Issue#29 The Old and the New

Onoto De La Rue, Woodex Skyline, PLP Pens

Issue 29 | 14 April 2024

Welcome to Issue#29.

In this issue, we look at a pen from over a hundred years ago, and then feature a brand new pen based on an old favourite! The century-old Onoto De La Rue pen has been reviewed, and we feature a new pen from a Hyderabad pen maker.

Rediscovering the Onoto De La Rue Plunger Filler: A Century-Old Marvel

Md Younus Ahmed The Bridge Engineer

In the realm of vintage stationery, the Onoto De La Rue Plunger Filler stands as a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of a bygone era. This pen, over a century old, continues to captivate enthusiasts with its unique features and enduring functionality.

A Storied Legacy

The Onoto De La Rue was a product of the English company “De la Rue,” established in 1821. Originally a stationery supplier for the British Empire, De la Rue acquired Onoto in 1905. This acquisition, particularly the Onoto pen, catapulted them to the forefront of the fountain pen market. The model remained in production for the next forty to fifty years, a testament to its popularity and quality.

Innovative Design

The secret to the Onoto De La Rue’s success lies in its innovative plunger mechanism. Introduced at a time when safety eyedroppers, dip pens, and quill pens were popular, this feature set the Onoto pen apart. Crafted before World War One, it was designed to be a flex writing instrument, offering a level of flexibility that was considered the best in its heyday.

Unique Nib and Feed

The nib of the Onoto De La Rue is unique, designed to overcome the limited lifespan of flex pens of that era. The pen features an over-and-under nib feed, a rarity in pen collections. This design ensures a smooth writing experience, excellent ink capacity, and remarkable flexibility.

A view of the over feed

Practical Features

The pen also boasts a snap-on cap, a surprising feature for a pen made prior to World War One. The section has a recess to hold the cap in place, adding to its practicality. Crafted from hard chased rubber or old ebonite, the Onoto De La Rue is a durable instrument that continues to function flawlessly even in the next century.

Writing Experience

As a wet writer, the Onoto De La Rue requires a 100 gsm paper for optimal writing. Despite being used for over a month, the pen has never dried out, underscoring its impressive ink capacity.

Filling Mechanism

The plunger filler mechanism, even today, is top-notch. It works by turning the knob anticlockwise, pulling the shaft, and then pressing it down. As the shaft is pulled down, the ink gets filled. Even after a month of usage, there has been no need for a refill, highlighting its impressive ink capacity.


The Onoto De La Rue Plunger Filler, devoid of gold rings and overlays, is a great writer that harks back to the 1920s. Its enduring functionality and unique features make it a prized possession for any vintage pen collector. This pen serves as a reminder of a time when innovation, craftsmanship, and quality were the hallmarks of a product’s success.

Md Ahmed Younus is a bridge engineer and a fountain pen collector. He has a large collection of contemporary and vintage fountain pens, many of them rare and unique pieces from all over the world. He also has a large collection of inks.

Woodex Skyline

Woodex Pens, a Hyderabad pen maker, released a new model, the Woodex Skyline, this week. Heavily inspired by the iconic Eversharp Skyline, this new model was the result of Woodex’s collaboration with Hyderabad-based fountain pen enthusiast and my good friend Shreyas.

The Eversharp Skyline and the Woodex Skyline

I had the privilege of testing out an advanced prototype - which I have found to be a delight to write with - and thus be part of the process of bringing this pen to market.

This is an eyedropper pen, fitted with a vintage brass clip and a vintage Ricoh nib. The significantly bigger size - 162 mm capped - makes it a desk pen. Indeed, the long tapering tail is very reminiscent of old ebonite desk pens that used to live in a holder on the desk.

Direct any enquiries to Narasimha of Woodex on +91 98854 28100 - WhatsApp is a good way to reach him.

The Woodex Skyline. Pic by Shreyas Yedla.

PLP Pens on Pen Delight

Abhinesh of the Pen Delight channel has put out a video about PLP Pens, our very own Hyderabad-based pen makers. Do give it a watch if you are interested in artisanal pen makers and their work.

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That’s all from me this week.

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