A Late Macniven & Cameron Waverley

Several years ago the market was suddenly flooded with black chased Macniven and Cameron eyedropper fillers. Boxed, and with an eyedropper that still worked, these pens were clearly New Old Stock. The story – or at least one of them – was, so far as I remember, that a crate of these pens was found when clearing out Macniven & Cameron’s old premises in Edinburgh. Whether or not that’s the true explanation for the sudden appearance of those pens, I suspect something similar is needed to explain these late lever-filler Waverleys with the stepped clip and leaf-shaped nib.

I’ve had several of these pens over the years, always showing little or no signs of use. Some, like this one, appear to have been filled with ink but I suspect that was done in very recent times, and these pens were unused until lately, so they may have formed another cache of NOS pens.

This midnight blue pen is a mixture of tradition and innovation. The pen closes with a clutch rather than screwing shut and the bright blue clip stud is shared with other very late M&C pens. On the other hand, the leaf-shaped nib harks back to the early days of the company and the stepped clip is in the Art Deco style, quite an anachronism by the post-war period.

All in all, it’s a beautiful pen and a pleasure to use. As is so often the case, the leaf-shaped nib flexes from fine to broad and a little more with minimal pressure. However, it is a pen of its time, and the castings of the clip and lever lack the hard-edged precision seen on M&C’s pens of the thirties. That said, if this is, as I suspect it may be, the last Waverley, it went out with its head held high. This is still a very fine pen. Macniven & Cameron seem to have avoided the ignominious fate of some of their rivals, turning out ever poorer and cheaper pens in a desperate attempt to hold on to a disappearing market.

I used to think that Macniven & Cameron were the only manufacturers who made the leaf-shaped nib, but not so. Perry had one in the twenties and there was the strangely-named Gaynor Swas-Tika, a very high quality pen whose spear-shaped nib had a bar over the top to reduce drying out of the ink. Lastly, I have a similar no-name one. There was a fashion for these nibs, it seems, but they all died away, leaving Macniven & Cameron to produce the last version, probably in this pen.

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