Here are a few thoughts about the brands I have covered so far. I may add more.
Jagger are great at marketing and presentation. They make no secret of buying ready made knots and show how they make the handles and complete the brushes in a video. A nice range of brushes that will appeal mainly to cream users. They are soft and floppy but have the soft and luxurious feel that you get with such brushes. They make some lovely handles.My pick would be their 21mm medium silvertip.
Some of the better Kent brushes are excellent. They have a wide range - many retail at less than £10.
My pick. The Kent BK8 silvertip. One of the very best brushes in my collection.
Vulfix probably make most of the brushes sold in the UK. The Vulfix range of brushes are great value across a wide range. And they are made in the Isle of man. They are open about their operations, receive visitors and talk to you openly if you telephone them. Many of the branded brushes in the London shops are made by Vulfix to a high standard. And they now make Simpson brushes to their traditional specification.
My Vulfix pick - the 2234 - deceptively soft yet firm enough for all uses. But surely the 404 badger/boar mix is the best value first brush for anyone new to wet shaving?
A legendary name in the world of shaving. An incredible range and choice of brushes. But very expensive. If their name and quality enables them to sell at these prices, good luck to them. The parameters I set for my collection demanded that I should have at least three Plissons. They look beautiful. But apart from the High Mountain White, their performance does not match up to the hype. Even the High Mountain White I have - a small 20mm knot - is far too expensive for what it is. My little 21mm Edwin Jagger silvertip is a close match at about a third of the price.
There is only one Plisson contender to be my pick - the High Mountain White. And it is very good indeed, if I forget the price tag.
I have two examples of this exclusive range of brushes available only in the USA from QEDUSA. The outstanding reputation of the brand is richly deserved.
shavemac (with a small s) have an outstanding reputation for customer service and fine quality brushes. Take a good look at their website and you will find a brush or be able to have one made to your specification. My 177 silvertip is a superb all round brush.
A huge range of great value brushes. The boars are very popular in the shaving community. My two examples didn't impress me. But it would be unfair to judge the rest on that basis. They cannot be so popular by accident.
Many rave about these great value brushes. The 1305 and 2000 boar brushes have many advocates. I admire their marketing. My best Semogue is the 2009 Limited Edition. An exceptional boar brush. But I have to confess - I'm a badger fan - still.
I mention them because i have just one of their brushes. It is beautifully made and presented - but £120 - no wonder it only got sold at half price. And even at that price it's not a lot of brush.
The famous R A Rooney & Sons Ltd that enjoyed an outstanding reputation no longer exists. Rooney is a brand name. Unlike Vulfix, who now own the Simpson brand, there is no one to communicate with about the Rooney brand except some on line retailers.
What about the brushes? I have several Rooney brushes. They are fine brushes. I thought that in the Heritage stubby 2, I had found my dream brush. After a few uses I found others I preferred.
My pick? The Rooney 3/1 silvertip. I think it outperforms the more expensive super grade and is a great little all round brush.
I have left my best to last. I have twelve Simpsons brushes. And I have seen and handled most of the extensive range. These are superb brushes, very well made, a delight to use and own and are made by a manufacturer willing to back up retailers with excellent customer service. And a manufacturer willing to communicate directly with users. The brand richly deserves its world wide reputation.
As to price. There are some expensive brushes in the range. But look at the prices of top of the range Rooneys and Plissons. The real value in Simpsons can be found in their smaller best badger ranges. Brushes which are more than big enough and superb performers like the Duke and Persian Jar best badger grades. Shop around and you will find great value here with a brush built to last.