Today Yard O Led is one of the world's leading manufacturers of fine pens and pencils, as well as one of the most historic craft workshops in Britain. The story begins over over 200 years ago with the founding of a goldsmith in London by Sampson Mordan, an associate of the groundbreaking scientist Michael Faraday. Mordan would shortly go on to patent the world's first propelling pencil in 1822, which he dubbed "ever-pointed". This patent would later be acquired by Edward Baker & Company of Birmingham.
In the early 20th Century, another gold and silversmith was established in London by Ludwig Brenner, who came from Pforzheim, Germany, bringing the secrets of the Black Forest artisans. It was in London that he would perfect the instrument that would secure his fame and fortune: a self propelling pencil holding twelve three-inch leads, the iconic "Yard O Led". Brenner went into business with one Frank Tuffnel, whose father had worked with Sampson Mordan, and they founded the official Yard O Led company in 1934.
Despite the ravages of time, including the obliteration of both Brenner and Mordan's factories during the Blitz, Yard O Led survived and prospered. After the Second World War, new premises were established in Birmingham, where the company is located to this day, and it acquired and merged with Edward Baker in the 1950s, obtaining the legendary Mordan patents. Tim Tuffnel, son of Frank, remains the honourary President of this family business.
Over the years, the Yard O Led portfolio expanded from pencils to pens, becoming masters of both. Today in the Birmingham workshop, a small number of dedicated craftsmen assemble and decorate every one of Yard O Led's exquisite writing instruments by hand. Some of these masters have been with the company for over fifty years, and each brings their own distinctive style their work, making no pen or pencil exactly like any other.
Our instruments are all manufactured from premium 925 Sterling silver, hand-chased with traditional Victorian designs. Each prestigious item is engraved with a unique number and stamped with a hallmark from a British assay office, guaranteeing the quality of the silver and identifying Britain as the location of manufacture. A personal engraving is also available on request.
Yard O Led has perfected traditional engraving methods, including engine-turning and hand-hammering, that have long been lost to many parts of the metalworking industry. These time-honoured techniques are used to create pens featuring our famous "Barley" and "Victorian" finishes on the exterior of the barrel. The former is a fine mesh pattern that is not just aesthetically pleasing - it also provides a flawless grip. The Victorian finish, meanwhile, comprises a delicate and sophisticated floral motif, faithful to the fashions of that bygone era. Finally, every pen and pencil is fitted with our attractive and recognisable clips, crafted from sheet silver.
The Yard O Led core range showcases the various styles perfected over the years, and it is complemented by very special limited editions created in honour of a special occasion or person.