Flawed and Wonderful: Parker Vacumatic in Azure Blue

Parker Vacumatic Azure Blue

When I was at the DC Pen Show, I found myself completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the stunning array of vintage pens. I shied away from exploring them because I felt like I needed to know [much] more to be able to recognize an acceptable pen at a good price. Sarj Minhas has a staggering vintage collection (so nice that it paralyzed me, both physically and verbally). I was especially blown away by his “Ripley” Vacumatic— simply stunning— with a hefty price tag that I’m sure is well worth it. So, while in DC, I stuck to moderns and remain very pleased with those purchases.

Vacumatic striations

But gosh darn, those Vacumatics speak to me. And wouldn’t you know it— one popped up for sale on Dan Smith’s site. I slobbered over it, then had a bit of a twitter conversation with Dan before deciding to go for it. During this exchange, Dan asked me, “What is it about the Vacumatics that you like?” I quickly answered, “The stripey bits.” It really is that simple— I love the look of the striations (aka stripey bits). And at $65, I knew this would be a good “starter” Vacumatic.

Vacumatic with Duofold nib

Going in, I was well aware that there are a few things wrong with the pen— and they’re undoubtedly big things if you’re a collector. The nib is a Parker Duofold, which is the wrong nib for this pen. The barrel is badly ambered so that it’s not at all translucent. I’m not able to judge the ink level by looking at the barrel— it just stops writing. And I may or may not be having some filling issues (TBD; working with Anderson Pens on this…pretty sure it’s just me being impatient when filling).

Vacumatic imprint

Despite all of this, I love this pen. LOVE. It puts down a perfectly wet, smooth, medium line— pure fun to write with. The barrel imprint is crisp and completely readable. The cap and clip are in great shape. Amazing, really, for a pen that was made in 1945. And those striations. Yeah, they’re what really got me.

Vacumatic barrel

Myke Hurley recently said, on Episode 75 of “The Pen Addict” podcast, that he overheard someone at the London Pen Show describe a Vacumatic as looking like the lit windows in a skyscraper at night. I SO agree with this description. (I was driving at the time I heard this, but nodded and laughed a little because I’d been thinking the exact same thing.)

Blind cap & vac

The filling system is very easy to use, but as I said, requires a bit of patience in that, according to Brian Anderson, one needs to pause at the bottom of the plunger’s downstroke, as well as at the top, for a second or two. I’m not sure that I’ve been doing that so my fills may have been a little short. Next time, I’ll take my time.

Uncapped Vacumatic

Like so many pen lovers, I’ve been on the elusive hunt for the “perfect pen,” as if such a thing exists. Does perfect mean that it has to be expensive or super smoooooooth or drop-dead gorgeous, or does it just have to fit our hand or our tastes or our writing style? Heck if I know. I’m pretty sure, though, that “perfect” is a moving target. And maybe (undoubtedly) “perfect” is overrated.

Parker Vacumatic clip

Our jobs/partners/kids/pets/churches/schools/movies/books/art are all imperfect— well-marbled with flaws along with the good stuff. And yet we love it all. We love our messy, sticky lives. This pen is the same— flawed, and yet still wonderful.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  • My Parker Vacumatic is currently inked with Pilot’s Iroshizuku tsuki-yo.
  • The Sassafras pen case prototype by Nock Co. provided the colorful backdrop for a number of these photos, and is where I’ve been storing this Vacumatic.  I’ve been carrying the Sassafras case with me EVERYWHERE and it looks as fresh as it did on day one.  Check out Nock Co.’s project on Kickstarter.
  • That Ripley Vacumatic? Unforgettable.

Lighten Up: Three Lamys

Lamy Trio

Remember how when we were kids, the summer was long and our task list was short? We awoke to wide open days, and warm months that seemed to go on and on. Now it’s just the opposite. Even though it’s summer, there’s so much to do, and the days and months zip by. One minute it’s Memorial Day, then suddenly it’s Labor Day. What happened to those lazy hazy days??

Even though summer might not be as magical and carefree as it used to be, it’s still pretty awesome. Grilled food, shorts & t-shirts, patio time, and maybe even a vacation. (Like the DC Pen Show?! Yup!)

Since summer is a time to eat lighter and dress lighter, I figure it might also be a good time to lighten up on the daily pen carry. Especially since I’ll be hitting the road soon. Here’s what I’m taking along– a trio of Lamys.

My three Lamys

Lamys are a bit rough-and-tumble, as ready for the road as the office. Light weight, sturdy, and easy to maintain, these are pens that won’t weigh you down and can take a bump or two. They’re as ready for an adventure as you are.

I’ve loaded the white Safari with Iroshizuku kon-peki, a refreshing combination. The azure blue ink reminds me of the ocean, while the body of the Safari conjures up images of my pale, pale legs at the beach. Yup. Pure white. Just like the pen.

White Safari
White Safari, F nib

The orange Safari is filled with Iroshizuku fuyu-gaki, a pleasant well-balanced orange that’s bright and fun, but not blinding. This pen and ink combination is a real mood-booster, and I find myself looking for excuses to use it.

Orange Safari
Orange Safari, F nib

And because there’s always work to be done, even in the summer, I’m keeping my matte black AL-Star, filled with Monteverde Black, close at hand. This pen is cool and stealthy. Monteverde Black has recently become a favorite and is as deep and dark as my post-vacation mood. Which is pretty dark.

Matte Black AL-Star
Matte Black Al-Star, EF nib

Three Lamy nibs

Summer’s here. I’m packing lighter. I’m packing Lamys.

Lamys on vacation


Icon: Lamy 2000 (Makrolon)

Pen & Ink
Lamy 2000 & Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo

This pen flew under my radar for quite awhile. Since I have a bunch of Lamy Safaris and a few AL-Stars, I didn’t really see the need for a pricier Lamy. Silly me.

Lamy 2000
Not a Safari

A recent stream of positive chatter on Twitter perked up my pen ears, and I did my usual deep-dive into reviews and even a little digging into the history of the pen. The more I read and watched, the more my interest grew. The more I watched and read, the more I realized that this is a very different Lamy than the ones I already own. While the Safaris and AL-Stars are perfectly fine, well-made, fun, and colorful, the Lamy 2000 is a true icon.

Posted pen
Not an AL-Star

In continuous production since 1966, this is a pen that is gorgeously understated- looking both modern and vintage at the same time. Its subtlety is dazzling, its nib superb. I was immediately blown away by its looks and performance, and could easily see why this pen has been around, virtually unchanged, for 47 years and counting.

The pen’s features are SO well-integrated that I opted to use little red arrows to point them out. Like I said, subtle.

Piston filler knob
Well-hidden piston filler knob

Piston filler slightly open
Piston-filler knob opened just a hair

Because the pen is a piston-filler, bottled ink is required, and luckily I had a drop or two on hand. (Or a liter.) I filled it with Iroshizuku’s tsuki-yo (Moonlight) which is, in my opinion, the perfect ink for this perfect pen. They belong together. Forever and ever.

The pen body contains a very faint ink window so that you can keep an eye on the ink level. The red arrow will help you out.

Ink window
Ah, yes…THERE it is.

The spring-loaded clip is made of brushed stainless steel, as is the section, whereas the rest of the body is made of Makrolon- a high-tech polycarbonate material. I don’t know what that really means, but I have learned that Makrolon is durable and feels great in hand. There’s a matte, VERY finely ridged feeling to the material- smooth with just a hint of texture. I love it.

Stainless brushed clip
Stainless steel, brushed clip & a closer look at the Makrolon

LAMY branding
The branding is, you guessed it, subtle.

Maybe my favorite part of the pen is its 14kt gold, platinum-coated, hooded nib. I ordered an EF and am thrilled with how it writes. The line is fine, juicy, and exceptionally smooth.

Sweet EF nib
Simply perfect. EF and juicy.

Breather hole
Breather hole

I’ve read of some not-so-happy 2000 owners having less than stellar writing experiences, so it appears that there may be some nib inconsistencies. I ordered my pen from The Goulet Pen Company where each Lamy 2000 is QC’ed in-house prior to shipment. If my pen is any indication, they’re doing a great job weeding out the occasional dud. (Thanks, Drew, for inspecting and approving my pen!)

The slip-on cap is held in place by tiny ears, and feels very secure. The ears bother some “princess and the pea” type folks, but they in no way interfere with my grip, so are a non-issue for me.

Nib & ears
How the cap stays on

I enjoy my Lamy Safaris and AL-Stars in all their colors, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Lamy 2000. What a design. What longevity. What an icon.


For Stephen Brown’s video review of this pen (the one I studied over and over), click here.

For an amazingly complete 4-part history of the Lamy 2000, click here.