The business was established by William Kent as W. Kent & Co. in London in 1777. The firm became G. B. Kent & Co. from 1854 to 1900 when George Barton Kent took control of the enterprise. George presided over a massive expansion in the range of products and the quantity of items sold. By the end of the 19th century the firm was making so many bone-handled toothbrushes that they were using the leg bones of 600 bullocks a week.
The company became G. B. Kent & Sons Ltd. in 1900. During the First World War, Kent made hundreds of thousands of brushes for the War Office. A soldier's kit included a hair, tooth, shaving, cloth, shoe blacking, shoe polishing, and button brush.
The Kent family continued to run the company until 1932 when Eric Cosby, of Cosby Brushes Ltd., took control of the firm. In a top secret operation during the Second World War, Kent made shaving brushes in which maps and compasses could be concealed for forwarding to overseas British prisoners of war to enable them to find their way home in the event of escape. The work was carried out in a special locked and windowless room at the Kent factory with access allowed only to a chosen few.
In 1984 the company headquarters were moved from London to Apsley, Hertfordshire, and remain there to this day.
Kent were prolific users of perfins throughout their history, however I am aware of only two overprints used by the company :
Received for / G. B. Kent & Co. /........./ £....... (h4a) (IRL)
Received for / G. B. Kent & Co. (h2a) (IRS)
George Barton Kent
by Mark Matlach
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