Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth a.s. is a Czech manufacturer and one of the world's largest producers and distributors of a full line of pencils, pens, and art supplies. Formed in 1790 by Joseph Hardtmuth of Austria, the company was named after the Koh-i-Noor, a famous Indian diamond. In 1802, they patented the first pencil lead made from a combination of clay and graphite.
In 1848, Joseph's sons, Karl and Ludwig took over the family business, and the production was relocated to the Bohemian town of Budweis (České Budějovice), which belongs now to the Czech Republic. The products were awarded in many world exhibitions, among which in 1855 in New York, 1856, 1900 and 1925 in Paris, 1862 in London, 1882 in Vienna and 1905 in Milan.
At the 1889 World Fairin Paris, the Hardtmuth's displayed their superior pencils rebranded as "Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth". The new product which soon became a runaway success set the standard by which all other pencils were made, and graded. Each pencil was encased in a yellow cedar-wood barrel. The inspiration for the name was the famous Koh-i-Noor (meaning "Mountain of Light") diamond, part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and the largest diamond in the world at the time.
Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth eventually became a state-owned company after the Second World War, before once again becoming privately held in 1992 and being bought-out in 1994 by the Gama Group. Their product line includes: