A Short History of Yard-O-Led

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Yard-O-Led make Sterling Silver fountain pens, ball pens but is most famous for their Propelling Pencils. The name derives from the fact that their pencils have always housed 12 three inch graphite lead lengths, making a Yard of Lead. They are based in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, in the heart of England with a workshop with only a handful of craftsmen who manufacture each pen.

The Hallmark to the right is found on all Yard-O-Led pens and pencils (often mis-spelled Yard-O-Lead) pencils and signifies the 925 parts per 1000 of Sterling Silver in the metal parts. This is the European convention design, the UK mark does not include the scales.



Sampson Mordan, based in City Road, London, invented and patented the first ever propelling pencil. One of his lifelong employees, who features later in the company history, was Frank Tufnell.

Ludwig Brenner moved to England from Pforzheim, Germany shortly before the First World War. He specialised in fine jewellery and set up Yard-O-Led, patenting a new version of the propelling pencil that was able to hold 12 three inch lead sticks (a yard of lead)

Both Sampson Mordan and Yard-O-Led's premises were destroyed and Sampson Mordan never traded again after the Second World War. Over the coming years, Mr Brenner teamed up with Frank Tufnell's son, eventually selling the Yard-O-Led business to the Tufnell family. At the same time, they acquired the patents for Sampson Mordan pens, continuing the family link between the two companies. The company flourished and became reknown for its heritage and excellent craftsmanship.

Tim Tufnell, Frank's son, joined the company and Yard-O-Led continued to grow, building on a reputation for making beautiful pieces and connections with the writing instrument trade reaching back to the early 19th century.

The company is owned by the Letts Group and still run by Tim Tufnell. The range of fine writing instruments is admired worldwide and its quality, individuality and valued sense of heritage.


Each writing instrument in the Yard-O-Led range, whether fountain pen, rollerball pen, ballpoint pen or propelling mechanical pencil is handcrafted using traditional 19th century techniques.

The unique clip is made from sheet silver and is crafted using eight different processes

As said above, all Yard-O-Led propelling pencils contain twelve 3 inch lengths of lead, making One Yard of Lead.

Each pen is individually numbered and comes with a lifetime guarantee

The British Assay office hallmarks each instrument as proof of sterling silver quality.

The Victorian finish is hand hammered by a craftsman at least 2000 times to create its distinctive pattern
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