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Mottishawed Aurora Optima


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#1 errantmarginalia

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 20:41

About a year ago, I traded a grey OMAS Paragon for a black Aurora Optima. It took me a few weeks to adjust to the slight tooth and medium flow of the F nib, but I ultimately fell in love with the pen and used it everyday as my Moleskine pen. Later, I began to refine the main theme of my small collection and decided to collect mainly blue Italian celluloid pens with white trim. In need of funds, I sold the Optima and regretted doing so almost instantly. Still, under the misguided impression that the blue Auroloids were available only with gold trim, I pushed the Auroras to the back of my mind and focused on other pens. Fast forward a few months: I'm surfing from pen site to pen site (as we're all wont to do) and stumble upon John Mottishaw's announcement that he'd begun to carry Auroras. Curious, I go through the Aurora pages and, to my amazement, see the picture of a blue Auroloid with chrome trim. I knew instantly that I had to have the pen, but needed to wait, as I couldn't afford it at the time. The opportunity to purchase the pen finally presented itself at the beginning of the summer, when my finishing my PhD afforded me both the excuse and the means to get the pen as a "PhD gift" to myself.

I promptly emailed Pat at nibs.com and asked if they happened to have a blue Optima with chrome trim and a F nib. You can imagine my disappointment when she wrote back to tell me that they had no F's in stock and that I would to wait a few weeks. I wrote back a pleading email, whereupon John offered to regrind an oblique F into a regular F, free of charge. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and ordered the pen. Little did I know how lucky I was to get that regrind; I'll explain why in a second.

First Impressions:

I received the a couple of days after placing the order with Pat. The pen is comes in a black cardboard box that itself opens to reveal a substantial wooden box. The wooden box contains the pen, as well as a booklet.

Appearance and finish: 4.5/5



This pen screams quality. The chrome trim is gorgeous. The cap screws onto the body of the pen with precision. The action of the piston is as smooth as could be hoped for. The celluloid on this pen is very interesting: a background of deep (almost purple) blue, interrupted by large flecks of a lighter blue. I admit to being a little disappointed by the material upon first receiving the pen, but I've since come to appreciate it immensely. Elsewhere, the clip is solid and classically styled. The ink-view window is one of the best I've seen on any pen. If you're wondering why I deducted .5 point, it's because I still find the black end caps a little unfortunate and would have much preferred that they be made of the same material as the rest of the pen. Still, that's a relatively small gripe.

Size and Weight: 5/5

The Optima is a fairly small pen when capped (it's only slightly longer than a Pelikan M2xx/4xx, and a little thicker). Posted, however, the pen reveals itself to be an ideal size, at least for my hand. It's also a fairly light pen, but it feels heavier than it is, if that makes any sense. What I mean is that unlike a Pelikan M2xx/4xx, which weighs as much as a feather, the Optima remains light but feels like a much better made pen (and I say this as a Pel-lover). Those looking for precise measurements can find them on nibs.com, if they'd like to compare with other pens.



Nib design and performance: 5/5

Wow. This is where the pen really shines, and this is why I was so lucky to accept the regrind John so generously offered. The nib on the Aurora Optima is one of my favorite designs: classic, tastefully-decorated, 14K, screw-in and out. If you're fortunate to get a nib with regular flow and only the slightest tooth, the Aurora nib offers, IMHO, a unique writing experience.
Now, here's the story on this nib. As I realized shortly after ordering the pen but prior to receiving it, the Aurora obliques have a very slight stub-like profile. Accordingly, where the regular Aurora F measures approximately .3mm by .4mm, the OF measures .65mm by .25mm. Thus, John's regrind of the OF into a F had the effect of creating a nib that delivers the lightest sigh of line variation: not enough to be termed a proper italic, but more than enough to add a bit of flair to one's writing. In addition, John maintained the hint of tooth common to many Aurora nibs, creating a very interesting tactile experience when writing with this pen.
Oce again, the Aurora nib took some getting used to, but it has become one of my favorite and most reliable writers.



PS: If the writing looks a bit odd, it's because I write in such a way that my cross-strokes and down-strokes are inverted with respect to most people's. I wish the line variation were a little more apparent, but that's alright...

Filling System: 5/5

Pistons are my favorite filling method, and I find the Aurora piston to be the best on the marker, surpassing even the classic Pelikan system. The action, as already mentioned, is as smooth as could be. The pen contains a huge amount of ink for its smallish size, and the presence of an ink-view window makes the Optima a more useful pen than many other Italian beauties (I'm talking about you, OMAS, Stipula, and Delta).

Cost:

I usually don't give a grade for cost, because cost is entirely subjective, I think. Still, this was not a cheap pen. I rationalize the cost by telling myself that I got a fortunate regrind at no cost and that one doesn't celebrate a PhD everyday. I will say this: John's pens are not the cheapest on the market, but you know what you're getting. After countless bay-bottoms, I've decided that the added cost, if one is willing to spare it, is worth it.

So, if it's not obvious already, I love this pen. It has enormous sentimental value, but beyond that, it's a gorgeous writer that has slowly, subtly, but surely, become one of my favorite pens. I know people have had mixed experiences with Aurora over the past year, but I recommend their pens wholeheartedly, particularly if one purchases them from someone like John. Thanks for reading,

David

PPS: No affiliation with John Mottishaw or nibs.com, etc, etc.

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#2 CharlieB

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 23:38

Nice review. I have several Optimas, all with medium nibs, and I like them a lot.
CharlieB

"The moment he opened the refrigerator, he saw it. Caponata! Fragrant, colorful, abundant, it filled an entire soup dish, enough for at least four people.... The notes of the triumphal march of Aida came spontaneously, naturally, to his lips." -- Andrea Camilleri, Excursion to Tindari, p. 212

#3 southpaw

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 00:31

I've got the red with silver trim and the blue with gold trim, both medium nibs that write like fines, and I really like them both. Mine both have that hint of tooth - not scratchy - but just a little feedback. Enjoy your pen and great review! (I didn't know that they made the blue ones with silver trim. Anybody want to trade your silver trim for my gold trim blue?)
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#4 errantmarginalia

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 00:35

Thanks, Charlie. It seems with have similar tastes: the Montalbano series is amongst my favorites in detective fiction. Best,
David

#5 CharlieB

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 10:16

QUOTE(parrhesia @ Sep 15 2007, 08:35 PM) View Post
Thanks, Charlie. It seems with have similar tastes: the Montalbano series is amongst my favorites in detective fiction. Best,
David


Italian pens, Italian detective novels, Italian food.... Life is good!
CharlieB

"The moment he opened the refrigerator, he saw it. Caponata! Fragrant, colorful, abundant, it filled an entire soup dish, enough for at least four people.... The notes of the triumphal march of Aida came spontaneously, naturally, to his lips." -- Andrea Camilleri, Excursion to Tindari, p. 212

#6 ampatb

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 13:46

Thanks for writing a review of my favorite pens - Aurora. 88's (old and new), Sole, Primavera, Mare, Optimas, St. Petersburg .... they are all beautiful and with a little nib work write incredibly well.

#7 omasfan

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 18:15

The Aurora is one of the pens that I really need to try (and probably purchase). I love the blue with HT trim the most. Good choice!

#8 Shelley

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:06

Nice review, I think that the Optima is a marvelous pen. Enjoy using it!
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#9 JRodriguez

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 05:52

Fantastic review of an awesome pen. I've got the burgandy with a medium nib but like you, I had no idea that the blue was offered wth silver trim - that was one of the reasons I went with the burgandy, as I'm not much a fan of gold trim on modern pens. Anyway, I'm so glad to hear that John's work proved much to your satisfaction and I hope the pen brings you a lifetime of faithful service and enjoyment.

#10 omasfan

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 21:47

I held and tried one of those at my local dealer. I was surprised at the lightness. Very comfortable pen with great looks.

#11 errantmarginalia

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 22:00

QUOTE(dupontfan @ Oct 20 2007, 09:47 PM) View Post
I held and tried one of those at my local dealer. I was surprised at the lightness. Very comfortable pen with great looks.


For such a small pen, it's surprisingly comfortable, particularly in the section. Posted or unposted, it's perfectly balanced, though I prefer to post this one. With hindsight, I still subscribe to everything I wrote in the review: this is a great pen, particularly when ordered from John M. Best,
David






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