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Sir Josiah Mason (1795 - 1881)
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Josiah MasonOne 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 in 1900.

Sir Josiah Mason

Sir Josiah Mason's Pen holder and Steel Pen Manufactory

Link to more information:

Link to JMC:

JMC - Josiah Mason College
Birmingham, England.



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