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Mason, Sir Josiah

MASON, SIR JOSIAH (1795-1881), English pen-manufac turer, was born in Kidderminster on the 23rd ef February 1795 the son of a carpet-weaver. He began life as a street hawke; of cakes, fruits and vegetables. After trying his hand in hi native town at shoemaking, baking, carpentering, blacksmith ing, house-painting and carpet-weaving, he moved in 1814 t< Birmingham. Here he found employment in the gilt-toy tradi In 1824 he set up on his own account as a manufacturer o split-rings by machinery, to which he subsequently added thi making of steel pens. Owing to the circumstance of his pe being supplied through James Perry, the London statione: whose name they bore, he was less well known than Josep! Gillott and other makers, although he was really the larges producer in England. In 1874 the business was convert' into a limited liability company. Besides his steel-pen trad< Mason carried on for many years the business of electro-plating, copper-smelting, and india-rubber ring making, in conjunction with George R. Elkington. Mason was almost entirely selfeducated, having taught himself to write when a shoemaker's apprentice, and in later life he felt his deficiencies keenly. It was this which led him in 1860 to establish his great orphanage at Erdington, near Birmingham. Upon it he expended about 300,000, and for this munificent endowment he was knighted in 1872. He had previously given a dispensary to his native town and an almshouse to Erdington. In 1880 Mason College, since incorporated in the university of Birmingham, was opened, the total value of the endowment being about 250,600. Mason died on the 16th of June 1881.

See J. T. Bunce, Josiah Mason (1882).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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