T. K. Clay, Manufacturer Of London. Steel Nib Writing Pens: The Raven, The Flexor Victoria…

The British newspaper archives are just as wonderful as the American archives are and just as wonderful as the Canadian newspaper archives USED to be – that is past tense for Canada, as in no more.

T. K. Clay, Thomas Kent Clay born 1797 – 1862, manufactured steel nib pens throughout his adult life. This notes he made them for the Bank Of England and East India House. Son of Edward Desgranges Clay and his wife Mary Ann Ferris Clay, he married Carolina Camilla Brandi, daughter of musician and composer Gaetano Brandi, and his wife Rebecca Dando


Copy of pens clay 1839 print blog

Cheltenham Examiner – Wednesday 18 December 1839

The Birmingham Pen Museum was thrilled, about 15 years ago, to learn about another writing pen manufacturer, T. K. Clay and his pens. At that time they did not have a copy of any of his pens. We will see, I have written to them again.
Of course in finding that one’s ancestor manufactured anything, then you wonder – “Can I find one? Can I find a photo of one? Can I afford one?” Our original company, Heirs and Heirlooms, was conceived and lives and breathes to find heirloom replacements.
Searching for old pens turned into a Google fun time. The first shop selling vintage, who should also know pens, was a shop in Montreal, Canada. I have emailed them also and am excited to think we could learn more.
I think of Aunt Joyce who researched this man from stem to stern, and I was so excited about 15 years ago to learn from old newspapers about these new pieces of the life of Thomas Kent Clay.
There was no Capital One to borrow money from, there was no Shark Tank show for investment. And it was a man and his word and work and skill to make it or not. The pressures must have been unbearable in times of recession.
We cannot see everything in records, but we do see that TKC remained in the same Holborn community most of his life. From the 1830s through the 1850s, he advertised his wares in multiple newspapers of the United Kingdom – another example of what newspaper research does. (Come on Canada! Clay had siblings who moved to Canada and the story ends at those shores because the Canadian newspaper archives are difficult to access for the average person.)
The Pigot’s Directory for London lists our T. K. Clay in his Holborn address

Today’s London’s West End.

We often just collect names and take whatever leaf that Ancestry throws at us. But Google your people and learn about the neighborhoods where ancestors lived. (And always only search Google from a real Google browser page. They are not paying me, but they should :-)) Holborn on Wikipedia.org

London Street Views 1840

This has links to some fun 1840s London info

So many ancestors lived before photography, search for their signature.

robinson clay marriage 1840

The 1840 marriage of Thomas Robinson and Melanie Brandi Clay has the signatures of Thomas and Melanie and also of their witnesses, Melanie’s father, T. K. Clay, and her paternal aunt, Clarissa Desgranges Clay.

Now to find a Clay Pen – any Clay Pen or even just a photo!

We can visit the grave of Thomas Kent Clay

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