I recently bought an Aurora 88 with italic nib. It was not what I expected.
This is because Aurora does not make it easy. Over the years it’s offered different kinds of italic nibs, including different widths of italics. Try to find pictures on the internet and you often turn up ten-year-old threads on FPN.
Aurora doesn’t mark its nibs, either, or in my experience its feeds. You can’t see from a picture what the nib actually is.
From a very helpful roundup by Azizah at Gourmetpens I expected the italic to look like this:
In fact, I sent Iguanasell this exact photo and asked if the italic nib would look like this. You’d think they’d know: the set of nibs that Azizah reviewed was supplied by Iguanasell.
I duly received a box marked Italic. But the nib I received does not look like the one above. It is “hammerhead” shaped, like the Stub that Gourmetpens received. Note the nib flares out at the tipping to form a T shape:
My italic is very crisp, with maximum line variation. It writes a medium-dry line. It is smoother than some other Aurora nibs I’ve used. But the line is at least 1.3mm, perhaps 1.5mm — it’s about the same width as my Pelikan Italic Broad or JoWo 1.5.
Not what I was expecting from seeing the first photo above.
Nibmeister Dan Smith (nibsmith.com) is an Aurora stockist and describes the two nibs this way:
Aurora’s Factory Italic is very similar to a crisp formal italic, having sharp edges and producing maximum line variation with a vertical stroke that measures 1.1-1.2mm.
Aurora’s Factory Stub shares the same profile as their Double Broad and can be described as a smoothed-out cursive italic, producing excellent line variation (much more than a typical stub). It creates a vertical stroke that measures 0.8-0.9mm.
So it sounds like we might have got to the bottom of the mystery: the hammerhead shape is the Factory Italic (and I received the correct nib); maybe the labelling on Azizah’s tester set got the italic and stub the wrong way round.
But wait, the plot thickens.
Some time ago I received a Talentum Black Ops, also from Iguanasell, with a stub nib. The box was stickered from the factory as a Stub. And the nib was the SAME HAMMERHEAD SHAPE AS MY ITALIC. (It also wrote worse than any nib I’ve ever received).
So, I’ve ordered both italic and stub Aurora nibs, both from the same retailer, both brand new, and they BOTH came with the same sharp hammerhead shape, regardless of whether I ordered the stub or italic.
What’s going on here? Is it a case of mislabelling? Of a mixup at the factory? A mixup at the retailer? Or just huge Italian-stereotypical variability between individual nibs? I’m not sure.
I thought about trying to get Iguanasell to send me a stub nib instead, on the off chance that that one will be the non-hammerhead shape.
But instead I have (irresponsibly) taken matters into my own hands.
My solution was to grind off the sides of the hammerhead to bring the line width down below 1mm, and to pull the feed and nib and tune it to be wetter. Crazy on day one of ownership of an expensive pen, but I knew I wasn’t going to be happy until it was writing the way I wanted.
So, here’s my advice to you: don’t order an Aurora stub or italic online unless the retailer can send you a macro photo of the exact nib you’ll be receiving.
Public service announcement over!