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British Industrial History

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E. S. Perry

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Pen-makers, of Pen Works, Angel Road, Edmonton, London, N19. Telephone: 2488. Cables: "Superropen, London".

and later of Gosport

The company went on to become Osmiroid International.

James Perry was an educationalist in advance of his time. He lectured throughout the country on his method that the pupil's interest be aroused in order to pursue their studies with enthusiasm. In order to test his theories, he ran two private schools, one for each sex, in London, where it can be assumed that the making and mending of quill pens was burdensome and time consuming.

James invented a method of slitting a metal pen, on the sides of the nib, to give flexibility and ink flow. Metal pens of sorts had been in use since very early times, but were unpopular due to their rigidity. While James did not patent the perfected nib until 1830, in the reign of George IV, pens made under his directions were in use as early as 1824, while it is recorded in 1819 he was giving metallic nibs of his design as rewards of merit in his schools.

The typewriter was yet to come, and men spent their lives working for long hours, six days a week, copying documents. The custom was that Law Scribes were allowed one quill per day, and a day's writing wore out the longest quill, so it can be imagined how much time was spent in trimming and mending.

1824 James was joined by his brother Stephen in starting a business in pens; pens were made by hand, one at a time, for James Perry and Co, in Manchester, then Birmingham and London.

1828, Josiah Mason was manufacturing pens for Perry and Co. The excellence of their products swiftly raised them to the forefront of the new industry, exporting pens all over the world.

By 1876 when the firm became a Limited Company, Perry and Co Ltd, they equalled Esterbrook as being the largest manufacturers of pen nibs in the world.

James Perry died without issue; Stephen was succeeded by his sons John and Lewis. The former became Managing Director and then Chairman. In the course of time, Edmund, the second son of John, became Joint Managing Director under his father's chairmanship, a position he held until 1918. By this time the company had diversified extensively, making not only carbon steel pens, pencils, rubber bands, etc., but also bicycle accessories and light automobiles.

1918 On the death of his father, Edmund decided to leave Perry and Co and to manufacture pens in North London, which he did very successfully, working on the techniques of stainless steel pens which were perfected under his direction.

1921 E. S. Perry, the company he founded in 1918, was incorporated; it continued in North London until the outbreak of the Second World War, when pen making ceased "for the duration" and the company made armament components.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Superior Steel Pens, Good Luck Pens, Iridinoid pens (rustless steel) and every description of Writing and Drawing Pens in steel and other metals. Hollorite Metal Garden Labels. (Stand No. R. 129) [1]

1944 Edmund died and his widow and a daughter were appointed to the Board as his sons James and Michael were still on active service. On their return, both joined the Board, and Mrs. Perry retired.

Post-WWII. With the coming of peace, the demand for what were now called "dip nibs" was enormous, and Iridinoid and Osmiroid nibs were exported all over the world. However, it became obvious that the future of the company lay with making fountain pens.

Between 1948, when a pilot factory was built, and 1953, the factory was moved to Gosport to obtain much needed room for expansion and better working conditions. The Osmiroid 65 fountain pen was developed, chiefly for school children whose special needs for writing instruments had always been a matter of prime concern. A large range of nib units were made to suit right- and left-handed users and the several types of handwriting being taught, particular attention being paid to the Italic style. This pen was followed by the 75, Slimline, and others. Components for lifebelts, computers, and other such articles were also made.

1949 Francesca Perry was elected Chairman, and later Michael Perry was appointed Managing Director succeeded by Geoffrey Nockolds in 1965.

1966 Patent - Sealing of tubes of plastics material. Ink and like capsules.

During 1971, the company embarked upon production of a range of teaching aids, in the tradition of the company's founder 150 years before. These met with great success in the U.K., Australia, America, and the Far East.

1972 Patent - Timing Devices. A device for measuring off a fixed time interval and which may be used as a teaching aid.

By 1987 the Osmiroid brand had become so established and well known that the Company adopted that name as its own.

1989 acquisition of Osmiroid by Berol.

1990 The warehousing and dispatch of the Osmiroid products was relocated to King's Lynn along with the non-manufacturing administration functions.

1991 Announcement of the relocation of the remaining Osmiroid operations to King's Lynn and thus closure of the factory around Easter of that year.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1929 British Industries Fair Page 135