Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cooke, Sons & Co.

Cooke, Sons & Co. was a carpet manufacturer established by William Peabody Cooke in Liversedge, Yorkshire in 1795. The company had spinning mills in Liversedge, a matting factory in Hadleigh, Suffolk, and a warehouse in London. Carpets were entirely produced on handlooms until 1850.

In 1938 Cooke, Sons & Co. was taken over by another carpet manufacturer called Blackwood, Morton & Sons, who trade today as BMK Carpets Ltd.

Cooke, Sons & Co. Advertising Envelope.
Used with 2d embossed 17 September 1891 to Gothenberg

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, February 16, 2014

David Evans & Co.

David Evans & Co. was a textile printing business established in Crayford, south-east London in 1843. David Evans was already an established silk merchant and Crayford was seen as an ideal site for textile work as it was within easy reach of the main markets of central London and the Thames ports of north Kent, and there was abundant clean water from the River Cray.

The company specialized in hand block printing right up to the 1980s. This was an incredibly slow, labor-intensive process that combined the skills of an artist, toolmaker and carpenter. The process started with a block maker who transferred a design to a block of wood. A separate block was needed for each distinct color and many blocks were needed to build up the pattern. The blockcutter would then carve out the design which would be transferred to a metal plate. Once the plates were made, a printer applied ink to the relief and hand pressed it against a cloth. David Evans & Co. had a massive library of such plates – something like 70,000 different blocks with about 11,000 different designs. The company produced good quality printed silks, and gained an international reputation for its Real Ancient Madder Silks, which were made by a special process involving secret recipes, initially including the use of dung, and herds of cattle were kept for the purpose.

David Evans & Co. advanced into screen and automated printing in the 1970s. Quality was always paramount and clients included, among others, Liberty department store, Christian Dior and Elton John. The company closed down in 2002.

Examples of printed silks by David Evans & Co.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Christy & Co.

Christy & Co. is a hat manufacturing company which makes men's and women's hats as well as bespoke ranges for the military and for police forces.

The company was established by Miller Christy and his partner Joseph Storrs in 1773. The first hat shop was at 5 Whitehart Court in London, moving later to Gracechurch Street, which remained the London address of the business until 1954. Following the retirement of the two original partners in 1804, Miller Christy's three sons, Thomas, William and John, took control of the firm. Under the stewardship of the brothers Christy & Co. expanded. Factories were established in Bermonsey, Frampton Cotterell and Wray. The company also brought in hats from other hat manufacturers located in various parts of the country, in particular T. & J. Worsley & Co. in Stockport. In 1826 Christy's acquired Worsley & Co. outright and expanded the factory in Stockport. At its height, the Stockport factory alone employed 3000 local people and was always managed by direct descendants of the company's founder. By 1843 Christy & Co. was the largest hat and cap manufacturer in the world. In 1887 the business was incorporated as a limited company, however the years following the First World War saw the company enter a steady decline. Today, Christy's is a much smaller operation and is based in Oxfordshire.  

Christys are known to have used at least three different overprints :
  • Recd. For / Christy & Co. (style h2b) recorded on : 1d Inland Revenue (small)
  • RECEIVED FOR // CHRISTY & CO. LD. (style v2a) recorded on : sg 357
  • CHRISTY // & CO. LTD. (style h2d) recorded on : sg 506

It seems probable that the overprint on this 1d Inland Revenue stamp pictured belongs to the same company, although I cannot confirm this.

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by Mark Matlach