Several British pen brands were made by (or for) large stationery companies. Despite being a secondary enterprise for these manufacturers, quality was generally as high, or higher than that of the dedicated pen makers. John Dickinson was and remains one of the largest paper manufacturers, establishing paper mills at Croxley in 1830. They were long famed for their Croxley Script paper, which is no longer made, and the excellent Basildon Bond and economy Lion Brand which are still available. Gradually, over decades, they expanded into other related areas, going into fountain pen sales in the late nineteen thirties. Their pens are high quality writing instruments. They sold well and are common today, though they are somewhat underrated by buyers.
There is some doubt about how Croxley pens were produced. I have read that Dickinson established their own pen factory at Croxley, but this is disputed by others who say that the pens were made by De La Rue or Conway Stewart. The pens that De La Rue made for other companies tend to look like their own product range and usually the quality is not especially high. Looking at Croxley pens, one would have to say that there is no reason to doubt that they could have been made by Conway Stewart, but there’s no compelling evidence that they were, either. All I can say is that Croxleys are very well made, with parts that fit together securely and no distortion of the plastic. The plating of the metal parts is very good, better than that usually seen on either Conway Stewarts or non-Onoto De La Rues. The well-stamped nibs are excellent, often medium but not infrequently broad and usually with some flexibility.
Croxleys were only made for a short period and the product range is small. The earliest one I have seen is very much an example of the Standard British Pen (of which more on another occasion), straight-sided with a large BHR clip-screw, a ball-ended clip and a straight lever, looking very much like a Summit or a Mentmore Autoflow. The Croxley most usually seen is quite similar, but it has a handsome arrow clip which is echoed by an arrow-shaped lever. A balance-shaped pen with a smoothly curved clip and an arrow lever was also made. The pens come in black and the usual range of marbled patterns. There is also a plain-but-handsome desk-set which turns up once in a blue moon.
Lack of variety probably limits their appeal to collectors but they are durable and handsome and, above all, they are writers’ pens, up there with Swan, Waterman and Onoto in terms of writing pleasure.