Aurora Duo-Cart and the first plastic cartridge in the pen industry

In 1954, just seven years after the presentation of the early type of Aurora 88 designed by Marcello Nizzoli, Aurora Fabbrica Italiana Stilografiche Torino, in collaboration with Albe Steiner, changed the game introducing the 88 Duo-Cart – the first fountain pen with a plastic cartridge in the world. Honestly, in the past, several brands developed the idea of ​​the cartridge but it was made of glass. Fragile and delicate, they had little diffusion. 

Everything changed in 1953, when the Italian scientist Giulio Natta and the German Alfred Ziegler started a collaboration and discovered the method for synthesizing isotactic polypropylene (commercially called Moplen), the first modern plastic. Unbreakable and economical, it can be extruded, turned from solid rod and used through Injection moulding. With isotactic polypropylene the world industry has the ability to produce objects that were previously impossible to make. The earliest industrial plant in the world was built in Italy by Montecatini, then Montedison. Less than a year from the discovery of the new material, Aurora projects and puts on the market the early cartridge in material plastic to the world and a new fountain pen suitable for its use.

By exploiting its skills and the potential of the new material, Aurora brings the primitive idea of ​​the ink cartridge to express its full potential by replacing glass with isotactic polypropylene. To do this, Aurora based the new pen starting with the 88, depriving it of the piston filler, obtaining the necessary space inside the barrel for two cartridges held opposite each other by a metal sleeve. In addition to this, Aurora develops an innovative coaxial block puncturing necessary to pierce the cartridges. The basic idea is further expanded by devising an ingenious acoustic system that rings when the second cartridge is empty or missing. In a short time, the idea of ​​the plastic cartridge revolutionized the fountain pen market, being unanimously adopted by the competition. The reason is easy to understand, the new cartridges are easy to make, unbreakable and sold at a very cheap price.

Style evolutions:

From 1954 to 1960 there were several stylistic evolutions of the Duo-Cart based on the 88 aesthetics with hooded nib. Starting from the first version of 1954 made with the collaboration of Albe Steiner, with short cap, barrel in thermoplastic material and grip section in red or black ebonite. Three years later, came the 888 Duo-Cart and other restyling.

1954 “circa” Aurora Duo-Cart
1955 “circa” Aurora Duo-Cart Junior
1956 “circa” Aurora 888
1957 “circa” Aurora Firma (desk pen with black glass base)
1959 “circa” Aurora 888P
1959 “circa” Auretta
1960 “circa” Aurora 2Cart restyling of early Duo-Cart

Even if nowadays the Duo-Cart and subsequent versions do not have a particular economic value, it remains one of the most important innovations in the world of the fountain pen. Almost seventy years after its introduction, the plastic cartridge is still used by many companies in the sector.

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