Macniven & Cameron are well known as the leading Scottish manufacturers of dip pen nibs and fountain pens. Actually there is a quibble with both these statements. Most of the nibs issued under their name were made in Birmingham and many were made for them by other nib manufacturing companies. Did they ever have a fountain pen making plant or were all their fountain pens made on their behalf by other companies?
Macniven & Cameron sold all kinds of office supplies, pens being only one part, though the basis of their wealth was steel nibs for dip pens. We are most familiar with the Waverley though they produced several other popular nibs as this advertisement shows. Their main office was in Edinburgh with – at one time – some manufacturing in Currie.
They were the most literate of pen companies. The background of the picture shows the Scott Monument and an image of Sir Walter Scott is embossed onto the clips of some of their fountain pens. The name of the Waverley nib refers to the district of Edinburgh where their offices were and also to Scott’s most famous novel. There was a reference to Dickens too, as you can see, and I believe that is Mr Pickwick in the foreground.
Though Macniven & Cameron produced many other stationery lines and even ventured into publishing for a time, the decline in the use of the dip pen was reflected by an equal diminution in their fortunes. Production of cheap fountain pens – probably made on their behalf by Burnham – sustained the company for a time. They made some very high quality pens bearing their famous leaf-shaped nib but I see no evidence that those were big sellers.
They gradually dwindled away until they were subsumed within a bigger stationery company. I read years ago that there was still a sprung paper clip that bore their name but I expect that’s gone now too. Macniven & Cameron made wonderful dip pen nibs that made writing easier than some of the paper slashers that were made by some of their competitors. Every now and then a truly outstanding pen bearing their name will appear for sale. Those pens alone provide a wonderful legacy and boxes of their dip nibs are still commonly available in eBay.