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In 1816, Sampson Mordan, the favourite apprentice and assistant of John Bramah, the locksmith, and an associate of Michael Faraday, sets up as an independent goldsmith in London.
In 1822, on 20th December, Sampson Mordan patents his “ever-pointed” propelling pencil. He first registers his unique hall-mark on 26th June 1823 and another with his partner Gabriel Riddle on 30th April 1824, from 22 Castle Street, City Road, London.
In 1856, Edward Baker & Company of Birmingham gain recognition with a range of silver and gold propelling pencils, swizzle sticks, tooth picks, and other small items.
Ludwig Brenner, who had reached London from Pforzheim, Germany before the first world war and had established his business in Charterhouse Street , near Hatton Garden , the centre of the London jewellery trade, registers his patent on an improved propelling pencil mechanism. His patent expands that of Sampson Mordan to allow the pencil to hold 12 three inch leads thus making a yard of lead length. For this new product he establishes The Yard-O-Led Pencil Company in 1934.
In 1952 Frank Tufnell gains a majority shareholding in the Yard-O-Led Pencil Company Limited and also acquires Edward Baker & Company, thus gaining the patents and intellectual property of Sampson Mordan. Tim Tufnell, Frank’s son and a qualified jeweler and silversmith, joins the business in 1972 in which his father and grandfather had worked before him.
In 1988, Yard-O-Led was acquired by Filofax Group with Tim Tufnell continuing as Managing Director. A new Yard-O-Led atelier is established in 1994 in Spencer Street Birmingham, in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter.
In 2015, Imperial Yard Limited acquires the atelier, trade and intellectual property of Yard-O-Led, Sampson Mordan, Edward Baker, LF Brenner and other historic writing instrument pioneers. Tim Tufnell accepts the role of Honorary President.
Best Selling Yard-o-led
Since its foundation in 1934 with the first patent for a mechanical pencil capable of holding twelve three inch leads, Yard-O-Led has had a history of innovation. Nevertheless, all the company’s writing instruments continue to be hand-made and hallmarked in Birmingham by highly skilled silversmiths out of sterling silver.