In England, where both the consumption of quills and the technical level were very high, industrial steel nib production began. In the 1920s, up to six million quills were cut annually in a large London banking house, and only one in ten of these was "re-sharpened" after being used. The quills, which were only used once, were bought up by hucksters and resold.
In about 1822, it is believed, John Mitchell began punching nibs out of thin sheet steel by machine.
In 1830, James Perry, a bookseller, was granted a patent for making holes or incisions of various shapes in the end of the beak (the split tip), and in 1832 for slitting in the side (at the "shoulder").
In 1831, Joseph Gillott replaced the wedge-shaped tip with an elongated one, and the beak was now formed by two parallel, straight pieces. Thus, the steel nib has not yet reached the flexibility of the goose quill, but it can compete with it.
Further technical improvements, but also the cheap letter postage of the "penny post" (1840) contribute to the popularization of the steel nib.
Joseph Gillott's factory in Birmingham produced over seventy million in 1842 alone, and over a hundred million in 1843. At the beginning of the 1950s, when the first German steel nib factory was founded, it produced over one hundred and eighty million - of the approximately five hundred employees, four hundred were women.