Sunday, March 27, 2011

Samuel Brothers Limited

Samuel Brothers are clothing retailers and manufacturers who specialise in making military uniforms.

The business was established in 1830 in London as a garment manufacturer and livery company. Samuel Brothers had shops in Piccadilly and later in Ludgate Hill, and a factory in Leeds. The company became well regarded as a boys' outfitters, supplying made to measure school uniforms. However, it was best known for manufacturing uniforms for the defense and civil forces. The firm also made a wide range of sportswear such as golfing, fishing, and cycling suits.

In 1993 Samuel Brothers moved to Deepcut, Surrey and in 2007 another manufacturing unit was opened in Harwich. The company continues to specialise in making uniforms for the military as well as uniforms for hotel staff and airline workers. Some notable clients that are currently being supplied by Samuel Brothers include: Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Corps of Signals, The Scots Guards, Surrey Fire and Rescue Services, and the Royal Thames Yacht Club.

By Mark Matlach

Petty, Wood & Co. Ltd.

Petty, Wood & Co. Ltd. is a leading distributor of premium food and drink brands to UK retailers and wholesalers.

The company was established by Matthew Wood and Edward Petty in London in 1816. The business initially specialised in the distribution and packing for teas and dried fruits. In 1879 Petty, Wood & Co. moved to new premises at Southwark Bridge Road, which became the centre for distribution and packing of cereals, spices, and oils. During the 1890s, the firm was a pioneer of the packaged food trade. Representatives traveled up and down the country dressed in frock coats and top hats. The company began to produce jams, honey, and chutney, which were branded "Epicure". The "Epicure" brand was registered as a trademark in 1896 and it still remains a household name in the food trade. In 1904 the business was incorporated as a limited company.

In 1974, Petty, Wood & Co. Ltd. relocated its distribution operation to Andover, Hampshire. In 1990 the remaining operations were also moved to Andover and the London offices were closed down. In 1993 the company moved to larger, purpose-built premises at Livingstone Road, Andover, where 160 staff are currently employed.

By Mark Matlach

Max Emanuel & Company

Max Emanuel & Company was a glass and porcelain importer and retailer with a medium-sized store in London from c1845 to 1914. The firm had a large network of suppliers and many renowned companies sold their items via the shop in London. Most notably, in 1898 Max Emanuel & Co. commissioned a large range of products from the famous Loetz glassworks in Bohemia.

By Mark Matlach

John Oakey & Sons Ltd.

John Oakey & Sons Ltd. was a manufacturer of sandpaper and polishing materials established by John Oakey in 1833 in South East London.

Oakey had been apprenticed to a piano maker where he had learned to make sandpaper by glueing sand or powdered glass onto paper. He developed a better process suitable for mass-production and consequently set up his business. In 1874 the company moved to Wellington Mill at Westminster Bridge Road. Oakey went on to develop many wet and dry sand and emery papers, and a range of polishing compounds including lead blacking, Wellington knife polish, Silversmith's Soap and Plate Powder, as well as furniture polishes. These products were used in most industries from furniture, metal and stonework, to leather production and telescope lens manufacture. Advertisements for John Oakey's products were a common feature on buses and trams in the early 20th century.

Advertisement 1928

John Oakey died in 1887 and the business passed to his sons, Joseph and John. Under the stewardship of the sons, the company went public in 1893, becoming John Oakey & Sons Ltd.

By Mark Matlach

The distinctive Oakey overprint was used in the Victorian era, along with at least two more standard layouts, which differ only slightly in the fonts used.

Ayrton, Saunders & Co. Ltd.

Ayrton Saunders is a manufacturing chemist and pharmaceutical wholesaler. The company was established in Liverpool in 1868, by A. H. Saunders, a retired partner in a firm of chemists in London, and F. Ayrton, who was a Liverpool doctor. The company manufactured cod liver oil emulsion, dyestuffs, and surgical instruments.

A. H. Saunders died in 1889, leaving the business to his two sons. The firm continued to grow and was incorporated as a limited liability company, Ayrton Saunders Ltd., in 1902. In 1903 two chemists' businesses, Henry Gilbertsons Ltd. and W. H. Kemp & Son, were acquired. The company was renamed Ayrton, Saunders & Kemp Ltd., and in 1908 was restyled as Ayrton, Saunders & Co. Ltd.

During the 1950s, Ayrton, Saunders & Co. Ltd. expanded into pharmaceutical wholesaling and two depots were established in Stoke and Preston. In 1998 the company was acquired by the O'Briens Group. who modernised and further expanded the business, which is now operated from Runcorn.

By Mark Matlach

Ayrton, Saunders overprints were used at least into the 1960s.

Alfred B. Pearce & Company

Alfred B. Pearce was a porcelain and glassware retailer that was established at Ludgate Hill, London in 1760.

The business appears to have been most active in the Victorian era, offering a wide variety of ceramic and porcelain tableware. The company traded until 1940.

Advertisement 1892

By Mark Matlach

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The British Drug House Ltd.

The incorporation of The British Drug Houses Ltd. in 1908 may be regarded as a natural step in the evolution of the pharmaceutical trade. When a number of businesses have been conducted separately for over 150 years, they do not come together, join forces, and amalgamate through just a passing whim. Something must be happening in their industry to account for this.

From 1714 to 1908 – nearly 200 years — the firm of Hearon, Squire and Francis had an uninterrupted and successful existence; from 1750 to the same date, the firm of Barron, Harveys and Co; from 1755 and 1760 respectively, the firms of A. S. Hill and Son, and Davy, Yates and Co, later combined in Davy, Hill and Co; and from 1762, Hodgkinsons, Clarke and Ward.

All firms of long and honourable record, therefore of great tradition, and consequently of reputation and strength. They formed the nucleus of The British Drug Houses Ltd., under the leadership of Mr. Charles Alexander Hill, B.Sc., F.I.C.

Similarly, in 1919, after the war, the world shortage of goods in all countries stimulated British manufacturers in all industries to quickly re-establish their pre-war connections in all parts of the world, and the B.D.H., hitherto a mainly domestic institution just emerging from its infancy, also turned its attention to overseas markets. Thus, to extend these markets, an important addition to the company was made by incorporating the old-established business, founded in 1798, of George Curling, Wyman and Co, and John Wyman, export wholesale druggists.

The pooling of resources effected by this amalgamation resulted in a great increase in the overseas trade of B.D.H. and sent its products practically everywhere in the civilized globe.

The B.D.H. main factories were extended in 1935 and they occupied an area four times greater than in 1908.

The company appears in the 1947 British Industries Fair Advert for Laboratory and Fine Chemicals including Analar Reagents for Research and Analysis (Dorset) and Medical Products and Pharmaceutical Chemicals; Manufacturers of Medical Specialities including Liver Products, Insulin, Sex Hormones, Vitamins, Penicillin Preparations.

By the 1960s, laboratory reagents and chemicals had become the core business, so the drug ranges were sold to Glaxo and the business became BDH Chemicals, then subsequently BDH Ltd.

Along the way, the company had acquired a host of British instrument and apparatus companies, merged under the Baird and Tatlock name and these were integrated with BDH Ltd in 1987.

1973 The BDH group was acquired by Merck, but the UK company name was not changed until 1990 when all the businesses were consolidated as Merck Ltd. The BDH name is still retained as a brand name.

By Paul Green

Direct United States Cable Company

The Direct United States Cable Company was set up in 1873 by Siemens Brothers to link the UK and the USA. It was found that with the core available at the time, the working speed of the cable would be too slow and the idea was abandoned. The new route was Ballinskelligs, Ireland - Tor Bay, Nova Scotia and Tor Bay - Rye Beach, USA.

The Tor Bay - Rye Beach section, 536 nm, was laid in 1874 by CS Faraday on her maiden voyage; Faraday also laid the 2565 nm main cable from Tor Bay to Ballinskelligs the following year.

This was the first cable to use Siemens' new design of a larger central conductor surrounded by multiple smaller wires. This arrangement packed more copper into the same volume, thus improving the signaling speed.

The Direct United States Cable Company came under the control of Anglo American in 1877, though it continued to operate under its own name. In 1920 it was purchased by the GPO.

In 1904, after the end of Anglo American’s monopoly in Newfoundland, the cable was moved from Halifax to Harbour Grace, having previously been moved from Tor Bay to Halifax. The company set up its office at Ridley Hall, the former home of Thomas Ridley.

When the cable interests of the Eastern and its associated companies merged with those of the Marconi company, this cable was transferred to the new company, Imperial & International Communications Ltd., which became Cable & Wireless Ltd., in 1934.

In 1943 the cable failed and attempts were made to repair it but they were unsuccessful It was not until 1952 that Cable & Wireless, using HMTS Monarch, was able to get the cable back into working order. This included laying 800 nm of cable between Porthcurno and Harbour Grace and a further 400 nm between Harbour Grace and Halifax. The cable to Harbour Grace was reopened for service on the 6th August 1952 and the Harbour Grace Halifax section opened on the 21st August. In 1953 HMTS Monarch diverted the cable from Harbour Grace to Middle Cove, around seven miles from St John’s, whence a landline connected it to the St John’s office.

The cable station at Rye Beach closed in 1921 and the building was converted to a private residence. Today, a historical marker shows the location of the Sunken Forest and the cable station.

By Paul Green

Bradbury & Co.

A well-cited account states that in 1852, George Bradbury worked as a skilled machinist at Platt Brothers Engineering Company in Oldham, Lancashire. At that time, his employers were involved in an industrial dispute that resulted in the loss of an order to produce machines somewhat akin to the earliest heavyweight American designs.

Bradbury, together with fellow colleague Thomas Sugden, decided to tender for the work themselves, and were subsequently awarded a contract. A small workshop at Primrose Bank was established, and Bradbury's first machines were soon completed.

The business prospered, and by 1861 larger premises at Rhodes Bank were taken. The workforce then numbered 17 men and 6 boys.

In 1864 advertisements showed three distinct models types on and to keep pace with demand an even larger factory was needed, and in 1866 construction of the famous Wellington Works commenced in Wellington Street, Oldham.

1867 saw a Wheeler Wilson clone known as "The Adjustable Belgravia" enter the range. Primarily aimed at the expanding domestic market, this model probably benefited the company more than any other in their catalogue during the 1870s. The Belgravia boasted no less than "21 important advantages" over basic Wheeler Wilson machines. Combinations ranging from simple treadles to ornate elaborate cabinets were available, with prices from 7 to 20 guineas respectively.

Records reveal that the workforce totaled 244 in 1871. The famous Duke of Wellington trademark was introduced in the mid 1870s. A serpentine hand lockstitch machine named the "Wellington" features this trademark.

During this period of great expansion, Thomas Sugden continued to play a vital role in the business, together with former Platt Brothers "old boy" Thomas Chadwick, who had joined Bradbury in 1864. Both widely employed their considerable skills within the business. Chadwick became joint managing director with Bradbury in 1874, following the firm's transition from a private concern to a limited company.

The business continued to expand and prosper for several decades, aided not only by newer sewing machine designs, but also other branches of light engineering manufacture. The Bradbury name became synonymous with quality items in areas such as bassinettes, mail carts, and cycles, and by the turn of the century, motorcycles. The business finally ceased trading in 1924.

By Paul Green

Heal & Sons

Heal and Son Ltd. is a British department store chain comprising six stores, selling a range of furniture, lighting, accessories, and home and garden wares.

The original Heal's business was established in 1810 by John Harris Heal and his son Ambrose Heal, who worked in the company as craftsman, designer, and finally Chairman from 1893 to 1953.

Originally a bed-making firm, Heal's was run as a family business designing, manufacturing and selling furniture, applied arts, interior decorating and household goods until 1983. The business has subsequently been in a number of ownerships trading as a retailer.

Heal developed his business as a design, manufacturing and retail concern in accord with the philosophy of which he was a key proponent.

Heal’s has operated since its foundation in the Tottenham Court Road, and from the present site since 1840. Its first purpose-built store, completed in 1854, was then one of the largest in London.

A second store was opened in Guildford in 1972 and the Company remained highly profitable until the mid 1970s, when it began to suffer losses, principally in the non-retail businesses.

The company was acquired by Storehouse plc in 1983; after this acquisition, the number of trading activities were reduced and the Company operated only as a retailer.

In 1984 Heal’s was expanded to five stores from the original two. In the recession of the late 1980s the business again incurred losses and, after shrinking back to the two original stores, the company was the subject of a management buyout.

The buyout became effective in September 1990 ending a 7-year period in the Storehouse group of companies.

In the second half of the nineties, Heal’s started to expand and develop, opening a new store on King’s Road Chelsea in 1995 and floating the company on the London Stock Exchange in 1997. In 1998, a new store was opened in Kingston, London. In November 2000, Heal's launched an ecommerce website

On 16 August 2001, Wittington Investments Limited acquired Heal’s Plc., reverting it to a private company.

By Paul Green

There are a variety of Heal overprints, from the 1860s to the early years of the 20th century. Strangely, the later issues appear to be more scarce.

Manufacturers Life

The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company was founded in 1887. Its first president was the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald. In 1897, Manulife Financial expanded its operations into Asia, including China and Hong Kong.

In 1999, The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company’s voting eligible policyholders approved demutualization. Later that year, the shares of Manulife Financial Corporation, the holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries, began trading on The Toronto Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, the Philippine Stock Exchange, and on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

In 2002, Manulife–Sinochem Life Insurance Co. Ltd. was granted approval by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to officially open its branch office in Guangzhou, China. Eight years later, Manulife-Sinochem was licensed to operate in more than 40 cities across China.

In 2003, Manulife Financial Corporation, John Hancock Financial Services, Inc., and Canadian subsidiary Maritime Life announced a stock merger of the companies creating a leading global insurance franchise. Completed in April 2004, the merger created the largest life insurer in Canada, second largest in North America, and fifth largest in the world at the time.

In the following years, Manulife Financial Corporation closed the following merger/purchases:
  • AIC’s Canadian retail investment fund business
  • Pottruff & Smith Travel Insurance Brokers Inc.
  • Fortis Bank SA/NV’s1 49 per cent ownership in ABN AMRO TEDA Fund Management Co. Ltd.
Now Manulife Financial Corporation is a major Canadian insurance company and financial services provider, its global head office is located in Toronto, Canada, and the Company has operations in 22 countries and territories worldwide.

The Company operates in Canada and Asia through the brand name "Manulife Financial" and in the United States primarily through the brand name "John Hancock".

Manulife Financial is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world as measured by market capitalization and currently has approximately 24,000 employees world-wide.

By Paul Green

According to the Bonney and Lane Catalogue of GB Commercial Overprints: Banking and Insurance, the Manufacturers/Life pattern that is closest to the bottom of the stamp can be found with two font sizes (1.5mm or 1.7mm); the pattern that is centered on the stamp is found only with the 1.5mm font.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dickins & Jones

Dickins & Jones was a department store in London, UK, that traded between 1835 and 2007, although tracing its origins to 1790.

In 1790, Dickins and Smith opened a shop at 54, Oxford Street, at the sign of the Golden Lion. In 1830 the shop was renamed Dickins, Sons and Stevens, and in 1835 it moved its premises to Numbers 232-234 in the newly constructed Regent Street.

In the 1890s the business changed its name to Dickins & Jones, when Sir John Prichard-Jones became a partner.

In 1914 the business was bought by Harrods, as its first acquisition beyond its own original store. In 1919, the store acquired a new site, at 224-244 Regent Street, and in 1922 it moved into a new building designed for it by Sir Henry Tanner. In 1959, Harrods was itself bought by House of Fraser, but the subsidiary of Dickins & Jones continued to trade under its own name.

In 2005 it was announced that the Regent Street store would close, because high rents had made the store unprofitable since 2002 and it closed on 14 January 2006. The building was sold to Shearer Property Group and Delancey Estates for redevelopment into shop units with apartments and offices above. In October 2006 it was revealed that the new building was to have a glass extension with terraces built on top of the former store to make an 18,000 sq ft (1,700 m2) up-market restaurant and that the first, ground, and basement levels would house H&M and Nokia.

Following the closure of the Regent Street store, branches of Dickins & Jones at Epsom, Richmond, and Milton Keynes continued to trade under that name until 2007, when they were rebranded as House of Fraser stores. However, the Dickins & Jones name continues to be used by House of Fraser as one of its in-house brands for women's fashion wear.

By Paul Green

Evans Sons, Lescher and Webb

In 1902, Evans Sons, Lescher and Webb (later Evans Medical Ltd.), was founded by merging the earlier Evans wholesale drug firms in Liverpool and London. Evans, Sons, Lescher and Webb was registered on 17 October, to acquire certain businesses of wholesale and export druggists.

In 1907, the company began to make biological medicines for humans and animals; these included sera and antitoxins for diphtheria, tetanus, and meningitis. It worked closely with Liverpool University Medical School, with whom it jointly administered the Incorporated Liverpool Institute of Comparative Pathology.

The company took over the Institute as a branch when the latter was faced with closure in 1911.

At the 1922 British Industries fair they were listed as an Exhibitor under the heading of Manufacturers of Fine Chemicals; Drugs; Pharmaceutical and Toilet Preparations; Vaccines; Pills; Tablets, etc. (Stand No. A.9)

Trading today as Evans Medical PLC, and based now in Nigeria and part of Glaxo Laboratories Limited, they continue to be committed to research, development and manufacturing of safe and effective medicines and nutraceuticals of highest standards.

By Paul Green

I cannot confirm that the scan on the left is from one of the firms that formed Evans Sons, Lescher and Webb, but it is plausible.

Capper Son & Co.

Capper Son & Co. are known to have been Quakers in the UK, and the American branch probably also were. They were well known in Victorian London as ladies outfitters, and in 1871 they were "By Appointment" to the Queen and Prince of Wales. They had premises at 69/70 Gracechurch St. and 169/170 Fenchurch St. in the City of London. Another similar firm with family connections operated as Capper & Moon at 164 Regent St.

By the 1930s the firm were at Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, London but seem to have faded from scene in late 1930s/early 1940s.

By Paul Green

Stewart & McDonald Limited

Stewart & McDonald was established by Robertson Buchanan Stewart and John MacDonald in 1826 as a small wholesale drapery warehouse in Glasgow, Scotland. Hugh Fraser, later of Arthur & Fraser, retailers, Glasgow, had previously been a lace buyer to Stewart & McDonald and rose to be a manager in 1849.

In 1859, the founders' sons, Ninian Bannatyne Stewart and Alexander McDonald, were assumed as partners. After John McDonald's death, circa 1860, Robertson Stewart's eldest son Alexander Bannatyne Stewart joined the firm. Robertson Stewart died in 1871 and following Ninian's retirement in 1874, Alexander Stewart became the senior partner and the former cashier, Archibald Crombie, also became a partner.

Alexander Stewart died in 1880 and was succeeded as a partner by the founder's grandson John R. Stewart, and later, in 1882, by Robert Keddie, manager of several of the principal departments. Robert Keddie initiated the establishment of several supply factories and the improvement of the shop frontage on Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

In 1900, the firm was registered as a limited liability company under the name of Stewart & McDonald Ltd. with registered offices at 21 Buchanan Street, Glasgow. In 1913 the retail section of Stewart & McDonald Ltd. was hived off from the larger wholesale business as a separate private limited liability company, McDonalds Ltd.

McDonalds Ltd. was made a public limited liability company on 25 August 1920, and in 1922, acquired the business of E. J. Clarke, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, a family drapery business.
In April 1951, the business was purchased by House of Fraser Ltd., department store retailers in Glasgow. The business continued as a subsidiary of House of Fraser Ltd until 1966 when it was merged with Wylie & Lochhead Ltd., a neighbouring furnishing store, acquired by House of Fraser Ltd. in 1957. Together the stores traded as McDonalds, Wylie & Lochhead. In 1975 this merger was taken a stage further by the amalgamation of the shops Fraser Sons & Co. and McDonalds, Wylie & Lochhead as a single department store, Frasers, on the west side of Buchanan Street, Glasgow. The site of the store still existed in 2002.

By Paul Green

The name in the overprint at the top of this post is STEWART & MCDONALD; after roughly 1894 the name was written as STEWART & M'DONALD, a practice that continued to at least 1912.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Joseph Lucas Limited

The company was founded by Joseph Lucas in 1860 with his son Harry, joining around 1872, aged 17. Initially called Joseph Lucas & Son, from 1882 it was based in Little King Street, later Great King Street, Birmingham. At first it made general pressed metal merchandise including plant pot holders, scoops and buckets, and in 1875 lamps for ships; later moving into oil and acetylene lamps for bicycles from 1879. In 1902, what by then had become Joseph Lucas Ltd., incorporated in 1898, started making automotive electrical components such as magnetos, alternators, windscreen wipers, horns, lighting, wiring, and starter motors.

The company started its main growth in 1914 with a contract to supply the Morris Motor Company with electrical equipment.

After the First World War the firm expanded rapidly, branching out into products such as braking systems and diesel systems for the automotive industry and hydraulic actuators and electronic engine control systems for the aerospace industry. In 1926 they gained an exclusive contract with Austin.

Around 1930, Lucas and Smiths established a trading agreement to avoid competition in each others markets.

During the 1920s and 1930s Lucas grew rapidly by taking over a number of their competitors such as Rotax and C.A.Vandervell (CAV). During WW2 Lucas were engaged by Rover to work on the combustion and fuel systems for the Whittle jet engine project making the burners, this came about due to their experience of sheet metal manufacture and CAV for the pumps and injectors. In the 1950s they started a semiconductor manufacturing plant to make rectifiers and transistors.

Starting 1996 Lucas was brought and sold by a number of companies this ended with Eltra Lighting Ltd acquiring the license from TRW to use the Lucas name on products in the UK and Europe, this purchase sees the familiar green and white Lucas name return to the car spares shops shelves again.

By Paul Green

Dawbarn & Sons

Dawbarn and Sons Ltd. have been established over 100 years. Originally sail makers and ships chandlers, Dawbarn and Sons diversified into tarpaulins and covers for road transport in the 1950s.

Today Dawbarn and Sons are the UK's leading manufacturer of bulk vehicle sheeting systems and fabricators of canvas and plastic goods for road transport, agriculture, industry, leisure and sports.

By Paul Green

Bevington & Sons

Bevington (1772) was the co-founder of the Neckinger Leather Mills in Bermondsey Surrey, at one time the largest leather factory in Europe.

The photograph below was taken in 1862 at Neckinger Mills. It shows John W. Bevington, James B. Bevington, Samuel Bevington, and Horatio Harris, another of the partners or owners.

Neckinger Mill was originally a paper mill where many new inventions were made, including extracting ink from recycled paper. The building is best remembered however, as the biggest leather mills, owned by Bevingtons & Sons from the 1800s to 1980. The mills covered a vast area including not only the existing building but the whole area around the Neckinger Estate. Here they produced light leathers such as Morocco leather and seal-skins for shoes and fancy goods. During WWII, women played a key role in this process, the fish oils they used during the glazing process apparently enhanced the beauty in Bermondsey women's skin and hair.

Bevington’s re-located from Bermondsey to Leicester in the 1980s where it is now a specialist division of Milton Leicester Ltd., producing hand-crafted leather goods.

By Paul Green

Selfridges & Co.

Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co., is a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom. It was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The flagship store in London's Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and was opened on 15 March 1909. More recently, three other stores have been opened; in Trafford, Greater Manchester (1998), in Manchester City Centre's Exchange Square (2002) and in the Bullring, Birmingham (2003). For 14 years, the store belonged to Liverpool's now-defunct Lewis's retail group.

Gordon Selfridge was born in 1858 in Ripon, Wisconsin, and in 1879 joined Field, Leiter and Company (later to become Marshall Field & Company), where he worked for the famous Chicago retailer. He worked his way up through the firm, married into the prominent Buckingham family, and amassed the fortune with which he built his new London store.

Selfridge's innovative marketing led to his success. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure instead of a chore. He put merchandise on display so customers could examine it, put the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor, and established policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop — techniques that have been adopted by modern department stores the world over.

Either Selfridge or Marshall Field is popularly held to have coined the phrase "the customer is always right", and he did use it regularly in his extensive advertising.

He attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits. He was himself interested in education and science, and believed that the displays would introduce potential new customers to Selfridges, generating both immediate and long-term sales.

In 1909, after the first cross-Channel flight, Louis BlĂ©riot's monoplane was exhibited at Selfridges, where it was seen by 12,000 people. The first public demonstration of television was by John Logie Baird from the first floor of Selfridges from 1–27 April 1925.

The provincial stores were sold to the John Lewis Partnership in the 1940s. The remaining Oxford Street store was acquired in 1951 by the Liverpool-based Lewis's chain of department stores, which was in turn taken over in 1965 by the Sears Group owned by Charles Clore. In March 1998 Selfridges had acquired a new logo, at use to the present, which came in tandem with the opening of the Manchester Trafford Centre store and Selfridges demerger from Sears.

In 2003, the chain was acquired by Canada's Galen Weston for £598 million. Weston, a retailing expert who is the owner of department store chains such as Holt Renfrew and Brown Thomas as well as major supermarket chains in Canada, has chosen to invest in renovation of the Oxford Street store, rather than to carry out planned expansion to Leeds, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Bristol, and Glasgow, despite Selfridges owning a site in the latter city.

By Paul Green

Cook, Son & Co.

Cook, Son & Co. was one of the largest British wholesale clothing traders and drapers of the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The firm was created by William Cook in 1819. In 1822 he went into partnership with his brother James and in 1825 with Mr. Gladstones. The firm moved to St Paul's Church Yard in 1843.

William died in 1869. His son, Francis Cook, was head of the firm until his death in 1901. The company continued as a family business.

The company concentrated on warehousing and distribution rather than manufacturing. It employed Commercial travelers who exploited the recently built railway network to make sales by visiting retailers with samples of the products.

By Paul Green

A. W. Gamage Ltd.

Gamages was a department store founded by Mr. A. W. Gamage at 116-128 Holborn in Central London.
The store closed in 1972, but prior to that had been unusual inasmuch as its premises were away from the main Oxford Street shopping area, being on the edge of the City of London at Holborn.

Arthur Walter Gamage was the son of a Herefordshire farmer who was apprenticed to a London draper in St Paul's churchyard. In 1878, at the age of 21 and having saved £40 (equivalent to £2,500 today) he decided to set up his own shop, in partnership with Frank Spain. Between them they raised the £88 necessary to lease and refit a small watch repair shop in Holborn. The owner assured them that a hosiery shop would do well in the area. The frontage was no more than five feet and above it Gamage hung his motto "Tall Oaks from Little Acorns Grow."

The partners lived in the back room of the shop and allowed themselves no more than fourteen shillings a week for their living expenses. Gamage insisted on selling everything cheaper than anywhere else and gradually crowds began to visit the shop, even though the area was "unfashionable". By the end of the first year trading had grown to £1,632. In 1881, Gamage bought Spain out and began to expand the premises by buying the small properties that surrounded his original shop until, by the end of the decade, most of the block between Leather Lane and Hatton Garden was in his hands.

Because of the piecemeal expansion, his Department Store ended up as a maze of rooms, steps, passages and ramps which Gamage now called the People's Popular Emporium. Children and adults alike experienced something of an adventure as they wandered through the warren in search of bargains. It offered a very wide selection of goods, including haberdashery, furniture, sporting goods, gardening supplies and utensils, camping equipment, magic tricks, and clothing.

Gamage went on to become the official supplier of uniforms to the Boy Scout movement and continued to expand. A large zoological department and a toy department were joined by a motor department where one could purchase a motor car and all the equipment required for running it.

Gamages also had a large mail-order business and issued a wide range of catalogues covering its different departments as well as large comprehensive catalogues. In 1911, for example, 49 pages of his 900 page catalogue were devoted to bicycles.

The Holborn premises closed in March 1972 and disappeared in the massive redevelopment scheme which now occupies the site. The frontage on Holborn that was Gamages was in 2009 occupied by a W. H. Smith stationery store and the offices above are now occupied by French technology specialists Steria.

By Paul Green