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Thread: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

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    Default On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    So, I've primarily owned Japanese pens with some German pens sprinkled in. Thinking I might want to give Italian pens a try.

    Are Italian pens like a lot of things Italian? Nice to look at, but not well made? Primarily looking at the ASC and Aurora lineup.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Avoid ASC (too long a story).

    Aurora is a solid choice, with the only consideration is maybe to be able to try the nibs in person. Aurora is known for a particular feel/feedback that is not 'poor quality' but a very distinct aesthetic. I happen to love them and have many other kinds of pens/nib, as well.

    Leonardo Officina Italiana are making some remarkable pens at good price points. The number of pens they have been putting out in the last few years (a very young company with deep roots) is astonishing, from their regular line-up to many short-run special edition pens. Lots of Italianate charm without being quite so over-the-top, and very good quality.

    Santini is also a very nice Italian line of pens, also somewhat recent. A little more Baroque in design than LOI but still not gaudy.

    The above is on the assumption that you are after new pens, not vintage.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    I bought a Maiora Alpha Oroarancio 14K (medium) for my retirement (direct from Italy at a discount) that I love. It's a fat pen, and not perfect. But very Italian in its heritage and look.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Quote Originally Posted by jdwhitak View Post
    Are Italian pens like a lot of things Italian? Nice to look at, but not well made? Primarily looking at the ASC and Aurora lineup.
    Nice to look at, not well made, and a lot of maintenance. But we love them anyway. Just like all things Italian.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    There have been quite a few reports of modern Aurora's cracking. There's been quite a few reports of poor quality control of the nibs on Leonardo's. However, if you look at the broad sweep of commentary across all brands you will see that nothing is perfect, and it really comes down to whether on balance you feel the risk is worth it.

    Also, as Mr Szanto notes, you haven't said if you are looking for modern or vintage.


    Personally I would go with a Santini.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Are you "in" to vintage pens?
    If yes, IMO you can't beat a pre Y2K Omas.
    In fact, for the same money as a 1990's Omas you could probably get a really nice one from the 30's - 40's. One with one of their amazing nibs from that era.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    I have several celluloid ASC pens and vowed not to purchase from them again. The pens are poorly engineered and cheaply manufactured, regardless of the price point. The company appears to value margins over putting out a quality product. I also do not believe they have any real connection to Italy besides using Italian celluloid (USA company, Bock nibs, apparently Indian-made parts/hardware).

    Re: Italian pens
    Aurora makes consistently great pens. Nibs are tuned to be on the drier and with feedback, though always consistent writers.

    Visconti modern pens seem to have solid QC and I've enjoyed their new in-house nibs that I've tried

    Leonardo makes probably the best product vs. price point on the market. Can't go wrong with their offerings IMO but haven't tried their new in-house nibs.

    Omas pens are tempting on the used market but the quality really varies based on the era the pens are produced so there are duds out there.

    I don't have much experience with other brands -- Stipula, Delta, Santini

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Quote Originally Posted by chaunceytoben View Post
    I have several celluloid ASC pens and vowed not to purchase from them again. The pens are poorly engineered and cheaply manufactured, regardless of the price point. The company appears to value margins over putting out a quality product. I also do not believe they have any real connection to Italy besides using Italian celluloid (USA company, Bock nibs, apparently Indian-made parts/hardware).
    A quick search both here and on FPN will show several members all making this same observation / recommendation. In addition to the above points, there are also several posts which have noted very poor post sale customer service.
    In all fairness, there are some positive and supportive posts. But the supportive posts are far outnumbered by the negative posts.
    As always, caveat emptor. Any prospective buyer should do his or her due diligence.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    For a modern Italian fountain pen, I suggest a used Aurora Optima from the last 15 years. Some colors were limited editions and command higher prices. Nib/ebonite feed units are easily swapped. They appear in the classifieds here from time to time.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Vintage Aurora 88 are spectacular pens. The only Italian pen that qualifies you for Black Pen Society entry :-)

    (Except for modern Aurora 88s... )

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    I have a couple of Aurora Optimas one of which is an LE and a couple of Omas pens. I'm not sure how old the Omas pens are but one is a Cinema. I find the Aurora nibs hard and unforgiving but apparently that's how they all write.
    Last edited by Chrissy; December 5th, 2022 at 12:30 AM.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Omas in plain black celluloid can be found for reasonable prices. Their "extra lucens" nibs are often present. Construction varies by era, as they move away from cork pistons to modern materials, and pinned knobs are changed in favor of sections that screw into the main barrel (and will leak without sealant...). The fancy celluloids command high prices, but as far as writers go the black pens are great. In the late 90's the nibs visibly change from Omas production to Bock. I've read that Bock produced their nibs before that, but I'm skeptical.

    I like Aurora too. I bought my wife an LE 88 Nebulosa. I like it. I had an Optima, but didn't like the way it felt in hand and sold it. That's just a general preference for cigar over flat-tops, perhaps.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    If you are considering Omas take a look at the penboard.de site, where they have a large selection.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Penboard got a lot of Omas, apparently. 347? Wow.

    I usually go to tenpen.it

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    Penboard got a lot of Omas, apparently. 347? Wow.

    I usually go to tenpen.it
    I have purchased from them both and each is highly recommended.
    Full disclosure: No connection or relation. Just, a very satisfied customer.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    I’m looking for modern pens I can buy new. Thanks for the comments on ASC. I was just about to pull the trigger on one. May just stick to Japanese and German pens.

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    In that case (new only), I would give Aurora a serious look before you give up.

    It's amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.
    - Thomas Sowell

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    I only have one ASC, and it's the cheapie, the Studio.
    It's a very nice and the equal of most pens in the sub 200 dollar range.
    I don't know if I just got lucky or they are just overlooked.

    Sent from my SM-G781V using Tapatalk

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Well, I decided to get a Nakaya. Thanks to everyone for the heads up on ASC. Saved me from making an expensive mistake, potentially.

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    Default Re: On the hunt for my first Italian pen

    Quote Originally Posted by jdwhitak View Post
    Well, I decided to get a Nakaya. Thanks to everyone for the heads up on ASC. Saved me from making an expensive mistake, potentially.
    In my opinion, this is an example of FPG at its best!
    Congratulations, also in my opinion, you made a great decision. Nakayas are terrific pens.

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