Vintage Aurora 88

Imagine you could send your Parker 51 away to college. Imagine that the school of choice was located in northern Italy. Your 51 would learn Italian, ride a Vespa, embrace soccer, develop a fondness for fashion and be exposed to cutting edge design.

Your pen would return refined, more elegant and oddly sexy. Your pen would return… an Aurora 88!

Now don’t get your tines bent out of shape. I don’t mean to besmirch your precious 51. A near and dear to me 51 has been a member of my own crew for over two decades.

Vintage Aurora 88 DataBut there’s no avoiding the fact that the (vintage) Aurora 88 is superior to the Parker 51. And why would this not be the case? There’s no doubt in my mind that the 88′s designer, Capitano Marcello Nizzoli, was charged with the single objective of creating a pen that could compete with the 51. He excelled in his assignment.

Aesthetically, the lines and details of the Aurora are simply more pleasing to the eye. The cap of the 88 is only slightly longer than that of the 51, but as the 88 is not burdened by a prone-to-discoloration jewel, the streamlined appearance gives an illusion of more length. The ring separating the turning knob from the pen body adds subtle yet important visual appeal. And there’s an ink window! Who doesn’t love an ink window?

Functionally, the Aurora trumps the Parker by virtue of a piston filling mechanism. There’s a reason that even modern converters use a piston – the system works and works well. Additionally, the 88′s nib features less hood and more flex. The more exposed nib provides for easier inspection and cleaning while the flex allows for creativity on all points of sail. It’s a fun pen!

Certainly I’ll never force my 51 to walk the plank. It enjoys permanent station. Still, I know that I will favor the 88 when assigning daily duties. In fact, I’m looking to fill a few more quarter berths with these fine Italians.


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  • Karen

    What a beautiful article for a beautiful pen, Eric. I have visited Italy, and truly appreciate all things Italian. Oddly enough, I do not yet own an Italian fountain pen. Your recent posts regarding Delta, and now this article, are inching me closer to purchasing one. I'm curious if you might be able to suggest a reliable, entry-level-ish Italian pen for someone like myself who is still a bit of a newbie?

    • http://fpgeeks.com Eric Schneider

      Hi Karen!

      I'm glad you enjoyed both the article and the beauty of the pen =)

      For an entry-level-ish Italian, you might consider a Stipula Passaporto. But keep in mind that they are very compact – tiny, some might say. They're about 3 inches capped and 4 3/4 posted.

      The Passaporto is the most affordable Italian that comes to mind. Moving up from there in price, the Visconti Van Goghs have always caught my eye. But if you move up to that price range, you're dangerously close to the street price of a Delta Dolcevita Piston.

      Keep me posted.

      Keep us all posted! =)

  • http://www.soliloquyinblue.com Michelle Smith

    I think I need one of these.

    • http://fpgeeks.com Eric Schneider

      Hi Michelle!

      I concur =)

  • Antonietta

    Eric, you hurt my bank account! Believe it or not, i dont have an Italian pen! Might need to add this to my list (exponentially growing)- next to the dolcevita ;).

    • http://fpgeeks.com Eric Schneider

      Ciao Antonietta!

      You only hurt the ones you love. Show your bank account how much you care =)

  • Daniel

    Hi Eric. Very nice piece! Two little things: I think in the accompanying text box, you probably mean "Circa 1950" rather than "Circa 1905?" Also, can you possibly give a ballpark figure for what a vintage Aurora 88 — user grade is fine — should go for? You're making me want to seek one out.

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      I actually have a bit of experience buying and selling vintage 88's so I might be able to help. The original 88's tend to be a little more desirable than the 88P or 88K due to its larger size, as well as a flex nib versus a rigid nib, so both of those things will contribute to the value of the pen. As well as whether the cap is a Nikargenta or gold filled or solid gold. The serial number will also influence the price.

      On a user grade original 88 with rigid nib and gold filled or chrome cap with a fairly high serial number (greater than 1,000,000) you can expect to pay around $130ish. Make that a flex nib with a Nikargenta cap and a serial number below a million and the price can rise to $160ish. That same pen in excellent condition with original packaging can easily fetch over $200.

      Hope that helps.

      • Daniel

        That helps a lot, Dan! Thank you very much. That price is actually more reasonable than I feared. I'll keep my eyes open.

    • http://fpgeeks.com Eric Schneider

      Hey Daniel,

      Thanks for pointing out my error with the 1950 date. An Aurora 88 from 1905 – now *that* would be a find!

      I hope you find your 88 soon!

      • Daniel

        Thank you, Eric!

  • Edward Southerland

    How do you distinguish a gold filled from a solid gold cap on an 88?

  • Jon

    I totally agree with your assessment of the Aurora 88 as a more sophisticated (and slightly larger) version of the Parker 51. I have a Nikargenta Aurora 88 and its semi flex nib is fantastic. If the Parker 51 were the same size as the Aurora 88, I’d probably have a dozen of them. I think it’s time to buy a another 88, with a GF cap.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/will.platt.39 Will Platt

    I’ve had two so far now/ I got them partially because of this :)I use my current one every day in school–the semi flex is very fun, and the ink capacity is great!!! By far my favorite daily user pen at the moment :)

  • Andrea Kirkby

    I have a vintage Aurora 88 and love the smooth fit of the cap, the deliciously smooth piston action, the feel in the hand. It’s gorgeous.

    But the nib is just nowhere near as nice to write with as my Parker 51. Scratchy, juddery, too much of an edge on it, and dry. Time to ask a nibmeister?

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      I’d definitely send it off to be adjusted. I’d say that when it comes to nibs, I’ve had many more 51′s that are smooth than on 88′s, but they’ll take to a smoothing just like any other nib. Once you get your 88 back with a smooth nib you’ll forget all about those 51′s. ;-)