Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Aurora Ipsilon Fountain Pen

Aurora Ipsilon Fountain Pen on Clairefontaine

I recently received this fine nibbed Aurora Ipsilon fountain pen from Kenro Pens. The Ipsilon was one of the first pens I remember looking at when I first became interested in fountain pens. Selling for around $100, I think at the time I may have considered it a bit too rich for my blood opting instead for the less expensive Lamy Safari. (Which sell for around $35.)

Aurora Ipsilon Fountain Pen

Fast forward a couple of years, and I now own close to 20 different pens. To me, the most important feature of each is that they be comfortable enough in my hand for daily use.

Aurora Ipsilon Fountain Pen

The Ipsilon is my first Italian made pen and I love its sleek design and super happy yellow color. (Which may appear a bit more intense in these pics than in real life because of the contrast levels.) My husband being the die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, tried snagging it but I said, "No way! Getcher own!"

Aurora Ipsilon Fountain Pen

The clip on the Ipsilon is significant and strong. The cap is removed/capped with an audible "click." Posting the cap on the back of the pen, it too clicks into place and makes me feel as though there would be less body wear here, than on a pen where the cap is pushed down onto the body. (I suppose time will tell.)

Aurora Ipsilon Fountain Pen

I absolutely "love" that the bottom band of the cap is beveled and smooth. I almost always post the cap on the back of my pens as I write, and the bottom of the cap band on other pens sometimes rubs and annoys the webbing between my thumb and first finger. (I have this problem with my Sailor 1911)

The Ipsilon can use either cartridges (Aurora brand) or the included ink converter to fill from a bottle. I must say that in all of the converter pens I have used, (9 Lamy & 2 Sailor) this is the first one that pulled ink all the way to the top without having to fiddle with it to get it full. One day I will have to see if this converter fits into any of my other pens and if so, replace all of them with ones from Aurora.

I also must mention that while I love yellow pens, I do not love ink stains on them. I really like the way that the Ipsilon has a black front section to avoid discoloration from repeated dippings.

Comparison: M200, Ipsilon & Sapporo fountain pens

The Ipsilon nib has a different feel than any of my other pens, and it took me a little while to get used to it. It's a short firm nib without a lot of give. A smooth writer, but if used on non-high quality paper, there is a little bit of feedback to the nib which is not unpleasant.

Left to right - Aurora Ipsilon, Pelikan M200 and Sailor Sapporo.

Ipsilon: gold plated steel nib C/C (cartridge/converter) approximately $95
Sapporo :14k nib C/C filler approximately $150
M200 gold: plated steel nib piston filler approximately $95

Comparison: M200, Ipsilon & Sapporo fountain pens

Showing the pens capped. Left to right - Aurora Ipsilon, Pelikan M200 and Sailor Sapporo.

I find the Ipsilon similar in size and feel to the Pelikan M200 and Sailor Sapporo. I think the body and overall design of the Ipsilon feels very solid, like the Sapporo. (I think M200s have great nibs, but the bodies feel cheap. )

Comparison: M200, Ipsilon & Sapporo fountain pens

Showing the pens uncapped. Left to right - Aurora Ipsilon, Pelikan M200 and Sailor Sapporo.

The Ipsilon and M200 are long enough to comfortably use unposted, while the Sapporo is kind of small for my hand without the cap posted on the back.

Comparison: M200, Ipsilon & Sapporo fountain pens

Showing the pens with the caps posted. Left to right - Aurora Ipsilon, Pelikan M200 and Sailor Sapporo.

99% of the time, I write with my pens posted. It has always felt to me as though this is how they were designed to exhibit the best balance in the hand. I still claim the Sapporo to be the pen with the best balance, (in my collection) but the Ipsilon comes in a close second because it's just a smidge top heavy when posted. (M200 is too light overall.)

The only thing that I wish were a little different about the Ipsilon is how hard you have to pull the cap off. While I certainly appreciate a secure cap, you have to be a little cautious when removing the cap. If you don't put your hands close together when you remove it from the body, I'd be concerned about the possibility of banging the nib against the inside of the cap when separating the cap from the body.

Handwriting sample from fine nibbed Aurora Ipsilon

Handwriting sample from the Ipsilon, Aurora black ink in a Leuchtturm journal. As that was my first time using Aurora ink, I am curious to test it in other pens, as well as testing other inks in this pen.

For around $100, I find the Ipsilon to be a solidly built pen with a sleek design.


6 comments:

Liesan said...

your Sapporo is beautiful!! My dream!
I have also tested the Ipsilon in a fountainpen shop and loved how it writes, just like with the Sapporo my budget doesn't quite fit the pen though :)

Matthew said...

Thanks for the great review. But, million dollar question—how's the nib? Flow? Fineness? How does it compare to your other pens?

Biffybeans said...

Hi Matthew - I did my best to answer your nib question in the review: The Ipsilon nib has a different feel than any of my other pens, and it took me a little while to get used to it. It's a short firm nib without a lot of give. A smooth writer, but if used on non-high quality paper, there is a little bit of feedback to the nib which is not unpleasant."

Since it isn't like any of my other pens, it's difficult to compare. M200 is springier as is the Sapporo but in a different way. It's more like a Safari nib but shorter, (makes a difference in how you hold the pen) but while the Safari nibs have a certain special "character" to them, (vertical & horizontal lines are different in width) the Ipsilon lines are the same either way. So far, I've only used Aurora Black in it and the flow seems very nice - no hard starts or skipping. Filled the pen right out of the box and didn't really have that "break-in" period that I've experienced with other pens. (Probably due to the fact that I don't flush first....) Hope that answers your question better.

Anonymous said...

The Aurora convertor will NOT fit your lamy or Sailor pens--it will fit a Parker pen and Parker cartridges will fit your Aurora pen BUT Aurora ink is the best black. This pen is my wife's favorite pen!!

Professor Willy P said...

Hi,
Great review. I'm still a fairly new initiate to the fountain pen guild, so I wanted to ask you about the nib -- again. I just received my Aurora and I love all the things about it that you describe so well. And I also recognize the "uniqueness" you describe. But have you thought this pen feels a little... scratchy? Is this what people mean when they say "toothy"? When I get a new pen I usually do some Palmer drills, typically the oval drills. In doing that -- a long line of oval -- I noticed in a way I've not noticed with any other pen the sound of the nib running across the paper. And this is pretty good paper (Black and Red, premium 24lb). Does that match you experience? Is it something that might go away over time? At present this would be a rather significant issue... your thoughts?
thanks
Brett

Biffybeans said...

Hi Brett - you are asking good questions....

I've found that even on the best of papers, there will always be at least some level of sound from the nib moving across the paper.

Depending on the nib size, I've found that the smaller nibs are more prone to feel.... I don't want to say less smooth, but more needle-ish on the paper and the imperfections in the nib/paper might be more evident.

Assuming there is nothing wrong with your pen nib, there are a few other points to consider. Your writing angle for one - try different angles and see if the nib is smoother if you lift/raise the pen, and even try posting/not posting to see if the difference in weight produces different results. Ink is another factor. Did you flush the pen when you first got it or fill it right away? I usually fill right away and find that my pens write thinner and a little scratchier until the ink has been moving through the pen for a while. (I suppose I could flush 1st but I am impatient) Lastly, would be the ink itself. Through all of my tests, I've found that some inks are definitely thicker/thinner/ more lubricating than others. Using a "thinner" ink will make you "feel" the nib more on the paper.

Now if your nib isn't right... than that's a whole different story. One thing I noticed about this pen the last time I went to fill it - As I wiped off the excess ink, I somehow twisted the nib so it was no longer aligned with the feed and it made the nib scratchy - this also happened to me once with my Sailor Sapporo. If the nib wasn't aligned properly with the feed, the feed was slightly pushing one of the nib tines forward which made the nib scratchy. Hope this helps. (Just realized that this would probably make a good blog post in itself LOL)

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