Onoto 4601

I’ve written before of my admiration for Onotos – all Onotos except the very last ones which are spoiled by a tendency for the hoods to crack.  Those long, slender pens from the 1920s have some of the best nibs I have ever written with, often flexible, sometimes stubbed or oblique.  The quality of the pens and nibs remained consistant until late in the company’s history.  I’ve had several 4601s over the years and there is always one in the box of my own pens.  Though it’s around 70 years old, I think it has quite a modern appearance.  The long, slender section may be the most dated part of the pen, but I find it makes for a comfortable fit in the hand.

It has been said that the reason that the plunger-filling system was abandoned in favour of the German style piston filler was because the plunger was outdated.  I don’t agree with that.  Filling systems don’t date.  I believe the cause of the change was economic, not practical.  You only have to look around at the plethora of filling systems available today, almost every method of getting ink into a pen that there has ever been.

The 4601 is a fine example of the Onoto.  As always with this filler it takes a barrelful of ink which lasts even me for ages.  I like colourful pens but the engine-chased black celluloid is appealing, too.  Catching the light as it does, it’s a subtly beautiful finish.  Like other Onotos, those pens fetch a premium price, not because they’re especially rare – thankfully they are not – but because they are of the very highest quality.


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