Sheaffer Triumph Imperial / De La Rue Pen

As I said some time ago, I’ve taken a liking to Sheaffer Imperials in their various styles. I have quite a collection at the moment – a couple of Touchdowns and three of the later cartridge/converter pens. Another one arrived today.


At first glance it’s a basic Sheaffer Triumph Imperial, made in the nineties and so very much newer than the pens I usually handle. On closer examination it turned out to be one of the oblique ones. At first I would have said an oblique stub but now I’m inclined to think of it as a cursive italic.


I like oblique nibs and have several but this one seems a little too acutely angled to suit my hand. I’ll have fun with it for a while and probably sell it on.


Another recent arrival was this De La Rue pen. When I bid on it, it was listed as an Onoto, and it wasn’t until it arrived here that I saw that it wasn’t one. While it’s a beautiful pen, I felt I’d paid an Onoto price for a De La Rue pen and I wasn’t very happy, but some cordial negotiation later I’d had the price reduced to what was mutually accepted as a fair price.


I must admit that I’m a bit light on my knowledge of the output of De La Rue, whether their Onotos or their lesser pens. However, even I can see that this De La Rue Pen bears a close resemblance to the Onoto Minor 1202 of 1938, so I’m guessing that it was made around the same date. In the Onoto the semi-transparent lattice served to show the level of ink in the pen, but in this lever-filler it is just decorative, as is the bold MHR section.


As one would expect from this company’s pens, it writes like a dream, a smooth, generous medium with appreciable flexibility. Not an Onoto, to be sure, but a beautiful, unusual pen and an outstanding writer all the same.

4 thoughts on “Sheaffer Triumph Imperial / De La Rue Pen

  1. I have theory that pens that have the imprint “Made in Great Britain” were made in Scotland, as in this case Strathendry(sp), Fife. I’d never given it a thought in the past to separate the two of Onoto and Thomas De La Rue pens, I believe they are of equally good quality. Were TDLR pens considered a sub brand of Onoto, or perhaps, marketed purely for the British market ?

    1. Hi Eric,
      I think you’re right about the “Made in Great Britain” imprint.

      While I don’t have a detailed knowledge of the Onoto over time, I at least have an outline of the models and their dates in my mind. I don’t even have that for De La Rue pens. I am sure there are a great many models that I have never seen. However, I think they have to be treated as a different product range from the Onotos. At the top of the range pens like the one I’ve been dealing here are as good quality as the Onotos of the time. However, I’ve seen straight-sided, domed-cap BHR De La Rue pens of the twenties/ thirties with poor quality plating and a general cheaper appearance. Again, in the late forties/fifties, there are single-colour plastic De La Rue pens that appear to have been an economy range.

      Really, I’m limited by the quite small number of De La Rue pens I’ve had in my hands.


      1. Hi Deb

        I was also always under the impression that TDLR (pre WW2) was of comparable build quality to the Onoto, but that the brand became so well established they then went for an “Onoto Lever Pen”. I assume all will become clear when Steve Hull publishes his next book.

        I saw this pen listed on ebay, and assumed that the section was a swap. I cannot recall ever seeing this mix before, but then I have only had a couple of trellis lever fillers in my possession.

      2. Hi Paul,
        As I’ve said, I’ve seen some pretty shabby De La Rues from the twenties/thirties. Talking of the early thirties, Lambrou says, “De La Rue offered a wide range of pens retailing from 5 shillings to 12 guineas.” Those five shilling pens weren’t Onotos, obviously, they were De La Rues.

        As regards the section, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this configuration before, but I’m not dogmatic about it. I could be wrong.


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