Newsletter of The Onoto Pen Company

May 2010

Welcome to the latest issue of The Onotoist In this issue, we will look at the nib options now available from Onoto, including custom nibs specially ground to your instructions and give you a quick reminder about the leather pen cases which can protect your pens from knocks and "dings".

In addition, there's a fascinating look at George Sweetser, the inventor who helped De La Rue successfully launch the very first Onoto in 1905, thanks to his ingenious filling system.

If you wish to email me with any comments on any item in this edition of the Onotoist, or would like to make your own
contribution to a future issue, please feel free to do so.

Dave Cooper
Email: david@onoto.com

 When only the best will do...

Onoto is renowned for the quality of its pens and, as a luxury brand, we have created many 'special' pens over the years. But when it comes to the finest of the fine, the best of the best, only gold will do. Combine it with the elegance of one of our most iconic pens, the Onoto Centenary and there's no denying this is a very special pen indeed.

Shown here in a luxury presentation box and about to go on display at Asprey in New Bond Street, London (see later article), the Onoto Centenary in 18 carat solid gold has no equals. It retails at £10,250 and is one of the remaining pens in a worldwide limited edition of 10.

For more information on the Onoto Centenary Pen go to www.onoto.com/centenary.asp

 In the beginning...

When Evelyn De La Rue persuaded his father to create a new pen brand - Onoto - in 1905, he had already shown remarkable enthusiasm for fountain pens and believed passionately that they could add a significantly to the De La Rue group's fortunes. Indeed he had already taken out 17 different patents for pens and their mechanisms in an attempt to design a new filling system to replace the old-fashioned and very messy eye-dropper fillers. He believed that a new brand would give his new invention a greater chance of success.

However, by a strange twist of fate, the launch of his new pen was given added impetus from an unlikely source - a female impersonator on roller skates called George Sweetser!

Despite his love of cross-dressing and rollerskating, Sweetser was, by all accounts, an excellent inventor and mechanical engineer too. In 1905 he made an appointment to visit the De La Rue offices in Bunhill Row, London to demonstrate his latest invention - a new filling system for the fountain pen. Evelyn could hardly believe it - but it didn't take him very long to see that Sweetser's mechanism was far better than his own invention and within a few minutes a deal had been struck between the two.

As Sweetser recalled later, "When I pushed the plunger down he (Evelyn) saw the ink go down in the bottle so knew
it must have gone up into the pen." It was a moving moment and Sweetser came out ten minutes after going in, with a big fat cheque.

That single moment gave Onoto the commercial advantage Sir Evelyn craved over all his competitors and he persuaded his father to invest heavily in an advertising campaign (reported to be £50,000 - a vast amount in 1905).

Sweetser, not to be outdone by the attention given to Onoto by the advertising campaign, made a number of claims for his invention. "It can," he stressed, "not only be filled in a flash and written with, but could be used to syringe your ears, spray the geraniums with insecticide and it is ideal for ink-splashers as it will carry across the road." Probably not what Sir Evelyn had in mind!

Sweetser, happily rollerskating into his 80s, also wrote a book entitled "How to live to be 100". Sadly, he died when he was 98.

Altogether a curious life - and one which continues to fascinate many Onoto enthusiasts. Indeed, we have recently been contacted by two people who believe they are great, great grandchildren of Sweetser.

For more information about George Sweetser go to www.onoto.com/history.asp

(With acknowledgement to "The House That Thomas Built " The Story of De La Rue" by Lorna Houseman, published by Chatto & Windus 1968).

 In the news...
We have been busy! Following up last Autumn's sponsorship of the WES London Pen Show, we have also put in appearances at the Eastern Pen Show (Huntingdon), The Western Pen Show (Bristol) and the Northern Pen Show (Lytham).  
The photo shows Onoto CEO Alastair Adams handing over the prototype P5 Magna 261 to Dr Geoff Roe, President of the WES, who was the lucky winner of the raffle at the Northern Pen Show.

The show is organised by Alan Lloyd of ABC Lloyd Vintage Pens and Inkwells, who confirmed, "We have raised £500-00 for the Children's resource fund at Cumbria Cerebral Palsy. A large portion of this is due to Onoto's kind donation of the Onoto Magna 261 for the raffle".

It was a pleasure to help Alan in such a worthy cause, and we have already confirmed our attendance at this show for next year. Interest in Onoto old and new at all these shows has been tremendous with particular interest shown in both the Magna 261 and in our new custom nib facility.

 His nibs

Onoto nibs have always been praised for their flexibility and smoothness (and we've received lots of comments recently to that effect!) but we have only recently recognised that pen collectors and writing aficionados like nothing more than having nibs custom-made to their precise instruction.
For example, we have had requests for one of our standard 18 carat gold broad nibs to be ground to 15 italic, and a stainless steel fine nib to be ground to extra-fine.

It's a fascinating topic and reflects the enthusiasm our collectors have for their pens.

You'll find more information about nibs on our website (www.onoto.com/nibs.asp)

 The case for the defence

Defending your valuable pens against bumps and scrapes has been a problem for many pen enthusiasts, especially if they are in everyday use (as they should be!) - until now.

We have developed a range of leather pen cases which fit neatly into your pocket, briefcase or handbag and protect the finish of your pen against scratches and dings.

The cases are available in two colours (black and a stunning red) and in two sizes (Standard and large). The large case is suitable for pens up to 16cm in length (Standard up to 14cm).

Each case is embossed with the Onoto logo and is hand-crafted specially for us. For more details, go to www.onoto.com/accessories.asp

 Missing persons

The photo shown here is of the Onoto Strathendrie football team around 1940 which played informal 'friendlies' against Onoto teams from London and Newcastle. It was sent in by Elaine Edwards whose father, Campbell Morris, worked at Onoto's Strathendry factory at this time.

Elaine has been able to fill in most of the names of the players:

Back Row L to R - John Webster, George Surley, Unknown, George Webster, A Robertson, D Halley 

Front Row L to R - Robert (Bobby) Page, Unknown, Alex Mitchell, Dave Hutt, Unknown

So if you know the 3 missing names, let me know and we will fill them in!

 261 Go!

Sales of the Magna 261, our latest acrylic issue, have exceeded all expectations and the reactions of those fortunate enough to receive one of the low edition numbers have been simply stunning. Here are a couple of comments which are representative of all those we have received.

"I received my ONOTO 261 today. What a pen, brilliant; superb; lovely balance; exceptional nib and truly great craftsmanship. I could go on and on about how delighted I am. This will be treasured for the rest of my life. Thank you."  PK, UK.

  "The Magna 261arrived this morning and is in the process of being road tested. First impressions are very favourable. The weight is excellent, the cap is just the right weight to enable it to balance properly in the hand and make writing an easy and pleasurable experience. The fine italic nib for me is perfect. It is slightly better than the Conway Stewart nib." CW, UK

On the basis of sales to date, we believe the "261" will sell out within the next 6 months. So if you are tempted, you should reserve one now, rather than risk disappointment later in the year.

Take advantage of a weak pound!

With sterling at its lowest point for a long time against the dollar, there's never been a better time to buy an Onoto if you are based in the USA.

Order Now: www.onoto.com/magna261

 And finally...

Following our successful venture with the University of Cambridge last year, producing a range of pens to celebrate the 800th anniversary of their foundation, we are delighted to announce that we will be producing a range of 2010 Graduation pens for each of the 31 colleges which make up the University of Cambridge. It's quite a feather in the Onoto cap to be associated with one of the world's greatest seats of learning - an association we are proud to have achieved. Full details of the pens will appear in our next issue of The Onotoist.

In This Issue

When only the best will do

In the beginning...

In the news...

His nibs

The case for the defence

Missing persons

261 Go!

And finally...
We're on
Facebook & Twitter
Now you can keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter (@OnotoPen) and get the latest information on shows, news releases, special offers etc.

And in the Heart of London...again!
Onoto pens are now available at Asprey, 167 New Bond Street, London. Established in 1781, Asprey is one of the oldest luxury goods retailers in the UK. But it's not the first time we have been featured in this prestigious emporium. On a recent visit to Asprey, Onoto CEO Alastair Adams spotted an old poster in one of their workshops showing specially commissioned Onoto pens from the 1920's. It's so nice to be re-acquainted with old friends!

You can now use PayPal to purchase Onoto pens and accessories.