The name Osmiroid International is quite a recent name for a Company whose roots go back to the early part of the nineteenth Century.
It started with James Perry who was an educationalist in advance of his time. He lectured throughout the country on his method, based on what seems to have been a revolutionary idea then, that the pupil's interest be aroused in order to pursue their studies with enthusiasm. In order to test his theories, he ran two private schools, one for each sex, in London, where it can be assumed that the making and mending of quill pens was burdensome and time consuming and where a pupil remembered "the tedious waiting for the patient usher, who passed from desk to desk with his penknife, mending pens, and paying little attention to anything else."
No doubt this irked the energetic and methodical James, who invented a method of slitting a metal pen to give flexibility and ink flow. Metal pens of sorts had been in use since very early times, but won no popularity on account of their rigidity. While James did not patent the perfected nib until 1830, in the reign of George IV, pens made under his directions were in use as early as 1824, while it is recorded in 1819 he was giving metallic nibs of his design as rewards of merit in his schools.
It must be remembered that this was the age of the Scribe, in business, in the Law and in Schools. The typewriter was yet to come, and men spent their lives working for long hours, six days a week copying documents. The custom was that Law Scribes were allowed one quill per day, and a day's writing wore out the longest quill, so it can be imagined how much time was spent in trimming and mending and the difference the metal nibs must have made. One Robert Griffin, a Law Scribe, records that he wrote for eight weeks, eight hours a day, with a pen made by Perry, in 1824.
In that same year, James was joined by his brother Stephen in starting a business in pen-making and pens were made for this, the first "in Manchester, Birmingham and London. In 1828, Josiah Mason, was manufacturing pens for Perry & Co. and joined the Company. The excellence of their products swiftly raised them to the forefront of the new industry, exporting pens all over the world. By 1876 when the firm became a Limited Company, they equalled Esterbrook as being the largest manufacturers of pen nibs in the world.
James Perry died without issue and Stephen was succeeded by his sons John and Lewis. The former became Managing Director and then Chairman. In the course of time, Edmund, the second son of John became Joint Managing Director under his father's Chairmanship, a position he held until 1918. By this time the Company had diversified extensively, making not only carbon steel pens, pencils, rubber bands etc. but also bicycle accessories and light cars. Even today vintage Perry cars are still to be seen.
On the death of his father, Edmund decided to leave the Company and to manufacture pens in North London, which he did very successfully working on the techniques of stainless steel pens which were perfected under his direction. E.S.Perry, the Company he founded in 1918 was incorporated in 1921 and continued in North London until the outbreak of the second World War, when pen making ceased "for the duration" and the Company made armament components.
In 1944 Edmund died and his widow and a daughter were appointed to the Board, as his sons James and Michael were still on active service. On their return they both joined the Board and Mrs Perry retired.
With the coming of Peace, the demand for what were now called "dip nibs" was enormous and "Iridinoid" and "Osmiroid" nibs were exported all over the world. However it became obvious that the future of the Company lay with making fountain pens. Between 1948 when a pilot factory was built, and 1953, the Factory was moved to Gosport to obtain much needed room for expansion and better working conditions. The "Osmiroid 65" fountain pen was developed, chiefly for school children whose special needs for writing instruments had always been a matter of prime concern. A large range of nib units were made to suit right and left handed users and the several types of handwriting being taught, particular attention being paid to the Italic style. This pen was followed by the 75, Slimline and others. Components for lifebelts, computers and other such articles were also made.
In 1949 Miss Francesca Perry was elected Chairman and later Michael Perry was appointed Managing Director succeeded by Geoffrey Nockolds in 1965. During 1971 the Company embarked upon the production of a range of teaching aids, following the traditions of the Company's founder 150 years before. These met with great success in the U.K., Australia, America and the Far East.
By 1987 the Osmiroid brand had become so established and well known that the Company adopted that name as its own.
1989 saw the acquisition of Osmiroid by Berol Ltd.
During Christmas 1990 the Warehousing and Despatch of the Osmiroid products was relocated to King's Lynn along with the non-manufacturing administration functions. January 1991 saw the announcement of the relocation of the remaining Osmiroid operations to King's Lynn and thus closure of the factory around Easter of that year.