Making Your Mark - part 7 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

by Mike McNamee Published 01/06/2015


Nib Making in Birmingham
Despite the fact that pen nibs were remarkably cheap, the manufacturing process was surprisingly complicated, involving 14 or more operations. Some of these operations were themselves complex and required considerable technical knowledge or skill. Given that the Birmingham manufacturers had been developing their skills for centuries, this probably explains, at least in part, why they achieved such dominance of the world market - indeed, there are reports of would-be manufacturers in Birmingham who, despite their expertise, still failed in their attempts to produce high-quality pen nibs competitively.

The manufacturing process is as follows-

1. Cutting or Blanking
2. Piercing
3. Annealing
4. Marking
5. Embossing
6. Raising
7. Hardening
8. Tempering
9. Scouring
10. Grinding
11. Slitting
12. Point forming
13. Polishing
14. Colouring
15. Lacquering
16. Looking over
17. Boxing


The original company Ash Petit & Co was founded in 1850. In 1861 the company's agent in Vienna, Carl Kuhn sent his relative Charles Emmanuel Brandauer to Birmingham to build a new factory. Brandauer & Co produced steel pens for over a hundred years. The company is still in business but they don't make pens today.

Leonardt nibs are presently made by Manuscript ( and are based in Bridgenorth. The image below shows today's multi-station stamping press in action.

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1st Published 01/06/2015
last update 21/07/2022 10:41:38

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