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Onoto History

In the history of writing instruments, Onoto stands proud as a name synonymous with innovation and quality. Since its foundation in 1905, Onoto fountain pens have been associated with three specific qualities: firstly, its essential Britishness; secondly, its manufacturing ingenuity and thirdly, its global marketing success.

Essentially British
In 1905, one of the most respected British "establishment" companies, Thomas De La Rue and Company Limited, was approached by George Sweetser, an outstanding Mechanical Engineer and Inventor, with a self-filling safety fountain pen which he had recently patented read more

Manufacturing Ingenutiy
The first Onoto - Sweetser's original plunger-filler fountain pen guaranteed not to leak - was manufactured by the Thomas DeOriginal Plunger Filler La Rue and Company Limited in London in 1905.

The Onoto pens were an immediate success in the United Kingdom and internationally, and were one of the very few 100% British-made pens prior to WW1. They were so successful that the pens came to be marketed as
Onoto the Pen read more

For the story of the Onoto Pen which lay on the sea-bed for 70 years and still writes perfectly, click here


Marketing Expertise
Onoto Early LiteratureOnoto's recognition as a global brand was helped considerably by extensive advertising and marketing right from the start. In 1905 Evelyn De La Rue had a marketing budget of £50,000 which equates to £2.5 million at current prices. De La Rue recognised the importance of maintaining a high profile and showed considerable marketing expertise with a wide variety of campaigns, not just in the UK but also in the USA, India, Italy and France.

For some examples of Onoto advertisements click here

The Onoto Magna
In 1937, Onoto launched the Magna which was an instant success, and even today is considered by many as one of the best fountain pens ever produced. To read an article published in the Spring 2010 edition of the WES journal on the Magna range of pens click here

And Today...
Although initially made in London, Onoto pen manufacture was transferred to Strathendry, Fife, Scotland in 1927 and continued there until 1958 when the factory closed its doors for the last time. After nearly 50 years Onoto production has started again ...