The late Brian Jones OBE, 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 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 most likely 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. Now expanded into 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 nearly twenty volunteers to help support our part-time Operations Manager in running the Museum and keeping it open to visitors throughout the week (Tuesday to Sunday inclusive). Being an independent Museum of charitable status with operating costs circa £60,000 per annum admissions, gift aid and donations are critical to our survival.
Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association CIO is a registered charity no. 1176955