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Onoto Magna Writer LE Review


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29 replies to this topic

#1 rogerb

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 20:48

INTRODUCTION: I first became aware of modern Onoto pens about a year ago when I was considering the purchase of a Centenary stirling silver model. I decided to wait until I could handle one, thinking it might be too heavy for me.

At the London Writing Equipment Show in October '09 I handled the Centenary, which is too heavy for me, but also saw and liked the Magna Writer in acrylic with gold trim.
At the South-Western Show in Bristol, last month, on my 70th birthday, I had a closer look at the Magna and liked its looks and the writing experience in all 3 nib sizes offered as standard, Eventually I chose the Broad-nibbed pen, number 100, in Ultramarine.
This is how I feel about it after 2 weeks' use:

1. Appearance & Design (10/10) – It is a very simple, conservative design, in dark blue, with a gold clip, and two rings of slightly different widths, on the cap, and gold ends to the cap and barrel.The cap bears the Magna Logo...a simple M and W..and the barrel end has the LE number...in my case 100/100. (100 of each were made in Blue and Black). The clip is engraved with the Onoto logo ...just the letters "N,O,T,O" enclosed in a larger "O".
The barrel bears a discreet ....but not unduly modest!... engraving "ONOTO THE PEN" with below it "MADE IN ENGLAND".
The pen is basically cylindrical with slight tapers at the ends.
The section is of the same material as the rest of the pen, and the nib a Size 7 two-tone 18Ct gold.
The cap unscrews in about 2 1/4 turns, and there is a standard C/C filling system.
The acrylic has a shine to it which seems appropriate to the general 'sobriety' of the design, i.e, not too 'glass-shiny'.
It just looks 'classy'.
(How could it be even better? I cannot think, except that I'd like to see it offered in some more, equally appropriate, colours, such as Dark Red and Green. (I think that may be on the cards!)


2. Construction & Quality (9.5/10) – Fit and finish are virtually perfect....under high magnification the 'gold' end-trims appear to have been lacquered and shows tiny marks, but these are not visible in normal conditions.
The weight seems 'about right' for an all-acrylic; it feels quite 'substantial' and capable of coping-with a few knocks (this has NOT been tested, either intentionally or accidentally, so far!)

3. Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – The weight is 27 gm, Lengths: capped 141mm, uncapped 123mmand posted 165mm, barrel diameter is about 13mm.
This is slightly larger than my Duofold Centennial Pinstripe, and Conway Stewart Duro pens, so it is on the large side, but completely comfortable for my medium-sized male hands!
The cap posts securely and feels quite well-balanced (to one who usually writes unposted).
The unposted pen appears, to me, a few mm short of a perfect length, but I understand that the makers have found that a longer barrel rather upsets the posted balance, and makes the pen a bit long for shirt-pocket carry. It is not a 'fault' for me, anyway ...just how it looks....it is very individual and subjective.

4. Nib & Performance (9/10) – The 18 Ct 2-tone Broad nib fitted to this pen is just about as buttery-smooth as I could imagine. It is, I believe my own #1 in smoothness. It is also very 'wet' about 8/10 on the commonly-used scale.
This gives wonderful performance on high-quality, laid papers which have a bit of 'texture' and are fairly absorbent.
On very smooth, shiny papers, I find it slightly too smooth and 'slippery' and I lose a little control. On such papers, I suspect that a finer point, or a slightly italicised nib, would work acceptably.
I am still experimenting with inks, and have found that Diamine Emerald is a bit drier than the Teal I had been using, and gives better all-round control.
It is an excellent nib and is available with 'special' nib-grinds, to order...they are done by a very reliable and skilled nib-worker, of my acquaintance!
Normally, it is available in Fine, Medium and Broad.... these sizes give fairly typical 'western' line-widths.
The nib unit unscrews easily from the section, making nib-swaps simple.
5. Filling System & Maintenance (unrated) - A standard c/c system, what more is there to say?

6. Value (9/10) – I bought the pen from the Onoto stand at the Bristol Show.... I got a 'Show/Birthday discount', some cartridges of various colours, and a free bottle of Diamine Sapphire(re-boxed and labelled as Onoto ink). It is up to each buyer to negotiate his/her own price, of course, but I was happy with what I paid.


7. Conclusion (46.5 / 50, whatever that means!) - As you'll have concluded, I like this pen a lot, the way it looks and how it writes!

I think that, at the MSRP of £300 it is in-line with its competitors, few of which, IMO, match its fit, finish, 'elegant conservatism' of design, and this lovely nib, plus the very friendly, personal service I have received from the folks at Onoto. :)
It is the 'whole package' which appeals to me, and tempts me to buy another with a finer nib!
Again this is very subjective...for most people US$460 (MSRP) is a lot to pay for an acrylic pen, however nice!
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Edited by rogerb, 22 February 2010 - 02:36.

If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

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#2 rokurinpapa

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 15:10

Congratulations! 100/100! You are very lucky.Very nice review and very nice pen.
I bought ONOTO Centenary. In fact it is too heavy. But I love the nib of the pen that
is No7, the same as your pen.

rokurinpapa

#3 Ed Ronax

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 12:42

Excellent review, the first or last numbers are always best on an LE if you can get them.
And how can this be, because he is the Kwisatz Haderach.


#4 rogerb

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 21:58

Different numbers have special significance to different people (e.g. birthdays)....I doubt that any LE's number makes much difference to its general re-sale value (but maybe you are right about the first and the last).
But I never bought a pen (or anything I can think of!) with much thought for its re-sale value.
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

#5 gary

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 02:03

A very well done review.
I have to confess that the lack of the barley finish on the Magna is a bit disconcerting. The clip looks spot on, and the medallions are very nice.
Any comment on the slipperiness of the barrel?
gary

ps-belated Happy Birthday!

#6 Ondina

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 09:27

Excellent review, rogerb, nice classic design, and lovely nib.

#7 Andy N

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 11:44

Hi Roger
I think the Pen looks great enough to check out the web site, however i looked at the 261 Century edition (same price) and noticed the nib is gold plated Stanless steel. At just under £300.00 I would be a bit disapointed that the nib is not gold.

#8 rogerb

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 23:15

Hi Roger
I think the Pen looks great enough to check out the web site, however I looked at the 261 Century edition (same price) and noticed the nib is gold plated Stainless steel. At just under £300.00 I would be a bit disappointed that the nib is not gold.


What it says is "....With silky smooth writing from the large two-tone gold plated Onoto size 7 nib" .....I don't see any mention of stainless steel ???
It's "gold, plated", not "gold-plated"!

I am not a spokesman for Onoto but I am 99.9% sure all Onoto nibs are 18ct gold ....in this case partially plated (with rhodium?) to get the "two-tone" effect.

If you are still in doubt, check with the company.
The Century and Magna are VERY similar pens, in spec and price.....it's hardly likely they's slip-in a steel nib !
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

#9 david@onoto.com

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 15:30

Thanks for all your comments. I think it's worth clarifying the debate re steel/gold nibs so there's no confusion!

The Magna Writer does have an 18 carat gold nib and was launched in 2007. The nib is engraved with “18Ct” on the nib to clearly identify this.

The Magna 261 has a new Onoto two-toned gold plated stainless steel nib as standard and was launched at the end of 2009. But it can also be bought with an 18ct gold nib for £339.50. These options are detailed in our brochure for the Magna 261.

The Magna Writer sold at just under £300 in the UK, so when we were planning the new Magna 261 we wanted it to be approximately in the same price band, but the Magna 261 costs a lot more to produce because:
1. The engraved pattern on cap and barrel is a brand new process, and cost a lot to develop, and adds significantly to the cost of each pen
2. Since we launched the Magna Writer in 2007 the price of gold has almost doubled, so the cost of the gold nibs has increased very significantly.

So we decided to offer 2 versions of the Magna 261 – one with the original Onoto 18ct gold nib at £339.50, and one with a brand new Onoto gold-and-rhodium-plated two-tone stainless steel nib (designed to our specification) at £299.50.

I must say that everyone that has tried these new nibs in our Magna 261 has been very complimentary. Why not give it a try? I think you’ll be surprised with the quality feel, and smoothness.

So I hope this clears things up. In fact there are 2 options for the Magna 261 – one with an 18ct gold nib at £339.50, and one with a brand new two-tone gold-plated stainless steel nib at £299.50.

Please note... these prices include European VAT (sales tax) of 17.5%. For pens delivered outside the EU, no tax is payable so the prices in USA, Japan, Australia etc for the Magna 261 are: with 18ct gold nib - £288.94; with new two-tone gold-plated stainless steel nib - £254.89. And when you convert these prices to US$ at the ever-weakening pound/dollar rate, anyone paying in dollars picks up an extra bonus – at today’s exchange rate it means you’ll pay around $390. A snip!

And talking of bonuses, I promised some time ago that anyone from FPN who wanted to order the 261 could get a 15% discount. I will organise this in the next hour or so, and will post the special discount code you need right here. Watch this space!

David Cooper

#10 rogerb

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 15:44

I beg your collective pardons....I mis-read the sales blurb and was not aware that Onoto supplied steel nibs :embarrassed_smile:
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

#11 rogerb

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 15:47

A very well done review.
I have to confess that the lack of the barley finish on the Magna is a bit disconcerting. The clip looks spot on, and the medallions are very nice.
Any comment on the slipperiness of the barrel?
gary

ps-belated Happy Birthday!

Thanks, Gary....I don't have any difficulty with the smooth barrel.
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

#12 david@onoto.com

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 17:05

As promised - if any FPN members would like to buy either the Magna Writer or Magna 261, you can get a 15% discount when you order online. Go to www.onoto.com and when you get to the Shopping Cart, enter 'FPN1209' in the Coupon Code box.

Incidentally, the Magna Writer in ultramarine blue is now sold out, and there are only a few of the black edition left, so it's first-come, first-served.

David Cooper

#13 rogerb

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 16:00

I have just tried the nice duo-tone 18Ct Fine nib in this pen and can report that it is equally smooth and wet ....about the same width, I'd say as a Bexley Fine.

I am happy with both the F and the B(which is the epitome of smooth wetness!).
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

#14 encremental

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 19:15

I had a go with an Onoto while trying my hand at the WES handwriting competition at the London show in October last year. It was the pen with which you were encouraged to try your best, and although my scrawl sadly didn't cut the mustard, I was struck by what a sumptuous pen it was - very substantial and beautifully smooth; a modern Duofold comes closest to the nib experience, but then it had a quality all its own, and the memory of it has lingered and burrowed its way into that sowly smouldering penlust part of the brain that will not be denied. At some point, I WILL HAVE THIS PEN. I don't think photographs really do it justice. It's shinier, jucier and whateverier...

Nevertheless, seriously, you should drop the steel nib. Learning that the steel nibbed version is £299.50 and the gold £339, the reaction of normal people is not - 'oh goody, there's £40 saved', but more 'J****, M***, J***** And The Donkey!!!!! - £300 FOR A STEEL ******* NIB????!!??' There's no way round this one, I'm afraid. Fancy barrel? Make the price reflect this - we can cope. No one in the history of pendom has ever charged £300 for a pen with a steel nib, and there's no way I can see an attempt by Onoto to do so will end well. Just friendly advice.....

John

A great review, Roger BTW - it reminded my how nice the pen was to use and how I have to possess it.

Edited by encremental, 08 March 2010 - 19:18.


#15 encremental

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 19:17

I had a go with an Onoto while trying my hand at the WES handwriting competition at the London show in October last year. It was the pen with which you were encouraged to try your best, and although my scrawl sadly didn't cut the mustard, I was struck by what a sumptuous pen it was - very substantial and beautifully smooth; a modern Duofold comes closest to the nib experience, but then it had a quality all its own, and the memory of it has lingered and burrowed its way into that sowly smouldering penlust part of the brain that will not be denied. At some point, I WILL HAVE THIS PEN. I don't think photographs really do it justice. It's shinier, jucier and whateverier...

Nevertheless, seriously, you should drop the steel nib. Learning that the steel nibbed version is £299.50 and the gold £339, the reaction of normal people is not - 'oh goody, there's £40 saved', but more 'J****, M***, J***** And The Donkey!!!!! - £300 FOR A STEEL ******* NIB????!!??' There's no way round this one, I'm afraid. Fancy barrel? Make the price reflect this - we can cope. No one in the history of pendom has ever charged £300 for a pen with a steel nib, and there's no way I can see an attempt by Onoto to do so will end well. Just friendly advice.....

John


A great review, Roger BTW - it reminded my how nice the pen was to use and how I have to possess it.

#16 encremental

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 19:20

(gin-induced double triple post) Bah!

Edited by encremental, 08 March 2010 - 19:21.


#17 pen2paper

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:20

Well written review of lovely pens Roger..
Might you have also compared earlier vintage Onoto/de La Rue? Have heard these were very fine pens in their day..

emoticon-animal-007.gif~Hi! fountain pen enthusiast here~


#18 rogerb

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 00:16

Well written review of lovely pens Roger..
Might you have also compared earlier vintage Onoto/de La Rue? Have heard these were very fine pens in their day..


Sorry, p2p, I missed this comment.... I don't have access to any vintage Onoto pens with which to compare this one.

I have had a chance to try this pen with a Fine nib.
It is a nice smooth Fine, but, IMO, not as outstanding as the Broad.
(My best Fine nib is probably the Waterman Man 100)
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you. Don Marquis US humorist (1878 - 1937)

#19 Minor_Op

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 19:54

Not so fast John!
Whilst the debate of steel vs gold will, I am sure go on for ever, for some of us a steel nib has some distinct advantages.
For someone that does a lot of writing (I mean a lot...filling my pen sometimes twice in a day) the steel nib offers a cheap replacement.
I have also found that the iridium tip on the end of a nib seems to be the important thing and sometimes steel nibs are more flexible than gold (take Pelikan steel M200 nibs vs their gold for example)

How a nib writes is the most important thing for me and if I can get a pen like an ONOTO cheaper that's great. Pity we cant do a blind test and see if we can tell the difference!!


Jimmy

#20 encremental

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 20:41

Jimmy - my point was not against steel nibs per se (steel nibbed Pelikans are among my favourites!), but that Onoto are charging £300 for a steel nib. That's pushing it, IMO. A world record for a steel nib, I would imagine

John






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