Koh-i-Noor Hardthmuth‘s – one of the local Czech company’s – road to success was not easy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is a great time to support local brands, we decided to give you a few incentives to do so by sharing the fascinating stories of these businesses.
Koh-i-Noor Hardthmuth a.s. was founded in 1790 by Joseph Hardmuth, a hardworking architect and entrepreneurial, in České Budějovice. The company was the largest manufacturer of pencils, pastels, colored pencils, and pens. Today, Koh-i-Noor is one of the oldest stationery brands which is known worldwide. The company has two leading factories – one is in České Budějovice and the other one is in Bulgaria, from where the goods are exported to 90 countries.
As mentioned before, the establishment of the company took place in 1790. At that time, it was on the lands of Austria, not the Czech Republic. J. Hardnuth was the first to invent the method of produce graphite with the workforce; no one has done anything like that before. It was a breakthrough of the time: his theory turned into a mass production as early as in 1795. The primary goods were pencils, red chalk, and a few types of colored leads. Approximately eight years later, in 1802, Koh-i-Noor decided to patent their famous pencil. The first pencil of the brand was made from a beautiful mix of kaolin and graphite.
When the founder of the brand, Joseph Hardmuth, had retired, his sons, Karl and Ludwig, took over the business. Due to these changes, in 1848, the production was moved to a different city in Bohemia – Budweis. In 1853, Franz, Hardmuth’s grandson, did a fantastic job: he innovated the production of pencils. From that year, the graphite level on pencils was divided by 8B-10H. The company was thriving and flourishing: famous pens and pencils were given awards in plenty around the globe – in the New York City (1855), Paris (1856/1900/1925), London (1862), Vienna (1882), and Milan (1905).
Koh-i-Noor participated in the World Fair in Paris in 1889. The company represented the new rebranding name ‘Koh-i-Noor Hardmuth’ instead of ‘Hardmuth’s.’ The new name symbolized the magnificent diamond. Every pencil was encased in the yellow cedar-wood barrel – the pencil 1500 won the Grand Prix Award. This tradition is kept even today; it is the design touch that makes the brand recognizable in the industry of stationery. Shortly after the Second World War, Koh-i-Noor became a state-owned company; however, it became privately held again in 1992. After the Velvet Revolution, plenty of foreign manufactures came to the market, and Koh-i-Noor fell behind – people wanted something new and extravagant. Nevertheless, in 1994, under the management of V. Briza, the company started to gain its popularity and success once again.
Since the year 2007, the company is a member of its parent company Koh-i-Noor Holding a.s. It manufactures goods around the world and counts approximately 80 countries with production lines. Numerous employees (about 2,500) keep the company alive and support its economic growth (more than 3,000 products are available in the official e-shop!) in various regions. Koh-i-Noor has a valuable contract with small injection-molded plastic products. Today, you can see the display of the products in one of Jiří Barta’s movies – Toys in the attic. The stores of Koh-i-Noor can be found not only around Prague but also online. We highly recommend to stop by them and discover the great collection of stationery necessities. Maybe, there is something you need the most.