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John Hawkins and Sampson Mordan First Patent the Mechanical Pencil

Silver S. Mordan & Co mechanical pencil with hallmarks for 1825.
Silver S. Mordan & Co mechanical pencil with hallmarks for 1825.

Though earlier examples of mechanical pencils have survived, in 1822 English engineer and inventor John Isaac Hawkins and English silversmith and inventor Sampson Mordan were the first to patent a metal pencil with an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite (pencil lead) shaft forward during use, as an improvement on the less complex leadholders that merely clutched the pencil lead to hold it into a single position. The two received British Patent No. 4742, "Pencil holders or port crayons; pens for facilitating writing and drawing," published: 20 December 1822. 

"After buying out Hawkins' patent rights, Mordan entered into a business partnership with Gabriel Riddle from 1823 to 1837. The earliest Mordan pencils are thus hallmarked SMGR. After 1837, Sampson Mordan ended the partnership with Riddle and continued to manufacture pencils as "S.MORDAN & CO". His company continued to manufacture pencils and a wide range of silver objects until World War II, when the factory was bombed" (Wikipedia article on Mechanical pencil, accessed 01-03-2013).

"Mordan often made his pencils in whimsical "figural" shapes that resembled animals, Egyptian mummies, or other objects; like his other silverware and goldware, these pencils are now highly collectible" (Wikipedia article on Sampson Mordan, accessed 01-03-2013).

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