N is for Nib Maker

By S. LEVY & CIE, 1840 

Levy & C.ie Are manufactured of the best refined India Steel, preserve freedom in writing and possess all the flexibility of a quill. They are well for each paper — Ces plumes sont faites du meilleur a ceier de l’Inde ells donnent tout la legercle et facilite pour ecrire, possedant toute l’elasticite des plumes d’oie. Elles sont propres a toutes especes de papier

  • Author: S. LEVY & CIE
  • Publication place: Birmingham & Bruxelles
  • Publisher: S. Levy & Cie, [11 Rue Pont Neuf
  • Publication date: c1840-1850]
  • Physical description: Colour printed lithographed embossed trade card
  • Dimensions: 135 by 175mm. (5.25 by 7 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 17837


Although metal nibs for pens had been in use since Roman times, and Samuel Pepys recorded using one, it was in the nineteenth century that development of the metal-nibbed fountain pen resulted in its almost ubiquitous use. Birmingham was a centre of manufacture of the steel nib, and in the 1820s William Mitchell and his brother John established a system of mass-production, which led to Birmingham producing over half of all steel pen nibs worldwide. It has been claimed that seventy-five percent of everything written anywhere in the world during the nineteenth century was written with a pen manufactured in Birmingham.

S. Levy et Cie, of Brussels, is recorded in trade directories from 1840, honours the King of France (1773–1850) with his cameo at the centre of the card. 

Image gallery