Mentmore & De La Rue

I’ve had a few technical enquiries of one kind or another about Mentmores recently and that has reminded me that there is very little information about the company online. There are good websites devoted to Conway Stewart, Mabie Todd, Burnham and the Langs pens but nothing so far on either Mentmore or De La Rue.

It’s hard now to tell which pen manufacturers produced the most pens but it’s certainly true that Mentmore was very prolific. If you include the sub-brand Platignum they must certainly be among the biggest producers. Both Mentmore and Platignum made technically interesting pens over a long period and Mentmore pens were of comparable quality to Conway Stewart. Platignum pens were lower cost and hence somewhat poorer quality but many have proved durable nonetheless. There’s an opportunity for someone to do a bit of research and get it online.

That leaves De La Rue as the red-headed stepchild of the British pen world (so far as online information is concerned). I understand that a book on the pen production of the company is in preparation but that’s another matter. We need books on the manufacturers but it’s also nice to have an online reference that can be quickly consulted.

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About goodwriterspens
I restore fountain pens, and used to trade as redripple52 in eBay. I also have my own fountain pen sales website, www.goodwriterssales.com

19 Responses to Mentmore & De La Rue

  1. Paul Bloch says:

    Deb –

    First, great to have you back. Second, Mentmore: I have a write-up from Steve Hull. I’ve gotta think that it was part of one of his books. Not BTW, the Platignum name is today owned by Snopake Brands. As to De La Rue, a web post by onomatic.hubpages.com is pretty good, I’ve found.
    Again, continued best wishes for good health.
    Paul

  2. Rae says:

    I agree as I’m still waiting for the history of Onoto books which might be out this year or maybe the year after this one.

  3. Peter says:

    I suspect that in volume terms Mentmore were easily the largest UK producer of all. In addition to Mentmore and Platignum they had numerous sub brands, as well as being major ‘no name’ producers. All the sadder that there are virtually no records of the company now.

    • I agree.

      The situation is similar to Mabie Todd but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot that can be done. Even a comprehensive pen list would be helpful to people coming across a pen that they had not seen before.

  4. Paul Bloch says:

    I guess that I am bit denser than usual on this question, so let me try a different approach:
    1. As to Mentmore, Deb is correct, as usual, in suggesting a web source being important and useful. However, I find that when I have a question about something made in the UK, and cannot find what I am looking for elsewhere, Steve Hull is both kind and patient in helping me to fill in the blanks. Steve, I know, is an officer of the UK WES, and its magazine is excellent. Certainly, those of you on your side of the Atlantic can persuade Steve to excerpt his information into a magazine article and/or a web post, I should think.
    2. As to De La Rue, its signal accomplishment was the Onoto, after acquiring Sweetser’s patent ca. 1905. Its activities before then included some rudimentary and primitive work on fountain pens, but printing playing cards and money was their business. That’s not to say that some attention should not be paid to their early pens, but I do think it a bit obscure.
    As Michael Fultz said, “Good hunting.”

    • If all of us insist on pestering Steve everytime we find a pen we haven’t seen before, he’s not going to get much work done. What we need is reference sites. Obviously, this is easier with some brands than others because of lack of material. However, for instance, John Brindle has produced a very useful Mabie Todd list just on the basis of the pens that have come through eBay.

      As regards De La Rue, the point that I think you are missing is that the company produced ranges of excellent pens that did not bear the Onoto name. Pens such as the De La Rue Junior are just as interesting and high quality as the Onotos.

  5. Andy says:

    For those who are interested in Steve’s Onoto book, I can confirm it will be launched at the LWES show in 2016. I can say this with some confidence because layout is currently underway on my computer, on the other screen as I write this, the first four chapters (100 pages) having already been completed. Despite the Onoto main title, it does include comprehensive details of all De La Rue’s pen ranges and writing-associated activities between 1860 and 1960. Despite Paul Bloch’s opinion, their early gold-nibbed pens especially were undoubtedly important in the history of fountain pen development in England. As for free to air web availability – Steve has spent more than 30 years of his life on this research (which he freely shares with anybody who asks), and frankly I think he is finally entitled to some financial recompense for this. We are both very strongly of the opinion that publishing in book form is the most appropriate way to proceed.

    • Lest I be misunderstood, let me make it clear (as I have done in other forums) that I certainly do not dispute the right of authors to publish and to obtain some commercial return for their labours. I’ll be at the head of the queue to buy the book. The point I am making is that print on paper is not the only way to disseminate information and for many people, and for many uses, the web is preferable.

      You should know that, Andy. We’ve had this conversation before.

  6. Paul S. says:

    sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Long winded and convoluted text descriptions may be o.k. on occasions, but quality images can convey so much more.
    It occurs to me to ask if a library of pix, of Mentmore pens, might be of interest and/or use on this site.
    Debs may consider this an immediate no no, but just a thought in view of the lady’s earlier comments that there is a lack of internet data for this particular brand name.
    Appreciate this would add to the workload for this site but you never know it might generate more interest:)

    • Deb (not Debs) barely has the time and energy to do what she’s doing so if that or anything like it is going to get done it’s down to someone else.

      • Paul S. says:

        o.k. point taken Deb – will forget the idea.

      • It’s a good idea, Paul, I just wish that one of the pen enthusiasts would take the job on. Collecting the material for a pen list is not difficult, just time-consuming. The value of such a web site is out of all proportion more valuable than the effort it would take to produce it.

  7. Paul S. says:

    thanks for your kind sympathies re the demise of my good idea, Deb:):) Just wish I had the time to create a website such as yours, but I’m the wrong generation and pc illiterate, plus I spread my interests too wide to concentrate usefully to one subject.
    But, please don’t stop the wonderfully informative and interesting notes you contribute to this blog.
    My Mentmore collection grows slowly, but suspect that a little like the adage “the more you learn the less you know”, there are parallels in pen collecting, and there seems an almost endless variety of colours and patterns in this brand.

    Not that it has anything to do with this thread, but have just remembered (and found) the Sheaffer that made me wax lyrical some days back ………….. it was a black Touchdown (no white dot) in a variety called Admiral, with a non-beaked nib that has a little flex – c. 1951. Just one of those pens that, even without trying, makes your writing look classy – but then I think I can tell the difference – in the early days at school I did use a dip pen for a while!

    Apologies for ticking on a bit.

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