Aurora 88, one of the classic Italian ink pens, revisited

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Origins of the Aurora ink pens and the 88

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In 1919, Aurora was founded by Isaia Levi. It is located in Turin. Levi saw an opportunity to enter the market with a high-quality product. He utilized a focused marketing and strong sales support to build his brand of ink pens. Between 1919 and 1945, the Aurora company introduced over 30 different fountain pen styles. They were extremely popular in Italy. Aurora later partnered with Edacto and penetrated the French market.

In 1945, the original production plant and company offices were destroyed by Allied strategic bombing during the invasion of Italy. Determined to rebuild, the company was fortunate and  quickly found funding in the post-war era. The plant was relocated to the suburbs north of the city, near the Stura Abbey. They still operate out of the same location today, producing Aurora ink pens and other luxury goods.

Marcello Nizzoli, the famous designer, created the Aurora 88

With the fascists kicked out of Italy, the company determined that a new pen should celebrate the company’s new direction, and they hired Marcello Nizzoli to design the Aurora 88 pen.

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Nizzoli is renowned for his industrial design work and architecture, with a long history designing for Olivetti.

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He is credited with design of the Olivetti Lettera 22 and Lexicon 80 portable typewriters as well as the Necchi Mirella sewing machine. It is easy to understand that this pen got fame in the midst of other designers. It is still celebrated by collectors even today.

There is a collection featuring some of his highly regarded designs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Unfortunately, the collection does not appear to include any examples of his Aurora 88 pen design.

The company introduced several versions of these ink pens between 1945 and 1965, until finally discontinuing the Aurora 98 sometime in the 1970s.

Revival of the Aurora, one of the great ink pens

Fortunately, the company saw fit to revive the pen with some modern updates in 1989. Now featuring a black resin barrel and 5 different trim options, a redesigned ink window, a 22mm long nib in rhodium-treated or pure 14k gold and the classic piston fill mechanism, the pen is pure luxury in my hand.

Nibs come in a selection of sizes including Xtra Fine, Fine, Italic Medium, Medium and Broad. The modern redesign hearkens straight back to Marcello Nizzoli’s original design with the streamlined cigar shape and classic fill mechanism.

Legacy of the Aurora 88 ink pens

Moma of New York does not display the Aurora 88, but other museums have seen fit to include Aurora ink pens in their collections. For example, the Aurora 88 pen was the first of the ink pens to be displayed at Milan’s National Museum of Science and Technology.

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The modern version of the pen still features the “Magic Reservoir”, a unique function of the fill mechanism where you can access the last bit of ink when you’ve almost run dry. Simply extend the piston, and the internal mechanism lifts the last of the ink up so it can run into the feed tube. This is an obvious advantage for serious penners.

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Resin barrels are subject to scratches, and vulnerable to damage by harsh cleaning solutions such as acetone. To clean the exterior of your pen, use a soft cloth and mild detergent only when absolutely necessary. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

You can find more information, reviews and the price of this pen, here.


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