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British Industrial History

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Josiah Mason

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Josiah Mason, pen manufacturer and philanthropist

1795 born in Kidderminster, son of Josiah Mason, a carpet-weaver

1816 He moved to Birmingham when he was 21 and stayed there for the rest of his life. He became manager of the works of his uncle, Richard Griffiths, making imitation gold jewellery.

1817 Married his cousin, Anne Griffiths, daughter of Richard.

1824 Became manager of Samuel Harrison's works making split rings

1825 Purchased the business for £500. Developed a plan for making split rings by machine.

1829 Tried making pens; with this experience he built up a pen-nib empire which was once described as the largest in the world. He made steel barrel pens, slip pens and was the first person to make cedar pen holders.

1829 First met James Perry. Mason improved the Perry pen, to such an effect that James Perry and Co were his only customers for many years.

One part of the process of pen-making was kept secret for a long time, namely the method of slitting pens by means of the press. Mason himself made the dies and punches required for the slitting.

Mason became the largest pen-maker in the world, and employed by far the largest number in the trade.

1842 Invested in the electro-plating business of George Richards Elkington, whose firm was renamed Elkington, Mason and Co

1849 Josiah Mason, pen manufacturer, of Berwood, Erdington, Aston[1]

1851 Electro-plater and steel pen maker, employer, living in Erdington, with his wife Ann Mason 59[2]

Mason also became a smelter of copper and of nickel.

1861 Copper smelter and steel pen manufacturer, of Erdington[3]

1861 The partnership with Elkington was dissolved

1871 Steel pen manufacturer of Erdington[4]

1872 Knighted

Until 1873, Mason was the sole maker of the Persian and the steel B pens sold under Perry's name.

Mason's name appeared on many pens which he made for A. Sommerville and Co and James Perry and Co.

1870 He purchased the business of A. Sommerville and Co

1875 Sold his works to the trustees of Perry and Co Ltd.

1876 Josiah Mason's firm came together with Wiley and Son and James Perry and Co under the title of Perry and Co

1881 Sir Josiah Mason, retired manufacturer, lived in Aston[5]

1881 Died in Birmingham[6]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Birmingham’s Industrial Heritage by Ray Shill. Published by Sutton Publishing 2002. ISBN 0-7509-2593-0
  • [1] The Pen Room
  • Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22
  1. UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941
  2. 1851 census
  3. 1861 census
  4. 1871 census
  5. 1881 census
  6. National Probate Calendar