(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
I have too many black pens. It's not that I really like black pens. It's just that so many fountain models come only in black. For example, I have two black Sailor pens (a Pro Gear and a 1911) because that was the only color I could get with a specialty nib (without waiting forever or paying a ridiculous price). And, of course, I have a Montblanc 146 (black), a Montblanc Heritage 1912 (black), a vintage Montblanc 234 and 1/2 (black), and a whole host of others.
Another black pen was not on my radar until I saw photos of the new Aurora 88 Satin Black fountain pen. I have to admit, I swooned. It's not so much the satin (although I really do like the matte black exterior) as much as it is the combination of the satin with rose gold appointments. There is something about the matte black finish with the rose gold that makes this pen wonderfully svelte and sophisticated.
The pen's design is modeled after the original Aurora 88. It's a simple design with just the right amount of rose gold accents to set it apart from other black pens. The cap has Aurora's distinctive clip and a gold ring with "Aurora" engraved in cursive. It's nicely elegant.
The body is all satin black from the grip to the piston knob. I really like the raised lip and matte exterior of the grip because both keep my fingers from sliding forward.
The slim ink window is set off with thin rose gold rings. This is a terrific ink window. It doesn't take up too much room, but it gives you just enough to see how much ink is left in the pen.
The 14K rose gold nib bears Aurora's distinctive and beautiful scroll work. As I've said before, I think Aurora nibs are some of the most beautiful nibs produced today. And the rose gold is stunning.
I asked nibmeister, Dan Smith, if this nib is really 14K solid rose gold or rose-gold plated (like most nibs). He asked his distributor, and they confirmed that it is solid rose gold. That is significant, because rose gold plating often flakes off after a bit of use (see this FPN thread on the 90th Anniversary Montblanc, for example). The plating on my Platinum Century Nice flaked and has become discolored which is very disappointing.
But Aurora's solid rose gold nib should not exhibit those problems. Plus, if you have it ground, it should remain consistent in color--no yellow or white gold poking through.
Like most Aurora nibs, this one is stiff, though you can press into it and feel a little bit of give. So, even though it's not flexy or springy, it has a softness to it that I like.
The bold nib writes smoothly and doesn't feel too wide. If this were my pen, I would probably get it ground into a cursive italic just for more line variation, but it's not bad as it is. Aurora nibs do have some feedback to them. It's not scratchiness, so much as "draggy-ness." The nib feels like it pulls a bit on the paper as you create strokes. All three of the Auroras I received for review feel the same way, so it's just a characteristic of Aurora nibs.
The piston works smoothly and the pen holds a good amount of ink. The 88 has Aurora's special reservoir that allows you to get another page or so of writing even when you think you've run out of ink. You just unscrew the piston knob and that releases enough ink to let you finish your thoughts.
The Aurora 88 is a medium-sized pen (measuring about 133mm capped, 128mm uncapped, and 155mm posted), and it is light. It's about the same size as a MB 146 and a bit shorter than a Sailor 1911.
You can write with it posted if you want a longer pen, and having the cap on the end gives the pen more heft. The matte finish feels delightful on the fingers. It definitely feels and looks like satin.
You can purchase the Aurora 88 in Satin Black from Pen Chalet for $440.00. It truly is a stunning pen, and this is coming from a person who swore she would not buy another black pen. Although this pen is a loaner, I'm considering buying one for myself . . . except I have so many black pens.
- The Aurora 88 fountain pen is extremely comfortable to write with.
- The rose gold accents and satin finish really set this pen apart from other black pens.
- The broad nib on this pen puts out a juicy, solid line of ink and is smooth with just a bit of Aurora-style feedback.
- This is not a Montblanc 149 in size (it's closer to a 146). It's also very light. So if you prefer large pens, this one might not be for you. Still, you can post the pen to give it extra length and weight.
- $550 retail is quite a bit to pay for a black pen that is made of plastic. Of course, people pay even more for plastic (cough "precious resin" cough) Montblancs, so . . . .
(Kenro Industries provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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