… quirky little gem of a museum …
A quirky little gem of Birmingham’s industrial history, the Pen museum is a small museum in the Jewellery Quarter run by volunteers. It is about to re-launch after a Heritage Lottery grant, however when I visited as many exhibits as possible seemed to be crammed into one room. It gave the impression of a rather dusty but fascinating sweet shop.
Based in a former pen factory , the museum celebrates the pen trade during the 1800s, and the lives of the manufacturers and workers whose expertise placed Birmingham at the centre of this worldwide trade. A guide showed us how a steel “pen” (the nib) was made: stamped, cut and rolled using traditional machinery. During my visit I learnt that in the 19th Century, 75% of everything written across the world was with a ‘Birmingham’ pen. At one time, there were around 100 factories in the Jewellery Quarter area. The development of the steel pen reduced the cost of writing and enabled the spread of literacy throughout the world.
The museum also houses a range of objects associated with the pen trade and the history of writing, including inkwells, escritoires and period retail packaging from all over the world.
Well worth an hour of your time. For further information about the museum and news of their re-launch, visit their website here : penmuseum.org.uk