Since the mid 1980's the Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes have been my go-to miniature painting brushes. Using them for the first time was a transformational experience for me as a painter and they've come along with me through all of the years since. Expensive as they are, they always felt like a necessary tool for me.
Ever since the embargo on the brushes I've started looking around at other options. I have to admit that it felt a bit like cheating. The problem was that in addition to the price of the brushes there was this added issue of not necessarily being able to get them when I needed them in the sizes that I wanted them. This was a problem for me.
At some point along this journey somebody had mentioned Rosemary and Company brushes as being a good, cheap alternative. At that point whenever anybody suggested brushes to try I would just try them so I bought a few of their Series 33 brushes. They were definitely cheap, though the shipping cost meant that you really needed to buy a few to keep the price per brush reasonable. I found them to be really good for the price but nowhere near as good as my beloved WN7 brushes. Still, their size 0 brush had a shape that I really liked for painting eyes so I bought a few more of those and continued using them.
Later, I discovered that they had another, better line of brushes. The Series 22. A month or so ago I bought several of these to try them out and since then I haven't really touched my remaining WN7s. The interesting thing to note here is that I don't really find the brushes significantly better. I think I like the points a little more (they are slightly more blunt at the tips where as the WN7s are incredibly sharp) and they don't have quite the same snap that the WN7s do. Otherwise, I find them to be similar in all other ways. The reason I keep using them is that because their cost is about half that of the WN7s I don't feel like I have to treat them like precious little things that I have to keep in perfect condition for as long as possible.
I should also point out to those of you in the US that shipping is still expensive so it does cut down a but on the savings, but at these prices you should just go ahead and stock up on all of the sizes you think you need. They ship quickly and you'll have your brushes in no time. For me that also eliminates that feeling of dread that a brush is starting to go and I need to start the ordering process as soon as possible or it could be a month before I see another.
So let me just say that I unreservedly recommend the Rosemary and Company Series 22 Brushes as a cost-effective replacement for the Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes. Even if you think that you don't have the need to switch I recommend just trying them out to see for yourself. I'm still using both at this point, but I don't know if I'll ever bother replacing the WN7s that I have right now.