Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elder Dempster & Co. Ltd.

Elder Dempster & Co. Ltd. was one of the largest shipping companies in the UK, and during its 150 year history it operated more than 500 ships.

The company traces its origins to 1852, when the African Steam Ship Co. Ltd. was formed, with a contract to carry mail from London via Plymouth to Madeira, Tenerife, and the West Coast of Africa. In 1868, two shipping agents, John Dempster and Alexander Elder, established a company in Liverpool to act as agents for the British & African Steam Navigation Co. In 1887 Elder Dempster & Co. started to purchase its own ships, and by 1890 there were eleven vessels in its fleet. In 1891, Elder Dempster took control of the day-to-day operations of both the African Steam Ship Co. and the British & African Steam Navigation Co. In 1894 the Liverpool to Canada service was added. Elder Dempster & Co. became a limited company in 1910.

The Aureol

Elder Dempster & Co. Ltd. reached its heyday in the 1960s. As well as operating many cargo ships, the company operated three liners (the Aureol, the Accra, and the Apapa) on scheduled services from Liverpool to Ghana and Nigeria. Elder Dempster fell into decline in the 1970s. In 1974, the passenger service to West Africa was discontinued. In 1989 the company was acquired by Delmas-Vieljeux Group of France and passed into history. Elder Dempster was formally wound up on 8th May 2000.

by Mark Matlach

Copestake & Co.

Copestake & Co. was a lace manufacturer and wholesaler established in London in 1825 by two young men named Groucock and Copestake. The original premises of the business was a small room over a trunk shop at 7 Cheapside. In 1830, George Moore was made a partner in the firm , which became Groucock, Copestake & Moore. As the popularity of lace goods increased, the company was able to grow and, in 1845, new headquarters were established at 5 Bow Churchyard. By now the company also had factories in Nottingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Paris and New York.

In addition to manufacturing various types and qualities of lace, the company made lace edgings and curtains as well as silk and cotton nets. The firm also marketed sewing and needlework accoutrements such as needlework cases. According to the 1865 Commercial Directory, Copestakes were also warehousemen for "lace and sewed muslins, crapes, gossamers, velvets, artificial flowers, millinery, baby linen, shawl and haberdashery, umbrellas and parasols."

Copestake Warehouse at 5 Bow Churchyard

The original partners, Groucock and Copestake, died in 1853 and 1874 respectively. In 1877 the company became known as Copestake, Crampton & Hughes, and later it was called Copestake, Lindsay, Crampton & Co.

The first security endorsements used by Copestakes were the official Post Office underprints, which were used from 1867 until about 1880. These official underprints were in the colour of the stamp and always appear under the gum. In the same time period, unofficial underprints were also in use. These are always over the gum and are found in various colors not related to the color of the stamp.

In 1868, Copestakes commissioned what may well be the first perfin on postage stamps. This is the very rare "S C". Copestakes was among the first companies to use security overprints, following the Customs & Inland Revenue Act 1881 that allowed for the overprinting of stamps used for fiscal purposes. I am not aware of any overprints used beyond the George V 1d Downey Head issue.

Copestakes stayed in the forefront of security endorsements as from about 1912 to 1950 the company used a POKO automatic stamp affixing machine that applied the perfin "CC / L" before affixing the stamp.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, December 11, 2011

R.S. Murray & Company Limited

R.S. Murray & Co. Ltd. was a confectionery manufacturer based at Fleet Works, Clerkenwell Road in London. The company's main lines of production were in fudge, caramel, and mints, including the hugely popular "Murray Mints".

During the 1920s, R.S. Murray established large manufacturing operations in Ireland and Australia. In 1936 the company was taken over by C. & E. Morton Ltd., which was later acquired by Clarnico, which was ultimately taken over by Rowntree. Rowntree was acquired by Nestlé in 1988.

The stamp on the receipt (SG 488) is the only stamp issue I have seen overprinted by Murrays.

by Mark Matlach

Foster & Braithwaite

Foster & Braithwaite is a stockbroking and investment management firm, founded in London in 1825 as Foster & Janson by James Foster and Richard Janson. Janson died in 1830 and James Foster was joined by Issac Braithwaite; the company was renamed Foster & Braithwaite in 1833. James Foster retired in 1855 and died in 1861. Issac Braithwaite became head of the company and, in 1867, a new deed of partnership was established that required that all equity partners had to be blood relatives of the founder. This ensured the family dominance of the firm for the next century; only in 1968 was a partner nominated from outside the Braithwaite family.

In 1989, Foster & Braithwaite was taken over by the French bank, Credit Commercial de France. In 1996 the company was merged with another stockbroking firm called Quilter Goodison & Co., and is now part of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

by Mark Matlach

Crowden & Garrod

Crowden & Garrod were hardware manufacturers and wholesalers based at Falcon House, Southwark Street in southeast London from 1881. By 1930 the company was well known as a brush manufacturer. A Crowden & Garrod trade catalogue from 1930 contained an immense variety of household and garden items and every kind of brush immaginable, even a brush specifically for cleaning straw hats. Crowden & Garrod also had a patent for a knife polishing machine.

Knife polishing machine by Crowden & Garrod and a Wellington knife sharpening board

Crowden & Garrod also sold Mancur spring scales, which were used for rough weighing on farms, in kitchens, and on hunting trips for animals or hides. The scales are listed in the Crowden & Garrod catalogue of 1895 for kitchen use. Presumably they were intended for large country houses and restaurants, where large carcasses of meat were handled. They were also used by farmers for weighing pigs, sheep, and bales of hay.

Crowden & Garrod traded until at least 1952.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Michelin Tyre Co. Ltd.

The Michelin Tyre Co. Ltd. was formed in 1888 by the Michelin brothers Édouard and André. Cycle tyres had been solid; they gave a hard ride and when they became unglued from the rim of the wheel they took a long time to repair. It was these two problems that the Michelin brothers set out to solve and by 1891 they had taken out a patent for the first detachable pneumatic tyre.

Bibendum arrived as the company's trade mark in 1898 after the brothers had seen a stack of different sized tyres that resembled the body of a man without arms. French cartoonist Marius Rossillon was approached, he had a design which had been rejected by a German brewery of a large figure holding a glass of beer who was quoting 'Nunc est bibendum' (Now is the time to drink). This design was re-worked into a large figure made of tyres, the quotation was kept, and Bibendum was born. He has since become one of the world's most recognised advertising figures having represented the company for over 100 years, and in over 150 countries.

Michelin had an arrangement with the North British Rubber Company to market a range of tyres in the United Kingdom as 'Clincher - Michelin Tyres'. In 1903 the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company took exception to these tyres claiming an infringement of their own Patent which they had previously bought from the North British Rubber Company in 1897. History has shown though that the legal arguments of Dunlop were to be unsuccessful in their attempts to stop the progress of the Michelin Tyre C.o and their pneumatic tyre.

Michelin Tyre Co. Ltd. had offices situated at 45 - 50 Sussex Place, South Kensington, London SW but by 1909 designs for new headquarters had been drawn up and these were to be situated at 81 Fulham Road, Chelsea. The new building which was completed in 1911 was an 'architectural wonder' of its day outclassing a similar Michelin headquarters in Paris. The building was an advertisement in itself and remains to this day an iconic statement in its own right.

Michelin was at the forefront of tyre technology and gained valuable goodwill by supporting race events and endurance tests. The company took every opportunity of self promotion such as that to be found at the company's headquarters in the Fulham Road which were decorated with tiled panels showing the achievements of the company through all the forms of road and air transport.

The company promoted itself through a series of maps and guide books, and of course, through Bibendum. Bibendum has changed over the years he has become slimmer and has lost his cigar and glasses. The saying 'spare tyre' relating to a podgy tummy was derived from the Bibendum figure whose body was made up of tyres of different sizes. Bibendum had a slogan 'Nunc est bibendum' which translates to 'Now is the time for drinking' this was followed by 'C'est à dire: À votre santé. Le pneu Michelin boit l'obstacle' ~ 'that is to say, to your health - the Michelin tyre drinks up all obstacles.' The Michelin building in the Fulham Road has a large stained glass window depicting Bibendum drinking from a cocktail shaped glass with the slogan above him. The glass is not full of drink but of road hazards.

Amid much competition the company remains one of the top tyre companies in the world. In its continued involvement with race and endurance it has supported motorsport at virtually every level. Sadly though it last participated in Formula 1 in 2006 when Fernando Alonso won the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix on Michelin tyres.

by Paul Green

British Oxygen Company Ltd.

The BOC Group plc was the official name of the multinational industrial gas and British based company more commonly known as BOC, and now a part of The Linde Group. In September 2004, BOC had over 30,000 employees on six continents, with sales of over £4.6 billion. BOC was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index and the FT 30. On 5 September 2006 The BOC Group became part of the Linde Group of Germany and is no longer traded as a separate company.

Brin's Oxygen Company, Ltd. was formed in 1886 by Arthur and Leon Brin. In the early days they manufactured oxygen using a high temperature barium oxide process developed from work by French scientist Jean Baptiste Boussin-Green. The main application for gaseous oxygen at this time was in connection with the limelight light sources used in magic lanterns and theatre lighting. A major new market emerged around 1903 with the development of the oxyacetylene welding process. Around the same time, new cryogenic air separation processes based on work by Carl von Linde and others replaced the barium oxide process, paving the way for larger scale and more efficient production. The company became the British Oxygen Company in 1906 and grew nationally and internationally through the following decades. In 1975 the company officially became BOC International Ltd, reflecting its success in developing business outside of Britain, and in products beyond oxygen.

In June 1999 following rumors of merger discussions between Praxair and BOC, Air Products and Chemicals Inc and L'Air Liquide S.A. made a series of cash offers to acquire BOC. On 13 July 1999 the BOC board approved a pre-conditional cash offer of £14.60 per share. Preconditions included obtaining regulatory approval in jurisdictions including the European Union and the USA. On 12 May 2000 the bid was allowed to lapse, following failure to reach a satisfactory agreement with the United States Federal Trade Commission. Following the collapse of the bid, BOC developed a new strategy to stimulate business growth in new products and markets, and to reshape its existing portfolio of businesses to improve Group performance.

In January 2006 the German industrial group Linde made a preliminary proposal to acquire BOC based on a £15 per share all-cash offer. This proposal was rejected by the BOC board of directors. In March 2006 Linde made a second proposal based on a £16 per share all-cash offer, valuing the company at £8.2bn (US$14.4bn; €12bn). This offer was recommended to shareholders by the BOC Board. This takeover was completed on 5 September 2006.

by Paul Green

Fremlins Ltd.

The Pale Ale Brewery in Earl Street, Maidstone, dominated the riverside until 1981, when the fermenting block--the remaining sizable building--was demolished. The brewhouse had been pulled down in 1976, 4 years after the cessation of brewing at Maidstone. Fremlins was the largest of the breweries in Kent; not only had it acquired several businesses in the County, but it had also cast its net further afield, taking over Adams' Brewery in Halstead, Essex in 1939 and Harris, Browne's Hadley Brewery at Barnet a year earlier.

Ralph Fremlin had established his brewery in 1861, when he acquired an almost derelict brewery from the executors of Mr John Heathorn. His beers were produced for the family trade only; he was a deeply religious man and his principles ruled out the purchase of public houses. To facilitate the sale of Fremlins ales and stouts, branch offices were opened in London and other towns in the South-east of England.

Ralph Fremlin was a pioneer in the supply of beers in bottles and gallon jars, and the brewery's range of products was remarkable. The Fremlins elephant lost its freedom in 1967, when Whitbread bought the business with its 800 or so licensed properties. At the time of the brewery's takeover, no less than nine bottled beers alone were produced.

by Paul Green

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Waukenphast Ltd.

Waukenphast produced cork-soled shoes for man and women in the 19th century. These shoes were available in Britain and the US.

Newspaper ad 22nd February 1884

by Paul Green

Dugdale Bros. & Co.

In 1896, Henry Percy and Frederick Herbert Dugdale established their cloth merchants business in Huddersfield, the centre of Britain's fine worsted industry. Using skilled designers, weavers, and finishers, their ranges soon found favor with the finest tailors and their reputation quickly spread throughout Europe and the Americas.

Today, Dugdale Brothers and Company Limited remain exclusive designers, fabric merchants, and suppliers to Savile Row and the finest tailors, couturiers, and retailers throughout the world.

by Paul Green

East Surrey Water Company

Sutton and East Surrey Water is a water-only company that supplies customers in east Surrey and parts of west Sussex, west Kent, and south London. They have around 270,000 customers and serve a population of approximately 650,000 people.

The supply area is 322 square miles (830 km2), extending from Morden and South Croydon in the north to Gatwick Airport in the south, and from Cobham and Dorking in the west to Edenbridge and Bough Beech in the east.

1862: The Caterham Spring Water Company is founded. It supplies water to Caterham, Coulsdon, Chaldon, Warlingham, Godstone, Bletchingley, Nutfield, Reigate, Redhill, and Earlswood.

1863: The Sutton and Cheam Water Company begins to supply water to the parish of Sutton.

1871: Sutton District Water takes over the Sutton and Cheam Water Company. This new company supplies Sutton, Cheam, Carshalton, Wallington, Beddington, Morden, Banstead, Woodmansterne, Ewell, and Cuddington.

1885: The Caterham Spring Water Company merges with the Kenley Water Company, creating the East Surrey Water Company.

1910: Kingswood is added to the Sutton District Water's supply area.

1927: East Surrey Water merges with Leatherhead and District Water.

1930: East Surrey Water merges with the Chelsham and Warlingham Water Company and the Limpsfield and Oxted Water Company.

1959: East Surrey Water merges with the Dorking Water Company.

1996: Sutton District Water merges with the East Surrey Water to form Sutton and East Surrey Water.

by Paul Green

Sunday, November 20, 2011

John Dickinson Stationery

The company was founded in Apsley Hertfordshire in 1804 by John Dickinson, who invented a continuous mechanized paper-making process. In June 1807, Dickinson patented a method of paper-making that rendered his rivals' techniques (principally the Fourdrinier machine) obsolete.

Dickinson established paper mills at Apsley (a former flour mill), at Nash Mill (formerly a mediaeval corn-mill) in 1811, and at Croxley in Hertfordshire. The river and canal at Apsley and Nash Mills provided power for the mills and transport for materials and product.

The mill-house at Nash Mill, called Nash House, became the family home for Dickinson and his new wife Ann (née Grover) whose father Harry Grover supported this business development through his Grover's Bank. In a very few years, Nash Mills was renowned for its production of tough thin paper for Samuel Bagster's Pocket Reference Bible. A major fire in 1813 was a setback, but, being covered by insurance, enabled redevelopment towards large scale production.

In 1850, the company started mechanical envelope manufacturing, producing gummed envelopes for the first time.

During the 19th century, Sir John Evans and his son Lewis Evans (whose elder brother was the archeologist Sir Arthur Evans) both managed the company.

John Dickinson & Co. Ltd had their Engineering Department at Nash Mills until 1888, when it was transferred to Apsley Mill.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Nash Mill, which was small and had a reputation for independence, experienced a drop in profitability. Continuous minor changes were implemented until, in 1926, it underwent improvements with expansion, remodeling, and refurbishment.

The Lion brand was adopted as the company logo in 1910 and in the following year (1911), the Basildon Bond brand was established. Companies were then formed in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere (thirteen countries in all).

Dickinson Robinson Group Ltd (DRG) was formed in 1966, creating one of the world's largest stationery and packaging companies. In 1999, the company relocated from Apsley (Hertfordshire) to the village of Sawston south of Cambridge.

In 1999, the paper mills owned by John Dickinson in the Apsley area were closed and the land was sold and redeveloped. The mill at Nash Mills however was sold to the international Sappi Group and continued to make paper until 2006. This mill has been closed down and subsequently sold. Redevelopment plans for housing are being publicized in September 2007.

by Paul Green

J. Lyons & Co.

J. Lyons & Co. was originally founded in 1887 as a spin-off from the Salmon & Gluckstein tobacco company. Joseph Nathaniel Lyons (born 1847) was appointed to run the company, and it was named after him.

The company was a substantial food manufacturer, with factories at Cadby Hall in Hammersmith and in Greenford that produced bread, cakes, pies, tea, coffee, and ice cream.

To the public, J. Lyons & Co. were best known for their chain of tea shops, which began in 1894 and finally closed in 1981, and for the Lyons Corner Houses in the West End of London. The tea shops were slightly more up-market than their ABC (Aerated Bread Company) counterparts. They were notable for their interior design, from the 1920s Oliver P. Bernard being consultant artistic director.

Until the 1940s the tea shops had a certain working-class chic, but by the 1950s and 60s they were quick stops for busy shoppers where one could get a cup of tea and a snack or a cheap and filling meal. The tea shops always had a bakery counter at the front, and their signs, art nouveau gold lettering on white, were a familiar landmark. Before the Second World War, service was to the table by uniformed waitresses, known as 'Nippies', but after the War the tea shops converted to cafeteria service.

The Corner Houses, which first appeared in 1909 and remained until 1977, were noted for their art deco style. Situated on or near the corners of Coventry Street, the Strand and Tottenham Court Road, they and the Maison Lyonses at Marble Arch and in Shaftesbury Avenue were large buildings on four or five floors, the ground floor of which was a food hall with counters for delicatessen, sweets and chocolates, cakes, fruit, flowers, and more. In addition to this, they had hairdressing salons, telephone booths, theatre booking agencies, and at one period a twice-a-day food delivery service. On the other floors were several restaurants, each with a different theme and all with their own musicians. For a time, the Corner Houses were open 24 hours a day, and in their heyday each one employed in the region of 400 staff. They were colourful and bustling, with bright lights and ingenious window displays designed by Kay Lipton (née Man). In the post-war gloom, the Corner Houses, smarter and grander than the local tea shops, provided a degree of escapist relaxation.

Between 1896 and 1965, Lyons also owned the Trocadero, which was similar in size and style to the Corner Houses.

As well as the tea shops and Corner Houses, Lyons ran other large restaurants such as the Throgmorton in Throgmorton Street. Their chains have included Steak Houses (1961–1988), Wimpy Bars (1953–1976), Baskin-Robbins (1974-) and Dunkin' Donuts (1989-).

In 1938, Lyons purchased the Bee Bee Biscuit Company, which manufactured biscuits from its factories in Blackpool. Six years later, Lyons changed the company's name to Symbol Biscuits Ltd. and began selling biscuits under the Symbol and Lyons brand names: one of their innovations was Maryland Cookies in 1956. The company was losing money in the 1960s, but remained under the control of the Salmon family, descended from a founding partner. In 1990, Lyons changed the Symbol Biscuits name to Lyons Biscuits Ltd.

In 1978, Lyons was acquired by Allied Breweries and became part of the resulting Allied Lyons. It fell on hard economic times in the late 1980s; and was sold, eventually being broken up with its ice cream and ice lolly products, which were branded as Lyons Maid, being sold to Nestlé. Other parts that were sold off included Lyons Cakes being sold to RHM and ending up as part of their Manor Bakeries subsidiary, which also makes Mr. Kipling's Cakes and Ready Brek cereal. This holding eventually ending up being owned by Weetabix Limited. At the end of 1994, Lyons sold its Lyons Biscuits Ltd. to Hillsdown Holdings, which later sold it to a U.S. investment firm, which subsequently sold it to large biscuit manufacturer Burton's Foods Ltd.

by Paul Green

Surridge Dawson (Holdings) Ltd.

Wm. Dawson & Sons Ltd. was established about 1809 and P. W. J. Surridge & Sons Ltd. in 1905. In 1933 the wholesale newspaper trade of Wm. Dawson & Sons Ltd. and the entire trade of P. W. J. Surridge & Sons Ltd. were amalgamated into a new company, Surridge Dawson & Co., Ltd. In its first year of operation, the turnover of the newly-formed company was less than £lm but by 1962 its turnover had increased to over £6m.

In 1963, the London wholesale newsagency trade of Surridge Dawson was combined with the London wholesale trade of George Vickers Ltd. of Brixton in a new company, Surridge Vickers Ltd. The operation of this company was not financially successful and arrangements were made for W. H. Smith and John Menzies to supply its customers, no consideration being given. Surridge Dawson then ceased wholesale trading in reference goods in London.

Also in 1963, the business of Abel Heywood & Son Ltd., a Manchester wholesaler of reference goods, was acquired with the assistance of ICFC--who now retain a 15 per cent interest in Surridge Dawson Ltd., the present wholesale news agency operating company.

Between 1966 and 1975, a further 10 wholesale news agency businesses were acquired, forming new branches of the group. In addition, 20 small wholesale news agency businesses were acquired in the same period and were absorbed into the group's existing wholesale news agency branches.

The present structure of the group dates from 1974, when Surridge Dawson & Co. Ltd. became Surridge Dawson (Holdings) Ltd., the holding and administrative company, with Surridge Dawson Ltd. as the wholesale operating company for the supply of reference goods. By 1975, the group's wholesale turnover in reference goods was estimated as £25m.

In 1976, the group had a total of 42 wholesale houses and 77 sub-depots supplying reference goods to some 3,700 outlets. The group did not trade in Scotland. On the retail side, the group had 22 retail shops selling reference goods in 1976, five of which were acquired prior to 1961, and the remainder in the years 1971-76.

The policy of the group is to continue expansion into the wholesale and retail trade within the limited resources available.

by Paul Green

Sunday, November 13, 2011

M. Huntbach & Co. Ltd.

In 1876, Michael Huntbach opened a small drapery shop in Lamb Street in Hanley, Staffordshire. He was helped in the running of the store by his wife and his two sisters. As the business prospered, Huntbach extended the shop by acquiring the neighbouring premises on both sides of Lamb Street, creating a large wholesale and retail drapery store. The business was Hanley's first superstore and occupied more than 20,000 square feet of space and employed 300 permanent staff.

Advertisement 1895

Huntbach was also a politician. In 1890 he became mayor of Hanley. His most notable achievement while in office was that he created the first public park in Hanley. Going to the park on a Sunday became the highlight of the week for Hanley residents. It was a formal occasion and it seems that you were not allowed to enjoy yourself. Sweets and cigarettes were banned from sale and the children's playgrounds were locked. Michael Huntbach died in 1910, although his company continued until at least the 1920s.

by Mark Matlach

John Dickinson & Co. Ltd.

John Dickinson & Co. was a paper manufacturing business that went on to become a leading British stationery company.

The company was founded by John Dickinson in 1804 in Apsley, Hertfordshire. Dickinson invented a continuous mechanized paper-making process that he patented in 1809. He established paper mills at Apsley, Nash Mill, and Croxley in Hertfordshire. The river and canal at Apsley and Nash Mill provided power for the mills and transport for materials and product. In just a few years, John Dickinson & Co. became renowned for its production of tough, thin paper, which was used for Samuel Bagster's Pocket Reference Bible.

In 1830, John Dickinson patented silk-thread paper for bank notes and later adopted the technology for postage stamps. In Britain, the paper was used for the high value embossed stamps (1847–1854).

In 1850, John Dickinson & Co. started mechanical manufacturing of gummed envelopes for the first time. By 1876, the company was producing 3 million gummed envelopes per week. In 1858, John Dickinson retired, handing over the business to his nephew, John Evans. Dickinson died in January 1869 having refused to call in his doctor on the grounds that he was too ill to see anyone!

John Dickinson & Co. adopted the lion brand as the company logo in 1910 and, in the following year, the Basildon Bond brand was established, which by the 1930s had become the bestselling notepaper in the UK. From 1917-1930, the company expanded overseas; ultimately there was a network of manufacturing sites and sales offices in thirteen countries around the world.

In 1966, John Dickinson & Co. Ltd. merged with E. S. & A. Robinson Packaging, creating the Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG), one of the world's largest stationery and packaging companies. In 1990, Biber Holdings of Switzerland acquired DRG and the name of the company was changed to John Dickinson Stationery Ltd. In 2005 the company was purchased by Hamelin and restyled as Hamelin Brands and relocated to new, purpose-built premises in Suffolk in 2008.

by Mark Matlach

Frederick Finn & Sons Limited

Frederick Finn & Sons Ltd. (also known as Finn's Stores) was a wholesale grocery business established at 21/24 St. Margaret's Street, Canterbury.

In 1903, the company was described as "wholesale grocers and provision merchants, high class tea and coffee merchants, wholesalers of patent and homeopathic medicine, ironmongers, ham and bacon curers, and wholesalers of tools and traveling requisites."

Frederick Finn & Sons Ltd. traded until at least 1917.

Frederick Finn & Sons Ltd. in 1889

Although the company was active until at least 1917, I am aware of overprints only on the 1881 1d Lilac. There are two types: the one shown and also "FREDERICK FINN, / CANTERBURY." (style H2a)

by Mark Matlach

M. A. Craven & Son

M. A. Craven & Son was a confectionery manufacturer established in York in 1803 by Mary Ann Craven.

The Ebor Confectionery Works (also known as the French Almond Works) manufactured sugared almonds, pastilles, gums, mints, boiled sweets, toffees and nougat.

Advertisement 1949

The company traded until at least 1966.

Between 1976 and 1981, the Ebor Confectionery Works were demolished. As the factory was being torn down, the remains of a Viking house was discovered, its wooden fabric astonishingly well-preserved in the wet soil. Excavations on the site provided a wealth of artefacts and knowledge about the Viking age, demonstrated in York's famous Jorvik Viking Centre. The Coppergate Shopping Centre now occupies the enlarged site.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marshall & Snelgrove

Marshall & Snelgrove was a department store situated on the corner of Oxford Street and Vere Street in London's West End.

The business was begun in 1837 when James Marshall, in partnership with a Mr. Wilson, opened a clothes shop at 11 Vere Street. The partnership was expanded to become Marshall, Wilson & Stinton. In 1848 when Stinton retired, John Snelgrove, an assistant in the firm, became a partner and the company's name was changed to Marshall & Snelgrove. The business grew and new premises were established in 1851 on the corner of Vere Street and Oxford Street. The new store sold a wide range of carpets, linoleum, soft furnishings and clothing. An air of exclusivity was cultivated by maintaining an on-site couturier workroom.

James Marshall retired in 1871. His son, James C. Marshall, and John Snelgrove continued with the running of the company. Marshall & Snelgrove opened branches in such fashionable resorts as Scarborough and Harrogate to enable their customers to shop whilst on holiday. Later, more branches were opened in Birmingham, Manchester, Southport, Bradford, Sheffield, Leicester, Leeds, and York.

Marshall & Snelgrove began to suffer financial losses following the outbreak of the First World War. By 1916 a working relationship had been established with Debenhams in order to preserve the business in the war economy. There was a full merger between the two companies in 1919.

During the 1960s, some of the Marshall & Snelgrove branches were closed and in 1973 the Oxford Street store was completely rebuilt. The strengthening of the Debenhams brand name meant that all Marshall & Snelgrove stores became Debenhams stores in 1973.

Marshall & Snelgrove used the company initials to overprint their stamps. The overprints appear only on Queen Victoria stamps, although there are varieties in the positioning of the overprint, font type and the use of full stops.

by Mark Matlach

Morgan Crucible Co. Ltd.

The Morgan Crucible Co. Plc. is currently one of the world leaders in advanced materials technology, specializing in the design, manufacture, and marketing of ceramic and carbon products. These are used in a wide range of applications from transport and telecommunications to fire protection and medical instruments.

The company was established in 1855 when William Vaughan Morgan purchased a hardware and druggist business in London and began trading under the name of Morgan & Rees. William was soon joined by his brothers Thomas, Walter, Octavius, Septimus, and Edward. Crucibles (which are pot-shaped containers in which metal or glass can be melted) were among the items that the brothers sold. The initial success of the company prompted the Morgans to buy manufacturing rights to the superior American crucible manufactured by Joseph Dixon & Co. In 1857, a small factory in Battersea, south-west London, was purchased and the company adopted the name Patent Plumbago Crucible Co. By the 1880s it was renamed Morgan Crucible Co. and enjoyed a reputation for being the world's largest crucible manufacturer. The company became limited in 1890.

At the turn of the 20th century, Morgan Crucible Co. Ltd. ventured into the manufacture of carbon brushes. Cities throughout the world were soon using the brushes for their railway and tram systems. In the following years the business continued to grow and venture into new areas, eventually becoming the massive industrial giant it is today.

by Mark Matlach

Webb & Sons

The origins of Webb & Sons can be traced to the middle of the 19th century, when Edward Webb was a successful agricultural seeds merchant trading from Wordsley near Stourbridge in the West Midlands. By the end of the century, Webbs seeds had become a household name and Webb & Sons were appointed seeds-men to every monarch in succession from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

Webb & Sons took over the Saltney bone manure works of Proctor & Ryland c1894. Webbs expanded the plant to such an extent that by 1910 it was Saltney's second largest business. At the beginning of the 20th century, Edward's grandson William, took control of the company and purchased Astwood Farm in Wychbold, Worcestershire in 1925. There, both agricultural and horticultural seeds were trialled to assess their quality.

Webb & Sons Bulb Catologue Cover 1888

During the Second World War, Webb & Sons was a primary supplier of grass seeds and fertiliser for airfields. The seeds used for this purpose were chosen to withstand heavy aircraft traffic. Webbs also assisted in the camouflage of landing strips.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the English seed trade was transformed by a series of mergers. Webb & Sons joined with Bees and moved to Chester, leaving the Wychbold site occupied by a fledgling garden center. In 1971, current owner (Richard Webb, who is the great grandson of Edward Webb) purchased the site and began the development of Webbs as both a garden center and nursery.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, October 30, 2011

H. D. Rawlings

H. D. Rawlings was a carbonated drinks manufacturer established by John Rawlings in London in 1784. The company made fruit juices, squashes, cordials, and carbonated water.

In the Victorian era, the entire Rawlings empire eventually came into the ownership of a rich widow named Sarah Rawlings. A young clerk by the name of Henry Doo was employed by Sarah. She became infatuated with him and proposed marriage, offering Henry full control of the business, provived that he changed his surname to Rawlings. Henry agreed and the couple were duly married. Henry took control of the company, which now became H. D. Rawlings.

In 1891 H. D. Rawlings was acquired by rival carbonated drinks producer, R. Whites, and is now part of the Britvic Group.

by Mark Matlach