View Full Version : Parker Vacumatic Debuante- A Review

March 8th, 2012, 05:40 PM
Hi all!

This sub forum seems to be a bit lonely at the moment :( I will fix that!

Anyways, right to the pen.

Preface: I got lucky with this first vac of mine. The pens I traded in for it I had gotten for free (though there was a $20 compensation). I thought I'd better review this pen now before I possibly trade it in at the upcoming Long Island show. I have always wanted a vac because they are such a well made, user type of classic, a pen that IMHO descends eras of design and remains beautiful to this day (though it certainly doesn't seem like it could've been designed yesterday). I know that most people find pens the size of an m400 too small, but for me, the m400 is the perfect size (if not even a bit too big ). So when Tyler Dahl said he'd find me a vac, I made sure it was a debutante, the lady’s size version of the Vacumatic. After a long wait for a check to clear, I finally have my pen!

Presentation: I didn't get this pen in its original box, so I no nothing of how a post-war Debuante would have been sold new. I will say that tyler's packaging was small and effective, with plenty of bubble wrap and his nice self designed logo on his card. In his interview as geek of the week, he explained his interest in website and icon design. I really think this sets him apart. For the fact that this pen didn't come with a presentation box, 9/10

First impressions: running through my head as I frantically tear apart the clear tape on bubble wrap," Whoa.... this is BEAUTIFUL " or, " the cap is so small!" I am a bit embarrassed to say this, but I had to go to Richard's site to figure out how to get a proper filling (which takes a while...more about that later though.) The finish looks great! And boy, is this pen LIGHT! 9.5/10

On to the meat and potatoes (as it were)...

Overall Design: The original Parker Vacumatic (ex Vacuum Fill and Golden Arrow) was released in 1933, but as the era of streamlining came about, and the Parker 51 was released, the original almost flat top vacs gave way to single jeweled, streamlined pens. I think that the early vacs are the prettiest, especially the double jewels with their grips made out of the same material as the body, but if you are going for a more conservative look (as well as a often cheaper price), the single jewel vacs are worth checking out too. As my age is a limiting factor in my pen budget, I got a relatively inexpensive post war vac.
Grip: The shape is very pretty, but I have to question to very curvaceous grip. As nice as it looks, Parker should have considered the fact that this pen is less that 5 in. long capped, and made the grip with a bit less of a flare, lest it feel more like a Dixon Ticonderoga than a fountain pen.http://fpgeeks.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=257&d=1331249891

Material: The threads are made out of the striped celluloid, which makes them translucent when held up to bright light sometimes. Now that I mentioned the plastic, I might as well talk about it some more. There are little parsed together rings of celluloid that make for a awesome shimmering affect when the pen is turned in the hand. Between the countless rings, there is light orange clear celluloid that allows the user to easily check the ink. If you think a Pelikan Souveran has good ink view, try this! When I try to see the ink in my Pelikan, I have to squint and the light has to be backlight. This little Vac is a different story entirely--the pen can simply have a bunch of notes in the back and it is very clear as how much ink you have. The difference comes from the spacing, material and direction of the striations. The spacing of Pelikan's celluloid/cellulose acetate (aka "precious" resin) is much tigher from striation to striation than the vac's. This makes the clear space in between too hard to discern in regular light. Did I say clear? Opps, Pelikans actually seem to have a bit of dark tint to them (Why?). This may make the pen look less like a demonstrator, but IMHO it takes away the functionally of the stripes. Parker's widely spaced stripes are spaced with lighter celluloid that goes more in the direction of a thermometer reading. Way to go Parker! (sorry if I spent so long on that one feature ). After these little things, the pen is well built, detailed and beautiful. 7.5/10
Clip: I'm giving the clip some special light with this pen not to praise it, but to criticize it. (Before you disagree, remember that I am only reviewing the Debuante size). Not only is it small and sharp tipped, but it doesn't work very well at all. It is hard to lift (quite tight) and is very skinny and hard to get your hands on when trying to clip it to you pocket or pants. I must say, it is a looker, though. The dimensions and proportions look just right! 6.5/10

Cap: Not much to say here, except that it is quite thin, especially on the lip, where it seems the same thickness as regular paper. This seems like it would be prone to chips, but I haven't seen or heard of this, so I'll give it some slack here. 8/10

Filling System: Well, this was the main selling point (and gimmick...more to come on that) of the pen it seems, way back in the day. If you want a good and proper description, check out Richard Binder's site (google: richardspens filling systems). Basically, you press down this sprung rod (mine is post war so it's plastic) a bunch of times, waiting a bit in between each press in order to get a proper fill. I didn't know HOW many times you have to press it though--to get my vac completely filled, I press 25 times. This is crazy, and slow, but hey, its different, and most vac users won't be as needy of ink (I take many pages of notes per day, so I can't sacrifice a little ink). For me, one fill lasts about 3 days of hardcore notes. For most people, I'd expect a week or MAYBE two. For the long filling time, 7.89/10
Nib: I don't think its fair to judge vintage nibs and say that that is how most of those kinds of pens should write. In 80 years, soooo much can happen to a nib, and the writing experience (unless you pay the big bucks to buy all your vintage pens NOS) can differ. My vac has a relatively smooth XF nib that is a nail. Good for time when the paper is bad (this really annoys me at school- I'll say to my table mate, "Darn, not bad paper again" and they will have not the slightest idea as to what I meant ) I'll post a "in the wild" writing example soon.

Feed: The feed is weird because it is quite thin, with little fins (which is a blessing if you jostle your pen and don't want nib creep). It delivers ink perfectly, though, and I've had NO rough starts or lack of keeping up with the nib. 8/10

Conclusion: I HIGHLY recommend a nice Debutante Vacumatic for people who have small hands. Unlike so may other small pen, this one has a great filling system with a great ink capacity, as well as a bevy of colors, styles, and nibs do choose from. OVERALL: 53.37/70= ~C+ (not too shabby IMHO)http://fpgeeks.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=256&d=1331249871

March 8th, 2012, 06:05 PM
More pics.....

March 8th, 2012, 06:45 PM
Two writing samples w/ kelly green (Latin Phrase notebook). A 1940 Vacumatic ad with the silly "no sac" gimmick, among others.

March 9th, 2012, 08:01 PM
Congrats on the vac! I recently received one as well :P restored by tyler too haha. That's a pretty looking pen.

March 9th, 2012, 08:25 PM

March 12th, 2012, 10:35 AM
Nice review and and a very nice pen, thanks for sharing.

April 12th, 2012, 07:12 PM
Congrats FPK, That is a beautiful pen in a lovely green. Good to see you loaded it with green ink too.
I like the Vacumatic ad that claims "A Full Television view of the ink"....I'll have to try that with my pen.

April 12th, 2012, 09:36 PM
I, too, purchased a Parker Vacumatic from Tyler, though not a Debutante. It is one of my favorite pens and Tyler had it working smoothly and made sure the nib was up to his high standard.

April 13th, 2012, 05:23 AM
Yeah...mine is actually pretty clear, and when I want to see the ink level, it really is like a full television ink view! (thought television means nothing, it was just a popular word at the time, like today we have e-- or i--


July 1st, 2012, 05:52 AM
UPDATE: About two weeks ago, the filler broke. It no longer fills, after a mere 5 months or so of use. I will admit that I filled mine alot because it was a daily user at school, (and the button was pressed many times to get a complete fill) but I still find this wierd. At least its covered under warranty.

January 27th, 2013, 03:30 PM
Winging its way over the Atlantic to me as we speak...

January 27th, 2013, 05:30 PM
Winging its way over the Atlantic to me as we speak...

Great! You should post your first impressions of it here as well!

March 1st, 2013, 09:26 PM
I was pleasantly surprised to find this review. Seeing such a well-known vintage pen being reviewed was a novel thing. I don't often visit this sub-forum, but when I do...I like to find something I'm interested in. And for me, now, such an interest is a Parker Vacumatic. I recently purchased one after much study and search. Mine is not from Tyler however, but rather Michael at northwestpenworks.com. Mine is also a debutante, or whatever they called the small ones then. Mine is a golden brown (see attachment). I look forward to its arrival next week.

March 1st, 2013, 10:11 PM
Saintpaulia, that looks almost the same as the one we have at home. I had to go and pull it out as soon as I saw your photo. Unfortunately it is not in as good a condition as yours. The black section and the nib been swapped from a non-working green/yellow one. They're both Canadian '50 & '53.

March 1st, 2013, 10:32 PM
Saintpaulia, that looks almost the same as the one we have at home. I had to go and pull it out as soon as I saw your photo. Unfortunately it is not in as good a condition as yours. The black section and the nib been swapped from a non-working green/yellow one. They're both Canadian '50 & '53.

Here's the description of mine: "1953 Canadian Parker Vacumatic Debutante
in golden brown pearl. This is a single jewel model. The gold filled trim is in
nice condition. The barrel imprint seems almost too deep in places and too
light in others, which I have noticed on other Canadian Vacs. The nib is a
wet writing Extra Fine 14K, bordering on fine. It has a bit of flex. The clear
barrel segments, have very light ambering...The pen capped measures 4 5/8
inches or 11.8 centimeters". Michael McNeil at northwestpenworks.com

I spent many long hours studying and researching and shopping for a Vacumatic. I had my mind set on the beautiful Azure Blue type. Every time I bid on one of those on ebay the price when thru the roof and I was left high and dry. Then I saw this pen and 5 others advertised for sale. One of the other five was actually an azure blue, but despite that, I felt that the gold brown was the better pen. I am kind of proud of myself for being flexible. That's not my usual mode of operation. Breck

March 2nd, 2013, 07:57 AM
Nice! Enjoy your pen! I've been quite prejudice to the later vacs at late (I won't even click on a listing if it says past 1937 lol), but they are beautiful if they have great barrel clarity and are in a nice color. Nice find!