A Question

A friend has a Pitman’s Fono pen with a very short lever. That may be a clue to who made it. Can anyone think of a British pen manufacturer who turned out models of their own with a very short lever? It’s niggling at the back of my mind but I can’t get it.

Photo added with thanks to Paul Leclercq. Now where did you see that tiny lever before?


16 thoughts on “A Question

  1. Deb, there’s an image of an eBay sale , of a ‘Onoto de la Rue Pitmans ‘super’ Fono
    Unfortunately the listing it links to is obsolete, so there is no further info.
    Were one to assume ( possible a big assumption 🙄) that the seller did know what they were about….then that may be a clue , or even the answer 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️?

  2. Deb 🙋🏻‍♂️. There’s an image of an eBay uk listing of Onoto de la Rue Pitmans ‘super’ fono !!
    Were one to assume that the seller actually knew what they had, which is a bold assumption 😂…then possibly that could be an answer ?

    1. I’ve been trying to reply!!! WordPress has been severely F***ing me around recently! I hope that’s it solved. Anyway, the mid-cap clip might indicate Onoto but I think that Altura copied it at one time. I don’t remember either of those having that very short clip. Thanks for the link. That’s the same as Paul’s pen.

  3. De La Rue used those levers on some overlaid combo pen and pencils around the mid 1930s (Onoto The Pen, p211), possibly because there was a lack of space within the barrel, but nowhere else as far as I know. One of my Bentley fountain pens (early 1930s) has the same stubby lever, and also a potential De La Rue connection as Henry Dixon, the man behind Bentley pens, worked for them for many years. There are also a couple of stubby-levered slim RG overlay pens from Conway Stewart (Fountain Pens for the Million, p185). These are unusual for Conway Stewart apart from the lever, having screw-in sections and a different way of fixing the clip. Steve has these down as possibly US made, c1960, but I don’t think there is any firm evidence for the date or the country of origin. I’m not sure any of this has any particular relevance to the Fono manufacturer, though.

      1. For what it is worth, I note Barrie Martin (Heritage Collectables) is currently selling another Pitman’s Fono apparently identical to this , but with a long lever.

  4. I just right-clicked the picture, selected the option Copy Image Link, then pasted the link into the reply box. Seeing the picture surprised me too, I was expecting just to see the link there!

  5. Notwithstanding your stipulation that it was an ‘English’ pen you were thinking about…..the only pen I have with such a tiny lever, and a company that has several like it , is Conklin . I have a RHR one and a couple of small gold ones with very small levers.
    ( tried ‘copy / paste’. didn’t work for me 🤷‍♂️)

    1. Funnily enough, Paul and I discussed Conklin but the chances of that US company making those pens is remote – but not entirely impossible. Might, say, De La Rue have bought in a batch of levers… Also, the mystery of how Andy patched an image into a comment!

  6. I’ve nothing to add on the original question, but I am interested to know if the pen fills effectively? The compression of the sac when the lever is raised is determined by the distance from the fulcrum to the end of the lever. With this lever and a normalish diameter barrel, the lever is only likely to half compress the sac – unless there is a clever gearing mechanism inside?

    1. Hello again, Simon,
      It’s a slender pen without a lot of room in the barrel. A thin sac had to be used. That narrowness is probably what allows the short lever to work efficiently. It has the usual pressure bar arrangement inside.

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