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Macniven Cameron

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I wasn't sure which section to put this in. It's a bit of history, pen repair, historical query and maybe even a smidgin of review. Anyway, this is a Macniven Cameron. I don't know the date - couldn't guess. The tassie is not the same material as the rest of the cap - maybe BHR - and that pointed top to it suggests, perhaps, late thirties, but all in all it's quite like a forties or fifties Conway Stewart in appearance and feel.




I bought this one some time ago and struggled with it. I could see no join between the section and the threads where the cap fits, though I was fairly certain there was one there. All my usual section-removing strategies failed and I was almost convinced that Macniven Cameron had cast this bit of plastic whole, with a sac inside! The hair dryer having not proved man enough for the job I resorted to drastic means - very hot water. It worked, despite my fearful vision of melted feed and distorted barrel. There must have been some mighty pre-Loctite adhesive in there along with some high-precision engineering but at last it was separated. I'm always delighted when the sac has deteriorated to the condition of a well-dessicated Egyptian mummy and falls out of its own accord, but this one had taken on the consistency of discarded chewing gum and took much poking about to remove.


There was another, classier and older Macniven Cameron on ebay a couple of weeks ago. I went after it but was pipped at the post. My bidding had been desultory and half-hearted, probably because of the remarks of She Who Must Be Obeyed about the amount I've been spending on pens. I regret it. It was a peculiar beast with a nib that would have looked much more at home in a dipping pen. It is my understanding that Macniven Cameron were best known for their dip pen nibs and only made fountain pens for a time, withdrawing from the business after a few years. I've also heard that the company began in Balerno, outside Edinburgh, and later moved to Birmingham where all the raw materials and skilled workers were at hand.


Though they didn't succeed in fountain pen manufacture it wasn't for lack of good advertising. Their jingle


"They come as a Boon and a Blessing to men: The Pickwick, the Owl, and the Waverley Pen."


remains well known to this day though the company has been largely forgotten. Some fragments of its history can be found here: http://www.zianet.com/jmcdgwin/MacNCam.htm


Mine is a Pickwick pen from the Waverley series, and I suspect it was the entry-level model for school students and clerks. It has not worn well. The broad white-metal nib is scratchy and there is some swelling around the lever. It's back in use, though.


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  • ushat


  • Maja


  • rhr


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Hi Ushat,

Thanks for the informative post (glad you managed to separate the section from the barrel without cracking it, too!). I did some Googling and found an old (1879) ad for the company ("Penmakers to Her Majesty's Government") here.


I had never heard of this brand before, so thank you for sharing your info with us...and I am sure George (rhr) appreciates that you posted it here in the Pen History section, and not the Repair Q&A or another FPN section :lol: :ph34r:

Vancouver (B.C) Pen Club (our website)
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That's a lovely advert, Maja! Thanks very much. I particularly like the warning, "The Public are cautioned to beware of the parties offering spurious imitations." So Hero's Parker 51 lookalikes weren't the first forgeries then :D


Their nib titles seem literary. "Pickwick" is obviously Dickens, "Waverley" is from Scott's series of novel but I can't guess what "Owl" comes from.


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Thanks for rattling my chain, Maja. ;~)


I'm sorry for getting to this thread so late, but I only saw it just now after Johnny Appleseed cited it in another thread. It occurred to me that the Owl might be a reference to Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat", a famous nonsense poem first published in 1871. So Dickens and Lear and Scott are the three wordsmiths being referenced in that rhyme. Now, all we need is a White Rabbit, or a Cheshire Cat, or a Jabberwock, and we'd have a reference to Carroll as well. If the Owl is a "runcible" nib, then the Jabberwock is a really recalcitrant nib with "jaws that bite, [and] claws that catch!" ;~)


George Kovalenko.



Edited by rhr



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