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. It was founded in 1790 by Joseph Hardtmuth of Austria. In 1802, they patented the first pencil lead made from a combination of kaolin 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 given awards in many world exhibitions, including 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 Fair in Paris, the Hardtmuth's displayed their pencils rebranded as "Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth". 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 again becoming privately held in 1992 and since 2007 has been a member of a Czech parent company KOH-I-NOOR holding a.s. The company currently have production capacity in more than 80 countries in the world.