It's not often that a company's history begins before its inception, but Yard-O-Led's history traces back to 1816, a full 118 years before it was established.
In 1816, Sampson Mordan, a locksmith apprentice, set himself up as an independent goldsmith in London making pencil cases, bracelets, charms, cricket bats, paper, knifes, pencils, and desk seals. Just a few years later, on December 20, 1822, Mr. Mordan patented his "ever-pointed" propelling pencil. His success led him to register his unique hall-mark (S. Mordan) on 26th June 1823, which became S. Mordan & Co on 30th April 1824 with the addition of his partner Gabriel Riddle.
Edward Baker & Company of Birmingham purchased S. Mordan & Co. in 1856 and gained recognition with a range of silver and gold propelling pencils, swizzle sticks, tooth picks, and other small items.
Ludwig Brenner improved upon Mr. Mordan's idea for a mechanical pencil that never needed sharpening. Mr. Brenner immigrated to London from Pforzheim, Germany before the first world war and established his business in Charterhouse Street, near Hatton Garden, the centre of the London jewellery trade. In 1934, he registered his patent on an improved propelling pencil mechanism. His patent expanded that of Mr. Mordan to allow the pencil to hold 12 three inch leads thus making a yard of lead length. For this new product, he established The Yard-O-Led Pencil Company, thus beginning Yard-O-Led's true history.
Over the years, Yard-O-Led developed a reputation for exception skills and painstaking detail with each piece of carved silver its own unique piece of art. But second generation Yard-O-Led employee Frank Tufnell had a vision that it could be more. In 1952, he gained a majority shareholding in the Yard-O-Led Pencil Company and also acquires Edward Baker & Company, thus gaining the patents and intellectual property of Mr. Mordan and Mr. Brenner. His son, Tim Tufnell, a qualified jeweler and silversmith, joined the business in 1972, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps.
In 1988, the Filofax Group acquired Yard-O-Led, keeping Tim Tufnell as Managing Director. He established a new Yard-O-Led atelier in 1994 in Spencer Street, Birmingham, the heart of the Jewellery Quarter. He survived yet another acquisition in 2015 when Imperial Yard Limited acquired the atelier, trade, and intellectual property of Yard-O-Led, accepting the role of Honorary President.
Yard-O-Led craftsmen can still easily identify which craftsman made the pens that are returned for service whether it’s 10 or 80 years old. Each artisan has their own unique style built from skills handed down through the generations. Typically, it takes 1,000 strikes per pen to complete the carving step. It’s important to Yard-O-Led employees that their products are enjoyed and treasured by the customer. Each pen is hand crafted, so no two pens are identical, with the artisans always striving for perfection. Each pen is individually numbered and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Today, the Yard-O-Led Company continues its tradition of hand-crafted 925 Sterling Silver writing instruments. They offer refined, stylish mechanical pencils, ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, and fountain pens. The company crafts numbered and uniquely styled fine writing instruments for the collector. Yard-O-Led is not just another luxury brand, its impeccable heritage says much more.