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, Golden Pearl, XF Semi-Flex

(Sold) This is a 1945 Blue Diamond Parker Vacumatic Major in Golden Pearl celluloid, with a transparent barrel, 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 (by hand). The pen measures 5.1" capped and 0.48" in diameter.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Golden Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, uncapped, with the blind cap removed

In 1945, the U.S. fountain pen industry was thriving, despite a severe economic crisis, including material and labor shortages. Parker continued making its highly-successful Blue Diamond Vacumatic pens, perfecting their design and manufacturing process. The pen I'm offering today is a great example of the model, made out of the gorgeous Golden Pearl celluloid, with an awesome 14k gold XF semi-flexible nib. The pen looks virtually as good as new. The shimmering, gleaming celluloid has incredible depth and vibrancy. The gold-filled trim is in equally great shape. Barrel transparency is so good, it looks as though the pen had never been filled. The imprint is strong. And the nib, oh the nib!

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

Despite some obvious similarities, each pen I restore is unique. I select from among vintage pens that can, potentially, make excellent daily writers, even for people who are new to the fountain pen hobby. Sometimes, I come across a pen that's special. This pen is one of those pens.

Parker Vacumatic Major, Golden Pearl, XF Semi-Flex, nib close-up

What makes it special? Yes, it's in amazing cosmetic condition and has been overhauled, serviced, and ready for your favorite ink. But what makes it truly awesome is the nib. The nib will be particularly appealing to those of you who like Japanese fine and extra-fine nibs. It lays down a confident, self-assured line of about 0.3 mm (on my paper) when writing with a light hand (0.6" with increased pressure). It's been tuned to perform flawlessly at the lightest pressure, grabbing onto the surface of the paper and not letting go until you command it otherwise. If you press harder, the nib is going to respond with a pleasant "give," opening up just enough to give you a hint of line variation, adding character to your handwriting. No, it's not flexible enough for Spencerian or Ornamental Penmanship broad swells, but it will be great for a business cursive, and virtually any modern "small" handwriting.

The nib makes it a fantastically versatile tool. If you fill it with a dry ink, you'll be able to use it as a dedicated office writer. If you ink it up with a wet, saturated ink, you're going to get that awesome juicy flow, which, combined with the line variation, is going to bring the best out of your inks, particularly shading, even sheen. It's a very fine point, yet it's very smooth and easy to use. Quite honestly, this nib is likely to outperform a lot of modern gold nibs, unless, of course, you prefer very firm nibs, such as those on a Platinum #3776.

This pen would be an ideal first "top-tier" vintage pen for a fountain pen enthusiast, and it would make a fantastic Christmas gift for a family member or close friend. If you intend this to be a present, please, let me know and I will include a nice gift box with the pen.

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

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 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