How the Jewellery Quarter helped the world to write

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Located within the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District (JQBID) area, the Pen Museum is based in the 1863 Renaissance-styled factory of W.E. Wiley. One of the pioneers of volume-produced pens, the factory supplied a remarkable 75% of the world’s nibs through the 1800s.

The pens that were manufactured in the Jewellery Quarter contributed enormously to global literacy levels, helping people all around the world to write.

Today, visitors to the Pen Museum can learn how this mass production made mass communication possible.

Celebrating the legacy of Birmingham’s 19th-century steel nib pen trade, the museum informs and engages with visitors from around the globe by directly relating their digital lifestyle to the past through the art of writing.

Anthony Hayes, Pen Museum operations manager, recommends why a visit to the Pen Museum is a must:

A sense of history

Everyone knows the buzz of being in a place where something important actually happened.  Here, you stand on the original brick floor of a dimly lit workshop – where women (and children) helped crank out up to 18,000 nibs a day each. You can even try out the original hand presses used by the workers for yourself.

The feeling of continuity

In a world of constant change, it’s refreshing to realise that we’re part of a continuum.  The Pen Museum connects us with people who shared the same dreams and aspirations as we do.

Learn about the past, and yourself

History provides meaning and context for the present.  That’s why hundreds of school children have happily left The Argent Centre with inky fingers in the past year, and even recalcitrant teens have approved as they find out what ‘gross’ really means.

Calligraphy classes are booming, too, as more people reconnect with the pure art of writing.

If you haven’t visited already, you really should.  Only with your support, and through donations, sponsorship or membership, will this little gem of the Jewellery Quarter continue to shine.

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