In 2017, Aurora teased a reissue of their vintage Duo-cart fountain pen, only to withdraw it from the market in order to fix some minor design flaws. While I owned one of the 2017 Duo-carts, and enjoy the pen, I held off on publishing a formal review until Aurora could perfect the design, namely the friction-fit cap which had a tendency to come loose on the original iteration of the pen. After what turned out to be a bit of a wait, Aurora re-released the Duo-cart this year as part of their “Archivi Storici” lineup, which is the name the company gives to modern versions of vintage pens reissued from the Aurora archives. The result? This one’s a hit and merits the attention of those who desire vintage style without the fuss of writing with an actual vintage pen.
Pros: A hooded nib and a highly usable vintage-inspired design.
What do I like about the Duo-cart? It’s a well-built modern workhorse with vintage looks. This combination of style and comfort nearly always lands a positive review here at TGS.
A Hooded Nib. Anytime a pen company releases a pen with a hooded nib, it catches my attention immediately. The Duo-cart’s stainless steel nib is stiff and has a touch of Aurora’s signature tooth, which makes for a tactile writing experience, without being scratchy. (It’s hard to describe, but those who have written with an Aurora pen know what I’m talking about - almost like writing with a pencil.) I would characterize the nib as a moderately wet “Western medium,” though that will vary somewhat depending on what ink you use.
True Vintage Styling. In addition to the hooded nib, the Duo-cart features several other vintage-inspired design touches, drawn directly from the Aurora archives. My personal favorites include the “linear guilloche” cap, and the classic “Aurora Made in Italy” script around the base.
Good Balance and All-Day Writing Comfort. What I enjoy most about the Duo-cart (as well as other vintage and vintage-inspired pens) is the fact that the pen was designed in an era when fountain pens were intended to be used as a daily writing tool akin to your keyboard. Therefore, comfort is key. The section is long and provides ample room to grip the pen, and since the Duo-cart uses a friction fit cap there are no sharp threads to interfere with your grip or dig into your hand. The pen is similar in size to the Lamy 2000 or the Parker 51.
Cons: You can have your nib in any size you want, as long as it’s medium.
There isn’t much that I dislike about the Duo-cart, but those considering a purchase should note a couple of things:
Posting. The main issue that I still have with this pen, even after the reissue, is that the cap sometimes fails to post securely. On a couple of occasions, I’ve had the posted cap go flying across my desk at work when I turned around or moved my arm suddenly. Not an issue for those who don’t post their pens, but it can be a bit of a problem for me unless I remember to jam the cap down pretty hard on the back of the barrel.
Nib Size. What’s the cliche? You can have it in any size you want, as long as you like medium? I imagine this choice had to do with the scale and cost of production on the hooded nib, which is specific to this pen, so Aurora went with its most popular nib option. My two Duo-carts are somewhat wet writers, so those looking for a fine or extra-fine line will probably need to invest in a nib grind.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
The Duo-cart is my first foray into Aurora’s “Archivi Storici” editions, and given how much I’ve enjoyed this pen I look forward to more of these releases in the future. (I also plan to dig around on eBay and see if I can unearth some of the previous Archivi Storici editions, which include a re-release of the vintage-style Aurora 88.) I support pen companies reissuing modern versions of their vintage pen designs, since it caters to those of us who appreciate the classic fountain pen styles, yet don’t necessarily want to deal with using a higher-maintenance vintage pen on a daily basis.
You can purchase the Aurora Duo-cart at most Aurora retailers, including our site sponsor Pen Chalet. Aurora has set MSRP at $195 for this pen, with most retailers pricing it around $156. I don’t have any issues with this price point. The Duo-cart looks high-end, the pen is well-made, and you have to account for the time and expense of resurrecting a vintage pen from the archives that’s been out of production for years. The $150-200 price bracket is competitive, however, and Aurora is going nose-to-nose with other excellent steel-nib pens such as the Esterbrook Estie, the Leonardo Momento Zero, and the Pelikan M205. The Duo-cart’s hooded nib distinguishes it from these pens, but for around $20 more you can purchase the Lamy 2000, which also features a hooded nib, but in 14k gold with a piston filler. The design aesthetic is distinct enough, however, that the Duo-cart will likely carve out its own niche.
Editor’s Note: The dark teal ink shown in this writing sample is a limited edition collaboration between Pen Chalet and Colorverse, “Monsoon Storm.” This particular Colorverse ink includes two different colors, a 65ml bottle of Monsoon Storm and a 15ml bottle of an orange-gold color called “Monument Valley.” I may do a stand-alone review of both inks but since these are limited edition inks that may sell out I figured I would post the details here. Currently, this ink is listed at 30% off and on sale for $25.
Disclaimer: This post contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates. I acquired this pen using store credit generated through my participation in Pen Chalet’s affiliate program.