Isaia Levi, Cesare Verona senior, Giovanni Enriques, Franco Verona, Cesare Verona junior-these are the names of the entrepreneurs who, in succession, marked the birth, development, crises and rebirths of one of Turin’s best-known companies, Manifattura Aurora, the Italian “queen” of fountain pen (and other) manufacturing enterprises, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on June 6.
“THE FIRST 100 YEARS,” Cesare Verona Jr., the company’s current chairman and CEO, is keen to emphasize, committed to giving solidity and legs to a company that is able to stand up to the challenge of the digital age “as much in today as in the medium and long term, and with the goal of reaching at least 200 years of life.” An enterprise that has found in special projects for superluxury clientele and foreign markets the most suitable terrain today to establish itself in global competition. With only the strength of design and the quality of a nib and a fountain pen.
Aurora’s 100-year history was told in a book “Questione di Stilo – Il romanzo delle penne Aurora” written by Cesare Verona Jr. and Adriano Moraglio (Giunti) that will be presented in conjunction with the anniversary celebrations.
Isaia Levi is the great entrepreneur from Turin who started the company in 1919. Here is how Verona and Moraglio’s book traces that initial moment:
Turin, 1919. “Mr. Levi, I propose a fantastic bargain: why don’t you also manufacture fountain pens in Turin?” An enterprising young accountant looks straight into the eyes of a well-known textile industrialist in Turin, Isaia Levi. The entrepreneur is intrigued by the proposal of the young man in front of him. If Turin is known for being the birthplace of the Kingdom, and if it is known for its bakeries, chocolate, automobile and textile industries, could it not become the “capital” of the fountain pen? A few days later the adventure begins, “Good morning, I need to register a new company.” The Chamber of Commerce official lifts his gaze from the papers and tightens his lips in consideration, “Company name?” “Italian factory of Aurora reservoir pens.”
This story paradoxically intersects with Cesare Verona senior, who in 1889 is the first to import American Remington typewriters to Italy, in Turin. His business starts at 20 Via Carlo Alberto, right in the center of Turin, a fifteen-minute walk from the site of the first Manifattura Aurora headquarters. Cesare Verona Sr. is the grandfather of Franco Verona, who from the 1960s onwards will be the man who will mark Aurora’s success with unforgettable creations such as Auretta, Hastil and Thesi and who will start the tradition of prestigious limited editions of numbered fountain pens, but he is also the great-grandfather of Cesare Verona junior, Aurora’s current patron, who bears his name and represents the fourth generation of a family deeply involved in the world of writing.
In this “sidereal” crossover between the history of typewriters and that of Italian fountain pens there is all the paradox of a centuries-old affair in which a renowned entrepreneur such as Giovanni Enriques, a figure of reference for Italian culture in the early postwar period and linked to Aurora for decades even beyond his role in the company, also played an important role.
Today Aurora is a family business that employs about 50 people and, thanks in part to a turnover that has doubled in the past five years, has appeared on the list of 350 “Growth Leaders” companies selected by Sole 24 Ore for the best revenue performance in the 2014-2017 period. Manifattura Aurora, to which even the Ministry of Economic Development wanted to dedicate a commemorative postage stamp from the “Economic and Productive Excellence” series on the occasion of its centenary, owes about 70 percent of its sales to foreign markets and recently opened its first flagship store, in Rome, at 12 Via del Babuino.
In Turin, next to the pen factory and executive offices on Abbadia Street, Aurora has created an original and pioneering museum-“Writing Workshop”-the first museum in the world entirely dedicated to Sign and Writing, a place where everything in every sphere related to the culture of writing and, more generally, to the sign of man, from cave paintings to contemporary forms of communication, is told, promoted and enhanced.