I can generally estimate the age of a De La Rue Onoto fairly closely, but I confess I’m all at sea with their non-Onoto pens.
This is The De La Rue Pen and it’s my guess that it’s immediately post-war, but I could be wrong. I say that because I have it in the back of my mind that De La Rue made these pens with black ends before WWII too. I must have read it somewhere but the source is long gone.
These pens with black ends are among the best of the non-Onoto output. They’re really well made, and so they’re a pleasure to restore. This one needed a new sac and a polish. That was it, and ready to go again. The black ends are memorable, in that the one at the base of the barrel is a piece of black celluloid grafted on to the patterned barrel, in much the way that Waterman and Mentmore did. Waterman’s and Mentmore’s examples generally ended in disaster with the ends cracking, fragmenting and falling off. I’ve never seen that happen to a De La Rue Pen. The other end, the top of the cap, is a shallow-domed clip screw made out of black hard rubber. Most have faded to brown now, so the black ends effect is a little spoiled.
The worst failing in De La Rues – Onotos too – is poor plating and this one’s no exception. A tiny vestige of gold clings to the clip just above the ball end, but the underlying metal polished up well.
These pens make a decent price, but they’re much cheaper than the Onotos. What’s in a name? After all, quite a few later Onotos are lever fillers too, and despite having something different engraved on the nib, they write the same – that is, superbly! If you care about the plunger filler, or if the name means a lot to you, then you have to have the Onoto. Otherwise, you might decide to settle for the De La Rue Pen – a splendid and beautiful pen in its own right – and have all the value and quality of its more prestigious brother for half the price.