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Aurora Optima marbled red finish; broad nib


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#1 Sonnet

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 15:29

First Impressions:
Having purchased a used Aurora Optima (blue with gold trim; fine nib) from Richard Binder a few months ago, I was already impressed with the Optima’s finish, craftsmanship, writing ability, blah-blah-quality-cakes (thanks, Television Without Pity!). So I started thinking about getting another Optima because I’m weird that way. Forum reviews, personal prefernces, etc. all led to my purchasing a red “Auroroloide” (marbled red finish) Optima with a broad nib from Classic Fountain Pens, Inc. (aka, nibs.com). Mr. Mottishaw and his team were very helpful in tweaking the pen to my preferences (right-handed writer, uses moderate pressure) and it arrived 3/17/08 via UPS 3-day (forgot about that pesky thing known as a “weekend”). The shipping box was in good condition with lots of tape and packing peanuts to keep everything safe. The pen itself was packed in: an outer cardboard box, and then a presentation box itself. The presentation case itself is about the same size as a cigar box; it’s covered in shiny, wood-patterned paper emblazoned with the “Aurora” logo. The box contained a registration card and booklet about Aurora—company background, filling information, warranty details, etc.

Appearance and Finish:
As you can see in the attached photos, the pen is a deep red material that Aurora calls “Auroloide.” My guess is that it’s more acrylic than actual celluloid. The barrel and cap are a deep yet vibrant red with lighter-colored flecks throughout. The piston knob, section, and cap’s end-piece are black resin. These parts (minus the section) are trimmed with rhodium-plated furniture, which complements the rhodium-plated nib nicely. There is a lovely company imprint on the barrel which contains the “Aurora Italia” logo in the middle, surrounded by text that reads, “Fabrica Italiana di penne a serbatoio.” I could not find any design flaws on my pen and even 8 days later, it’s still a gorgeous, flawless pen.

Design/ Size/Weight:
The clip and cap ring are also rhodium-plated and feel very solid. Aurora modified their cap bands recently, as described here but I can’t tell which is the new band design and which was the original. Either way, my pen’s cap band is flanked by the Greek key motif, with the words “Italy” on one side and “Aurora” on the other. According to Classic Fountain Pens, the Optima weighs 21.5 grams, and measures:
5 inches when capped
6.125 inches when the cap is posted
4 inches when un-capped
Overall, the pen is very light but feels sturdy. I tend to leave it un-posted to protect the finish but when I do post the cap, the pen still feels well-balanced.

Nib Design and Performance:
The broad nib is 14kt white gold and easily screws out for cleaning or to swap in a different nib. I probably have small-ish handwriting but I tend to prefer medium and broad nibs anyway. The pen is a dream to write with. So far, it seems to prefer J. Herbin inks best but I’ve also used Aurora, Pelikan, Noodler’s, Private Reserve, and Waterman inks in it too. I would say that the nib is smooth but controllable on the page. Depending on the ink, it can be a wet writer or a dry writer. The feed is ebonite.

The Filling System:
The Aurora Optimas use a piston-fill mechanism that can hold about 1.8 milliliters of ink, with a small ink-view window between the section and barrel. The filling mechanism works flawlessly.

Cost/Value: It appears that Aurora has raised their prices over the past few years, which took some getting used to. While Nibs.com might not have the lowest price available, I was very glad that I could have the pen tweaked to my way of writing and know it would be a good writer straight out of the box. Having had some issues with other pens in the past, where they were fussy upon receipt, I was very happy that as soon as I inked up my Aurora, it wrote like a charm. So yes, you can buy this pen at Amazon.com—but what might you be giving up to save a few dollars?

Overall Opinion/Conclusion:
I love this pen! It’s now become one of my daily writers. My only caveat is the price since it is a pretty penny, regardless of who you purchase it from (and you can’t even fault the vendors really—the price of gold went up, inflation, perhaps Aurora wants to shift gears towards a more luxury market, etc. and so on). If someone had to pass this pen over for that reason, I wouldn’t fault them. Otherwise, it is a wonderful pen.

Also, if anyone can correctly translate the imprint text, I'd be much obliged.
And now, here are links to some photos:
http://flickr.com/ph...rsh/2355712902/
This photo just shows the Optima in its full length, minus the cap (um, oops. sorry about that)

http://flickr.com/ph...rsh/2355712398/
A closer look at the nib and section. Please note that the nib had some ink residue on it when the picture was taken

http://flickr.com/ph...rsh/2354879637/
A writing sample, using J. Herbin's Rose Cyclamen ink on Moleskine ruled paper. The quote is from internet comic, Sluggy Freelance because I was bored.

Edited by Sonnet, 25 March 2008 - 16:31.

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#2 devjeethensh

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 16:12

Lovely Pen , excellent handwriting and superb review . I am wondering , why i didn't notice this pen earlier . Now i have to make a decision , to choose one between this one and Pelikan M800 , to order immediately .

Can someone advice regarding how , this pen compares with M800 particularly in Size (external dimensions) and heft.

regards,

Dev

Edited by devjeethensh, 25 March 2008 - 17:26.


#3 RyanL27

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 16:23

Excellent review, Sonnet - one of my favorite pens, in my favorite color

Dev - the Optima is significantly shorter than the m800. Please see a review I did of the black Optima for a comparison picture of the two pens. It's also a bit lighter than the m800 but has similar girth. Both are superb pens - you can't go wrong.


Edit: Oops - turns out I didn't have an m800 in that photo. Sorry about that. As a substitute, see the chart at www.nibs.com - http://www.nibs.com/pen_measures/

Edited by RyanL27, 25 March 2008 - 16:54.

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#4 devjeethensh

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 17:53

QUOTE(RyanL27 @ Mar 25 2008, 04:23 PM) View Post
Excellent review, Sonnet - one of my favorite pens, in my favorite color

Dev - the Optima is significantly shorter than the m800. Please see a review I did of the black Optima for a comparison picture of the two pens. It's also a bit lighter than the m800 but has similar girth. Both are superb pens - you can't go wrong.


Edit: Oops - turns out I didn't have an m800 in that photo. Sorry about that. As a substitute, see the chart at www.nibs.com - http://www.nibs.com/pen_measures/


Thanks Ryan . I appreciate your inputs and i must compliment you on your excellent macro photography skills.

regards,

Dev

#5 Shelley

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 19:29

Nice review sonnet, I love my Optima in black with rhodium trim...erm I must say that I thought the nib was gold with rhodium coat, not white gold on gold?
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#6 Sonnet

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 20:08

QUOTE(Shelley @ Mar 25 2008, 03:29 PM) View Post
Nice review sonnet, I love my Optima in black with rhodium trim...erm I must say that I thought the nib was gold with rhodium coat, not white gold on gold?


Hi Shelley: according to Nibs.com, the extra nib units are listed as "white gold" but you could be right about it being a rhodium coating instead. Who's to say with these pen companies and their rhodium plating here, and the white gold there, and the gold-plating over there...
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#7 Sazerac

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 05:24

Sonnet: Great review. I did the same thing but the other way around -- I bought a red Auroloide Optima, liked it so much I got a blue one. Then I sent the blue one off to Richard Binder to have him add some flex to the nib. WOW! I love the nib now. (I find the Aurora nibs a bit too stiff for my liking, but with Binder added flex, it's a fun, flexy writer.) These are great everyday writers. They fit well in the pocket and post solid and well.

Edited by Sazerac, 26 March 2008 - 05:26.


#8 Ondina

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 09:24

Lovely pen and review....Super attractive nib and color. The election of ink is a 10.

#9 CharlieB

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 09:36

I have this pen in blue Auroloide, and love it. Does anybody know for sure whether Auroloide is an acrylic or a celluloid? I suspect the former, but people on this board often refer to it as the latter, so I remain confused -- as usual.

Edited by CharlieB, 26 March 2008 - 09:36.

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#10 Nikolaos

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 10:36

Nice Review,

I have the Green version of this pen, but my favorite is my MARE LE.

CharlieB: I think the material is acrylic and not celluloid

Nikolaos

#11 girlieg33k

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 17:11

According to John Mottishaw's site, Aurora's Auroloide is celluloid. I purchased three Optimas recently. The first is the Black resin with Silver GT cap and the other two are LEs: Mare and Primareva. They are superb writers. I have three Mini-Optimas as well, and they're easier on my hand for fast writing sessions. Thanks for the review, Sonnet! smile.gif
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#12 diplomat

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 21:03

Thank you for the complete and passionate review Sonnet!

To the Auroloide: I know back in the 30s "the celluloid" (the material) grow fast in the pen industry than "celluloid" (the commercial name), that imposed itself later in the afterwar period. Back then almost every penmaker had its name for it. Auroloide was the name Aurora used. I think that now they resurge the name but still linked to the celluloid material.

Well and now... back to my quest for an Optima!!

Cheers,

#13 FredRydr

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 03:46

QUOTE(CharlieB @ Mar 26 2008, 05:36 AM) View Post
Does anybody know for sure whether Auroloide is an acrylic or a celluloid?

It's recycled shredded "precious resin."

Fred

#14 girlieg33k

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 09:46

QUOTE(FredRydr @ Mar 26 2008, 11:46 PM) View Post
QUOTE(CharlieB @ Mar 26 2008, 05:36 AM) View Post
Does anybody know for sure whether Auroloide is an acrylic or a celluloid?

It's recycled shredded "precious resin."

Interesting... Does this have anything to do with the erroneous belief that a "precious resin" MB 149R exists? It's difficult to prove a negative or the non-existence of things -- but one is going to have an even more difficult time proving the existence of something in that case, counsellor. Nevertheless, one is certainly welcome to try of course. smile.gif

Back on topic, here is a link to clear up the confusion on whether Auroloide is celluloid: http://nibs.com/Auro...maAuroloide.htm

Also, apparently the new style caps on the Optimas feature a Greek key design above and below the Aurora name. The old style caps are no longer available (in current production). All my Optimas and Mini-Optimas have the old style caps and I've not seen the new style caps in person.

Edited by girlieg33k, 27 March 2008 - 12:12.

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#15 Sonnet

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 12:15

QUOTE(girlieg33k @ Mar 27 2008, 05:46 AM) View Post
QUOTE(FredRydr @ Mar 26 2008, 11:46 PM) View Post
QUOTE(CharlieB @ Mar 26 2008, 05:36 AM) View Post
Does anybody know for sure whether Auroloide is an acrylic or a celluloid?

It's recycled shredded "precious resin."

Interesting... Does this have anything to do with the erroneous belief that a "precious resin" MB 149R exists? It's difficult to prove a negative or the non-existence of things -- but one is going to have an even more difficult time proving the existence of something in that case, counsellor. Nevertheless, one is certainly welcome to try of course. smile.gif

Back on topic, here is a link to clear up the confusion on whether Auroloide is celluloid: http://nibs.com/Auro...maAuroloide.htm

Also, apparently the new style caps on the Optimas feature a Greek key design above and below the Aurora name. The old style caps are no longer available (in current production). All my Optimas and Mini-Optimas have the old style caps and I've not seen the new style caps in person.


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#16 girlieg33k

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 13:07

Pretty, gorgeous, stunning...definitely! smile.gif

However, keep alcohol-based solvents away from celluloid. Most alcohols will eat through celluloid. I understand that celluloid is also more prone to crazing. One cannot cause crazing, nor really prevent it really -- but because celluloid is more prone to it, it should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner for too long and/or at powerful settings. Best to just unscrew the nib for cleaning, and flush the barrel manually. I love the Optimas for this reason. Easy to clean!

Also, vintage celluloid is highly flammable. Haven't tested just how flammable modern celluloid is -- but I think I'll leave that testing to someone else.
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#17 PianoMan14

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 21:17

I believe 'Aurolide' is cellulose acetate. When most people think of celluloid, they think of cellulose nitrate, which has a slightly greasy feel and a camphor smell to it (e.g. an OMAS Paragon Arco). Cellulose acetate is just about the same as acrylic (e.g. a Stipula Etruria).


I'm not surprised that I couldn't tell cellulose acetate and standard acrylic. They are similar in my mind, and don't really offer any significant advantages over each other, in my opinion. They are just simply good acrylics...Standard Acrylics and Cellulose Acetate feel the same. They are very smooth, feels like plastic, but the difference is the slickness. It resists rubbing a little bit more. Also, I can't describe this well, but there's no give...feels firmer than the others.

http://pencraftonlin...9E38A9DAF3F0DCF

Although, since celluloid is not cellulose acetate (see above article), and Mr. Mottishaw of www.nibs.com calls it 'celluloid', I might be wrong.
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#18 duna

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 23:58

There is a lovely company imprint on the barrel which contains the “Aurora Italia” logo in the middle, surrounded by text that reads, “Fabrica Italiana di penne a serbatoio.”



Well written review. I took advantage of this resurrected thread tp enjoy the review (thanks) and noticed the translation request. At this late hour I did find no answers along the thread (maybe there are some but I missed them then). So, “Fabrica Italiana di penne a serbatoio” translates as "Italian Factory of Fountain Pens". Penne a serbatoio is a strange definition for fountain pens, very technical indeed, but correct, literally means tank pen (tank as in a fuel tank, or a fixed canister) but an ink tank is often translated as a 'fountain' in technical literature, thus the definition is unusual but exact.

#19 Escribiente

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 07:19

Thank you for the review. This Aurora Auroloide is one of my favorite pens. I got its nib reground by Richard Binder to a slightly stubbish medium, and I can say that it's a pleasure to look at and to write with this pen. The other feature that makes this pen great is the piston filling mechanism, which holds a lot of ink and is utterly reliable.

#20 tanalasta

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:16

Beautiful review.

Love the subdued lighting in the photos. Would love even more to see more photos!!!

There are so many options at $500US and this review and others pushed me towards ordering a Burgundy Auroloide from nibs.com (fine nib). He has to order it in but I'll wait patiently for it to arrive! Can't wait :wub:
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