Saturday, December 18, 2010

John Pound & Co.

John Pound & Co. was a manufacturer and retailer of high quality luggage and luxury dressing cases.

The business was originally started by John Pound's father, Henry Pound, who established the company in Leadenhall Street, London in 1823 with his partner Mr. Tasker. Pound & Tasker were makers of trunks and packing cases. Tasker died in 1857 and Henry Pound admitted his son into the business. John Pound took control of the company following his father's death and he developed the business into one of the largest of its kind in Britain. By 1871 John Pound & Co. had three factories, eight distributing warehouses, and five shops in central London; at Leadenhall Street, Regents Street, Oxford Street, Picadilly, and Tottenham Court Road. As well as luggage and dressing cases, John Pound & Co. also made and sold hunting bags, hat cases, writing cases and purses.

John Pound became Lord Mayor of London in 1904. With less time to run his business, he gave contol of the company to his two sons, John Lulham and Percy Albert. John Pound & Co. continued to trade until the 1940s or 1950s when it was taken over by John Lewis.

By Mark Matlach

Friday, December 17, 2010

William Whiteley Limited

Whilst working as a draper's assistant as a young man, William Whiteley dreamed of one day owning a grand shop which would sell everything. Whiteley lived frugally. He did not drink or smoke and survived on a diet of tea, bread and cheese. He managed to save £700 which was enough to open a draper's shop at Westbourne Grove, London in 1863. By 1867 Whiteley had acquired a row of shops along Westbourne Grove which he turned into 17 departments. Dressmaking was started in 1868, a house agency and a refreshment room opened in 1875, and a building and decorating department was added in 1876. Claiming that he could provide anything from a pin to an elephant, William Whiteley dubbed himself "The Universal Provider."

Whiteley met with strong opposition from smaller tradesmen and also from the local authorities over his grand business plans. Several fires in the 1880s may have been arson attacks by his opponents. Despite these setbacks business continued to prosper. By 1890 over 6000 staff were employed by Whiteleys, most of them living in company-owned dormitories, having to obey 176 rules and working from 7am to 11pm six days a week.

In 1897 another fire resulted in the Westbourne Grove store burning to the ground. William Whiteley was not to be defeated and in 1911 he opened a new store in nearby Queensway. This was claimed to be the largest British store in the world. Whiteley continued to work in his business and it was whilst in one of his shops that tragedy struck on 24th January 1907. A young man called Horace Rayner entered the premises and claimed to be Whiteley's illegitimate son. Considering him to be a blackmailer, Whiteley was about to call the police when Rayner shot him dead. Rayner received the death penalty though this was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Whiteleys department store closed down in 1981. In 1989, after extensive reconstruction, Whiteleys was re-opened as a shopping centre.

By Mark Matlach

Whiteley Ltd. used commercial overprints for decades and you would think that they would be common. In a sense, they are--but there are many varieties of wording and font spread over quite a range of issues. Each combination of pattern and issue is a bit of a challenge to find:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Henry Bannerman & Sons Limited

Henry Bannerman was a successful farmer in Perthshire, Scotland when at the age of 55 he decided on a complete change of career. In 1808 he moved with his family to Manchester, determined to get involved in the burgeoning Lancashire cotton industry. Within a month he had rented a warehouse and established a company with the name of Henry Bannerman & Sons. The new enterprise began trading in cotton, calicoes, muslins and plain fabrics.

Henry Bannerman died in 1823, his second career having lasted some 15 years. His eldest son David took over until his death six years later. The business was carried on by David's brothers, and after their retirement, by David's two sons.

Bannermans was by this time prospering and in the late 1830s the company moved to a huge warehouse in York Street which was right in the centre of the Manchester cotton trade. Bannermans also had four cotton mills in the Manchester area : Brunswick Mill in Ancoats, Old Hall Mill in Dukinfield and the North End Mill and River Meadow Mill, both in Stalybridge .

In 1880 Charles Macara became the manager of Bannermans. He concentrated the firm exclusively on “heavy” goods such as curtains, quilts, sheets, blankets and calicoes. Macara remained in charge until his death in 1929.

By this time the Lancashire cotton industry was dying. The First World War had halted the supply of raw cotton and the British Government had encouraged its colonies to build their own cotton mills. With the War over, Lancashire never regained its markets and the independent mills were struggling.

The Bank of England set up the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in 1929 in an attempt to save the industry and Bannermans' mills were taken over a few years later. The mills were acquired by Courtaulds in 1964 and all production ceased in 1967.
By Mark Matlach

Woodhams & Levy

Woodhams & Levy were brewers, salt merchants, corn dealers, and coal merchants based in Rochester, Kent. Goods for sale were transported in vessels up the River Thames to Liddard's Wharf in London twice a week to be traded. The company operated a brewery at Bulwark Hill for a short period from 1890 to 1895.

The Bulwark Hill Brewery changed hands several times during its relatively short history. The first definite mention of it is in the 1840 Pigot's Directory which states that Walker & Son were the brewers in this year. Sometime between 1844 and 1847 the brewery must have changed hands because from 1847 to 1882, Henry Cliffe is listed as the brewer. There then follows a quick change in ownership, J.A. Rolls is the brewer in 1889, but in 1890 Woodhams & Levy have taken over. Woodhams & Levy's control of the Bulwark Hill Brewery lasted for just five years as in 1895 the company was taken over by the East Kent Brewery. The East Kent Brewery did not stay long at Bulwark Hill, moving to new premises at Commercial Quay in 1905. In 1907 the site of the Bulwark Hill Brewery was occupied by the Piers Infant School.

By Mark Matlach

Russian Bank for Foreign Trade

The Russian Bank for Foreign Trade was a private bank established in St. Petersburg in 1871. At this time St. Petersburg had the status of the biggest banking centre in Russia and was also beginning to play an important role as an international banking centre.

The bank was one of the biggest in Russia and invested significantly in the development of heavy industrial enterprises, especially during the industrial boom of 1909 – 1913. Its influence was felt most of all in the machine-building and railway construction industries. The bank also served as an intermediary between foreign money markets and Russian entrepreneurs. Before the outbreak of the First World War the bank had 76 branches in Russia as well as foreign branches in London and Paris. The Russian Bank for Foreign Trade was nationalized in October 1917.

By Mark Matlach

The Gas Light and Coke Company

The Gas Light and Coke Company (also known as the Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company), was a company involved in the business of gas lighting and coking. It was located on the Horseferry Road in London's Westminster district. It is identified as the original company from which British Gas is descended.

The company was founded by Frederick Albert Winsor 65 (originally from Germany) and incorporated by Royal Charter on 30 April 1812, under the seal of King George III. It was the first company set up to supply London with (coal) gas, and operated the first gas works in the United Kingdom which was also the world's first public gas works. It was governed by a "Court of Directors", which met for the first time on 24 June 1812.

The original capitalisation was a million pounds, in 80,000 shares.

Offices were established at Pall Mall, with a wharf at Cannon Row. In 1818 the company established a tar works in Poplar and expanded their works at Brick Lane and Westminster. Under the guidance of the company's chief engineer, Samuel Clegg (formerly of Boulton and Watt), a gas works was installed at the Royal Mint in 1817 and by 1819 nearly 290 miles of pipes had been laid in London, supplying 51,000 burners. Clegg also developed a practical gas meter. The vast Beckton works were built on East Ham Levels to the east of London in 1868, named after company chairman Simon Adams Beck.

The company had an especially large and diverse transport fleet including shipping, barges and railway engines for the import and export of coal and by-products, and road transport for local delivery and maintenance.

With the advent of electricity the company expanded into domestic services, with lady Demonstrators employed to promote gas cooking. This Home Service eventually developed into a full advisory service on domestic gas use. The company was so large that after nationalisation of the gas industry in 1949 the area it covered, which stretched from Pinner in North West London to Southend-on-Sea in Essex, became North Thames Gas, one of the twelve regional Gas Boards.

By Paul Green

Trapnell and Gane Ltd.

Trapnell and Co. was begun by Henry Trapnell in 1824 in Host Street. As it developed new premises were acquired in St.James's Barton, Queen's Street, St.Michael's and Barrs Street, St.Paul's.

In 1860 the headquarters of the business moved to College Green. By 1889 branches had opened in both Cardiff and Newport. A final expansion of the firm's manufacturing resources took place in 1903 when a five-floor factory was opened in Hill Street, Bristol.

During the 19th century, Henry Trapnell's sons William and Caleb helped build up the business. Philip Endres Gane, who had been employed since boyhood, was taken into partnership and at the end of the century took over proprietorship, the company becominga limited company Trapnel and Gane

In 1851 an imposing exhibit was designed and made by the firm's craftsmen for the Great Exhibition and in the following year there is record of a notable exhibit prepared for the Paris Exhibition. Royalty, too, were furnished direct in the 19th century and the furnishing of reception rooms for royal visits was often entrusted to the firm.

In 1909 a private limited company was formed of which Philip Endres Gane was chairman and managing director. His two sons, Leslie and Crofton, became associated with the firm as directors. The latter took over the chairmanship on the death of his father in 1933.

Air raids during the Second World War took a heavy toll of company premises. The large showrooms on College Green were totally destroyed in 1940 along with much furniture and many records. Shortly afterwards its workshop in St.Paul's and also its warehouse suffered the same fate.

The wartime destruction and other factors effectively ended the company's long-held reputation as a manufacturer of high-class house furnishings. In post war years the company operated from its showroom at 79 Park Street, Bristol. Unfortunately, these premises provided a totally inadequate single window display for its various departments. In 1950 the company's Newport branch closed (its Cardiff branch had already been sold in 1930) and four years later the company itself passed into voluntary liquidation.

By Paul Green

The Morning Post

The Morning Post was founded by John Bell. Originally a Whig paper, it was purchased by Daniel Stuart in 1795, who made it into a moderate Tory organ. A number of well-known writers contributed, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, James Mackintosh, and William Wordsworth. In the seven years of Stuart's proprietorship, the paper's circulation rose from 350 to over 4,000.

With the aid of Andrew Montagu, Peter Borthwick purchased the Post in 1876. His son Oliver was business manager and editor, but died young, and upon the father's death in 1908 control went to his daughter Lilias Borthwick wife of Seymour Henry Bathurst, 7th Earl Bathurst (1864-1943).

The paper was noted for its attentions to the activities of the powerful and wealthy, its interest in foreign affairs, and in literary and artistic events. It began regular printing of notices of plays, concerts, and operas in the early 20th century, and is said to have been the first daily paper in London to do this.

In 1881, it appointed the first woman war correspondent when it sent Lady Florence Dixie to South Africa to cover the First Boer War

The Bathurst’s sold the paper to a consortium organized by the Duke of Northumberland in 1924

A controversial campaign against Jewish control of the political echelons and the press in Britain led to a more and more successful boycott of advertising, so the newspaper gradually declined.

Eventually on August 24 1937, the Morning Post was sold to the competitor The Daily Telegraph.

Ref: Wikipedia: The Morning Post

By Paul Green

You can see the acquisition of the Morning Post by The Daily Telegraph in the commercial overprints of the latter company. The newspaper company changed its overprint style between SG 465 and SG 488, then continued to use the later style until at least SG 573.

Shell-Mex and B.P. Ltd.

In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy obtained a concession to explore for oil in Iran. From 1905 this work was financed by The Burmah Oil Company Ltd and oil was discovered in 1908. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company Ltd was incorporated on 14 April 1909 and took over ownership of the concession, but was still a subsidiary of Burmah. This changed in 1914 following the British Government's decision to convert its Navy to fuel oil, as it lead to a large investment in the Company by the Government giving it a 66 per cent interest. The Government remained a major shareholder in the Company until it decided to sell most of its shares on the stock exchange in 1987.

In 1923 the Company discovered oil in Iraq, within the "Transferred Territories" which fell within the D'Arcy Concession. In 1914 it had become a shareholder in the Turkish Petroleum Company Ltd, later renamed the Iraq Petroleum Company Ltd, which struck oil in Iraq in 1927. In 1934 the Kuwait Oil Company Ltd was incorporated as a jointly-owned venture with Gulf Oil Corporation of Pennsylvania, which discovered oil in Kuwait in 1938. In 1932 the Company formed a joint UK marketing company with Shell called Shell-Mex and B.P. Ltd.

The Company was renamed the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Ltd in 1935. In 1951 the Iranian Oil industry was nationalised and the Company was expelled from Iran. It changed its name in 1954 to The British Petroleum Company Ltd. A consortium called The Iranian Oil Participants Ltd was then formed, in which the Company had the largest interest. The purpose of the Consortium was to work with the National Iranian Oil Company (formed in 1951) to develop the country's oil and gas interests. This lasted until the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

During the 1960s and 70s the Company pioneered oil and gas exploration and production in the North Sea and Alaska. This was followed in the 1970s and 80s by a program of diversification which included the creation of BP Minerals, BP Coal, and BP Nutrition. However, most of these assets were sold between 1987 and 1994 in order to finance the purchases of The Standard Oil Company in May 1987 and Britoil in March 1988. The Company then underwent a process of concentration on the "core businesses" of exploration, marketing and refining, and petrochemicals. The one significant survivor from the years of diversification is BP Solar which continued to grow during the 1990s and is now one of the world's largest solar energy companies.

In 1982 the Company changed its name to The British Petroleum Co PLC. On 31 December 1998, the Company merged with the US oil company, Amoco Corporation, on a 60/40 basis and was renamed BP Amoco PLC. Two further takeovers occurred in 2000 - Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and Burmah Castrol PLC. On 1 May 2001 the Company was renamed BP PLC.

By Paul Green

Shell-Mex and B. P. used at least two commercial overprint patterns; the first (and more rare) appears on SG 488. The second pattern is known from at least SG 488 to SG 543b.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rowntree & Co. Ltd.

Joseph Rowntree was born on May 24th 1836 at his father's shop in Pavement, in the centre of York. He was the second of five children: his older brother being John and the other siblings, Henry Isaac, Hannah and Sarah Jane. His parents held strong Quaker beliefs, as had several generations of his family.

England, at this time was still a place where only one man in six had the vote and two thirds of the population worked in the countryside. Farmers and their families used to come into the market centre of York, known as the Pavement, to sell their animals and produce and to stock up with groceries.

The Rowntree's shop was central to this trade and Joseph was apprenticed to his father at the age of fifteen. This was to provide Joseph with the basic business acumen, which served him well in his career that was to last for the next 71 years.

After a brief period in London when he was 21, to broaden his grocery experience, he returned to the Pavement and became a partner in his father's business. He married but his first wife died due to poor health, leaving one daughter. His second marriage produced five children.

In 1868 he joined his brother Henry Isaac who then owned a cocoa,chocolate and chicory works at Tanner's Moat near the river Ouse. The business developed slowly until in 1879 a Frenchman, Claude Gachet, introduced French gums to Joseph and Henry and in 1881 'crystallised gum pastilles' were sold by Rowntree's. In 1883 twice as many people were employed as in 1881, largely due to the introduction and popularity of these gums. Henry Isaac died in 1883 leaving Joseph alone in developing the business. This he did with a move to a larger specially built factory at Haxby Road. In 1897 Rowntree & Co became Limited, with Joseph Rowntree as Chairman. When Joseph retired in 1923 he had seen his company grow from a staff of 12 to over 7,000 in the space of 55 years.

From the outset of his career he had always adopted a democratic attitude with his workforce and was always aware of their welfare. He introduced pensions, clubs, as well as profit sharing, which helped to develop a warm and close relationship with his employees. In 1918 he introduced an annual week's holiday with full pay. At the time of his death in 1925 the company was established as one of the major manufacturing forces in England and the foundation for greater success was set.

Rowntree’s was synonymous with Jelly and many of the ten flavours used in 1923 are still in use today. The popularity of Rowntree's jelly has not waned but increased and in 1983 thirteen times the amount manufactured in 1923 was produced.

In 1969 Rowntree & Co Ltd and John Mackintosh & Sons Ltd became Rowntree Mackintosh Ltd. In 1987 the company changed its name to Rowntree Plc and the following year, 1988, Nestle SA bought the company.

By Paul Green

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company

The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which dated from the early 19th century.

In 1822, Brodie McGhie Willcox, a London ship broker, and Arthur Anderson, a sailor from the Shetland Isles, northern Scotland, went into partnership to operate a shipping line, primarily operating routes between England and Spain and Portugal. In 1835, Dublin ship-owner Captain Richard Bourne joined the business, and the three men started a regular steamer service between London and Spain and Portugal--the Iberian Peninsula--using the name Peninsular Steam Navigation Company, with services to Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon and Cádiz.

The company flag colours are directly connected with the Peninsular flags: the white and blue represent the Portuguese flag in 1837, and the yellow and red the Spanish flag.

In 1837, the business won a contract from the British Admiralty to deliver mail to the Iberian Peninsula and in 1840 they acquired a contract to deliver mail to Alexandria in Egypt. The present company, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, was incorporated in that year by a Royal Charter, and its name therefore includes neither "Plc" nor "Limited".

Mail contracts were the basis of P&O's prosperity until the Second World War, but the company also became a major commercial shipping line and passenger liner operator. In 1914, it took over the British India Steam Navigation Company, which was then the largest British shipping line, owning 131 steamers. In 1918, it gained a controlling interest in the Orient Line, its partner in the England- Australia mail route. Further acquisitions followed and the fleet reached a peak of almost 500 ships in the mid 1920s. In 1920, the company also established a bank, P&O Bank, that it sold in 1927.

Eighty-five of the company's ships were sunk in the First World War and 179 in the Second World War.

After 1945, the passenger market declined to India but boomed to Australia with the advent of paid-passages for literate & healthy European immigrants. P&O built 15 large passenger liners, including SS Himalaya, SS Chusan, SS Arcadia (1954), and SS Iberia (1954), culminating in SS Canberra, its last & largest in 1961. By 1968 over 1 million immigrants had arrived--many via P&O and Australia ended the program. P&O entered the cruise market and began to sell & scrap many of these liners. It concentrated mainly on cargo ships. It entered the tanker trade in 1959 and the roll-on roll-off (RORO) ferry business in the mid 1960s.

Over the last quarter of the Twentieth Century P&O diversified into construction management (through the Bovis companies, which it owned from 1974 to 1999), property investment and development, and a variety of service businesses including exhibition and conference centres, but most of these activities were disposed of following the company's decision in March 1999 to concentrate on maritime and transport. Its P&O Ports and P&O Cold Logistics divisions developed from P&O's operations in Australia, where it has a leading position in these fields.

On Sunday October 30, 2005 The Sunday Times reported that P&O was in takeover talks with Thunder FZE, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, in February 2006 shareholders voted in favour of the offer from Dubai. The combined group is the world's third largest ports operator.

Following its sale in March 2006 to Dubai Ports World for £3.9 billion, it became a subsidiary of DP World; however, the P&O brand has been retained. The company was headquartered in London, in the United Kingdom; it was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

National Maritime Museum

It is a little surprising that a company could use commercial overprints from the Victorian era through to the 1960s, and yet be rare through all of that time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Edward & Thomas Pink

Edward and Thomas Pink was a wholesale confectioner and marmalade and jam manufacturer. The business was established by Edward Pink when he opened a jam and pickle factory in Bermondsey, South East London, in the late 1880s.

Edward Pink was a highly principled man whose aim was to produce good quality food made with real, pure ingredients. It was a time before health regulations and all the food safety rules that are the norm today. For example, chalk or other white powders were often added to flour, and meat was often from animals that were diseased. Tea could be adulterated with sulphate of iron and lead, and mercury could be present in confectionery.

Pinks' factory was soon producing pickles, jams, confectionery, candied peels and spices. By the end of the 19th Century, Edward and Thomas Pink was said to be the largest manufacturer of marmalade in the world. Records show that during 1897 the company produced 3,400 tons of marmalade which required 1,950 tons of oranges and 1,800 tons of sugar. During The First World War, the firm had a contract to supply Pinks' Plum Jam to the British troops.

Edward and Thomas Pink was acquired by the food manufacturer Crosse & Blackwell around 1920. The Bermondsey factory was demolished in 1935.

By Mark Matlach

Pinks had an interesting history of commercial overprint usage. You can follow the from the founding of the company through to the time when Thomas' name was added, and finally to the simplification of the company name to simply Pinks'.

Frederick Gorringe

Frederick Gorringe was a silk mercer and draper who founded Gorringe's department store.

In 1858 Frederick Gorringe opened a small drapery shop in Buckingham Palace Road, London. The shop soon became popular with the nobility and gentry and was patronized by the Ladies of Queen Victoria's household. Gorringe's business prospered and by 1869 occupied three shop premises, which were eventually replaced by a large department store.
There were tiny rooms at the top of the store where unmarried sales assistants lived. Gorringes had a strict dress code for its sales staff: women wore black dresses and men pin-striped suits. Sitting down behind the counter was not permitted. The customer was always right and politeness was the byword--a complaint from a customer would often lead to an instant dismissal.

Gorringes remained a well-known, fashionable department store until its closure in 1968.

By Mark Matlach

The Gorringe overprints of the Victorian era have noticeable variations in the spacing and positioning of the words in the pattern.

The latest Gorringe issue I am aware of is SG370, which was first produced in 1921.

Maple & Co. Ltd.

In 1861, 16 year-old John Blundell Maple went to work at his father's small furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road in London's West End. The young man had exceptional business skills and was running the company within a few years. By the 1880s Maple & Co. had become the largest furniture store in the world selling everything required to furnish a house. The firm became a limited company with a capital of £2 million in 1890 with John Blundell Maple as Chairman.

Maple & Co. Ltd. manufactured their own luxury furniture in a warehouse so vast that in 1890 it occupied an area where once 200 houses had stood. The warehouse was regarded as one of the sights of London and was constantly visited by tourists.

Maple & Co Ltd. supplied furniture to everyone who was anyone in Victorian society. They furnished palaces all over the world, including Tsar Nicholas's Winter Palace, the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna, all the great hotels, and town and country houses. Prestigious British embassies were all furnished by Maples.

The Maples furniture business continued for many years, until it went bankrupt in 1997 and was taken over by the retailer Allders.

By Mark Matlach

I am not aware of Maple overprints outside the range of stamps shown here. Despite the long history of the company, these overprints seem to be surprisingly scarce--which is unfortunate because the receipts are very interesting:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kodak S. A.

This is the first Spanish commercial overprint I have encountered, and it appears to have been used in a way that I have not seen in commercial overprints from other countries.

"The Royal Order of March 24, 1897, created a series of TIMBRE MOVIL ESPECIAL (special adhesive stamps (sometimes translated as "special handling" stamps)) whose denominations were 10 centimos, 5 centimos, 2 centimos and 1 centimo. The 10 centimos denomination was used on all duplicate and triplicate sheets of declarations of importation." The stamp you see here was issued in 1904.

The overprint identifies two cities where Kodak S.A. was located, which makes sense as the stamp was used in customs declarations.

By Michael Behm