About Us

Vision, Values, Aims and Principles

‘Our museum prides itself on its Values as we seek to fulfil our Vision and Aims to provide a museum of which the citizens of Birmingham can be proud. In doing so, ensuring that both they and visitors to our city remember Birmingham’s leading role in the steel pen trade and its role in spreading literacy everywhere.’


To be a unique and inspiring centre for the history of steel pen trade in Birmingham, the social history, and its relevance today, creating a sense of place, pride and interest for visitors, schools, and local communities.



We value all our volunteers and visitors equally and, in both recruitment and marketing, we seek to attract and encourage a diversity which reflects our Birmingham location.

We see accessibility to all as a key factor in our museum’s mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the pen trade.


We develop and deliver activities, and provide opportunities, to encourage and enable everyone to access and interact with our unique collection and archive with particular focus on objects and archive material related to Birmingham’s 19th century pen trade of local resonance.


We believe creativity should be embodied at every level and in every form, whether that’s challenging the way we look at things daily or encouraging ambitions and developing solutions.


We encourage and develop mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships to develop an inclusive and collaborative environment to enhance our public engagement offer, volunteer training opportunities, and events programme.


A Sustainable Museum

Facilitate and prioritise access to our unique and comprehensive collection based on superior quality collections management

Deliver a well-known and proactively marketed destination on the radar of both visitors and residents that provides a welcoming, inclusive, creative, and engaging experience

Nolan Principles:

Selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.

Pen Museum

The late Brian Jones MBE, a keen historian and pen enthusiast who edited ‘People, Pens and Production’ a definitive take of Birmingham’s Steel Pen Trade, spearheaded the establishment of a museum dedicated to honouring and celebrating Birmingham’s 19th Century steel pen trade.

With the support and commitment of fellow enthusiasts (Larry Hanks, Colin Giles, and the late Ray Handley) the Pen Museum duly opened in 2001.

The Pen Museum promotes and preserves the important legacy of Birmingham’s pen trade, which, at its height employed an estimated 8,000 workers, of which 70% were women.

The mass production of affordable pens helped improve literacy worldwide and wherever a pen was used it had been manufactured in Birmingham.

Thanks to the support of our landlord, Midlands Industrial Association, the Museum is based in a former pen factory constructed in 1863 to manufacture gold pen nibs.

Across three galleries the Museum accommodates an extensive and unique collection of pens, nibs, machinery, and artefacts related to the pen trade.

The Museum’s exhibition displays are complimented by trails, videos and interactive equipment that help bring to life the history of one of Birmingham’s most famous industries and to narrate the lives of entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and workers whose expertise placed Birmingham at the centre of this worldwide trade.

The Museum relies on its loyal and dedicated team of volunteers to help support our part-time Museum Manager in running the Museum and keeping it open to visitors.

Being an independent Museum of charitable status with operating costs circa £65,000 per annum, admissions, gift aid, retail sales, memberships and donations are critical to our survival.

Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association CIO is a registered charity no. 1176955