-Flex, uncapped

When it comes to flex, the conventional wisdom is that the best performance is to be found among vintage pens, particularly those that have not been abused. Finding such a pen "in the wild" is becoming more and more difficult, and, as a result, the prices of restored vintage pens with flex nibs have gone up substantially over the past few years. There's a lot of variability among vintage flex pens, even across the same model, and each pen is going to have its own unique feel and performance characteristics. Quantifying flexibility is, therefore, rather difficult. I always tend to to cautious and conservative in my assessments of flex, paying special attention to a nib's responsiveness, rather than total tines spread.

Parker Vacumatic Major "Long" Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, F, Semi-Flex, nib profile

What you want in a quality flex pen is its ability to respond to your hand's subtle changes in writing pressure, direction, and speed. You want to be able to create a subtle transition between a hairline and swell, as that is the very foundation of Ornamental Penmanship and most other similar styles. The pen I'm offering today would be an excellent addition to a calligrapher's tool box. A pen that doesn't have a huge range, but it does have enough of it to be a superb instrument with which to create awesome calligraphy. The nib writes a Fine line of about 0.4 mm (on my paper), and opens up easily to at least a BB. The nib is smooth, soft, and feels as though it has a shock absorbing mechanism built into it. It offers you a comfortable, yet agile, ride across the paper, with that highly coveted gliding sensation. It will allow you to bring out the beauty, shading, and sheen of your favorite inks, thanks to its wet flow under pressure. And, it's the more rare two-tone variant to boot!

The pen is in excellent condition. Being the "Long" model, it should feel comfortable in most people's hands, with a high-capacity filing mechanism, and the timeless, gorgeous Golden Pearl celluloid, this pen is sure to put a smile on your face. The material has such depth, vibrancy, as if it's alive, with hundreds of tones of brown, gold, and yellow. The transparency is a bit ambered, but you can still see your ink inside the barrel with ease.

Parker Vacumatic Major "Long" Fountain Pen, Golden Pearl, F, Semi-Flex, capped

Parker Lucky Curve in Black Chased Hard Rubber, XXF Full-Flex

(On hold) This is a 1920s Parker Lucky Curve "ring top" button-filler fountain pen in black chased hard rubber (BCHR) with a 14k gold XXF full-flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand).

Parker Lucky Curve in Black Chased Hard Rubber, XXF Full-Flex, uncapped

This is a superb example of the well-respected and highly collectible Parker Lucky Curve from the 1920s. It's in amazing condition, without any trace of wear or fading, which plagues the vast majority of BCHR pens from that era. The pen looks as good as new, and it would be a perfect specimen for the high-end collector. The imprint is strong.

Parker Lucky Curve in Black Chased Hard Rubber, XXF Full-Flex, nib close-up

The pen was designed specifically with Spencerian penmanship in mind. It's a classic "ring top," meant to be worn around one's neck, so it's a lightweight, compact pen when capped (4.5"). However, it converts to a full-size pen when posted (5.7"), as it is meant to be used that way. In terms of ergonomics, the pen resembles those of a well-designed dip pen holder, with a somewhat long, streamlined shape and great balance. It's extremely comfortable to hold, lightweight, and very pleasant to the touch. The button filling mechanism works flawlessly and holds a lot of ink. 

The pen is a calligrapher's tool, a high-precision writing instrument, capable of producing beautiful penmanship. It was designed for a skilled hand, and will perform as well as any flexible pen of that era. I would rank it as a "full-flex," just shy of being a wet noodle, but it offers excellent flexibility, and fantastic snap-back. With light pressure, it writes an XXF line of about 0.3 mm (on my paper), and you can get the line even thinner if you use dry ink and dry paper. The nib excels at transitions between hairlines and swells, which is the cornerstone of Ornamental Penmanship. If you are new to flexible nibs, this pen is probably not for you, unless you're willing to learn its dynamics and try to write with a light hand. The best news is this pen had not been used much in the past, if at all, which means the nib is free from any (invisible) damage that many vintage flex nibs develop over time (due to using excessive pressure). The tipping material is ample and of perfect geometry. 

Parker Lucky Curve in Black Chased Hard Rubber, XXF Full-Flex, posted

Parker Vacumatic Major, Golden Pearl, XF Full-Flex

(Sold) This is a 194  Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major fountain pen in Golden Pearl celluloid, with a 14k gold, two-tone XF Full-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth. This is a full-size pen, and it measures 5.1" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Golden Pearl, XF Full-Flex, uncapped

Parker make a few kinds of nibs for its highly successful Vacumatic line. They all share one thing in common - a superb writing performance. The nib's ability to write a consistent, juicy line and its soft, gliding feel rank among the best ever made. Today, decades after the last Vacumatic left the factory, very few modern nib makers can boast a similarly high level of nib design, engineering, and craftsmanship. Most Vacumatic nibs are of the firm variety. After all, the pen was guaranteed for life (the Blue Diamond series), and a firm nib was more resilient to heavy-pressure writing. The Janesville company also made a semi-flex nib, which is less common, but equally good in terms of performance. A discerning customer was  also able to special-order a fully flexible nib that was designed specifically for Spencerian and Ornamental Penmanship. Such nibs are very rare today, and, understandably, remain highly sought after by calligraphers and collectors alike.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Golden Pearl, XF Full-Flex, nib profile

The pen I am offering today comes vested with a rare, two-tone XF Full-Flex nib. With light pressure (i.e., "normal writing"), the pen writes a fantastic XF line of about 0.3 mm. With increased pressure, the tines open up with ease to produce a wide and juicy line of up to 1.3 mm, with excellent snap-back. Many flexible vintage nibs on the secondary market have signs of having been abused, flexed outside of their normal range. This nib, however, is perfect, virtually without any signs of use. It has ample tipping material, of excellent geometry. The tines are perfectly aligned, and I tuned the nib to write a somewhat wet line with light pressure so that you can take advantage of its ability to write a beautiful hairline with a light hand. For the best calligraphic effect, I recommend that you use a dry-writing ink (here, a KWZ IG Violet #3), which will enable you to get very subtle gradations of line width, necessary for the graceful transitions between hairlines and swells in Ornamental Penmanship.

This pen will perform at its best in a skilled hand. If you don't have much experience with vintage flex nibs, I recommend that you go slowly and gently, at least at first. High-quality flex performance is not about how soft the nib is or how wide it opens up. Rather, it's about the nib's responsiveness to minute variations in pressure, and this nib excels at that.

Cosmetically, the pen is simply gorgeous, without any flaws or defects. The celluloid has a vibrant color of incredible depth and chatoyancy. Barrel transparency is very good, the imprint is strong, and the gold-filled trim as good as new. Quite honestly, this is a beautiful pen. The only issue is a very slight plating loss on the nib, which happens to the vast majority of 1940s Vacumatics, and it has no bearing on performance.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Golden Pearl, XF Full-Flex, capped

Sheaffer Flat-top Oversize, Black, XF Wet Noodle

(Sold) This is a 1920s Sheaffer White Dot Flat-top Lifetime Oversize fountain pen in Black, with a 14k gold Lifetime XF "wet noodle" flexible nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a gentle cleaning, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). By vintage standards, this is a very large pen, measuring 5.3" capped and 0.52" in diameter.

Sheaffer Flat-top Oversize, Black, XF Wet Noodle, uncapped

The notion of rarity is somewhat peculiar in the vintage pen world. A very small detail, such as the number of cap bands, can be the difference between an ordinary daily writer and a highly collectable "grail" pen. I think that, to the majority of my customers, such esoteric details do not matter nearly as much as they do to high-end collectors. However, some rare features are downright amazing.

Sheaffer Flat-top Oversize, Black, XF Wet Noodle, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

This Sheaffer Flat-top is a particularly rare pen due to its physical size and its nib. The Lifetime nib was designed to withstand years of daily use and offer its owner unconditional warranty. Needless to say, most Lifetime nibs were made tough. They were stamped out of a large, thick piece of gold, and they were meant to be firm, even rigid. It's is, therefore, exceedingly rare, to come across a flexible Lifetime nib. It is even more rare to have such a nib on an Oversize pen.

Sheaffer Flat-top Oversize, Black, XF Wet Noodle, nib close-up

This nib was most likely a special-order item, a one-of-a-kind nib made for the discerning customer, probably for someone who wrote Spencerian penmanship. Despite being very flexible, this is still a Lifetime nib, so it does have the toughness to take years of daily use (but not abuse, of course). It's a huge nib, with long tines, and it flexes very easily. A wet noodle is not about how much a nib will flex, but it's more about its response. This nib writes an XF line (about 0.4 mm on my paper) and flexes very easily with increased pressure to about 1.3 mm, with excellent "snap-back." In the hands of a skilled penman, the nib will produce beautiful, precise transitions between hairlines and swells. However, if you write with a heavy hand, this nib is not for you, as it will resemble a brush pen, rather than a fountain pen. I recommend you start with a dry ink, such as Pelikan 4001 or an iron-gall ink, as it will give you better creative control of the nib.

Sheaffer Flat-top Oversize, Black, XF Wet Noodle, capped

The nib is in amazing condition. Clearly, it had not been used much at all. The tipping material is of perfect geometry and the tines have perfect alignment, both with and without flexing. If you're used to writing with a Waterman 52 (or similar), this nib will feel different, due to its large physical size and long tines. But once you get used to it, it will be magical.

The pen is in excellent cosmetic condition, without any flaws or defects. The gold-filled trim is in equally great shape. The imprint is strong. The White Dot is on the top of the cap. A fantastic specimen of this rare pen!

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue, XF Flex

(SOLD) This is a mid-1940s Eversharp Skyline fountain pen in Navy Blue, with a gold-filled cap, and a 14k gold XF Flexible nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, gentle and careful cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). I work according to current "best practices" in pen restoration and I use high-quality replacement materials.  This is a full-size Skyline, measuring 5.2" capped, and 0.45" in diameter.

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue, XF Flex, uncapped

The phrase I wrote comes from an Eversharp advertisement and, though it does seem a bit trite today, I do believe that the Eversharp Skyline is the one vintage fountain pen to own if you want to experience that famous writing ability and superb ergonomics. The Skyline, one of the most iconic pen designs of all time, was a desirable pen then, and it is a desirable pen now. Two reasons: (1) superb ergonomics and timeless design, and (2) fantastic writing performance, esp. with a flexible nib. 

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue, XF Flex, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

This particular Skyline is in excellent condition, certainly used very little in the past, if at all. There are subtle clues as to its provenance, and, judging by the pristine quality of the nib, I'd say this pen as close to new-old-stock as it gets. The material is deep, rich, and vibrant, and the gold-filled trim is in equally great shape. A beautiful specimen!

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue, XF Flex, cap detail

I get a lot of requests for a vintage flex pen. Unfortunately, vintage flex pens have gone up in price significantly over the years. To make it worse, a lot of flex nibs on the second-hand market have signs of having been abused, flexed outside of their designed range. The most economical way to a quality vintage flex is the Skyline. No, it's not the cheapest flex out there, but it is well worth the price, which, by the way, is significantly less than a Waterman 52 of comparable performance.

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue, XF Flex, nib close-up

The nib is an ideal flex nib for someone wishing to write Spencerian or Ornamental Penmanship. It has an extra-fine point, capable of writing a hairline of 0.2 mm with a light hand, and it opens up easily to at least 1.2 mm. That puts it in the vicinity of a full-flex nib. The nib has not been "broken in," which means it is free from  microscopic discontinuities, cracks (i.e., material fatigue) that plague so many vintage flex pens, so it will not feel as soft as a wet noodle, but that is a good thing. It will give you more control over your line, such as gentle transitions between hairlines and swells. The tipping material is of excellent geometry, and the tines are in perfect alignment. Flexing is not all about the range, it's also about the incredible, oversize ebonite feed that never starves for ink, and delivers just the right flow for all the detail you need in your handwriting. It's also about the "snap-back" property, which this nib definitely excels at.

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue, XF Flex, capped

If you are new to vintage flex, this would be a great "first vintage flex" pen, but I do advise you to be careful and give yourself ample time and opportunity to familiarize yourself with the pen, how it feels, and what it's capable of. Though the nib is designed as a flexible nib, you need to be careful not to spring it.

Sheaffer Balance "500" Vac, Marine Green, XXF Semi-Flex

(SOLD) This is a mid-1930s Sheaffer Balance "500" Vac fountain pen in striated Marine Green celluloid, with a 14k gold, two-tone Feathertouch XXF Semi-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, and adjustment to ink flow, nib tuning, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). The pen is also know as a "500" and it measures 4.8" capped and 0.42" in diameter.

Sheaffer Balance "500" Vac, Marine Green, XXF Semi-Flex, uncapped, with the plunger rod partially extended

This Sheaffer Balance will make a great precision writing instrument with which to write or learn a business cursive or Spencerian penmanship. The nib is ground to a needlepoint tip, and it is semi-flexible, giving you reliable line variation of about XXF-BB. It is not a full-flex nib, but the tines open up nicely and spring back quickly, giving you a tool that's bound to add character to your handwriting. Being such a fine point, the nib has a bit of a tooth, but it is perfectly aligned, with excellent tipping geometry. It writes consistent strokes in virtually all directions, but it does perform at its best with a light touch. The oversize ebonite feed provides a steady and reliable flow of ink.

If you like broader nibs and write with a heavy hand, this pen is not for you.

Sheaffer Balance "500" Vac, Marine Green, XXF Semi-Flex, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

Cosmetically, the pen is in excellent shape. The celluloid is deep, rich, and vibrant, with very good barrel transparency (with some "ambering" present). The filling mechanism works like a charm, holding a lot of ink. The gold-filled trim is in excellent condition, as well. A really handsome pen! The orange tones you see in the barrel is the wood background showing through the transparency.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Azure Pearl, F Semi-Flex

(sold) This is a 1945 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major in Azure Blue Pearl celluloid, with a 14k gold Fine, Semi-Flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). I work according to current "best practices" in fountain pen restoration, and I use high-quality replacement materials and specialized tools.

It's so incredible that Parker was able to design and manufacture the Vacumatic while, in 1945, most of Europe, Japan, and other parts of the world lay in ruin after the devastation of World War II. Despite a severe economic and political crisis, material and labor shortages, the Janesville company created this amazing writing instrument. Mind-boggling, don't you think?

Parker Vacumatic Major, Azure Pearl, F Semi-Flex, uncapped

The Parker Vacumatic is known even to fountain pen novices for its beauty, an advanced filling mechanism, and writing performance. This particular model is in exceedingly great shape. The Azure Pearl celluloid is deep, rich, and vibrant. Barrel transparency is excellent, so you can watch the pen fill, and gauge remaining ink level with ease. The gold-filled trim is in equally great condition. Quite simply, this is a stunning pen. If you saw it alongside the latest Visconti or Pelikan, you'd think it was a gorgeous modern pen, and you'd expect to pay a significant premium for it, but you can have it now for a lot less.

The nib is a dream to write with. It was made in a process that is mostly lost to us. Yes, there are some white papers and patents available in archives, but the actual methodology and the human touch required to make these nibs are gone forever. Unfortunately, there is a finite number of these pens still available and I would not hesitate to buy one now, as sooner or later, they will completely disappear from the vintage pen market, some to be safely guarded by collectors, others to end up in the trash. 

Parker Vacumatic Major, Azure Pearl, F Semi-Flex, nib profile showing excellent tipping geometry and alignment

The nib lays down a smooth, wet, Fine line (about 0.4 mm on my business paper) and it provides that highly desirable gliding, almost hovering sensation. The nib does a great job absorbing micro shocks and gives you a cushioned ride, but without disconnecting you from the paper. You're always in control, and if you press harder, you will be rewarded with a subtle "give" and nice line variation. It is not a full-flex nib, so please don't press too hard, but you can easily get the F-BB variation, perhaps more. This nib is bound to add a lot of character to your handwriting, regardless of your writing pressure.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Azure Pearl, F Semi-Flex, capped

Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major, F Semi-Flex

(SOLD) This is a 1946 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major fountain pen in Golden Pearl celluloid, with a 14k gold Fine semi-flexible nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, an adjustment to ink flow, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish with a soft cloth (by hand). I work according to current "best practices" in pen restoration and I use high-quality replacement materials.

Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major, F Semi-Flex, uncapped, showing the filling plunger

When Parker created the Vacumatic, it was truly a revolutionary pen (the phrase I wrote comes from a Parker ad). First of all, the graceful lines of the pen are not only ergonomically sound, but they are also undisturbed by any visible filling contraption such as a lever or a crescent. The filling mechanism is accessed by unscrewing the rear (blind) cap to expose a plunger mechanism. Next, we have the laminated celluloid, created by stacking up overlapping layers of clear and opaque celluloid, thus creating this timeless pattern of breathtaking beauty and great functionality. It allows you to clearly watch the pen fill and gauge remaining ink level with ease. Speaking of ink level, the Vacumatic has a huge ink capacity, easily holding up to 1.7 ml of ink. It was a lot then, and it is a lot now. Very few modern pens can boast such as large ink reservoir. Finally, there's the 14k gold nib. It's one of the best nibs ever made, in my opinion. Made in a process that's largely lost to us, the nib has an impressive ability to absorb vibrations coming from dragging the point across the paper. The nib feels soft and smooth, but without inhibiting its writing ability. The point is ground such that it writes under the lightest pressure, laying down a consistent line, regardless of stroke. Again, very few modern nibs can match this level of writing ability.

Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major, F Semi-Flex, nib profile, showing excellent tipping geometry and tines alignment

When I tune a vintage nib, I try to preserve its original character as much as possible. It would be easy to just polish the writing surface with Micro-Mesh, but it would alter the nib's personality and hinder its original writing ability.  If you write with a heavy hand, this nib is not for you, as the tines will spread, increasing line width and ink flow. This nib really shines when writing with a light touch, and pressing harder only to add character to your writing, a little bit of line variation. I'd rate this nib as a semi-flex, meaning that it will easily produce a line of F-BB width. However, be careful not to spring the nib. If you're used to writing with a Noodler's Ahab or Konrad, you might be tempted to press hard, but I caution you not to do that. Start by increasing pressure in very, very small increment, and you will be rewarded by a beautiful line!

Cosmetically, this is one of the nicest Vacumatics to come across my desk in a while. The gleaming celluloid is rich, deep, and vibrant. Barrel transparency is excellent, and there are not flaws or defects of any kind. The gold-filled trim is in equally great shape. A beautiful pen! It would make an awesome daily writer (except on cheap office paper), and would be a fantastic gift for a close friend or family member to celebrate a special occasion. If you do buy it for a gift, please let me know and I will include a nice box with the pen.

Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major, F Semi-Flex, capped. The orange tones in the barrel result from the background showing through the transparent material.

Parker Deluxe Challenger XF Semi-Flex

(SOLD) This is a mid-1930s Parker Deluxe Challenger fountain pen in Green and Black celluloid, with a 14k gold Extra-Fine semi-flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, a nib tune-up, and a gentle polish by hand. This is a larger pen, measuring 5" capped, with a barrel diameter of 0.48".

My customers often write to request a pen of certain features, including (1) beautiful celluloid, (2) silver-color trim, and (3) an XF flex nib, (4) great condition and a low price. Needless to say, vintage pens that meet one of these criteria are rare, but pens that meet all four are downright scarce. However, todayI have a pen that meets the four criteria, and should, therefore, prove popular.

Parker Deluxe Challenger XF Semi-Flex, with the cap off

Parker, being such a huge and dominant pen company, had a diverse catalog, spanning the entire range of sophistication and affordability. North of the mid-point of that range, sat the Deluxe Challenger, a beautiful, chunky pen, equipped with a button filling mechanism, and a very pleasant semi-flexible gold nib. The pen posts very nicely, so it truly is a full-size pen, and it should be comfortable even for people with larger hands.

Parker Deluxe Challenger XF Semi-Flex, nib profile showing perfect tine geometry and alignment

The first thing you notice is the gorgeous Green and Black celluloid. It is deep, rich, the green accents having a lot of chatoyancy. The nickel-plated trim (similar to that found on Vacumatics) is in very good shape, too. The pen has the characteristic ball clip, and not the later trademarked arrow clip that Parker pens are known for. A very interesting, if somewhat lesser known, pen!

The nib is really special. It lays down an extra-fine line (0.3 mm, depending on your ink, paper, and writing pressure) and has a nice amount of spring to it. In fact, I would call this nib a semi-flex, as it does open to at least B, maybe even BB. In a skilled hand, this will be an excellent pen for business cursive, Spencerian handwriting (including some swells), and even D'Nealian. It will also make a great pen with which to learn the Palmer Method or Spencerian penmanship, and for those of you simply who wish to improve your handwriting.

Parker Deluxe Challenger XF Semi-Flex capped

Eversharp Symphony Set, Flex nib

(SOLD) This is a late 1940s Eversharp Symphony Fountain Pen and Pencil set in Burgundy, with gold-filled trim, and a flexible 14k Medium nib. The set appears to be new-old-stock, with all original parts, and a sticker still in place. I made sure the set worked properly, adjusted the nib and ink flow, but kept the original sac, as it was pristine. I cleaned the set and gave it a gentle hand polish.

Eversharp Symphony Set, Flex nib

Eversharp advertised this set as "A luxury set at a pre-war price." Even today, I'd consider Eversharp Symphony the most affordable true vintage flex pen. I've been getting a lot of requests for affordable vintage flex. To be honest, it's almost an oxymoron, as the demand for vintage flex is at an all-time high. Still, I was able to source this exciting set for you, and I am offering it at an affordable price.

I'd rank the nib as a medium flex, possibly even close to full-flex. It's soft and springy. It's nominal width is a Fine, though it was sold as a Medium. It has ample tipping material of perfect geometry. A smooth writer and will give you the line variation you seek.

Eversharp Symphony Set, Flex nib

Cosmetically, the set looks like it had not been stored in favorable conditions. There's one small nick on the top of the cap, and a couple of small blemishes here and there, but, otherwise, it's in an unused condition, at least judging by the internals. The pencil work, and I filled it with new 0.9mm lead.

Parker Parkette Zephyr XF Semi-flex

(sold) This is a 1939 Parker Parkette Zephyr fountain pen in Gray celluloid with a 14k gold XF semi-flex nib. The pen has been restored, which included a complete disassembly, a thorough cleaning, an overhaul of the filling mechanism, ink flow adjustment, nib tuning, and a gentle hand polish.

In the late 1930s, Parker was struggling somewhat, particularly, in the affordable segment of the market. The company decided to suspend its long-held belief that there should not be a lever on a pen's barrel, and designed an economically priced, Parkette. This particular model is made of beautiful celluloid, comes with a nice ink window ("Visometer"), and a semi-flexible 14k gold nib. Today, such a pen would command a premium, costing upwards of $400, easily. But you can enjoy a restored Parkette for a fraction of the price.

The pen is in very good condition, without any flaws or defects. The celluloid is rich, deep, and vibrant, the gold-filled trim is quite good, too. The ink window has some ambering but it is usable.

The main attraction of this pen is the 14k semi-flexible XF nib. It writes a somewhat wet, smooth line that will widen with increased pressure. A very pleasant writer, this would be an ideal first vintage pen for a novice fountain pen enthusiast. You would be hard pressed to find a modern pen of similar good looks and performance at a reasonable price. The phrase I wrote comes from a Parkette advertisement.

Eversharp Skyline Navy Blue Celluloid Cap Flex Nib

(sold) This is a standard size, early Eversharp Skyline in Navy Blue with a Red and Green striated celluloid cap (measuring 5 1/4" capped). The pen has a visulated section and a flexible Fine 14k gold nib. The pen has been completely disassembled, thoroughly cleaned, the filling mechanism overhauled with the highest-quality replacement parts, the ink flow has been adjusted, and the nib tuned. A gentle hand polish completed the restoration process, followed by testing with ink.

The Eversharp Skyline, introduced in 1941, is one of the best pens ever made. Most vintage pen aficionados seem to be in agreement about that. The company used an aggressive and inventive advertising campaign to sell the pen as having an advanced ink delivery system (even safe for flying) and a gorgeous, unique design, credited to Henry Dreyfuss.

Eversharp Skyline in Navy Blue with a Red and Green celluloid cap, flex nib

While the advertised features are generally interesting, to me, the Skyline wins because of its incredible ergonomics and fantastic 14k gold nibs. Have you ever used a modern OMAS Extra Flessibile nib? Well, the Skyline nib is similar, only better. This particular nib is flexible, by design, and is in excellent condition. It writes a Fine line, but opens up really nicely to at least BB, perhaps wider. I am not a fan of pushing flexible nibs too hard, so what you see in the writing sample is a conservative degree of flex that I dare try.

The nib has a unique feel, a very pleasant sensation, of gliding across the plane of the paper, as if hovering above it, while still being connected to it. No other nib (except the OMAS) feels like that. It has just the right amount of tipping material, and of perfect geometry, so there's going to be no issue with hard-starts or skips. The line is as confident as it gets.

The other winning feature is the pen's ergonomics. It's a streamlined shape that feels just right in thehand. The cap posts very deep, so you're never bothered by it, a property that I wish more modern pen makers would build into their pens.

Visually, the pen is stunning. The Navy Blue body is smooth, rich, and vibrant. The visulated section looks as clear as if it was made yesterday. The Red and Green striated celluloid cap is gorgeous, as is the gold-filled trim, and the instantly recognizable derby.

Waterman Thorobred with an XF nib

It seems that a lot of people are interested in vintage flex pens, particularly Waterman, and for good reason. Waterman, in the first half of the 20th. century, made a lot of beautiful pens with incredibly good flexible nibs. However, these pens are rather pricey and scarce.

The Thorobred, made in the 1930s, is a great, full-size pen. It's made out of gorgeous brown, red-veined celluloid, and has chrome trim. The nib is the same #2 nib that people know and love. This one is extra-fine in width when writing with normal pressure, and opens up nicely with heavier pressure.

This is not the softest nib I've ever used, but it does fall into the "medium flex" category, and can be used for shaded writing. The XF line is great for hairlines! This pen would make a great, affordable "first vintage flex" pen. Contact me if you're interested. Thanks!

Waterman 301V vintage flex pen

Waterman is famous for its flexible nibs made during the first half of the 20th century. The model 52 is perhaps the most common, performs very well, but it can be pricey. Waterman also made pens that were supposed to be carried in a vest pocked, hence the "V" designation. These were smaller pens when capped, with a really convenient and stylish clip, but converter to full-size pens when posted. Sure, by moderns standards, these are rather slender pens, but they are perfectly comfortable for most people's hands.

The 301V is made of gorgeous brown, red-veined celluloid. The material is gleaming, so beautiful, and in absolutely mint condition. The depth and chatoyancy are excellent, and a testament to the quality of vintage celluloid.

Waterman 301V in gorgeous brown, red-veined celluloid

The star of the show here is, of course, the 14k flexible nib. The nib is in excellent condition, with perfectly preserved geometry, and ample tipping material. It writes a fine line, even and extra-fine line with light pressure, but opens up nicely under pressure. The "snap-back" property is what sets these vintage nibs apart from most modern flex-wannabe nibs made today. I would not call this nib a full-flex, but it is easily a medium flex nib. It would make a perfect first vintage flex nib for a fountain pen enthusiast.

 Here's my attempt at flex writing, a pretty poor attempt to be sure.

Here's my attempt at flex writing, a pretty poor attempt to be sure.