Back in black: the Aurora Talentum Black Ops

My curiosity about the Talentum Black Ops was piqued when the first round of reviews hit the internet a while back. But at that point I was an Aurora virgin and not quite ready to dip my toe in the water.

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Fast-forward to last month and I’d invested in one of the Limited Edition Optimas in grey with the fine flex nib. It was markedly different to any pen I’d owned before: that long, waisted section, short body, and graceful long in-house nib, with its delicate feed and pronounced tooth. It really came across to me that Aurora has its own vision and identity, in a sea of generic nibs.

Black Friday filled my inbox with a load of deals for the Talentum over in the US, and that got me thinking about it again. I’ve been on a bit of a kick of stubs and italics recently, and I thought this might be a good opportunity to try Aurora’s take on these special nibs. It’s one of the few companies still to offer these special grinds from the factory. I promptly placed my order for a stub Talentum with Iguanasell, one of my go-to shops.

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Unfortunately, as I wrote previously, the stub was absolutely awful and I sent it back in short order. Iguanasell happily replaced it for a broad with no hassle or cost to me, which is the nib I’m reviewing here.

The Talentum has big-pen presence, which is enhanced by the matte black finish and gun-metal accents. It’s an undeniably attractive pen, with excellent proportions and just the right level of detail, treading the line between boring and fussy. The weight in the hand is just substantial enough.

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Of all the pens I’ve used, I think it reminds me most of the Karas Decograph ā€” it’s got that same feeling of length to it. In fact the Talentum is considerably longer than the Pelikan M800.

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Turn the pen around in your hands, and a few tiny spots on the clip and finial shine through and catch the light, but those are the only imperfections in the finish, and they don’t bother me.

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The branding on the cap band is super subtle, but the Aurora DNA comes through clearly in the huge ball-ended clip, which works extremely well.

Unscrew the cap on square-cut threads in just one-and-a-quarter turns and the trademark Aurora nib shape is visible, as well as the long, flared section. Both are, of course, in matte black ā€” and it’s worth noting that the nib is not in any way shiny, like a Ruthenium-plated nib for example. It’s like Aurora got hold of some Vantablack.

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Uncapped, the Talentum is a longer pen than the Optima, although from cap threads to tip of the nib it’s much the same.

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The long barrel means there’s no need to post the rather large cap, although it does post, and deeply. The section is a tad narrow, but the length and flare mean it’s comfortable. So even though the cap threads are a little noticeable, they’re high enough to stay out of the way.

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Filling is by converter, which is supplied in the plush gift box.

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At this point in my hobby I still prefer a piston filler, but a converter isn’t an automatic black mark, especially if it saves me a hundred quid or more versus the Optima. And that saving doesn’t come at a quality cost: the body is thick-walled and all edges are smoothly finished under the fingertips.

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The nib and feed are classic Aurora… in other words, gorgeous. The feed has incredibly dense fine fins, and is in fact one of my favourite design features. The nib is swooping with pointed shoulders, narrow waist and circular breather. The usual Aurora scrollwork and “14k” are present on the nib, but of course almost invisible in black-on-black.

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The writing experience (this time around) is good. Flow is medium; there is some tooth, but actually less than on my Optima. There is some small bounce, but pressure mainly increases ink flow rather than line width. Mine is a B, and writes true to size at some angles, or more like a medium if used upright and with a light touch. I’ve noticed a tiny bit of drying out if left capped for long periods, but not much.

My only complaint about the nib is that the grind delivers different lines at different angles, and as I’m the sort of writer to vary my grip from line to line, this makes my writing with the Talentum look a little patchy. It has definite sweet spots.

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At 250 this is not a cheap pen, but it has a lot going for it. It’s a good size and comfortable shape, and the matte black colour scheme is fantastic. The dark nib in particular is killer.

For your money you may not get a piston, or associated ink window, but you do get a true in-house gold nib with very distinctive writing characteristics. If you want to give an Aurora a try, the Talentum is a much easier way in than spending 570 on the Optima Oliva, lovely as it is. I think it gives a lot of bang for the buck. Just buy it from a retailer like Iguanasell that has a good returns policy in case you get a duff nib. Every factory has Friday afternoons, it seems…

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