I’ll come out and say this first: I was really surprised by just how much I liked these Maiora pens.
I am always wary about new brands, especially those promising good specs for a competitive price. Where do they compromise? I expected them to be a bit rough and ready, maybe a little cheap feeling. But these Maioras aren’t at all. They look great, they feel great, they write great, and they’re brilliant value. So there you go. That’s the summary. With one significant caveat, which I’ll come to later, you can go buy one now.
In case you need a little more information, let me start from the beginning.
Maiora is a sister brand to Nettuno 1911. They’re both run by Nino Marino, the former CEO of the now-defunct Delta, and he’s basically been making pens since I was born.
So you won’t be surprised that these pens have a lot of DNA in common with Delta and Nettuno pens, and related brands like Leonardo. But, as I’ll come to, they have plenty of identity of their own, too.
Izods is the UK stockist for Nettuno and Maiora, and a fantastic company generally (don’t blame me if you fall down the slippery Montblanc slope). They sent me (for free) an Impronte (the medium-sized model) in orange and matte black, and a Capri in the larger Oversize model.
Here’s the first thing you should know: both sizes of pens are exactly the same price, £159. So you can genuinely pick based on which size fits you, rather than your budget. That’s refreshing. And as to size, there is a genuine difference, but not a massive one.
The oversize is larger in cap and barrel dimension, and in section size. It is a pretty big pen, longer than the Montblanc Homer when capped. But it’s not as big, say, as an Oldwin Classic or Pilot Custom Urushi. You won’t find it overwhelming. And the regular size didn’t feel too small to me: it’s not too short or skinny like a Pelikan M200. In fact, it’s longer than an Onoto Magna. So don’t sweat it, you’d probably be happy with either size.
The two sizes have almost everything in common, from the silhouette in.
Both are hand-turned from solid blanks, and engraved on the barrels (like Leonardo and Nettuno) with the brand name, Italy, the colour and the serial number.
On the oversized version, this engraving lines up perfectly with the clip, if you pick the right start to the threads, and with the nib. It’s off centre on the Impronte (and a different set of text, for some reason) but it probably won’t bother you.
The cap and barrel walls are thick and feel sturdy (although the inside cap lip feels a little sharp).
The general shape is tapered, with conical ends and a swelling barrel.
These are, in my opinion, extremely good-looking pens, and they feel so premium and well built.
The resins are nice. The Capri is a deep patterned blue, offset with simple silver-coloured trim in the nib and clip, and four rings.
Slide your fingertip down the pen and you’ll find the rings and various resin bands are not completely flush, but it’s not bad.
The smaller Impronte I received has a black-and-orange colour scheme (most of the Maioras are available with a coloured barrel and black ends), with some parts matte-black, some gloss black.
The orange is a kind of caramel colour and beautifully striped, and it goes well with the gold trim.
But my money would go for the all blue scheme, I think. Across both pens, the gloss parts are polished to absolute perfection.
In terms of filling, like Leonardo, both Maioras have blind caps, giving you access to a fancy screw-in converter, colour-coordinated, to fill.
This is where you’ll find one of the few black marks against the Maioras: the metal ends of the converters are curiously punched, leaving a rather ragged hole.
And of course, like all these pens that have metal-knobbed converters inside a plastic barrel, give them a tap on the side and there’s a cheap-sounding rattle. A quick ring of washi tape solves the problem for good if it bothers you.
In terms of comfort, full gold stars. I’m not sure which size I prefer, but I could live with either. Either way, the full barrel shape fills the hand. The oversized is 34g capped and 25g ready to write; the regular is 29g capped and 21g ready to write. So there’s not a ton in it.
Balance is good. Length is good. Both pens post deeply, if you want them to.
Both have distinctive deeply concave sections, which do guide your fingers to the right position, but not in a painful or restrictive way.
In terms of practicality, both have super-quick caps — exactly one turn. This is wonderful and I am mentally dancing with joy. The threads are triangular in profile, but they’re not sharp. Nor is the barrel step, which surprised me because they’re visually noticeable.
Both have two-part clips that are nicely sprung and attractive. It’s always good to have a solid cast or machined clip instead of a stamped folded one.
But — second small black mark — they do twist side to side rather easily, and on the matte cap in particular this leaves a mark.
Both sizes have JoWo #6 steel nibs, which are fantastic out of the box. Both are laser-engraved with the Maiora logo (but slightly different versions of the layout) and are single coloured.
I got a broad and a fine, and they were great, smooth with good flow, zero stress.
Unlike Bock nibs, I have never had a problem with JoWo. Excellent choice, Maiora. If you twisted my arm, I might say that the #6 nib looks a little small on the oversized pen, the section having a huge lip.
Third black mark, though, and this is the one I mentioned in the introduction that might be a dealbreaker depending on how you use your pens: the regular size Impronte has no airtight seal in the cap (blow in the end and a breeze comes out past the clip), and it dries out completely after about two or three days of being capped.
Ink is a little bit darker from evaporation after an overnight rest. No such problem afflicts the oversize version, so take that under advisement.
Note that in the past I have solved similar drying-out problems on Grafs, Leonardos, Montegrappa Extras and others by using a toothpick to pack a little vaseline or silicone grease under the clip gap, plugging the hole non-destructively.
Aside from the drying out problem on the regular-sized pen, I basically have nothing bad to say about these two Maioras. They look great, they feel well built, they’re comfortable, and fitted with fuss-free JoWo nibs so they write great too. They even come in unusual swivel-lidded boxes, exactly like Nettuno, which are nice enough to gift.
And there we have it. For £160 these are very strong designs, on par with much-loved competitors like the Esterbrook Estie, but actually with a higher spec and more complex design. I’d probably pick the oversize for a slight edge in comfort and because the nib doesn’t dry out. Nino may have been making pens for nearly 40 years, but apparently he still has a trick or two up his sleeve.