Sunday, January 27, 2013

Samuel Allsopp & Sons Labels

Samuel Allsopp & Sons labels make for a very interesting, though rather expensive, addition to a commercial overprint collection. In 1860 the brewing company of Samuel Allsopp & Sons was authorised by the Inland Revenue to use the current 1d Inland Revenue stamp se-tenant with a strip of three Allsopp labels, for the purpose of recording excise duties and issuing receipts. They were supplied in blocks of eight containing two such strips which were perforated vertically down the middle and horizontally through the right-hand block of four. The left-hand pair of the strip was overprinted in black with lines for entering the date, amount received in words and figures, the discount and the name and address of the customer, and this part was retained by the company. The corresponding right half was given to the customer as a form of receipt. Further details about the Allsopp labels can be found in Stanley Gibbons Great Britain specialised stamp catalogue volume 1.

The origins of the company go back to the 1740s when an innkeeper in the town of Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire called Benjamin Wilson, brewed beer for his own premises and sold some to other innkeepers. Over the next 60 years, Wilson and his son and successor, also called Benjamin, cautiously built up the business and became the leading brewer in Burton. In 1807 Benjamin Junior sold the brewery to his nephew Samuel Allsopp for £7,000. After Samuel's death in 1838, his sons Charles and Henry continued the brewery as Allsopp & Sons. In 1859 the brothers built a new brewery near the railway station and by 1861 the company was the second largest brewer after Bass. In 1882 Henry Allsopp's son, Samuel Charles Allsopp, took over the business. The company was incorpoated as Samuel Allsopp & Sons Limited in 1887. Under Samuel Allsopp the company struggled and went into receivership in 1911. The company's capital was restructured and it continued trading. In 1935 Samuel Allsopp & Sons merged with Ind Coope Limited to form Ind Coope & Allsopp Limited. The Allsopp name was dropped in 1959 and in 1971 Ind Coope was incorporated into Allied Breweries.

by Mark Matlach

Jon Evans notes that Allsopp also had receipts preprinted with overprints, such as this:

Brook, Freeman & Batley

Brook, Freeman & Batley was a law firm at 47 New Street, Huddersfield from at least 1872. In 1980 the company merged with Eaton Smith & Downey and  a merger with another law firm called Marshall Mills & Sykes took place in 1997. The company now trades as Eaton Smith, a multi-disciplinary law firm in Huddersfield.

Brooks used a rubber handstamp in purple ink with the company initials as a security endorsement for its stamps. I have come across this overprint several times, always on the George V 2d orange.

by Mark Matlach

Croydon Local Board of Health

The cholera pandemic of 1832 killed over 55,000 people in the UK. In London the disease claimed 6,536 victims and came to be known as “King Cholera”. In response to the cholera epidemic the government passed the Public Health Act in 1848. The aim of the Act was to improve the sanitary conditions of towns in England and Wales by placing the supply of water, sewerage, drainage, and street cleaning under a single local body called a Board of Health.

Croydon was one of the first towns to set up its own Board of Health in 1849. The Croydon Local Board of Health improved the water supply by building a pumping station, laying new water pipes, and building new sewers. The Board continued  its work until 1883 and it appears that it was largely successful; by the 1890s Croydon was said to be “the healthiest among the large towns in the Kingdom.”

The number of Local Boards of Health in the UK peaked at 721 in 1873; however, it seems that Croydon was the only one to overprint its stamps.

Croydon Waterworks at Surrey Street, built in 1866

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, January 20, 2013

H. P. Bulmer & Co. Ltd.

From its roots as a small family concern in the village of Credenhill, Hereford, H. P. Bulmer & Co. Ltd. has grown into the world's leading cider maker.

The origins of the company go back to 1887, when H. P. (Percy) Bulmer, the 20-year-old youngest son of the Rector of Credenhill, first pressed apples from his father's orchard. Percy is said to have taken his mother's advice to make a career in food or drink, “because neither ever go out of fashion.” In 1888 Percy Bulmer rented a warehouse in Maylord Street, Hereford, arranged to buy apples from local farmers, and produced 4,000 gallons of cider. In the following year the business expanded and moved to Ryelands Street, where Percy was joined by his brother Fred, who became responsible for sales.

Bulmers was first granted the Royal Warrant in 1911 and continues today as “Cider Maker to Her Majesty the Queen.”

The company was independent until 2003, when, having run into financial problems, it was taken over by Scottish & Newcastle, which in turn was taken over by Heineken International in 2008.

Today, H.P Bulmer makes 65% of the 500 million liters of cider sold annually in the UK and the bulk of the UK's cider exports. The company's two principal brands are its own Bulmers cider, which is sold worldwide, and Strongbow cider, which is sold across Europe, the United States, Australia, and the Far East.

Percy Bulmer

by Mark Matlach

John Hutton & Sons

In 1841, John Hutton and Alexander Rhind established a drapery business at 36 Mosley Street, Newcastle. Hutton & Rhind continued their partnership until the death of Alexander in 1855. John Hutton carried on the business alone until 1886, when two of his sons were taken into partnership and the company became John Hutton & Sons. During the 1890s the firm was described as a tailor, draper, shirt maker, hosier, glover, hatter, and producer of naval uniforms.

John Hutton & Sons continued trading under the same name and at the same address until the early 1960s.

by Mark Matlach

Eason & Son Ltd.

The company that is now Eason & Son was originally founded in 1819 as J. K. Johnston & Co., a newspaper and advertising agency based on Eden Quay in Dublin, Ireland. When the firm went bankrupt in 1850, it was taken over by W. H. Smith. In 1856 Smith appointed Charles Eason as his manager in Dublin. Born in 1823 in Yeovil, Charles Eason had served as an apprentice printer in Colchester before running Smith's bookstall at Victoria Station in Manchester. Eason's arrival in Ireland to run Smith's Irish operation coincided with a massive expansion of the bookselling and newspaper industry in Ireland due to the growth of railways, the emergence of national daily newspapers, and a growing literacy rate.

In 1856 Smith sold his Irish business to Eason who, with his son, set up his own company in the same year. Eason & Son grew rapidly with the addition of wholesale book and stationery departments, an advertising section and a circulating library. Eason's railway bookstalls became increasingly popular. By 1900, the company controlled most of the bookstall and newspaper trade in Ireland.

Today, Eason & Son Ltd. is a leading wholesaler, distributor and retailer of books, newspapers, magazines and stationery in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The company continues to be headquartered in Dublin and currently employs over 1,800 staff.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Taddy & Co.

Taddy & Co was established in 1740 in London by James Taddy as a seller of tobacco, snuff and tea. By the end of the 19th century the business had grown to become one of the most important tobacco companies in Britain.

During the 1890s Taddy & Co. became well known for the excellence of their cigarette cards. The Taddy cards showing clowns, actresses and flowers have been nicknamed "the penny blacks" of cigarette cards by collectors. There were 20 "clowns" produced in the 1890s and despite being a relatively small set, there are only about 20 complete sets known in existence. In 1995 an incomplete set of 19 was sold at auction for over £10,000. Since then, this price has been far exceeded by a complete set of twenty. Another highly collectable Taddy series is a set of 25 which was issued in 1889 with the Myrtle Grove brand of cigarettes. They depict actresses and flowers and although not nearly as valuable as the Taddy's clown series, they still fetch in the region of £50 per card.

At the beginning of the 20th century Taddy & Co. was extremely prosperous. The owner at this time was Gilliat Hatfield. He believed in rewarding his employees well and ensured that their wages and conditions were superior to those of his rivals, dispensing with the need for any union representation.

During the 1920s  the cigarette industry went on strike and although the Taddy factory workers were already being paid more than the unions were demanding for the rest of the industry, they joined in the strike. Upset by these actions, Hatfield threatened to shut down the company if his employees did not return to work. The Taddy workers refused to back down and Hatfield carried out his threat and Taddy & Co. ceased trading.

by Mark Matlach

Hyam & Co.

Hyam & Co. was a clothing manufacturer and outfitter at Oxford Street in the West End of London. The company also had branches in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leeds and Dewsbury. In the latter part of the 19th century the business was described as a hosier, hatter, boot and shoe manufacturer and a manufacturer of boys' and mens' suits. Hyam & Co. seemed to specialize in clothing for the military, producing caps, raincoats, boots, and service jackets for the Army.

Hyam & Co. overprints can be found on the two types of Queen Victoria 1d revenue stamps and the 1881 1d lilac stamp.

by Mark Matlach

P. & R. Fleming & Co.

P. & R. Fleming & Co. was a famous Glasgow firm of iron merchants and structural engineers. The company was established in 1850 and expanded to carry out construction projects around the world. The company had three warehouses and a foundry in Glasgow as well as an iron works in Partick. The firm employed notable architects such as John Galt and H. D. Barclay and was apparently in business until the 1990s.

One of the specialties of P. & R. Fleming & Co. was elaborate suspension bridges, such as the Diamond Jubilee Bridge at Annan and the footbridge over the River Ayr at St. Cuthbert's Street, Catrine. The company made gates and railings, many of which can still be found in public parks all over Scotland. Even where the original cast iron railings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras have been removed, the elaborate Fleming bollards and gateposts were often retained in situ with modern steel interventions. Another well known example of the company's work is the Houston Square bandstand in Johnstone, where the free standing cast iron bollards enclosing the bandstand to the north are badged as P. & R. Fleming, Glasgow.

Footbridge over the River Ayr, St. Cuthbert's Street, Catrine.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Carron Company

The Carron Company was an ironworks established in 1759 on the banks of the River Carron near Falkirk, in Stirlingshire, Scotland.

It was founded as a partnership by Dr. John Roebuck, a chemist, Samuel Garbett, a merchant, and a wealthy Scottish shipowner, William Caddell. The factory of "Roebucks, Garbett and Cadells" was established on the north bank of Carron Water, 2 miles north of Falkirk. Taking iron ore from Bo'ness and water from the Carron, they decided to use the new method pioneered by Abraham Darby at Coalbrookdale, using coke from coal mines in the vicinity as fuel rather than the usual charcoal. The works helped to push other less technologically advanced ironworks, such as the Wealden iron industry based in the Weald, out of business.

The first blast furnace became operational on 26 December 1760, producing pig iron. However, when the factory started to produce cast iron goods, they were of a generally poor quality. Nevertheless, in 1764, the Board of Ordnance granted the company a lucrative contract to supply armaments to the British armed forces. The company also cast parts for James Watt's steam engine in 1765.

The company received a royal charter to incorporate as the Carron Company in 1773. However, despite their best efforts, the quality of the company's products remained low, this resulted in the company's contracts to supply the Royal Navy being cancelled in 1773.

Undeterred, the company pushed forward the development of a new type of cannon, shorter and therefore much lighter than a long gun of the same calibre known as the "Carronade".

The carronade was a considerable success, and remained in production from 1778 through to the 1850s. The company established such a reputation for quality that the Duke of Wellington remarked in a letter to Admiral Berkley in 1812 that he only wanted cannon manufactured by the Carron Company in his army. The company also made ammunition, including some invented by Henry Shrapnel.

By 1814, the Carron Company was the largest iron works in Europe, employing over 2,000 workers. They continued to produce pig iron through the 19th century, together with cast-iron products such as balustrades, fire grates, and the Carron bathtub. The company ran its own shipping line and produced munitions in both World Wars. It later became one of several foundries producing pillar boxes and was one of five foundries casting Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's classic Red telephone boxes. In the 1960s, it produced cast-iron rings to line the Tyne Tunnel under the River Tyne from Jarrow to Howdon and the Clyde Tunnel under the River Clyde from Whiteinch to Govan near Glasgow.

The company diversified into plastics and stainless steel, but the works went into receivership in 1982. The company was bought over and still operates today under the name of Carron Phoenix, part of the Franke corporation. Like its predecessor, The Carron Company, Carron Phoenix's headquarters are at the Carron Works in Falkirk.

Carron Phoenix produces stainless steel, ceramic and granite molded sinks that are sold around the world; however, some areas of production have been moved to China and Slovakia.

by Paul Green

Mann, Crossman and Paulin Limited

In 1818, Blake and Mann, Lambeth brewers, bought the lease to the Albion Brewery 172 Whitechapel Road. Philip Blake retired in 1826 leaving John Mann to run the business alone. The Company’s name changed to John Mann, Brewer and in 1843 to Mann and Sons.

It was soon obvious to James Mann that if he wanted to expand his business he needed new partners and a cash injection. In 1846 first Robert Crossman and then Thomas Paulin became partners. The company's name then changed to Mann, Crossman & Paulin and Co. The Company went from strength to strength throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.

In the 1860s, London drinkers started to move away from dark beers and acquired a taste for "light sparkling ales", brewed at Burton-on-Trent. The Company decided to follow fashion and built a new brewery, at Burton-on-Trent. However, in 1897 when they discovered that East End water could be used to brew these "light sparkling ales", they sold the brewery and moved production back to London. By 1880, Mann, Crossman & Paulin and Co. was the ninth largest brewer in the country.

Another fashion in the latter half of the nineteenth century was the growing demand for bottled beers. To meet this demand, the Company purchased the old Whitechapel Workhouse in Ravens Row, and built a bottling plant. By the turn of the century, beer production had reached nearly 500,000 barrels. In 1901 Mann, Crossman & Paulin become a public company.

By the 1950s, five generations of the Mann and Crossman families had been associated with the brewing and "Mann’s Brown Ale" was a huge success. But in 1959 the slippery slope to oblivion began when the company merged with Watney, Combe, Reid and Co. to form Watney, Mann. Later in 1972 this Company was bought by Grand Metropolitan, who closed the Albion Brewery in 1979.

by Paul Green

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

D. & J. Wellby Ltd.

On 5th December 1827 Joseph Clement and John Wellby affected an insurance policy from 57 King Street, Soho, where they are described as refiners and jewelers with workshops. John Wellby, who appears to have taken over the business by 1834, is described in 1836 as having carried on a considerable business for some time as a refiner.

In 1841 he is listed at the same address as a gold and silver refiner and in 1852 as a gold and silver refiner and the proprietor of an exchange office. The firm was subsequently continued by Daniel Wellby and John Wellby at their 'manufactory', 57 King Street, Soho Square, later moving to 20 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, WC, where by 1897 they are listed as diamond merchants and wholesale jewelers and dealers in plate.

In 1896/7 the firm was converted into a limited liability company under the style of D. and J. Wellby Ltd. at 18 & 20 Garrick Street, WC, dealers in gold, silver, platinum etc., assayers, refiners, jewelers, and so on, with D. Wellby, J.H. Wellby, Edward Henry Wellby and Howard Wellby as directors. The directors are subsequently recorded as J.H. Wellby and E.H. Wellby, with H. Wellby as secretary. Remaining at Garrick Street until c. 1965, D. & J. Wellby Ltd. moved to corner premises, 30 Dover Street and 1 Hay Hill, W1, where they took over the business of Boswell and Ward, antique dealers. The business closed in 1973/4.

by Paul Green

Blundell Spence & Co.

Blundell Spence and Company, paint manufacturers and oil seed crushers, was one of Hull’s most successful nineteenth century companies. Blundell’s Corner, today the home of the Hull Daily Mail, is named after the firm which once had one of its main mills on the site.

The founder of Blundell Spence was Henry Blundell. Although some accounts suggest he was born in Lincoln it appears that he was christened in Hull on the 23rd July 1787, the son of Mary and Thomas Blundell. He started his working life as an apprentice brush maker but by 1813, however, he was already making paints and four years later his operations were large enough to move into new premises near the corner of what became Beverley Road and Spring Bank.

The firm acquired the name of Blundell Spence when Henry entered into an association with his brother-in-law, William Spence, and was initially involved in both paint manufacture and oil seed crushing. Their business subsequently boomed, even though the original Beverley Road premises were destroyed by a fire in 1845 and had to be rebuilt. By 1848 Blundell Spence had also opened another mill on Wincolmlee.

The company’s fortunes were enhanced after George Dixon Longstaff moved to Hull around 1829. Longstaff practiced for a number of years as a physician whilst also sometimes lecturing on medical and chemical issues. He was one of the founders and first lecturers at the Hull and East Riding School of Medicine and Anatomy in 1833. He had a great interest in the practical applications of chemistry, and seems to have had much in common with Henry Blundell. Their working relationship blossomed some time after George married Henry’s eldest daughter, Maria, in 1833.

George Longstaff officially joined Blundell Spence in 1837 as head of London House and assisted his father in law before being made a partner in the business. He was soon resident in Hull once more and spent much of the rest of his life moving backwards and forwards between the town and the capital city. His scientific skills and judgement proved invaluable to Blundell Spence and the firm exhibited a range of goods at the Great Exhibition of 1851. By then the company was employing around 350 workers and exporting goods overseas as well across Britain and in 1863 Blundell Spence had an established capital of more than £150,000, a London office and had withdrawn from the seed crushing side of the business to concentrate on color manufacture.

Henry Blundell retired from the business in 1864 and was replaced as a partner in the company by his grandson, Llewellyn Longstaff, George’s eldest son. The firm continued to expand and in 1874 became a limited liability company with an authorized capital of £250,000.
George Dixon, another grandson of Henry Blundell became a director at this time. In 1889 a new company structure was incorporated with a capital of £400,000, then a staggering amount of money and the principal shareholders were all family members. The Longstaffs and their relations had become very rich but they had already introduced a modest profit-sharing scheme and in 1887 made the first Blundell Spence & Company: payments to staff, distributing £963 amongst 326 employees in Hull and London. By 1894 they employed 400 staff, the majority of which were based in Hull.

In the late 1890s British interest in the Arctic was renewed and there were moves to mount an Antarctic expedition.

Llewellyn Longstaff made a donation of £25000 to enable the expedition to start. Longstaff said this gift would give him the "peculiar pleasure to be able thus to contribute towards the advancement of our knowledge of the planet on which we live." Llewellyn's backing at this point was undoubtedly crucial.

The National Antarctic Expedition thus came into being. The funding it made it possible to order the construction of the Discovery, specially built at Dundee and launched in March 1901. Captain Robert Falcon Scott's appointment as leader had been confirmed in 1900.

In 1928 Longstaff was awarded the Founder’s medal by the Royal Geographical Society for his work in the Himalayas. In later years, he lived in the Highlands of Scotland where he died in 1964 at the age of 89.

In 1960 the firm of Blundell Spence merged with Permoglaze Ltd of Birmingham to form Blundell Permoglaze Ltd. and, after various changes, was bought out by Akzo Coatings, a division of the Dutch Akzo Chemical Group. The firm Akzo Nobel still (2008) work from the Bankside site purchased back in the 1840s by Mr. Blundell.

by Paul Green

Quin & Axtens Ltd.

Quin & Axtens Ltd. was set up as a business of drapers, furnishing and general warehousemen at 422 to 440 Brixton Road, Brixton. Williams Axtens was the chairman. Joseph Salmon and Arthur Way, were managing directors. Mr Boys-Tombs replaced Way in 1906.

The company started as a small shop on Brixton Road, but slowly expanded in both directions. By 1930, the store covered the entire block between Ferndale and Brixton Road. The frontage was rebuilt in a classical style a few years later.

Unfortunately, the Quin and Axten store was completely destroyed in the earlier air raids of May 1941 and only its ruined walls remained. Its business was transferred to the neighboring Bon Marché store.

by Paul Green