(writing)culture history

Parker’s Vacumatic – A Classic

Within the history of the Parker brand, one cannot deny that the Vacumatic has a certain air of legend and innovation. Released between 1932 and 1948, the Vacumatic was a giant leap forward for the brand, which had resulted in putting Parker back in place as a top seller in the pen industry after a few years of staggering through the Great Depression.

The Vacumatic was designed as a successor to the perennial favorite of the time, the Duofold. While many people appreciated (and still do!) the Duofold’s contribution to the legacy of Parker, the lever filler system of the Duofold did not add to the beauty of the pen and were quite messy if accidents occurred. The leadership at Parker knew that, given time, something new would need to be on the market.

Photo credit: Vintage Fountain Pens

Then came 1925, when a professor was working on a new filling system and offered the patent to Parker. It was then that the proverbial lightbulb went off and Parker went to work. After 5 years and $125,000 (over $2.1 million in today’s money) of perfecting the mechanism for mass production. The new Vacumatic was innovative for its time as it used a diaphragm rather than a filling sac, meaning the entire barrel of the pen could be filled with ink by depressing and lifting the plunger mechanism at the end of the pen. In fact, the barrel volume exceeded any sacs at the time by an estimated 102%. The plunger could be locked and (ingeniously) hidden using a blind cap at the top of the pen.

Photo credit: Peyton Street Pens

With all of these manufacturing changes to the new Vacumatic, the pen was ready for an upgraded design. The striped pattern of the celluloid created a boon for the Parker Vacumatic pens, with its intriguing design and pearlescence which is still marveled at today.

Photo credit: Peyton Street Pens

Eventually the pen was phased out over a 16 year period and was replaced with other pens from the Parker brand that would be easier to manufacture and cheaper for the consumer. That’s not to say that there still isn’t a thriving fan base for the Vacumatic and we love seeing the history of this pen and the evolution of filling mechanisms be discussed in fountain pen circles nearly 100 years later!


  1. B. Maxwell

    The Duofold was never a lever filler. Button filler from the beginning. May want to update!

  2. Adrian Bolam

    I’d have loved to have seen pictures of the innovative filling mechanism

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