Sad to say, and much to my own disappointment, I’ve never been in a position to list every Onoto made (as I try to do with Swans and Blackbirds). I think I may have written about an Onoto once before in this blog and that’s all so far. This is because when I decided to switch to pen restoration I limited the number of kinds of pens I was prepared to fix to reduce the costly spares holding. However, when you buy pens in lots as I do, anything can turn up, and I recently ended up with a very shabby Onoto. I’m not really up on these pens and I can’t say for certain, but I believe it might be an Onoto Minor dating to around 1938. I should have taken some photos when I got it but of course I didn’t, but I can tell you that the shaft was broken off the blind cap, it had no clip and it was generally decidedly the worse for wear.
I passed the pen to the estimable Eric Wilson ( http://eckiethump.webs.com/contactdetails.htm ). As always, the turnaround was very fast, the work was superb and copious notes were provided on what had been done on the pen. Here it is, now:
It’s a beautiful middle-sized pen and the lattice-work celluloid barrel is what really sets it off. The point of that, of course, is to show the ink remaining in the pen, and with the wonderful Onoto plunger filling system even a little pen like this holds about a bucketful. On lengthy consideration, I think I would have to say that the 107-year-old plunger-fill remains the best filling system there is. It’s so satisfying to immerse the pen in ink, push that plunger down once and know that you have taken on enough ink for the next fortnight. Or in my case, a month, because I don’t write much.
There can be no doubt that Onotos were the top of the league of British pens. I hugely admire them and I try always to have one of my own. My particular preference, as you might guess, would place 1930s Swans above Onotos, but that’s just me. They are among the best pens ever made.