The Aurora Duo-Cart in “Vespa” Green (okay, they just call it green but really it’s vintage Vespa green …..
if you want to get specific, its early 50s All-State VBB green. But, let’s not be that scooter nerdy, shall we?) Suffice it to say, that when I saw the new Aurora Duo-Cart colors, I knew this was the color for me. Not only is this pen a reproduction of a classic design but it’s also in a very vintage color. I was 95% in love with it before the pen even touched paper. Of course, I have had the pleasure of trying a Duo-Cart in the past too, so I kind of knew what I was getting into. The green Duo-Cart is much more my aesthetic overall. We did have a guy in our scooter club who was an Italian professor who rode a burgundy Vespa P200 who would wax poetic about how “burgundy was the most beautiful color!” to the point that it became a punch line to most jokes about color. Ask me about it some time. Anyway, I digress…
Since this week’s pen reviews have included my in-depth opinions on packaging, I shall continue here. The new Duo-Cart fountain pens do not include the amazing vintage boxes that were included with the original re-release of the Duo-Carts back in 2017. Those boxes were from a stash found in the basement at Aurora leftover from the original release of the Duo-Cart pens back in the 60s. The satin material and distinct, dusty scent and gold edging is missed.
However, the simple leatherette clamshell box replaces it. It is inside a paperboard box (the same used with the earlier releases of the Duo-Cart) to hold the pen, a small bottle of Aurora Black ink, the converter and box of cartridges. With the exception of the clamshell box, the rest of the packaging is recyclable while still carrying the retro aesthetic of the pen. I think a paperboard box for the pen would have been appropriate aesthetically and would be recyclable but no one asks me.
I decided to compare the size of the Duo-Cart to other Aurora pens and some vintage pens of similar design. From left to right: Parker 21, Parker 51, modern Esterbrook Phaeton, Aurora Optima, the Duo-Cart, Aurora Style Gemstone, and a vintage Esterbrook LK.
Comparing the hooded nibs of the Parkers on the left with the modern Esterbrook Phaeton and Aurora Duo-Cart, there is definitely more nib visible. They are more of an exposed arrow point where the Parkers are just a tiny point. The pen grip section on the Parkers also curves to a point at the nib where the Phaeton and the Duo-Cart are a soft arc over the nib, Aesthetically, they create different hooded nib looks. I don’t think one is preferable to the other, they are just handling the design decision differently.
In terms of overall length, the Duo-Cart is shortest posted, comparable to the Parker 21 at 5/5″ (140mm) posted and 4.75″ (120mm) unposted. Capped, the Duo-Cart is only 5.5625″ (141mm). These more diminutive proportions are in keeping with vintage pens. It’s only in the last few decades that pens have gotten larger and larger. (Hey. 1980s, I’m looking at you!) The plastic and aluminum construction keep the weight of the pen light as well weighing 27gms capped with a filled converter. Uncapped, the Duo-Cart only weighs 16gms.
For more detailed images of the pen hardware and nib, see my previous review.
I found the steel nib on this Duo-Cart a much better writer than the previous one. Whether that was just luck or the ink I chose, I don’t know. However, since the options for the Duo-Cart are only a medium nib, the medium nib on the green was a much finer medium than the burgundy I tested originally. I was thrilled that Bungbox Kaoru was a perfect match.
So, what’s left to say? The pen is bellisimo! If you like the idea of owning a retro-looking pen but are concerned about maintenance, then the Duo-Cart is a great option. It’s a cartridge (note: Aurora requires proprietary cartridges even though they look like standard international. Don not be fooled!) and converter filler pen that you can use with all your inks. The Duo-Cart is not outrageously expensive either (MSRP $195, selling for $156) for a pen produced on a small scale.
- Paper: Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 18 with 7mm guide sheet
- Pens: Aurora Duo-Cart Fountain Pen with Medium Nib in Light Green (from Pen Chalet or Goldspot Pens)
- Ink: Bungubox Kaoru ($49 for 30ml bottle)