The Pen Museum is in the Argent Centre, a grade II* building, at 60 Frederick Street, in the Jewellery Quarter. The Argent Centre was formerly the site of Camden House, for a time the home of Sarah and Henry Van Wart. She was the sister of Washington Irving, the ‘the first American man of letters’ and, who visited the family there.
It is the only museum in Britain to trace the history of steel pen making, Birmingham being the centre of world trade in pens. It used to be a pen factory, built in 1863, and was converted into a museum in 2001, adding the adjoining Philip Poole Room Gallery the following year. A new exhibition and shop area was added in 2016.
In the 19th century there were about 100 companies making steel pens. The steel nibs were exported all over the world (approximately three quarters of all the steel pins in the world), until eventually the trade was overtaken by fountain pens and ballpoint pens. The museum explores the tough working conditions of the employees and, how steel pins were made, and covers the history of writing in general and how pens played a significant role in improving literacy throughout the world.
See it on these walks
A medal was purchased for this point by: The Weston Foundation