Did you know there was a Pen Museum in Birmingham? me neither, until recently that is.
The Pen Museum is in the Argent Centre, built in 1863 this former pen factory is a Grade II listed building & is dedicated to the history of the pen industry. This small independent museum is the only one of its kind in Britain & houses a collection of over 5,000 pen related items. There are machines, typewriters & a number of other objects akin to the writing & the steel pen trade for visitor’s to try their hand at.
In the 19th century Birmingham was at the forefront of the Pen Trade, pioneering manufacturing processes & producing craftsman. In these Victorian times factories employed thousands of people including women who made up the production staff, leaving the men to tool making & other specialist jobs. The women reportedly had to make 18,000 pens a day, they also had to abide by the rules, no talking, singing or wasting metal or their pay was docked. Pens stamped “Made in Birmingham” were sent to Europe & as far as America, the production of steel pens helped spread literacy around the world. The trade went into deep decline in the 1950’s around the time that Biro started making cheap pens.
The Pen Museum is open daily between 11am & 4pm Mon-Sat & from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday’s, there is disabled access & a gift shop. Entrance is free but maintained solely by its dedicated team of volunteers & donations are welcomed in order to keep the museum going.
Since opening its doors to the public in 2001 the Pen Museum are proud to have achieved Arts Council England Accreditation Status. Set in a prime location the museum has three themed rooms the Carl Chinn meeting room (named after its President) makes for an unusual venue, demonstrations are held in the Brian Jones Room & the Philip Poole Room has objects on display including the William Mitchell nib pyramid.
There are calligraphy classes, drop in sessions, special events like Heritage Open Days, exhibitions, workshops & videos. With so many things to do & see this a place of interest that visitors say is well worth a look.
You may also be interested in the Derwent Pencil Museum at Keswick which is another popular and unique museum right here in the UK