I bought this pen several weeks ago on eBay, mostly by curiosity, because I read somewhere that a replica of the Aurora 88 / 888 (I mean the models of the 50es) did exist and was the Baoer 100.
The pen arrived more than a month after, with a bit of disappointment on my side, because I was going to bring it with me in a planned business trip to Moscow.
Needless to say that I found the small white parcel in the mail box the morning after I came back, so my curiosity was more teased.
Inside the white bubble wrap envelope the pen was protected by a black small gift bag (as the Chinese sellers use to call it) and also an additional transparent cellophane bag … how carefully!
All the stuff for 6.89$ shipping included; in any case, it was worth to try.
Nuff said, when I finally released the pen from its whole bundle (my daughter did actually: she has the ius primæ visionis), the first impression was pretty good, the pen looked to me elegant and really '50s styled.
At first glance every part seems to be well built and carefully assembled, in terms of absolute value and not only in relation to the price; the pen is equipped with an international standard screw converter.
The cap removes and fixes with an elastic and secure click, requiring not too much energy to be managed.
The pen deserves a more in-depth analysis, so let's go further.
Appearance & Design: 8/10
First of all, some figures: the pen is 134 mm long and the maximum diameter is 12 mm, subtly bigger that my Baoer 388, the well known Sonnet replica; its weight is about 29 g (exactly as declared); an overall handy pen.
As I told, the pen has a modern (not contemporary) design: it reminds me some items of the first‑era Italian industrial design; the barrel and section are of a glossy black, with some chrome trims, like the flat ending lid of the barrel, the ring that separates the barrel from the section and the quite odd whiskers near the nib.
The cap is completely chrome-finished and makes a pretty good match with the pen body, the ribs slender the overall pen shape, but maybe contribute to a little “decadent” image of the pen; unlike other Chinese pens in my experience, the clip is well fixed, well-centered and makes no excessive resistance when slipped in the shirt pocket and secured to the fabric.
The section tip is maybe the most original part of the pen: the nib is almost completely covered by the section itself (a well-known but not so frequent solution, as in Parker 51 and, exactly Aurora 88 / 888) and contained in a kind of shark mouth, as seen in the picture below; there the odd whiskers above the nib can also be noticed:
The pen body when uncapped shows a pretty nifty shape, the large chrome strip breaks the continuity of the black color.
Finally, if the Baoer 100 is really inspired by the Aurora 88 / 888, it succeeds in giving the idea of coming from those days, but it is not a true replica.
Construction & Quality (7/10)
Holding the pen gives a nice feeling of robustness and consistence, the glossy finishing does not annoy when handling it: I have been using it for some days in taking notes at work, without getting tired for that reason; the writing of this pen is another topic to be analyzed in its details.
I studied for some time how to completely disassemble the pen – for maintenance reasons, you never know … it seems to be a rather difficult task: if I have news on this matter, I will tell.
When looking better, some little defects arise: the nib is not perfectly aligned with the section, as can be seen in the picture below:
on the contrary, the feeder is correctly positioned relative to the nib itself.
The whiskers are made of a chrome part inlay and their contours are a bit jagged and not well sharpened.
Weight & Dimensions (8/10)
When capped, the pen seems to me somehow less proportioned:
Handling the pen uncapped, as I am used to, it feels comfortable enough and light, even if I handled much more lighter fountain pens, like for instance the ONLINE I recently bought.
Writing with the pen capped is not unpleasant, since the cap is lighter than the body and does not unbalance it too much; moreover, the cap rests on my hand when I hold the pen in this configuration.
I would classify the size of this unit as medium-small: capped it is 5 mm shorter than a Lamy Safari and considerably thinner. That's good for me: I do not like king-size pens anyhow.
Filling System & Maintenance (8/10)
The Baoer 100 can be equipped with international standard cartridges and, as anticipated, it comes with a screw-type converter.
I use converters in normal fountain pen operation for many reasons, but I have to say often they can carry few ink and the ones provided with Chinese pens make no exception on this side.
Recently I bought some converters from a supplier in the U.S.A. and the capacity of that ones is significantly greater in the same size.
In the case of this specific pen, the filling operation works easily, correctly and clean, with just one drawback due to the particular shape of the section near the nib: when dipped into ink bottle for supply, the shark mouth retains a remarkable amount of ink (I mean in a relative sense to the quantities involved), that must be carefully repulsed into the bottle, worth a disaster of ink on the fingers at the first use.
Nib & Performance (6/10)
The pen comes with just one point size: the fine one, at least, so I checked at each eBay shop that sells this item.
The nib seems to be a steel one, but its color has also a slight bronze effect; the eBay supplier indicates it as a “gold iridium” one, I can hardly believe.
Considering that iridium is told to be virtually absent from points, this one is definitely steel or similar.
When the pen arrived at home, I prepared a cup of warm water with some dish soap, filled both converter and nib/feeder with that solution, soaked the nib and section in the cup and let them rest the whole night.
The next morning I rinsed all the stuff with fresh water, then I washed it again with warm water and ammonia using the converter and deeply rinsed them once again.
Then I filled the pen with Pelikan 4001 blue-black ink.
Now, after this long lasting preparation, let's talk about the most important feature of a (fountain) pen: how does it write?
Well, from this point of view my feeling is mixed, I am trying to explain what I mean.
As seen in the pictures above, the nib is very thin.
It feels quite rigid, but at first use the pen started writing with a thin but regular and contiunuos mark, even when making a long series of 8 shapes and different curvy twirls.
Analysing it in depth, this is my impression on the nib:
- it runs drier going along writing, but neither skips nor starves; this is most important, of course, but not so obvious in my experience with this class of fountain pens
- as told, it is quite rigid
- it is remarkably sensitive to rotation on roll and yaw axes, but not on the pitch one
- it is very sensitive to the kind of paper, being better on raw and going worse when paper becomes smoother
- no startup problems, just keeping the pen capped when not used: being the slit very thin, it dries rather quickly
- the mark is definitely thin, in line with an F-nib.
The picture below shows a short text written by me using the Baoer 100 (words are not mine, but belong to a poet of my town, the 1975 Nobel Prize Eugenio Montale).
Summing it up, the most annoying issue is the sensitivity to rotation on roll axis, that compells to hold the pen exactly in a precise position.
The pro's are the prompt start and regular flow, even if quite thin.
A note on the sensitivity of position on the roll axis: enlarging one of the nib pictures, the point seems to have a slightly oblique shape on the plant view.
Cost & Value (8/10)
The Baoer 100 can be found on eBay at $ 6,89 standard international shipping included, from some Chinese suppliers; I paid it that price brand new with a small black pen bag.
Compared with the Aurora Ipsilon and the Baoer 388 I am used to write with, it classifies behind both of them.
I think that it is an average quality item from an absolute point of view, but a good bargain when its value is related to its price.
In my opinion the Baoer 100 is a beautiful object from a purely aesthetic point of view, but it is clearly a pen for writers that like a thin mark from their instruments.
At the moment this pen does not completely satisfies me, but considering that I definitely do not like fountain pens that leave a bold mark on the paper, if I will trim some issues with the nib, I think I will be happy with the Baoer 100.
Final (personal) score: 7,5/10
P.S.: any suggestion on how trim this nib will be greatly appreciated.
Edited by ser.rep, 28 March 2012 - 16:09.