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Aurora Hastil


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#1 caco

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 23:29

I was surprised not to find a review of the Aurora Hastil pen in FPN, so I thought I could be useful to the members of this board by writing one.

The pen was designed in 1969 by the Italian architect Marco Zanuso (1916-2001), who besides this pen for Aurora created many buildings, the Grillo telephone for Siemens and pieces of furniture. The Hastil, as well as many others of Zanuso’s creations, belongs to the New York MoMA collection, as representatives of modern Italian design.

This was one of the first pens I owned, actually the third, after a Parker 61 and a Parker 45. It was given to me as a present from my parents when they returned from a trip to Italy. I believe I was fourteen years old. I still have this pen, and it is working perfectly after decades of use, sometimes heavy use. Since then I have acquired a few more Hastils. Definitely a love affair, at first sight and enduring.

Appearance and design: 10

The original box deserves some comment. It is a large steel cylinder that opens into two halves, in itself a piece of architectural creation. Included are two cartridges and an aerometric converter. The box is a suggestion of what is to come.

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The Hastil definitely deserves a solid 10 for appearance and design. To the eye, it is a perfect cylinder, which in reality it cannot be, because in this case it would be impossible to post the cap. Zanuso managed to devise a model that is modern and classical at the same time, elegant and simple, with steel and plastic as its materials. The clip is a separate piece articulated in a special way that allows a springy movement of the entire clip, adapting to any width of shirt or coat fabric. The detail at the tip of the clip deserves special attention. The sole external imprint is AURORA in capitals in what seems to me to be Helvetica font, on the cap.

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Construction and Quality: 10

Aurora standards. Any pen coming from this brand, from a vintage 88 to a modern Optima, has a solid, durable and reliable build. The nib and feed unit, where there is a number imprint, has a rough texture that imparts a secure feeling to the holder. The cap closes with a snap. Older units had a tendency to loosen the fit, and with time and use the pen ceased to shut securely. Not difficult to repair, though. More recent units seem to have a more durable shutting mechanism.

Weight and Dimensions: 10

The Hastil is a thin and lightweight pen, but even a relatively large hand as mine has no difficulty in adapting to it. The pen works best for me posted, and seems to have been meant for this, since the body has two rectangular plastic saliencies that stop the cap from going in too far. Another combination of style and utility, in a word, design.
Mr Zanuso definitely thought of detail. This creation of his deserves close attention to every bit of thought he put into it. It is an exercise that shows that Hastil simplicity is only apparent.

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Nib and Performance: 10

The 14k plain white gold nib seems to have changed a little over the 40 years of production. In my older unit it is broader and very rigid. More recent units carry a slimmer nib, slightly less rigid. All my Hastils have F nibs. Flow is relatively dry, say a 4 on a scale of wetness from 0 to 10. All nibs are smooth and a pleasure to write with. I have never experienced a leak or a skip, and the pen is always ready to start working. Line variation is not something to be expected from this pen. The nib is classical and simple, with a discrete 14k imprint on its left corner.

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Filling system and maintenance: 9


The slimness of the Hastil allows only cartridge or converter. The converter supplied with the pen is an aerometric made by Aurora, does not hold a lot of ink and is not very durable. The metal and the sac tend to lose elasticity over time, and even less ink is sucked into the converter. The good news is that it is Parker size! Parker makes a little piston converter, very inexpensive, called slide converter, that holds a nice amount of ink, and it will fit into Aurora Hastil. The Parker twist piston converter will not. But you can use an aerometric Parker converter. I am not fond of cartridges, I favor ink bottles, but the pen accepts Parker or Aurora cartridges and I have used Hastils to write many pages with the extinct Penman Sapphire cartridges.
The nib and feed unit screws into the body and detaches from the cartridge or converter. It is easily cleaned under the tap and then with a few water fillings with a converter.

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Cost and value: 10

This pen appears at the Aurora website, making me believe that it is still in production. I have not found it on any web retailer, though. Perhaps I have not searched thoroughly. If I remember well, Richard Binder was selling the Hastil some time ago, but it is not in his site any more. I don’t remember how much he was asking for it. Just now I have performed a search in the board and saw that Jean Elie form Penandco recently sold one, including original box, for 110 euros. My opinion is that this is definitely a good price for all the pleasure, aesthetic and functional, that this pen offered to me. As I have stated above, my first Hastil was a gift, and I don’t remember how much I paid for the ones I bought since then, but it never struck me as an expensive pen.

Conclusion (Final score 59/60 = 9.8)


The Hastil is a creation of a talented and prolific architect dedicated to an epoch-marking Italian craftsmanship that enjoyed worldwide influence over industrial design and decoration.
I have a love affair with the Hastil. Its beauty is what most attracts me to it, and all this is of course very personal, but I hope that in this review I have shown objective facts and pictures to support my view that this pen is a reliable daily writer worth having and using.

As an Italian-themed sample of the pen’s line on paper, below are the last verses from Dante’s Inferno, in English and in Italian, copied by me with my first and faithful Hastil, equipped with a Parker slide converter and Aurora Blue ink. The English translation is by Laurence Binyon.

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#2 smwknits

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 23:41

thanks for a fantastic review! I usually find metal pens a little challenging to hold, this looks like it might be easier to grip.

#3 Silvermink

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 00:05

The Hastil's very attractive - I might have to pick one up just to satisfy my minimalist-design fetish. :)
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#4 hari317

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 05:26

Thanks for this review. The Hastil is one of my favorite slim pens, in fact this one is the best ergonomically. Beautifully engineered pen. The Hastil was the basis for Montblanc's line of slim pens.

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#5 Jerome Tarshis

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 05:31

And I would say the original Cross Century fountain pen is a Hastil at two removes, arguably derived from the Montblanc Noblesse. Consider the nib and section of the Cross pen.

The clip isn't the original spring-loaded Italian clip, nor is it the same as the Montblanc clip; it's the Cross clip familiar from the pencil and the the ball-point pen. The other or working end of the pen looks very like the working end of the Hastil and the Noblesse, though.

#6 Silvermink

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 05:39

Thanks for this review. The Hastil is one of my favorite slim pens, in fact this one is the best ergonomically. Beautifully engineered pen. The Hastil was the basis for Montblanc's line of slim pens.


Funnily enough, I got a note written with a Hastil today... ;)
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#7 orangos

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 09:37

To move for a moment from the sublime to the gor-blimey: was this design also the copying-point for my beloved Pilot Birdie FPs? There are a lot of similarities around the section and nib...
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#8 tonysingh

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 15:08

Fantastic review very informative.

#9 Nuclear_Duchess

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 13:46

Thank you for the review, you managed to keep it objective despite the obvious love you feel for the pen!

How does it write? Despite being a lover of Italian f/pens I've been wary of Aurora due to their reputation for "toothyness". I'm not sure I could handle it after the buttery smoothness of the Visconti Homo Sapiens....

That said, I have been eyeing up the Hastil since I started collecting, perhaps it's time I made the leap and got an Aurora!
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#10 caco

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 14:01

The nib has hardly any flex to it, but it is not toothy. But I find other Auroras smooth as well, I use vintage 88's, some with real flex, and a modern 88 and an Optima. I find them all very comfortable.
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#11 Fountainpenlover

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 14:43

Many thanks for such a fantastic and well informed review. Have an Aurora Hastil in sterling silver and I must definitely agree that it is a great pen, well designed, and in my personal opinion should be considered a classic.

#12 philipr

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 23:12

Today I received a gold plated Hastil with the longitudinal grooves that I bought specifically to put in my collection of Montblancs alongside the First Generation Noblesse that is its twin sister. If not for the clip you would be hard put to distinguish them when closed. Of course I dipped it and wrote a few lines. Smooth and nice, but not a daily writer for one who writes with broad point 149 MBs since 1967.

#13 Peter Strempel

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 04:47

Fantastic review, caco, and still eminently retrievable, coming up as the very first return for a Google search on 'convertor Aurora Hastil'.

I acquired an Aurora today, as a present from an American Google Plus friend, who saw that I had posted on my other fountain pens. It is a black lacquered, gold trimmed version of yours, with the logo of the Italian mechanical engineering firm (now part of GE, I think) Nuovo Pignone either adhered as a decal or specially made at the tip of the cap.

It came to me in a beige velveteen presentation box, not the priceless case in your review, and without a convertor, which is what I came looking for.

My fountain pen accessories supplier has already thrown up her hands in despair, saying the original trik-trak convertors were impossible to find, so your tip about the Parker unit was most welcome news.

I don't have a digital camera to hand, but the attached webcam shot should serve to provide a comparison with your much more thorough documentation.

aurora-hastil.jpg
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#14 jhsd1124013561

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 18:23

Hey thank you for your review. But I do have a question to ask, how could we tell the nib size for a Aurora Hastil? Is there any paper or from the code? I am looking for a Hastil now and I do need to know what nib size it is. Thank you.


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#15 jhsd1124013561

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 18:25

Fantastic review, caco, and still eminently retrievable, coming up as the very first return for a Google search on 'convertor Aurora Hastil'.

I acquired an Aurora today, as a present from an American Google Plus friend, who saw that I had posted on my other fountain pens. It is a black lacquered, gold trimmed version of yours, with the logo of the Italian mechanical engineering firm (now part of GE, I think) Nuovo Pignone either adhered as a decal or specially made at the tip of the cap.

It came to me in a beige velveteen presentation box, not the priceless case in your review, and without a convertor, which is what I came looking for.

My fountain pen accessories supplier has already thrown up her hands in despair, saying the original trik-trak convertors were impossible to find, so your tip about the Parker unit was most welcome news.

I don't have a digital camera to hand, but the attached webcam shot should serve to provide a comparison with your much more thorough documentation.

attachicon.gifaurora-hastil.jpg

Hey Peter,

 

Do you have any idea how to tell the nib size? Is there any paper or from the code? I am looking for a Hastil recently. Thank you.


Please access my profile to check my sales list:

http://www.fountainp...jhsd1124013561/

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#16 allebannep

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 18:58

Italian design is always the best!

#17 caco

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 22:00

Hey thank you for your review. But I do have a question to ask, how could we tell the nib size for a Aurora Hastil? Is there any paper or from the code? I am looking for a Hastil now and I do need to know what nib size it is. Thank you.

 

Apart form looking at the nib size, I don't really know. There is no marking on the pen or box as to the size of the nib.


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#18 Dillo

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 05:37

Fantastic review, caco, and still eminently retrievable, coming up as the very first return for a Google search on 'convertor Aurora Hastil'.

I acquired an Aurora today, as a present from an American Google Plus friend, who saw that I had posted on my other fountain pens. It is a black lacquered, gold trimmed version of yours, with the logo of the Italian mechanical engineering firm (now part of GE, I think) Nuovo Pignone either adhered as a decal or specially made at the tip of the cap.

It came to me in a beige velveteen presentation box, not the priceless case in your review, and without a convertor, which is what I came looking for.

My fountain pen accessories supplier has already thrown up her hands in despair, saying the original trik-trak convertors were impossible to find, so your tip about the Parker unit was most welcome news.

I don't have a digital camera to hand, but the attached webcam shot should serve to provide a comparison with your much more thorough documentation.

attachicon.gifaurora-hastil.jpg

 

The Trik-Trak is still being made, and you can get them at pens.it. That is where I get all of mine. The newly made ones seem a bit more durable and nicer to use. I replaced the sacs in mine with PVC so that I can see the ink level. It takes time to do, but the results are worth it, and if anyone is interested, I could take the time out and resac one for you. Also of note is that I use a special glue to adhere the new sacs that can be removed cleanly if future repairs are needed, but is a very strong adhesive and sticks extremely firmly. The feel of the new trik-trak with the PVC sac is also somewhat nicer than the feel with the rubber sac. I liked the Trik-Trak so much that all my cartridge Aurora pens use the Trik Trak instead of the piston converter. I feel that it is a more efficient system as the entire piece can hold ink as opposed to the piston converter where much of it is occupied by the mechanism. I really like the Aurora piston converters though and prefer them to the Parker ones.

 

Dillon


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#19 toltotoll61

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 19:11

Beautiful and simple design, I have some Aurora and this is one of my favorite.



#20 jhsd1124013561

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 15:10

 

Apart form looking at the nib size, I don't really know. There is no marking on the pen or box as to the size of the nib.

 

Thank you Caco, I purchased a NOS Hastil from an Italian seller, and I found a "M" labeled on the bottom of the red hastil box. I guess that is the nib size.


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