Going back more years than I care to admit, I’ve always had at least one Onoto in my stable of thoroughbreds. For many years my everyday user was a long black hard rubber Onoto from around 1915 and since then I’ve had a 4601 long enough to have it resealed twice, the last time by the estimable Eric Wilson. They vie with Swans for being my favourite pens of all. Purely in terms of quality the pre-war Onoto exceeds any other pen that I’m aware of. The venerable plunger filler is superior to any other filling system and Onoto and all De La Rue nibs are quite wonderful. Having said all that, I remain woefully ignorant about their history and the sequence of models.
This seems to be the De La Rue week for me. I picked up these fine examples and there’s another one in the post. The top pen is, obviously, a plunger filler, probably from the late thirties. As so often with Onotos, this one doesn’t have a number. Strangely, it seems to have been the practice to imprint the number on the turn-button before it was drilled to pin the shaft. Thus the number is often obliterated.
Below that is a charming blue pearl De La Rue Junior with a superb Onoto 22 nib. Late fifties, I’m guessing, though it could go a few years either side. These pens share so many of the characteristics of the Onoto that you couldn’t put a razor blade between them.
The next one down, looking large and solid, is a lever filling Onoto of the same period. It has a semi-flexible medium Onoto 33 nib. I confess to being more than a little tempted by this pen. I don’t really need it but, well… look at it!
Last, in its olive green box is another De La Rue Junior with a De La Rue 22 nib, still with its “M” for medium sticker. The last three of these pens are pristine and would be regarded as New Old Stock had they not been re-sacced. That’s no bad thing, though, as these pens were meant to be used. As it says on the side of the box, “the pen that’s sure to suit your hand!”
While we’re on the subject of De La Rue Pens, some of you may remember this post: http://wp.me/p17T6K-yP where there was some doubt as to whether the woodgrain section was original. Having since seen a couple of other examples, I can confirm that it is original.