(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Long ago I acquired a blue Auroloide Aurora Optima with a fine nib. The pen was lovely with its mottled blue celluloid and gold accents. But the nib was super scratchy and hard as a nail. As much as I loved the looks of the pen, I didn't like how it wrote, so I sold it. I assumed, based on my experience and on reviews of Aurora pens, that Aurora nibs were just scratchy (the politically correct expression is "they have feedback"), and I swore off Auroras for the time being.
But there was one Aurora that always caught my eye because of its vibrant blue color: the Aurora Mare. Every time I saw a picture of this pen I swooned, tempted like Odysseus by its Siren song. What lashed me to the mast, however, was that first experience with an Aurora nib.
Then Pelikan announced an M800 they called Vibrant Blue. The color is almost indistinguishable from the Aurora Mare. I know that Pelikan nibs are generally smooth and trouble free, so I was tempted. But, the Vibrant Blue has rhodium accents and I prefer yellow gold. When I happened upon some unexpected cash (thank you Mother's Day), I decided to buy a gently-used Aurora Mare with a medium nib that I hoped would be less scratchy (plus it was about $200 less than the Pelikan Vibrant Blue).
My Aurora Mare came in its original packaging: a blue-velvet clamshell box with a pamphlet and bottle of black ink.
The minute I saw the Mare I knew I made the right decision. The pen sparkles like waves on the Caribbean Sea, especially in sunlight.
The screw-on cap has a black finial with the limited edition number printed on the side.
The clip is the usual Aurora shape with a ball on the end.
But the Mare has an additional feature: a tiny seahorse engraved at the top of the clip. I love this detail. It's not ostentatious, but it is a reminder that the Mare is patterned after the ocean.
The bottom of the cap is adorned with a gold ring that has the name "Aurora" and a Greek key pattern design.
Like all Aurora Optimas, the Mare is a fairly short pen. Unposted it measures almost 5 inches; posted it measures 6 inches. I write with it unposted and find it quite comfortable.
The Aurora Mare is a piston filler, and the ink window gives you an indication of how much ink you have left. In the event that you run out of ink while writing, you can twist the piston knob counter-clockwise and access a hidden reserve of ink (one of the special features of many Aurora pens). The piston is smooth and works flawlessly.
The nib is decorated with intricate scrollwork. It is one of the most beautiful nibs available, in my view.
Aurora's website states that their nibs are handmade in Turin, Italy. That is something special since most modern fountain pen manufacturers no longer make their own nibs.
Mine is an 18k nib. It certainly doesn't offer any flex, but writing with this medium nib is smooth sailing. I don't know if I just had a bad nib on my original Optima; if the medium is simply less scratchy; or if I'm oblivious to the famous "Aurora feedback," but I am delighted with how beautifully this nib writes.
The Aurora Mare is a limited edition pen (7,500 pens were made). You can find them at Goldspot Pens for $859.95. I've also seen them for sale from time-to-time on the FPN and FPG classifieds.
While others are admiring their Pelikan M800 Vibrant Blue pens, I am enjoying my gorgeous Aurora Mare inked with Iroshizuku Kon-Peki (a perfect match, by the way). You can't go wrong with either pen, but mine has a sea horse, just sayin'.
- The Aurora Mare is one of the most gorgeous blue resin pens available. The color is absolutely stunning.
- The pen is a piston filler and holds a good amount of ink (1.1ml) along with a special reservoir that gives you an extra page or so of writing.
- Although some say that Aurora nibs give "feedback," my medium nib is smooth and trouble-free.
- The pen is comfortable both unposted and posted.
- At $859.95 retail, this is an expensive pen. But it can be found for much less used.
- Some may find the pen to be too short, but that can be remedied by posting the cap.