- First Impressions (9/10) This pen arrives in a double sleeved black satin lined presentation box with ink bottle nestled deep in the satin and the pen secured by a thick black elastic cord. The Aurora product brochure and warranty is discreetly tucked into a pocket inside the lid. When raising the lid, you can't help but feel you're unveiling something very special.
- Appearance & Design (8.5/10) The 80th Anniversary edition is a moderately large pen made mostly of silver, but also has some resin parts (section and cap top collar). The resin is a deep burgundy color and of high quality (deep coloration, flawless finish). Aside from the resin, everything else is either silver or white gold.
The body and cap are covered with hand worked guilloche, in a wonderful pattern suggestive of ocean waves. The lower and upper cap bands break the guilloche pattern in a Victorian heart-like curved lines.
The cap also has a very striking clip extending from the top band and reaches down towards the lower band with a gentle curve, terminating in a large water drop of sterling silver (also, notice the '80' inscribed at the top of the clip). Stunning. Because the pen is widest at the cap and gradually tapers toward the blind cap, the cap posts to the barrel fairly secure without feeling like the friction will cause barrel wear, although one would probably not post this pen--it's rather long with the cap posted and is a very usable size not posted. The only drawback to all of this silver is that it tarnishes. One will need to clean the pen periodically with anti-tarnish, maybe once every other month.
- Weight & Dimensions (9/10) It's very nicely weighted, not feeling too heavy and not too light--I think it is wonderfully proportionate to the size and visual impression. Overall, the pen is about 6" long capped and about 3/4" wide at the thickest point.
- Nib & Performance (8.5/10) According to Aurora, there are a wide range of nib sizes available for the pen--F, M, B, BB, stub, 1.1mm oblique italic, etc. Aurora followed the Pelikan/Esterbrook approach and made it a screw-in nib/feed assembly that is easily user interchanged. This particular pen came with an M nib that dip testing revealed to be true to a Western medium. It's above average in size, plated in 18k white gold with discreet ornamentation. The nib is quite firm with not much suggestion of spring to it. But it is very smooth.
- Filling System (9.5/10) - Aurora knows piston filler mechanisms and spared no expense on this one. It's a super smooth moving piston with a blind cap screw that moves with just the right amount of friction. My only complaint is that the blind cap extends out when turning--for this price, the mechanism should have a belaying gear to keep the blind cap flush to the body when turning to move the piston up. Test loading it with water showed a full compliment of fluid with only the tiniest of an air bubble. I did not check the fluid capacity, but it looks comparable to a Lamy 2000. Last but not least, this pen is equipped with a thin ink window that is discreet enough to blend into the pen design theme but still show quite clearly how much fluid is in the pen.
- Cost & Value (8.5/10) The original MSRP was a bit much for this pen and conversely the discounted prices are lower than what the pen delivers on. Lately, I've seen several on-line websites selling it for $900 and $850. Just recently someone sold one of these on the FPN marketplace for $750, a price surely worth it. I really think this is one of the most elegantly designed pens Aurora has made to date, even better than the 85th and 88th anniversary models.
- Conclusion (Final score : 8.8) - You may have noticed that I didn't provide a writing sample and when mentioned filling the pen, I used water. I never actually put this pen to use. Why? Well, I have to admit that this was the most expensive pen purchase I've made to date. It LOOKS expensive, too. I felt like I over extended myself and could only look at the pen, marveling its beauty, but not feel bold enough to use it. In my mind, it is an exquisite sculpture of sterling silver guilloche--meant to be gazed at but not used. And as my interest in pens progressed, I was already moving towards more modern looking pens made by Japanese pen companies. This pen contrasts significantly to that. And as a result... it is now owned by another member on FPN. After taking photos before mailing off the pen, I realized it was a shame not to write up a review... and so here it is. Maybe I shouldn't have done it, because... well, I do miss this pen already!
Edited by MYU, 30 March 2009 - 04:12.