[Posted on L&P on July 26, 2006.]
Have you ever wondered where the Vacumatic filler idea came from? It just seems to spring full-blown on the pen scene in 1933 with Parker’s “Vacuum-Filler”, their own precursor to the “Vacumatic”, and it just seems to come out of nowhere. Well, that’s how it seemed to me at first, until I saw what else was happening on the scene. Sometimes all those other patents don’t seem to be related, but they’re there in the mix, and they exert subtle influences where you don’t expect them to have any effect at all. This post isn’t about Dahlberg, and about such patents as US patent no. 1,980,508, and all the other Parker patents for the “Vacumatic” as produced. It’s about the Ur-Vacumatics, the pre-Vacumatics. The Vacumatic patents are a foregone conclusion and a dead issue here. This is about the Vacumatic precursors, the “ex-parrots”, so to speak, of the ex-precursors, the Vacumatics.
US patent no. 208,219 is for an early ink-flow valve for priming the nib, but the pen could also conceivably be filled with this sort of crude vac-filler device employing a short piece of conical rubber tubing as a diaphragm. US patent no. 825,442 employs a piston to inflate and deflate the bladder-diaphragm, but it’s not attached to the bladder, and it has no breather tube because it fills in one stroke. US patent no. 1,287,556 is for a crude bulb filler with an attached button that turns it into a vacuum filler, but it has no breather tube and no blind cap to protect the button. US patent no. 1,596,811 finally supplies the blind cap, but still no breather tube. US patent no. 1,634,618 is another one with piston and detached bladder, and no breather tube required. The piston acts like a blow filler, so I call it a Piston-Blow Vacuum Filler Hybrid. I’m sure that Parker knew about this patent, because he assigned one of his previous US patents to Parker, no. 1,486,246, an improved button filler for the Duofold. US patent no. 1,647,882 has a small, diaphragm-like bulb under a blind cap, so it seems like it’s a simple bulb filler, but it also has a breather tube, so that makes it a sort of external “Vacumatic” without a button. I call it a Finger-Press-Bulb Vacuum Filler. That brings us to US patent no. 1,706,751, a simple twist filler with an attached external button, and it doesn’t seem to belong here, but it’s assigned to Abraham Schlosser and forms the basis for his US patent no. 1,910,907, a Twist-Bulb Vacuum Filler Hybrid. So that’s where the “Vacumatic” came from! It was the logical consequence and natural outgrowth of the evolution of the twist fillers and bulb fillers with breather tubes.
Now, I’ve distilled this to just a few examples, but there are tens and twenties of these twist-filler and bulb-filler copycat patents out there, and they all help to make the transition from bulb to diaphragm much smoother. But there’s one more pertinent one, US patent no. 1,917,568 for an accordion bulb-diaphragm vacuum filler with a breather tube. And guess who it’s assigned to? The Parker Pen Co.!