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Newsletter of The Onoto Pen Company

November/December 2012


Phew, what a hectic few months!  With several ‘events’ and new issues to cope with – there’s hardly been any time to draw breath!  We’re not complaining though – it’s all very exciting to see the growth of Onoto and the worldwide enthusiasm for the brand and products.

So, a big ‘Thank You’ to you all. 

In this issue of the Onotoist, there’s no doubt about the ‘headline’ story – the launch of the new Magna Plunger-filler, so you’ll get full details of that. We’ve also got more information about where we’ve been and what we have been doing. 

There’s something of a family flavour to this issue too, with a couple of heart-warming stories that link Onoto past to Onoto present.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.  And for ink enthusiasts there’s an answer to a Frequently Asked Question about Iron Gall ink (with special thanks to Daniel Coffey).

So, onwards and upwards… I hope you enjoy it. As always, if you have anything you’d like to submit that other Onoto friends would find interesting, please email me and I’ll put it in the next issue. And remember to forward this issue to all your pen-loving friends and contacts – so they can enjoy it too.
 onoto carpet ad 

An iconic festive advertisement from Punch in November 1920 featuring Peter Pen, the red pillar box and illustrating the global scope of Onoto's business.

The words at the bottom of the poster say: 
“Before purchasing a foreign made fountain pen, see the 
All-British Onoto, and ask the salesman for a demonstration of its qualities. You will then buy British.”

A sentiment that rings true today, too!

Dave Cooper
 What's On?

London Writing Equipment Society (LWES) - The London Pen Show
The London Writing Equipment Society’s autumn event brought together a huge crowd of pen enthusiasts from all around the world – probably the best-attended event ever from my perspective.

LWES 2012The new venue (Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, London) appeared to be a great success, apart from the lighting(!) and the change of date from Sunday to Saturday may have influenced the better turnout.

We launched the new Magna Plunger-filler at the show and it was very well received – more later.
Write Here, Shrewsbury
We like to support our retailers whenever possible and the Pen Events at Write Here are always interesting and entertaining. Alastair was on hand to show off the new Diamond Jubilee, Burlington and Blue Ice pens as well as the prototype Magna P-F which always catches attention.

Back to Cambridge
The Alumni weekend event at Cambridge at the end of September brings together alumni from all over the world – and so is a useful event to display our full range of Cambridge pens.

 What's New?

Walnut pen tray pen and blotters 2Apart from the Magna Plunger-filler (of which more later!) we have also added two pen presentation and display products to our range.

The first is a walnut desk tray which replaces the Blenheim Oak tray, sadly no longer available. The walnut tray has indentations for 2 pens and two bottles of ink and has a gold-plated Onoto cypher button embedded in it. Click here for more information. 

The second is an altogether grander piece – a luxury pen presentation box and desk companion set in walnut.  It contains everything a writing enthusiast might need: storage space for up to 10 pens, an ink stand containing 2 bottles of Onoto ink, a desk pen tray that holds 2 pens, and a large, high quality roller blotter. 

Entirely hand-made in Britain exclusively for Onoto, each pen box bears a brass plaque with its edition number and the names of the craftsmen who made it. Beautifully made, and oozing quality, there really is nothing like this available from any other manufacturer. For more information, click here.

American Walnut luxury box

 Family Favourite 1: Onoto THE Lifesaver

Here’s a lovely story from the 1920’s that we’ve just received from Reverend Jacobs in Surrey.

“My father had an Onoto that I purloined for a while.  His pen was one of the Plunger filler ones.  As I recall, it had no clip, and so, to carry it conventionally in a pocket, you had to slip it into a steel sheath – which did have a clip.

AlvisMy father used to tell a story of a collision he had, in the twenties, while driving an open Alvis  Tourer  in which he hit a Foden steam wagon!  His passenger, later his best man, suffered a ruptured spleen. 

Pop put down his relatively minor injuries to the fact that the pen sheath spread the impact of the steering column over several ribs!  Not a bad selling point.  It also wrote beautifully!”

Can anyone beat that?

 Creating something special

We have a proud tradition of creating 'specials for our customers. Whether it's a 'one-off' or a limited edition exclusive we're always keen to give our craftsmen free rein to show their expertise. Here are 2 recent examples:

Websters Pens
Websters Pen Shop started in 1973 with premises in Bexley, Kent in the South East of the UK. Today, approaching its 40th anniversary, the company is still owned and run by the Webster family with seven shops around Southern England including one at Bluewater – believed to the be largest pen shop in Europe.
As an Onoto stockist, Websters obviously recognise quality when they see it, so asked us to create a special limited edition pen to celebrate their 40th Anniversary in 2013.

Webster's 40th Anniversary pen
Issued in editions of 40 fountain pens and 10 rollerballs, the Websters Anniversary pen is available exclusively from Websters at any of their stores or online from

A very special ‘Special’
We have recently produced this exclusive ‘one-off’ for a London-based client.  It’s made from rose gold with enamel overlaid on a quill chequered pattern.  It’s the type of work our silversmiths really enjoy – allowing them to show the full range of skills and artistry. “Simply magnificent!” was the client’s response when he saw it for the first time.
Number 8 Rose gold plated silverv2
 Goodbye old friend!

The Magna 261 has sold out!

Launched to celebrate the centenary of the opening of Onoto’s first office in the USA in 1909, the Magna 261 immediately became a favourite of many ‘traditional’ Onoto collectors.  Named after 261 Broadway, the first Onoto office address in the heart of New York, it has featured regularly in FPN and the other pen forums since 2009 and seems to be much loved. Here's an example of one of the reviews: 

Onoto Magna 261All 261 pens in the edition have now been sold – although if you search really hard you may find one or two with retailers who still have them available.

 Family Favourite 2: In safe keeping for the next generation

Here’s a twist on the Patek Philippe strapline – on handing down a classic Onoto from generation to generation.

Professor Iain Benson wrote: “I am searching for a replacement pocket clip for my Grandfather’s original Onoto Magna which is in mint condition but for the clip which is lost, leaving only the groove on the cap.”

As you may know, original Onoto Magna clips are as rare as hen’s teeth and people have been known to buy vintage Onotos on eBay just to cannibalise them for the clip! After some searching a replacement clip was found so Iain’s family Magna is back in perfect condition and ready to pass to his son in due course.

"Is it safe to use Iron Gall ink in my Onoto?"

This was a request for advice from one of our customers recently. He had just purchased some Montblanc Midnight Blue ink and rather than second-guess the answer, we asked Daniel Coffey, an Onoto customer who has infinite knowledge of inks, to provide some guidance. Here’s his reply…
“All modern iron gall inks are perfectly safe in modern pens providing some specific pen hygiene rules are followed. However, not all commercial IG inks are the same. The (now discontinued) Lamy Blue/Black was a beautifully behaved IG because it was mostly a dye-based ink with a modest portion of IG added. Montblanc Midnight is a very similar formulation to the Lamy Blue/Black in that it has a lot of "old fashioned blue" dye with a
modest dash of IG.

Both these inks work very well in any modern pen providing they are used reasonably often and not allowed to dry out. The low amount of IG means they can just be washed with water and the feed will not clog even if the pen is only used occasionally. This ease of use and reliability is important to Montblanc because they don't want well-heeled purchasers coming back and complaining that the ink clogged their expensive pen.
R&K Salix and Scabiosa are two other IG inks with a higher amount of IG components and Diamine Registrar's ink has a pretty high IG concentration and that is the one that I use in my own Onoto Magna 261 medium.”
That’s about a third of Daniel’s reply! If you would like to read his reply in full, including some important cleaning and usage guidelines for Iron Gall inks, just send me an email and I’ll let you have the full text.
Many thanks to Daniel. 

Family favourite 3: Onoto DNA!
DS from South London recently wrote:

“Onoto is now very much a feature of our family life. I use my silver Cambridge 800 to write to my daughter and, needing a slightly less magnificent pen for work, am delighted with the Havana Brown Magna Classic I got recently. It writes beautifully and is a pleasure to hold, while also being pleasingly understated as a design.

My wife uses a Churchill pinstripe, which she loves and we are planning to get our daughter a Cambridge pen when she graduates. All in all these great pens have entered our collective DNA.” 

Is Onoto part of your family DNA? Tell us more…
And finally...
The Magna Plunger Filler … we’ve been talking about it for some time and at last … it’s here.

Onoto Magna plunger-fillers

Of all the pens we have designed and created over the past 7 years since we launched the Centenary, it’s the Magna Plunger-filler that’s caused the most interest – by a very long way! There’s hardly been a week that goes by without someone asking ‘When are you going to produce a Magna plunger-filler?’ 

In the history of Onoto, there's no doubt that the re-launch of the Magna Plunger-filler in 2012 to sit alongside the fabled 1937 Magna is an important and significant event. It shows how seriously we regard our heritage and how much we respect the opinions of vintage Onoto collectors.

It was launched at The London Pen Show in early October and we have recently sent out an email to everyone on our database with more details and photos. As a result, we have already sold more than 50% of the Demonstrator edition, many of them to Japanese collectors.  We expect to sell out very soon.

The Magna plunger-filler holds over 3 mls of ink - that's over 4 times the amount you get in a standard cartridge or converter!

Magna Plunger-filler demonstratorIf you'd like to see more of these remarkable pens, you’ll find an album of images on Facebook that’s well worth a look.

The Magna Plunger Filler is available in two editions – the Black Acrylic version is being issued in an edition of 75 and the Demonstrator in Clear Acrylic is an edition of just 25.

If you’d like more information or would like to place an order just click here. 

And a quick word to all those of you who have been watching and contributing to the thread on FPN about suggestions for new Magna Plunger-filler decoration and colours. We do take notice of what you suggest and are ever grateful for your enthusiasm and originality!

If you have enjoyed reading this issue, could I ask a favour? Please click on the Facebook logo:

f_logo 2
 It will take you to our Facebook page where you'll find lots more photos of the Onoto ranges. If you could click on the 'Like' button, it will help to spread the word about Onoto!

Thank you.


In This Issue

What's On?

What's New?

Family Favourite 1

Creating Something Special

Goodbye Old Friend

Family Favourite 2

FAQ: Iron Gall Ink

Family Favourite 3

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.

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

Onoto stockists
in the UK
Asprey London Limited
167 New Bond Street
Tel: 0207 493 6767

Penfriend (London) Limited
Burlington Arcade Piccadilly
Tel: 020 7499 6337

Howards Jewellers
Stratford upon Avon
CV37 6JG
Tel : 01789 205404

Andy's Pens
Tel: 01732 361381

Vintage and Classic Pens

25 Clarewood Court
Crawford Street
London W1H 2NW
Tel: 0207 724 7724

F. G. Thomas
25 Surrey Street
S1 2LG
Tel: 0114 275 7147

North Lincolnshire
Tel: 01427 874433

Write Here
Tel: 01743 245950

Tora Pens
PE11 3FL
Tel: 01775 718319

Webster Pen Shop
U001 Upper
Rose Gallery
Tel: 07900218943
Onoto stockists
La Couronne du Comte

Noordstraat 96
5038 EK

Phidon Pens Limited

63 Dickson Street Cambridge, Ontario
N1R 7A5
Tel : 519 624 8787
Fax : 519 624 2044

Elephant & Coral Pen
Co Pte Ltd

501 Orchard Road,
Wheelock Place
Tel: 65 6736 1322

Maruzen Co Ltd

Stationery Kikakubu
Store Division, 4th Floor Nihombashi 3-9-2
Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tel : 81-03-3273-1215

Penz Solutions

Greater Kailash-2
New Delhi
110 048

Editions (Pens of the World)
S016 Ground Floor
Express Avenue
Whites Road
Chennai – 14

Pen-Ultimate QVB

Level 2, 15-17 455
George Street
NSW 2000