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Selling a piece of history

The Allegory Handcrafted Goods Co. is a small Chicago-based business specializing in handcrafted pens from historical woods from across the world. Established in 2012, it has since captivated consumers nationwide.

A sampling of some of the elaborate handmade pens produced by Allegory Handcrafted Goods.

The company was founded by the husband-and-wife team of Chad and Jessica Schumacher, who worked together in the technology field for the same company and who both lost their jobs at the same time because of downsizing. With their first son only two months old at the time, they had to figure something out quickly. Chad began working with his father, a woodworking hobbyist and pen maker.

“I started to make pens with him and I began doing some research on the woods and started focusing on using historic and unique woods. The idea was that most of the pens on the market are under $5 or luxury for the sake of luxury, costing hundreds of dollars. I wanted to develop something high-end, but have people buy it not just because of the brand. I got connected with certain suppliers and launched a website through Kickstarter and, in the first 30 days, sold $17,000 worth of pens,” Chad says.

Their latest project is the 1941 Series featuring a limited edition of pens made from the teak of the deck of a World War II battleship, the USS North Carolina, one of the most decorated ships in naval history. Allegory obtained the original deck recently after the museum housing the ship had portions of it removed and replaced for preservation purposes. The series consists of 1,000 pens available in three different styles, each engraved with a unique serial number.

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No two pens are the same as all are handmade, but the company can replicate designs quite nicely. It offers three different types of pen products, including those made of regularly obtainable wood, the designs using historical wood, as well as custom work for weddings and other special occasions.

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There are four part-time employees, in addition to Chad and Jessica. The crew typically makes about six pens a day, unless there is a special production order requiring more. They have made about 2,500 pens since the business was first started. The pens range in price from $75 to $150 apiece. They are sold online and through about a dozen private galleries throughout the country.

The company recently expanded into selling leather goods and is working with other businesses that want to make a profit from handmade products profitable, particularly in other countries.

Contact: Allegory Handcrafted Goods, 17 Cherryville Road, Joliet, IL 60433. Tel: 773-328-8390.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue.

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