This Just In: Aurora Optima Nero Perla

Aurora Optima Nero Perla on eagle standThe Aurora Optima Nero Perla was one of two fountain pen purchases I made on fountain pen day. Aurora fountain pens have come and gone from my want list but never climbed to the top. The Optima went back on after the recent price reductions. In a moment of weakness I finally bought one.

My interest in Aurora pens was fed by two things. The material they use often caught my attention, like many Italian pens. Plus, they make their own nibs. Those nibs have a reputation of being a bit toothy, which I may like as I don’t particularly like a perfectly smooth nib.

I picked the Nero Perla model. The barrel is white, black and grey. Mostly shades of grey. The cap finial, gripping section, and piston nob are all black resin that have a high quality feel. The trim is rhodium plated. The silver colored nib is 14K gold that is engraved with scroll work, “14K” and “585” for the gold content along with the Aurora name. I would find the engraving on the wide cap/center band a little much, except it matches the color of the pen so it fits in nicely.

The color isn’t as flashy of their others but it works for me. While flashy colors may catch my eye I find I get tired of them after awhile while I never get tired of the more subdued colors.

Aurora uses a material they call Auroloide for this pen. It’s a cellulose acetate which doesn’t have the problems of vintage cellulose nitrate, but has more color depth than modern acrylics. I really love the color depth provided by cellulose and that depth is evident in this pen. It’s also slightly translucent.

It’s a piston filler which includes a second reservoir as a reserve. I never really understood the attraction of a second reservoir and for me it’s a bit of a negative. The theory is I’ll have a reserve supply of ink so when I unexpectedly run out I can be relieved to realize there’s some hidden ink. But there is an ink window to avoid surprises and the “surprise” ink seems to be more of a mind-hack than an actual benefit. I always wonder if the complexity and space of that second reservoir actually reduces the total ink in the pen. Plus, I expect that second reservoir to make this pen harder (or at least more tedious) to clean, especially if I forget and start cleaning before emptying that second reservoir. I’ll probably stick to one ink in this pen to limit the tedium. I haven’t used the pen enough to need that second reservoir so I may be in for a pleasant surprise.

The pen is relatively short but very comfortable to write with. The section is longer than I expected which helps make the pen more comfortable. The pen is light but has enough girth to be comfortable in my hand. Sometimes light pens cause me to tighten my grip but that doesn’t happen with the Optima. I don’t typically post my pens but I find this pen comfortable whether posted or unposted and I’ve used it both ways. My longest single writing session with the Optima was about 20 minutes and there wasn’t any hit of fatigue in my hand. Writing with the pen felt natural so I didn’t have to consciously remember to loosen my grip.

Aurora Optima Auroloide Perla nib closeup front viewI picked a medium nib for this pen and I find the it to be very smooth. After reading about Aurora nibs I expected much more feedback. I don’t like nibs that are so smooth they feel like they are gliding above the paper. The Aurora medium is as smooth as any other nib I like to use. Maybe it’s because I prefer thinner nibs which by their nature provide more feedback, but I would not call this nib toothy or consider it as a candidate for smoothing.

I picked Aurora Black as the first ink for this pen. It seemed appropriate. The performance and flow have been problem free. The feed is ebonite and from what I’ve read it is heat set for each pen. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the performance certainly suggests that it is.

I’ve been using the pen as a pocket carry since my Vanishing Point went dry. A medium nib is not my first choice as a note taker, but this medium has been acceptable for all the situations it’s been in. It’s less forgiving of unfriendly paper than thinner nibs but that’s expected. It’s main attraction as a shirt pocket carry is it’s light weight, small(ish) size and secure clip.

The Aurora Optima Nero Perla is a great looking pen and a nice writer. I wouldn’t have purchased it prior to the price drop and even at the current price I’d consider it a fair value, not a great value. The pen is solidly built and a great writer, but I do really enjoy the color and material, which makes it worth the price premium.

Newton Pens Eastman for Esterbrook Nibs

Newton Pens Eastman with Montblanc Irish Green with ink splatter on a knight pen standUsually I do a This Just In post to give my initial impressions of a new fountain pen, then I wait several months and inks before doing a full review. This is a little in between. I received the Newton Eastman custom fountain pen in early October. But since this is a custom pen I don’t see much point in waiting months for a full review. If my opinions change over time I’ll update this post or write about it in other posts.

Officially this is a (Shawn) Newton Pens Eastman of standard length with a medium girth that takes interchangeable Esterbrook Nibs.

Shawn Newton is now a full time pen maker. He was a teacher when he started making pens. He’s always linked the pen making to his students. That currently takes the form of the Newton Pens Scholarship. Along these lines he sells postcards and notebooks along with raffling off a custom pen every month. Postcards are 2 for 1 until the end of the year so this is a good time to check them out.

Why I Got It

This pen took a long time to materialize. I have over 30 Esterbrook nibs and a handful of Esterbrook pens, mostly Model J’s. These days I find the Esterbrook pens too small and light to use for extended writing sessions. In early 2015 I decided to do something about it. I began following custom pen makers on Instagram and Twitter. This let me see the materials and design but I was still just window shopping. Finally, in March of this year I got serious.

My main concern was how the nibs would look in a larger pen. After some mock-ups with some of my existing fountain pens I decided the look would be acceptable. I was still reluctant to blaze new trails so my first approach was to Brian Grey of Edison Pens, because I had several of his pens I thought would work. But this wasn’t his type of work. He recommended Shawn Newton who was already next on my list.

While I really like many bright acrylics when I see them I find I quickly get tired of them so I decided to go with a simple design. I’d either go with a clear acrylic or a solid color ebonite.

The Ordering Process & Finalizing the Design

Shawn Newton Eastman with Esterbrook #2314F nib and Montblanc Irish Green uncappedIn late March I contacted Shawn via email and the order was finalized over a few days. All communication was via email and he was very responsive. The Shinobi was a hot item at the time and I mentioned it as one of the models I was interested in. Shawn pointed out that the flat side of the Shinobi would be problematic when lining up the different nibs. He mentioned the Eastman as a possible choice and it’s what I decided upon.

The Eastman is a perfectly round barrel and cap with flat ends. The cap closes flush with the barrel so it appears seamless. It’s a simple design that I really like. After giving it some thought and picked this model.

All Shawn’s pens come in several sizes, both in length and girth. I went with a medium girth (14 mm at the threads). This was a size I found comfortable in other pens. Shawn did mention that this might not work aesthetically with the smallish Esterbrook nibs, but I was prepared for this. He did send a photo of an Esterbrook nib along side the medium and smaller sections for comparison.

I went with the Standard size barrel (133 mm in length) which Shawn says is comparable to the Montblanc 149 or Pelikan M1000 in size.

I was already leaning towards a clear acrylic since I’d be able to see the nib in addition to the ink. The Eastman design seemed to be a perfect choice for this material. A negative was that I knew from experience that my Esterbrook nibs would inevitably splatter inside the cap which would be visible, and annoy me. I decided the positives outweighed the negatives so I went with a perfectly clear cap and barrel.

I decided to pass on any clip or other hardware. That would ruin the nice clean look of the pen. I did go with a black ebonite section. I like the feel of ebonite and the color provided a nice contrast.

My only complaint, and complaint is too strong a word, is that while Shawn let me know the pen was done I didn’t get a tracking number. This wasn’t a problem for me since delivery was to a safe PO Box, but you may need to ask for a tracking number if this matters to you, or even request a signature so it’s not left on your porch.

The lead time for the pen was about six months. The ETA was mid-October although actual arrival was early October. Payment is required at the time of order. I typically hate paying so far in advance but in this case it makes sense and is a common (if not universal) practice for custom pens.

What I Got

Shawn Newton Eastman with Esterbrook #2314F nib and Montblanc Irish Green capped

To recap, it’s a Newton Eastman in clear acrylic with a black ebonite section that takes Esterbrook nibs.

The pen arrived securely packed. It was in a cloth pen sleeve made by Liz Newton. Then that was in a metal travel mug which provided great protection for the pen and was functional afterward. I’d forgotten that he included the tumbler so it was a nice surprise. (Checking the website recently I see the mug is now optional, for an additional charge.)

Since I was supplying the Esterbrook nibs the pen arrived nib-less. Assuming my ink syringe is accurate the pen holds nearly 5 ml. of ink.

The fit and finish are perfect. The acrylic is perfectly smooth, both inside and out. There’s no real gap between the cap and barrel so it appears seamless when capped. It’s a relatively light pen that feels solid in my hand.

I attached several Esterbrook nibs upon arrival and all fit just as well as they did in my Model J’s. There is some variation among a few of my used Esterbrook pens and nibs so not every one of them fit perfectly, but the vast majority do, so I consider the section perfectly sized for an Esterbrook nib.

The Numbers

Being a custom pen, changes can be made but the specifications for my Eastman are:

  • Length Capped: 142.60 mm
  • Length Uncapped: 134.98 mm (w/ nib #2442)
  • Section Length: 19.57 mm
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 12.41 mm
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 12.99 mm
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 12.04 mm
  • Cap Diameter: 16.49 mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 16.49 mm

The pen weighs 28 grams capped and 22 grams uncapped when the barrel is about 75% full of ink.

The Experience

Newton Pens Eastman with Montblanc Irish Green ink with bottle

Upon arrival I attached an Esterbrook #8441 “Superfine” nib. I filled it with Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink. I picked the ink for two reasons: I love the ink and it can survive months in a pen without any adverse effects. A great ink to inaugurate a fountain pen.

It wrote great but I was a little too frugal with the silicone grease. After a week or so I noticed ink on the section. Ink was creeping along the threads between the barrel and the section. So the remaining ink went back to the bottle and I gave the pen a complete flush.

Even though it was entirely my fault I decided to get a completely fresh start and I changed everything. So I was less frugal with the silicone grease, I screwed in a Esterbrook #2314-F nib and filled the barrel with Montblanc Irish Green. The pen has been problem free for over a month.

As I was writing the draft of this review so I decided to swap the nib and screwed in a Esterbrook #2442 nib which is a left oblique fine stub nib.

The pen is large and clip-less making it a desk pen. Even if it had a clip it would be a little large for shirt pocket. The pen is perfectly round and has rolled off my desk more than once. There’s really no risk of damage to the pen but momentum keeps the ink moving until it hits the cap. Normally I like signs of use, but that splatter on such a nice clear cap annoys me. Luckily it’s only happened when I’m home and the cap is easy to clean and dry out. A roll stop may have been a good idea, although it would ruin the clean look of the pen. In practice, I’ve been keeping the pen is a leather pen sleeve which keeps it from rolling around.

The Eastman takes one complete rotation to cap or uncap. The threads are a bit finicky at times. They’ll catch a bit if the cap and section aren’t aligned to be straight. It’s more temperamental than most of my other screw-on caps but I’ve gotten the hang of it.

Newton Eastman standing on end with Montblanc Irish Green inkSometimes it’s the little things that please me. In this case it’s that each end of the pen is perfectly flat and it can easily stand on end. I like to stand the pen up and watch the ink slowly settle.

Since Esterbrook nibs are old and their condition varies I did expect some problems. The most obvious is what I already encountered, they spit ink if they are jostled around when carried (or dropped). This also happens in the Model J’s, it’s just hidden in them.

When testing the nibs I did find one or two that wouldn’t screw in properly. But these were nibs purchased with a used Esterbrook and had similar problems in official Esterbrook pens. Since I do plan to change nibs a lot I’m a little hesitant to use a nib that has any problem screwing into the section so I’ll probably pass on using some of my nibs. Especially since I plan to change nibs while the pen is inked up.

I did change the nib mid-way through the draft of this article. Removing the nib was problem free, since I don’t consider inky fingers a problem.

Cleaning the Pen

The insides of the pen and cap are polished to be completely smooth, so there’s no nooks and crannies for the ink to cling to. This makes the pen easy to clean out. While I haven’t encountered any staining it would be easy enough to get a long cotton swab inside to gently scrub any stain. Since the nib and section are removable they are easy to clean. While I don’t like removing nibs just to clean a pen this one is different. I’ll be swapping nibs anyway.

Inks Used

Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE is my favorite blue-black ink and one that’s proven it can be in a pen for many problem-free months so it was my first choice. I already mentioned the ink creeping problem and that I replaced the ink to get a fresh start. That wasn’t a problem with the ink and as expected it wrote perfectly while it was in the pen and it was easy to clean.

Montblanc Irish Green is currently in the pen. It’s been perfect with both nibs (#2314F and #2442) and there’s no signs of staining. It’s been in the pen since November 2nd and I’ve used about 1/2 a barrel.

Wrapping Up

The Newton Eastman was well worth the six month wait. I’ve written over 10 pages in this writing session and there’s not a hint of fatigue in my hand. I couldn’t say that if I used the Esterbrook Model J. Well, I did take a short break to swap the nib. I’m thrilled that I can enjoy the full range of my Esterbrook nibs whenever I want and for as long as I want.

I like the simple elegance of the design and the finish is really perfect. It’s been awhile since the pen has rolled of my desk so I don’t regret not getting a roll stop especially since it would interfere with the clean design.

Additional Reading

The Unwritten Word: Tools of the Trade: Newton Pens Eastman


These are the photos Shawn took of the finished pen, prior to shipping.


Currently Inked – December 2016

While I consistently used my fountain pens during November I used less ink than other months. I did write all my December Pens dry and have a new bunch of five inked up. A couple large capacity pens are in the mix so they may last the entire month. The bad news is I have about 10 pens waiting to be the “next” fountain pen I ink up.

All the inked up pens are new, purchased at the DC Pen Show in August or in the few months after that.

Currently Inked - December 2016 (Capped)

Currently Inked - December 2016 (uncapped)

Currently Inked - December 2016 (writing sample)

Currently Inked

The Vanishing Point survived long enough for the ink sample but went dry a few words (literally) later when I picked it for the draft of this article. That’ll teach me not to check the ink supply.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Bookbinders Everglade Ratsnake

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake writing sample

Another orange ink for this pen. This is similar to the previous ink, Robert Oster Orange, although I like it slightly more. But I still haven’t found an orange I can fall in love with.

Newton Eastman (Esterbrook #2314F) with Montblanc Irish Green

Shawn Newton Eastman with Esterbrook #2314F nib and Montblanc Irish Green writing sample

A custom pen by Shawn Newton that was built to take my Esterbrook nibs. This time out it has a #2314-F nib which I really like. I can change nibs without emptying the pen so the nib may change.

Aurora Optima Auroloide Perla (M) with Aurora Black

Aurora Optima Auroloide Perla with Aurora Black writing sample

A fountain pen day purchase that arrived in early November. It’s still on its first fill of Aurora black ink. Aurora black just seemed appropriate for this pen.

Ryan Krusac Legend (EF) with Diamine Ancient Copper

Ryan Krusac Legend with Diamine Ancient Copper writing sample

Diamine Ancient Copper is an ink I really like yet it’s been a long time since it’s been in a pen. I ended that drought back on November 8th when I inked up this pen.

Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux

Montblanc Ultra Black Fountain Pen with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sample

My newest pen, another fountain day purchase although it didn’t arrive until late November. It’s fist ink was obvious, at least to me. Although the pen is far too new for me to have formed an objective opinion, but I’m loving the oblique medium nib as well as the pen itself.

Pens Written Dry

Pilot Vanishing Point (XXXF) with Pilot Black

Pilot Vanishing Point XXXF with Pilot Black writing sample

I moved the nib unit among various VP bodies but it’s the same nib and ink from way back in July. The pen went dry shortly after the month began. As usual, a nice thin line but the ink flowed just fine.

Pelikan M101N “Lizard” (EF) with Sheaffer Peacock Blue

Pelikan M101N Extra Fine with Sheaffer Peacock Blue writing sample
I’m not a fan of turquoise or true blue inks but Sheaffer Peacock Blue is the exception that proves the rule. Although I guess it’s blueness caught up to me. It took me over three months to write the pen dry which is a long time even considering that this piston filler can hold a lot of ink. The pen wrote well right to the last drop, but it wrote blue.

Pilot Vanishing Point Guilloche (M) with Pilot Blue

Another blue ink. This was the cartridge that came with the pen. I saw no reason to waste it. This one lasted a bit over two months. It wrote well right to the end.

Sheaffer Balance Aspen (M) with Montblanc Permanent Grey

I love this pen and ink. Despite this, it went dry early in the month and I decided to give it a rest.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Robert Oster Orange

Sailor Pro Gear KOP with Oster Orange

A great writing fountain pens The ink was OK, but I didn’t consider a refill and the pen has a new ink this month.

Fisher of Pens Hermes (EF) with Waterman Red

Fisher of Pens Hermes (F) with Waterman Red writing sample

This one started and ended in November, lasting just three weeks. I picked a Waterman ink because the pen has been finicky. It did better with the Waterman ink, but I did have to prime the feed a bit if the pen was stored nib up for a few days.

Sunday Notes and Links – December 4, 2016

Currently inked pens

Another fairly light week of fountain pen usage. The best I can say is I used them every day and wrote at least one A5 sized page each day. Unfortunately not much more than that one page each day.

I am behind on my December Currently Inked post although I hope to have it out on Monday. I’m also trying to get some “This Just In” posts for my latest pens but no promises there.

Pen Shows & Clubs

The US pen show season is over, with the next season kicking off in Philadelphia on January 13-15th.

Madrid Pen Show 2016 Recap | Hey there! SBREBrown //Video

What Others Are Using

Inks And Pens For December 2016 | An Inkophile’s Blog

Misc Links

Gourmet Pens: Field Trip: De Roos Vulpenspeciaalzaak Heemstede @DeRoosWit

Vintage Pen News: Why seal sections?

Montblanc Limited Editions — Pen Economics // A nice listing of Montblanc Limited Edition, both pens and ink.

Ask The Desk: Lamy Fountain Pens over $50 – The Well-Appointed Desk

Crónicas Estilográficas: Another Music Nib

canetas e coisas: ASA Patriot

Kanilea Pen Co. Kahakai Review // Beautiful pen, my hesitation comes from the rather pedestrian JoWo steel nib on a pricey pen although nice to hear it’s been well adjusted and not pedestrian.

Sunday Notes and Links – November 27, 2016

It was a holiday week here in the US which gave me less work-related reasons to use my fountain pens. My leisre writing time was also down this week so no pens were written dry. I did ink up one additional pen. My fountain pen day pen purchase did arrive from the Netherlands on Friday. I inked it up but I didn’t have a chance to really use it yet, although I will later today.

Misc Links

Oldwin Art Deco Fountain Pen in Bleu Automne: A Review — The Pen Addict // Gorgeous fountain pen.

The Pencilcase Blog: INKTASTIC: GRAF VON FABER-CASTELL STONE GREY REVIEW // I haven’t used this ink in a while, but it’s just behind Montblanc Permanent Grey among my grey inks.

Vintage Pen News: Wiley’s Union pen // A bit of information about a nib that’s over 150 years old. This was one of two recent posts, good to see activity return to this site, always a good read.

I think this is a first for me! — The Purl Bug // It feels good to finish a notebook.

Venvstas Carbon V Fountain Pen Review – Pens! Paper! Pencils! // The potential drawbacks of Kickstarter fountain pens (or anything else on Kickstarter).

Perun – Przemysław Marciński handmade fountain pen | Wondernaut in the world of stationery wonders // A new (to me) pen maker out of Poland. He’s been added to my Nib Workers, Pen Restorers and Fountain Pen Makers page.

Video-review: Diplomat Excellence A plus – Scrively // The post includes many photos and a few words about the pen, if you don’t want to watch the video.

Lamy LX Rose Gold Review — The Finer Point

Parker Sonnet | Write to Me Often

canetas e coisas: EPUSO

Review: Platinum 3776 Century – Kawaguchi — Alt. Haven

Throwback Thursday: Quick Look at Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Translucent Bronze + Franklin-Christoph Tenebris Purpuratum — Pendora’s Box

Sunday Notes and Links – November 20, 2016

My fountain pens did get used every day, although just not very much most days Usually just one or two pages. No changes among the six fountain pens inked up last Sunday although the Shawn Newton Eastman with a Esterbrook 2314-F nib and Montblanc Irish Green ink got most of the usage and was the clear favorite of the week.

Pen Shows & Clubs

The US pen show season is over, with the next season kicking off in Philadelphia on January 13-15th.

The Madrid Pen Show is nearly over by the time you’re reading this.

Gourmet Pens: Madrid Pen Show 2016

What Others Are Using

Currently Inked #22 | 17 November 2016 // Video

Misc Links

News: Brexit’s Impact on UK Pelikan Pricing « The Pelikan’s Perch // Pelikan prices rise in the UK, but they’re still significantly below US prices.

A Closer Look at the Lamy Lx Pen Case — Pendora’s Box // Seems like Lamy included a useful pen case with the Lx

Hobonichi Techo vs Stalogy 365 Throwdown — Pendora’s Box

Robert Oster’s Barossa Grape and Sunshine Yellow | FOUNTAIN PEN INKS & BLEACH // This post is a good example of why I like following this blog even though I have little interest in new inks (I have far to many already).

Review: Pelikan Edelstein Turmaline — Alt. Haven // I don’t read too many ink reviews these days so maybe I missed them, but this is an ink I haven’t seen reviewed before and I like the color.

Revisiting an old nemesis – And All Other Tasks // I’d long ignored the Safaris in my case but also enjoyed using one when it returned to the rotation.

UHU Primus Fountain Pen | Write to Me Often

My Pen Collection as a GIF and Ink Swabs as a GIF — TooManyPelikans // Mesmerizing

The Frugal Fountain Pen: TWSBI Eco Review

Izods profile | United Inkdom

My Favorite Pens – H. M. Smith Tapercap Overlay – Anderson Pens Blog

Pen Review: Aurora Optima Perla Fountain Pen – The Well-Appointed Desk // I picked this pen up on fountain pen day and so far I like it.

Pen Review: TWSBI Eco Lime Green Fountain Pen – The Well-Appointed Desk // I have no desire to own a TWSBI Eco, yet I’m really drawn by the color.

Sunday Notes and Links – November 13, 2016

The week started with frequent fountain pen usage although things declined rapidly as the week progressed. I’m still hit and miss with my writing each night. I write a few evenings in a row and then skip a few in a row. But it was enough to write several pens dry and only one of the pens I started the month with is still in the rotation, at least with the same ink. After filling a few pens I’m up to six inked fountain pens. This still feels like far too few but I’m trying to show restraint.

Pen Shows & Clubs

The last U.S. show of the year is running this weekend – Columbus, OH from November 10th through the 13th.

The Madrid Pen is running November 18th through the 20th.

Gourmet Pens: Madrid Pen Show 2016

Appleton Pen Club – Ink Swab Party – November 17th

Letter Writing Inspiration for Tonight’s Letter Writing Club at the Shop – Wonder Pens

What Others Are Using

What I use to draw – Portray Your Pet! // By Ian from Pens! Paper! Pencils! Although not a fountain pen in the bunch I do like his drawings and can’t argue with success.