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Modern Onoto pen button getting rusted


flipper_gv
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Hi! One of my colleague has bought an Onoto pen a couple of months back and noticed quite a bit of rust/oxidation on his pen cap button. He emailed Onoto and they replied that it was normal for it to develop "patina" since it's sterling silver.

Problem is, it's not exactly the "usual" color of sterling silver patina.

Have you guys ever noticed something similar on a modern Onoto pen?
Thanks

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It strikes me, based on this and my own experience, that the recent take over of Onoto wasn't for the better. Their build quality hasn't been anything like as good as it once was.

 

Having strong associations with the horological and jewelry sphere, I might be able to produce an insight.

 

The sterling silver alloy most common on the world market these days is produced by a company called Cookson's Precious Metals. The quality of their platinum, gold and silver alloys is full of trace elements and fillers - and is nothing like the standard of precious metals used in the high end watch industry.

Take the composition of Sterling Silver, 92.5% is pure silver (otherwise it couldn't be hallmarked as such) with the rest being mostly Germanium and Copper, with traces of literally anything else. Pure precious metals are fragile, so require a foundry to mix them with other elements. Thus an alloy is born. It is important to understand that even 0.1% of an element will change the appearance and workability of the metal. The production of good quality alloys was done thousands of years ago and perfected by the time of Henry VIII, so it's not rocket science to achieve this level of accuracy. It's just that big companies don't want to because it's not in their financial interest.

 

Cookson's bought out pretty much all the old German, Swiss and British refineries and destroyed their kit. I know this because I have seen it in colleagues who were forced out of the Birmingham Jewellery quarter by landlords who've been offered astronomical sums they'd be mad to refuse. Much in the same way the technology for flexible gold nibs was lost, Cookson's is responsible for the destruction of the equipment of the great European jewellers. This is with the exception of some of the oldest watchmakers, who've specifically patented their purer precious metal alloys for use in horology (thus not treading on the toes of the mass production jewellers).

And guess what, Cookson's are Chinese owned, as now are Onoto. This doesn't mean they have any specific connection but, due to the low lustre and severe oxydisation (and subsequent skin irritation for those of us susceptible) of these metals, I would say Onoto has sourced raw materials from Cookson's. It is silver but not of the quality seen even 20 years ago.

 

It is possible to make a silver alloy which doesn't tarnish, as it is to make true white gold (not the nasty plated stuff). I know because it has been done before. Some of the best examples of white gold and platinum are from the 1920s. I have also had the privilege of being part of a team who have recreated alloys based on this knowledge.

Interestingly, Onoto turned down the opportunity to even view samples in 2019. Why? You might very well ask. It's because low quality is cheaper to produce. Unfortunately the public is used to the mass produced, low quality metals, and the majority of consumers these days just don't understand. This is the legacy of the Chinese monopolisation of almost every market on the planet. 

 

I must be clear that I have had no unfavorable personal experience with either company, but I have seen their products and I have thus presented facts about the industry in juxtaposition to my own observations. It seems the Communists are closet capitalists after all. Others must judge this themselves. 

W.S.P

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@WhiteStarPens Thank you very much for the information. That’s really too bad. I too learned over the years that 925 silver is not all equal. Definitely some pen makes have made pens with a kind of 925 silver or vermeil that later carries a kind of “patina”/rust that is inconsistent with what we know as patina. @flipper_gv I hope that your colleague can get this sorted out with Onoto. If all fails, I would use a metal de-corroder (can be bought from pen repair supply shops) to get rid of the rust, then buff it with a thin coat of Renaissance Wax to protect the surface (though I no longer use this for pen polishing since a long while ago). Good luck!

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26 minutes ago, como said:

@WhiteStarPens Thank you very much for the information. That’s really too bad. I too learned over the years that 925 silver is not all equal. Definitely some pen makes have made pens with a kind of 925 silver or vermeil that later carries a kind of “patina”/rust that is inconsistent with what we know as patina. @flipper_gv I hope that your colleague can get this sorted out with Onoto. If all fails, I would use a metal de-corroder (can be bought from pen repair supply shops) to get rid of the rust, then buff it with a thin coat of Renaissance Wax to protect the surface (though I no longer use this for pen polishing since a long while ago). Good luck!

I feel like Obi Wan now... I hope so too; that colleague is me.

 

Thank you. The knowledge is shelved for the time being, whilst my colleagues and I pursue other lines of business.

 

I would suggest a jewellers cloth to start with, as many abrasives will reduce the thickness of the gold plating on vermeil objects. Unfortunately it's mostly down to the copper content in modern silver. Have a look next time you see a silver pocket watch or candle stick in an antique shop. Hallmarks are a fascinating study. 

 

 

W.S.P

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@WhiteStarPens I think it would not be so easy to reach these indented areas of the finial of that Onoto pen with a jeweler’s cloth. Also I thought it was sterling silver, not vermeil. With this condition I would soak it a while in the de-corroder and brush it with a toothbrush afterwards  🙂 It really looks rusted, not patinated. I have a modern Onoto with a Winston Churchill portrait finial in sterling silver. It patinated over time but I can polish it easily with a jeweler’s cloth. I think this finial with the Onoto logo is somehow made with silver alloy of different composition. Ummmmm..

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1 hour ago, como said:

@WhiteStarPens I think it would not be so easy to reach these indented areas of the finial of that Onoto pen with a jeweler’s cloth. Also I thought it was sterling silver, not vermeil. With this condition I would soak it a while in the de-corroder and brush it with a toothbrush afterwards  🙂 It really looks rusted, not patinated. I have a modern Onoto with a Winston Churchill portrait finial in sterling silver. It patinated over time but I can polish it easily with a jeweler’s cloth. I think this finial with the Onoto logo is somehow made with silver alloy of different composition. Ummmmm..

Oh I see, I've misinterpreted the information. My concern was with damage to a gilded surface. In that case it's definitely worth a try. Corrosion this bad is unacceptable and I would seriously considering writing collectively to Onoto about your dissatisfaction. This really ought not to be happening to this extent under reasonable use, even if the metal is what one might consider substandard. 

 

Another consideration is that the finials are merely plated, but Onoto have spoken to the contrary.

 

Another point of consideration is the increase in the use of soaps and Hand gels. Hand sanitizer will cause excessive reactions too, even if it has dried on your hands prior to picking up the pen. I've noticed this with brass surfaces also.

 

Perhaps COVID is responsible for yet more consternation...

W.S.P

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@WhiteStarPens I've not had any problems with my Victory Pinstripe (it seems no longer available on their site). If I had a pen with the level of corrosion as shown in @flipper_gv's photo above, it would only be right to raise that issue with Onoto, especially when it's supposed to be sterling silver.

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Thanks to both of you for your help. Like I said, my colleague did raise the issue with Onoto and they deem it "normal" (since silver does patina) and therefore didn't offer any help. 

It doesn't look normal at all to both of us. The solution of using the de-corroder and putting a thin layer of wax is a good idea, but I didn't expect he'd have to do it on such an expensive pen.

I have a Montegrappa with a lot of sterling silver and I never had something like that happen to it. It tarnishes for sure, but doesn't straight out rust.  

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32 minutes ago, flipper_gv said:

Thanks to both of you for your help. Like I said, my colleague did raise the issue with Onoto and they deem it "normal" (since silver does patina) and therefore didn't offer any help. 

It doesn't look normal at all to both of us. The solution of using the de-corroder and putting a thin layer of wax is a good idea, but I didn't expect he'd have to do it on such an expensive pen.

I have a Montegrappa with a lot of sterling silver and I never had something like that happen to it. It tarnishes for sure, but doesn't straight out rust.  

I believe the Italians are more fortunate in their part of the industry due to a continuance of their superlative chain making heritage. The really poor quality silver has come into the market only in the last 4 years or so, originating in the UK sadly.

 

I would persist with Onoto and push for a resolution. Cite that silver pens over 100 years old merely go black with tarnish, not red with rust.

W.S.P

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17 minutes ago, WhiteStarPens said:

...

I would persist with Onoto and push for a resolution. Cite that silver pens over 100 years old merely go black with tarnish, not red with rust.

@WhiteStarPens @flipper_gv Totally. If one charges a resin c/c almost the price of Montblanc LeGrand, and cannot even acknowledge the problem (much less solving it), then one does not understand what it means to be in the luxury pen business. I hope that Onoto will do the right thing in the end.

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Wow, I would be upset if that were my pen.  The information here from @WhiteStarPens was fascinating. I hope Onoto makes it right with you.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/3/2022 at 10:48 AM, flipper_gv said:

Thanks to both of you for your help. Like I said, my colleague did raise the issue with Onoto and they deem it "normal" (since silver does patina) and therefore didn't offer any help. 

  

 

For such was "SNAFU" coined:  "situation normal all f___ed up."

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On 2/2/2022 at 8:24 PM, WhiteStarPens said:

It strikes me, based on this and my own experience, that the recent take over of Onoto wasn't for the better. Their build quality hasn't been anything like as good as it once was.

 

Having strong associations with the horological and jewelry sphere, I might be able to produce an insight.

 

The sterling silver alloy most common on the world market these days is produced by a company called Cookson's Precious Metals. The quality of their platinum, gold and silver alloys is full of trace elements and fillers - and is nothing like the standard of precious metals used in the high end watch industry.

Take the composition of Sterling Silver, 92.5% is pure silver (otherwise it couldn't be hallmarked as such) with the rest being mostly Germanium and Copper, with traces of literally anything else. Pure precious metals are fragile, so require a foundry to mix them with other elements. Thus an alloy is born. It is important to understand that even 0.1% of an element will change the appearance and workability of the metal. The production of good quality alloys was done thousands of years ago and perfected by the time of Henry VIII, so it's not rocket science to achieve this level of accuracy. It's just that big companies don't want to because it's not in their financial interest.

 

Cookson's bought out pretty much all the old German, Swiss and British refineries and destroyed their kit. I know this because I have seen it in colleagues who were forced out of the Birmingham Jewellery quarter by landlords who've been offered astronomical sums they'd be mad to refuse. Much in the same way the technology for flexible gold nibs was lost, Cookson's is responsible for the destruction of the equipment of the great European jewellers. This is with the exception of some of the oldest watchmakers, who've specifically patented their purer precious metal alloys for use in horology (thus not treading on the toes of the mass production jewellers).

And guess what, Cookson's are Chinese owned, as now are Onoto. This doesn't mean they have any specific connection but, due to the low lustre and severe oxydisation (and subsequent skin irritation for those of us susceptible) of these metals, I would say Onoto has sourced raw materials from Cookson's. It is silver but not of the quality seen even 20 years ago.

 

It is possible to make a silver alloy which doesn't tarnish, as it is to make true white gold (not the nasty plated stuff). I know because it has been done before. Some of the best examples of white gold and platinum are from the 1920s. I have also had the privilege of being part of a team who have recreated alloys based on this knowledge.

Interestingly, Onoto turned down the opportunity to even view samples in 2019. Why? You might very well ask. It's because low quality is cheaper to produce. Unfortunately the public is used to the mass produced, low quality metals, and the majority of consumers these days just don't understand. This is the legacy of the Chinese monopolisation of almost every market on the planet. 

 

I must be clear that I have had no unfavorable personal experience with either company, but I have seen their products and I have thus presented facts about the industry in juxtaposition to my own observations. It seems the Communists are closet capitalists after all. Others must judge this themselves. 

I understood that Cookson's was part of Heimerle + Meule GmbH. Perhaps I got that wrong?

Peter

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2 hours ago, Matlock said:

I understood that Cookson's was part of Heimerle + Meule GmbH. Perhaps I got that wrong?

And that's the problem, a vast number of shareholders (not all of them private individuals by any means) and a large network of controlling partners and parent companies.

Take PG (Procter and Gamble) they own most of the big food and household brands in Europe; companies we deem as big individual corporations, not so.

 

The west should take a leaf out if Japan's book and encourage and patronise the skills of small, flexible businesses. Otherwise these skills will be lost and we'll be stuck with low product quality due to lack of competition. If you don't believe me on the last point, just look at the nationalisation of British Railways.

 

The world is being homogenised and it seems the fountain pen market is demonstrating this. I think Onoto ought to investigate their stock and challenge their suppliers. Whether Onoto realises or even understands the significance of this fact will be revealed by the way they deal with this issue, should it be taken further by the customer (s). Their initial response is quite telling in itself.

 

 

W.S.P

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3 hours ago, WhiteStarPens said:

If you don't believe me on the last point, just look at the nationalisation of British Railways.

 

I am not quite sure how that relates. I worked for BR for 40 years and then for two of the new Franchises, What a disaster that is and mostly owned by French, German, Japanese, Italian and Hong Kong rail operators. Some people have been mislead into believing that the Railways have been renationalised when that is far from the case. 

However returning to your original point, you seemed to be stating that Cookson's was Chinese owned when, in fact, it is German owned. 

Peter

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I'm going to have to jump in here to correct some very erroneous and borderline libellous statements.

 

Cookson Gold has for some years been part of the Heimerle & Meule Group 

 

From their own site:

 

"Heimerle + Meule Group (Heimerle + Meule, Cooksongold, Cookson-CLAL, SEMPSA JP, Drijfhout, Koutadly) is one of Europe's largest refiners and processors of precious metals. The Heimerle + Meule Group employs over 750 members of staff at locations in seven countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Spain. The precious metals group can respond even faster to the needs of its customers and to changing market trends. As a customer, you benefit from an expanded range of products and services throughout Europe, backed by comprehensive local service. Heimerle + Meule Group provides high quality materials and semi-finished products for jewellery, wedding rings, dentistry, and the electrical and electronics industries."

 

NOT Chinese. 

 

Their Sterling Silver (which is fully recycled) is made from 92.5% silver and 9.5% copper. Nothing else. 

 

They do also offer a tarnish resistant silver alloy - Argentium - which is 93.5% silver and includes Germanium, which has some very attractive properties for some applications.

 

I work with this stuff every day, and have no qualms at all about the quality of their products - I wish the same could be said for all bullion sellers.

 

I fully agree that some very poor silver has entered the UK market in recent years, but it hasn't come from Cookson. 

 

Coming to the pen in question, I've looked as closely as I can (from pictures) and I don't think this is any form of 'rust' or 'corrosion', and it certainly isn't any sort of patina. Even a base metal would not do this, especially in a short space of time.

 

Looking at Onoto's own pictures, it would appear that the cipher area may be filled with some sort of resin or enamel, and if so, this could what has degraded, whether through some sort of environmental compromise, material failure or something else. If it wasn't filled at the workshop, but was left in relief, it's quite possible that some other substance has got stuck in there. 

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37 minutes ago, mizgeorge said:

I'm going to have to jump in here to correct some very erroneous and borderline libellous statements.

 

Cookson Gold has for some years been part of the Heimerle & Meule Group 

 

From their own site:

 

"Heimerle + Meule Group (Heimerle + Meule, Cooksongold, Cookson-CLAL, SEMPSA JP, Drijfhout, Koutadly) is one of Europe's largest refiners and processors of precious metals. The Heimerle + Meule Group employs over 750 members of staff at locations in seven countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Spain. The precious metals group can respond even faster to the needs of its customers and to changing market trends. As a customer, you benefit from an expanded range of products and services throughout Europe, backed by comprehensive local service. Heimerle + Meule Group provides high quality materials and semi-finished products for jewellery, wedding rings, dentistry, and the electrical and electronics industries."

 

NOT Chinese. 

 

Their Sterling Silver (which is fully recycled) is made from 92.5% silver and 9.5% copper. Nothing else. 

 

They do also offer a tarnish resistant silver alloy - Argentium - which is 93.5% silver and includes Germanium, which has some very attractive properties for some applications.

 

I work with this stuff every day, and have no qualms at all about the quality of their products - I wish the same could be said for all bullion sellers.

 

I fully agree that some very poor silver has entered the UK market in recent years, but it hasn't come from Cookson. 

 

Coming to the pen in question, I've looked as closely as I can (from pictures) and I don't think this is any form of 'rust' or 'corrosion', and it certainly isn't any sort of patina. Even a base metal would not do this, especially in a short space of time.

 

Looking at Onoto's own pictures, it would appear that the cipher area may be filled with some sort of resin or enamel, and if so, this could what has degraded, whether through some sort of environmental compromise, material failure or something else. If it wasn't filled at the workshop, but was left in relief, it's quite possible that some other substance has got stuck in there. 

If you would like me to remove my prior statements I'll be happy to do so, but only in the interest of avoiding further controversy. I wrote them in good faith, based on my years of experience and research, and were made in the interest of my fellow enthusiasts.

Clearly I have stirred up great feeling with such comments and the last thing I want is to harm the reputation of the Network.

 

W.S.P

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40 minutes ago, mizgeorge said:

Looking at Onoto's own pictures, it would appear that the cipher area may be filled with some sort of resin or enamel, and if so, this could what has degraded, whether through some sort of environmental compromise, material failure or something else. If it wasn't filled at the workshop, but was left in relief, it's quite possible that some other substance has got stuck in there. 

 

Looking at the OPs photos, it is interesting that the colors in the cipher area match the material of the pen.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, WhiteStarPens said:

If you would like me to remove my prior statements I'll be happy to do so, but only in the interest of avoiding further controversy. I wrote them in good faith, based on my years of experience and research, and were made in the interest of my fellow enthusiasts.

Clearly I have stirred up great feeling with such comments and the last thing I want is to harm the reputation of the Network.

 

 

After a review, I don't see your statements as libelous. 

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, amberleadavis said:

 

Looking at the OPs photos, it is interesting that the colors in the cipher area match the material of the pen.

Very good call - I wonder if what we're actually seeing is some extremely sloppy finishing on the cap end before an outline cipher has been glued into place and some rather visible bits of epoxy or similar showing as well?

 

@WhiteStarPens I'm sure you stand by your opinions, some of which may well be based on tangential experiences, but you might at least want to edit the factually incorrect points regarding ownership.

 

 

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