You may remember that I said recently that I’d swapped the little Quail Stylo for a pen I’d long wanted. This is it, the Combridge, another of those Conway Stewart Associated pens, to use Jonathan Donahaye’s term. What it is, is a pen made by Conway Stewart for another company, on which Conway Stewart’s own name does not appear. It’s one of several forms of re-badging.
Combridge was a large stationery business in Birmingham. Their origins lie in the Victorian period, and they started out with the confidence and ambition of that period. They expanded into postcard and book publishing, at least a proportion of the latter being devotional material. As well as having their own branded pens made by Conway Stewart they sold Watermans and Swans. The company was wound up in 1994.
My Combridge Pen is a later one, I think. Certainly the chrome clip and lever point to that conclusion. There are earlier ones that have the Conway Stewart flange lever, and I’ve seen a very up-market version with two gold barrel bands and a cap band.
The nib in mine is a replacement. Some, at least, have a “Combridge” nib, I believe. Others may have a warranted nib. Mine has a warranted nib but it’s graced with rearing unicorn, which I vaguely believe comes from Unique’s nib works. I have no evidence and if you know better, tell me.
Some sellers describe Combridge pens as rare. Not so. Certainly they’re not as common as Conway Stewart 286s, but don’t be talked into paying a high price for their supposed rarity. They sold well and are moderately common.
I have a particular affection for all of Conway Stewart’s woodgrain pens.