Here is a trio of elegant Onoto pens from different dates and in different styles.
I read recently somewhere that De La Rue discontinued the traditional plunger filler Onoto because the filling system had become outdated. This is nonsense, of course. Filling systems don’t become outdated. If they did, we wouldn’t have modern eyedropper filler and bulb filler pens. Truth of the matter is that the replacement pen, a lower quality piston filler was much cheaper to manufacture, an essential in those days of severely declining sales The Onoto plunger filler was the first efficient self filling system and it remains the best even today. Sheaffer borrowed the idea in 1934 though they did not implement it as well as it had been done with the Onoto. The new Onoto company makes plunger fillers once again, though sadly they are well out of the reach of most pen buyers.
In many respects the Onoto is the ideal fountain pen. It holds a tremendous amount of ink and the nibs are wonderful. The filling system can be serviced comparatively easily and at no great expense. Time between services is very long, and a pen that is regularly used may go for decades between services. My favourite writer for many years was a slender slip cap 1920s Onoto with a flexible medium oblique nib. In a moment of madness I sold it a few years ago, a decision I have regretted ever since. Maybe I’ll find another one, one of these days.