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British Industrial History

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Sampson Mordan

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Sampson Mordan (1790-1843) of S. Mordan and Co was a British silversmith and a co-inventor of the first patented mechanical pencil.

1790 Born

During his youth, he was an apprentice of the inventor and locksmith Joseph Bramah, who patented the first elastic ink reservoir for a fountain pen.

1810 Birth of daughter Elizabeth (1810-1880)

1814 April 7th. Birth of son Sampson Mordan (1814-1881)

1817 Birth of son Francis Mordan (1817-1868)

1820 Birth of son Augustus Mordan (1820-1902)

1822 Birth of son Charles Mordan (1822- )

In 1822, Mordan and his co-inventor John Isaac Hawkins filed the first patent in Great Britain for a metal pencil with an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite "lead" shaft forward during use, as an improvement on the less complex leadholders that merely clutched the pencil lead to hold it into a single position.

1824 Birth of daughter Emma (1824- )

Mordan bought out Hawkins and entered into a business partnership with Gabriel Riddle, an established stationer.

From 1823 to 1837, they manufactured and sold silver mechanical pencils with the marking "SMGR". After the partnership with Riddle dissolved, Mordan continued to sell his silver pencils as "S. Mordan and Co.", adding many other types of silver and gold items to his product line. Mordan often made his pencils in whimsical "figural" shapes that resembled animals, Egyptian mummies, or other objects; like his other silverware and goldware.

1841 Living at 4 Emmess Cottage, Islington: John Holmes (age c15); Samson Mordan (age c50), Machinist; Charles Mordan (age c19), Clerk; Elizabeth Mordan (age c50); Jane Barnett (age c60), Independent; and Price Miles (age c28).[1]

1843 April 9th. On his death, his sons Sampson (junior) and Augustus inherited the firm. "S. Mordan and Co." continued to make silverware and brass postal scales until 1941, when their factory was destroyed by bombs during the London Blitz

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Sources of Information

  1. 1841 Census