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.
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.
1849 Josiah Mason, pen manufacturer, of Berwood, Erdington, Aston
1851 Electro-plater and steel pen maker, employer, living in Erdington, with his wife Ann Mason 59
Mason also became a smelter of copper and of nickel.
1861 Copper smelter and steel pen manufacturer, of Erdington
1861 The partnership with Elkington was dissolved.
1870 He purchased the business of A. Sommerville and Co
1871 Steel pen manufacturer of Erdington
Until 1873, Mason was the sole maker of the Persian and the steel B pens sold under Perry's name.
1875 Sold his works to the trustees of Perry and Co Ltd.
1875 Founded Mason Science College, Birmingham
1881 Sir Josiah Mason, retired manufacturer, lived in Aston
1881 Died in Birmingham
Sources of Information
- Birmingham’s Industrial Heritage by Ray Shill. Published by Sutton Publishing 2002. ISBN 0-7509-2593-0
-  The Pen Room
- Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22
- UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941
- 1851 census
- 1861 census
- 1871 census
- 1881 census
- National Probate Calendar