The Aurora 88 is one of the best Italian fountain pens ever produced and is, without question, the most commercially successful Italian fountain pen of all time.
The 88 was designed by architect Marcello Nizzoli in the late 1940s and features a streamlined style with a hooded nib and a metal slip cap much like the Parker 51.
Because of its commercial success the Aurora 88 is not a rare pen and as such prices are reasonable (unlike most vintage Italian pens). Nice examples of the original 88 model can be had for $100-$200. I particularly like the Nikargenta capped version as this silver material was only available on the original model unlike the rolled gold, chrome and solid gold versions.
The Aurora 88 is a true workhorse and makes an excellent everyday pen. Compared to the standard-size Parker 51, the 88 is slightly fatter and heavier. The added weight and girth make the 88 feel more expensive than the 51.
The 88’s 14kt hooded nib is more exposed than the Parker 51s allowing more flexibility and line variation. The 88 also features a piston filler with an ink view window.
I had a hard time coming up with negatives for the 88…it’s a really good pen all around. It’s (relatively) affordable, it’s hard working, it writes well, it looks and feels good…
I suspect that the (aerometric) Parker 51 is a slightly tougher pen with it’s ultra durable filling system and more protected nib but the Aurora is more fun to write with.
I highly recommend the Aurora 88, it is excellent.
The Pilot 78G is a great looking budget fountain pen. The pen I will be reviewing has a bold nib that is actually a stub; I do not know why Pilot doesn’t offer this pen with a round tipped bold nib.
The nib writes quite well with some feedback but it is a bit dry for my taste; I may have to experiment with some different inks to find what works best with this pen.
The Pilot 78G comes with an aerometric-style converter and also accepts Pilot cartridges. It is rare for pens at this price point to come with a converter. For example, the ultra popular Lamy Safari at $35 doesn’t come with a converter; you have to pay an extra $5 to get one. Unlike the aerometric filling system found in a Parker 51 the Pilot’s doesn’t hold a lot of ink. If you plan to do a lot of writing you would be better served by using this pen with a cartridge.
The body is made of a lightweight black plastic and features a gold plated steel nib and clip. The 78G weighs in at about half an ounce which is lighter than I prefer. Capped it measures about 5.25″ and is 0.5″ wide at its widest point. The grip section is a problem, at less than a quarter inch wide I find it too skinny to be comfortable for long writing sessions. If you have larger hands or a tight grip this pen may be a bit too small for you. The body of the 78G seems to scratch quite easily but at this price point it’s not that big of a deal.
I have been using the Pilot 78G for 7 days straight now and it is great for taking notes. Compared to my Lamy Safari w/1.1mm stub, the Pilot 78G writes better, looks better and costs a fourth of the price. In short the Pilot 78G is great entry-level fountain pen that I highly recommend.
Here are some great reviews of the Pilot 78G fountain pen:
The Parker 51 (P51 for short) is one of the most famous and most revered fountain pens ever made. The P51 was produced for 30+ years starting in the 1941 and as a result there are all sorts of variations (you can even buy these pens with new bespoke bodies for $400+). I am not going to get into the history and different types of Parker 51s I am only going to talk about my Parker 51 which has been my favorite fountain pen for several years now.
My P51 is an “Aerometric” version and therefor produced in 1949 or later. “Aerometric” refers to the pens filling system which uses a clear sack impervious to the chemical effects of ink. The pen is filled by depressing the pressure bar four times. An aerometric P51 holds more ink than many larger piston filled fountain pens thanks to the efficiency of the filling system.
I purchased my P51 on a famous auction site for around $40 in original condition. The pen was thoroughly cleaned and when filled with ink wrote beautifully. The body is a nice dark green and the cap has a pinstripe design and is 12ct gold filed; I am not sure the cap is original to this pen. The nice thing about the standard size P51 is that most of the caps are interchangeable. I bought a nice silver cap as an extra for my P51.
Thanks to the hooded nib the pen can be left uncapped for a very long time and write straight away without missing a beat. I am not certain what width my nib is but I suspect its a medium. I have also dropped mine a couple of times on hard surfaces without any damage to report. The gold nib puts down a nice wet line with just the right amount of feedback, no flex to speak of.
The styling of this pen is very clean and streamlined. It doesn’t scream “fountain pen” which is nice when you are in a meeting and don’t want to draw attention to yourself. This pen is 6″ posted, 5.5″ capped and 0.5″ at its widest point. The weight of my P51 is 20.4 grams which is light weight for a fountain pen but not so light as to feel cheap.
For durability, every day usability, and writing quality nothing in my collection beats the Parker 51 fountain pen. This is a great pen and every fountain pen collector should have at least one. At some point I am going to want to buy one with a custom body from Torelli Pen (no affiliation).