of four children and the son of a Kidderminster carpet-weaver, Josiah
Mason worked from an early age to help support his family.
He had very little education and his business career began by him selling
cakes, copper-bagging and odd-jobbing. In 1814 he became a carpet-weaver
and from 1817 to 1822 he acted as manager of the imitation gold jewellery
works of his uncle, Richard Griffiths of Birmingham.
In 1824 he became manager for Samuel Harrison, a split-ring maker, and
in the following year he purchased his master's business for £500. He
then invented a plan for making split-rings by machinery, which proved
to be profitable.
John and William Mitchell and Joseph Gillott had already commenced making
steel pens when, in 1829, Josiah Mason tried his hand at pen making and,
putting himself into communication with James Perry, stationer, of Red
Lion Square, London, became Perry's pen-maker for many years.
Josiah Mason (pictured below) gradually accumulated upwards of £50,000,
the greater part of which he spent on charitable objects. In 1858 he founded
in Erdington village almshouses for fifty girls.
Between 1860 and 1868 he spent £60,000 on the erection of a new orphanage
at Erdington and then, by a deed executed in trust, he transferred the
edifice, together with an endowment and buildings valued at £200,000,
to a body of seven trustees. On
30 November 1872 he was knighted by letters patent. His most important
work, the Scientific College at Birmingham (on the site of the present
Central Library), which cost him £180,000, was opened on 1 October 1880
and in 1893 had 556 students. Mason College, as it become known, was subsequently
absorbed into the University of Birmingham, which was founded and incorporated
Mason's Pen holder and Steel Pen Manufactory
to more information:
JMC - Josiah Mason College