Stationery Week: Koh-i-Noor, a short history

Posted: Apr 01 2014

The Czech company Koh-i-Noor is one of the world's largest producers of pencils, pens and art supplies. Originally formed in 1790 in Vienna by Josef Hardtmuth, an architect and builder, the company was named after the world's most famous diamond - the Koh-i-Noor (meaning 'Mountain of Light' this diamond, of Indian origin, can be seen on display at the Tower of London).

In 1802 the factory patented the very first pencil lead, which was made from a mix of clay and graphite, and went on to produce the first ever pencil with a coloured barrel - in a bright yellow - which was much copied. After the founder's sons took over in the mid 1800's the factory was moved to what is now part of the Czech Republic, where cheaper labour was available and the materials needed for production was more accessible, the factory soon became one of the first to mass produce items which enabled high quality items, such as the humble pencil, to become available at a low price.

The pencils produced by the company, which has since expanded, morphed and gone through many changes, remains to be made in much the same way as they ever were. A sign of true craftsmanship. 

Our Koh-i-Noor clutch pencils are available here.