The Slitting Room of Birmingham Pen Factory, 1851.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Image from The 'Illustrated London News'. Joseph Gillott (1799-1872) had begun his Birmingham pen factory in 1823, at which time the new steel pens were just beginning to replace the quill. However, fashioning these early steel pens was a laborious and expensive busines, and the cheapest of the finished articles cost a shilling or more each. To speed up the proces, Gillot adapted the small preses commonly used for button and buckle making to the craft. By 1840 the busines was installed in a new factory in Graham Street, in the city's famous jewellery quarter where it remained until 1955. Birmingham's rise to prosperity during the Industrial Revolution was largely built on its pre-industrial importance as a centre for the manufacture of metal goods.