Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chance Bros. Limited

Chance Brothers Limited was at one time a leading glass manufacturer and a pioneer of British glass making technology. The company continues to function today as Chance Glass Limited, a specialized industrial glass manufacturer in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Robert Lucas Chance established the company in Smethwick, West Midlands, in 1824. In1832 William Chance joined his brother in partnership and the company became Chance Bros. & Co. The firm was among the earliest glass works to carry out the cylinder process in Europe and in 1837 it made the first British cylinder blown sheet glass. The company adopted the cylinder method to produce sheet glass, and became the largest British manufacturer of window and plate glass, and optical glasses.

Chance Brothers' projects included the glazing of the original Crystal Palace to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the Houses of Parliament, (built 1840 – 1860). At that time it was the only firm that was able to make the opal glass for the four faces of the Westminster Clock Tower which housed the famous bell, Big Ben. Other projects included stained glass windows, ornamental lamp shades, microscope glass slides, painted glassware and glass tubing. In 1889 the business was formed into a public company and became Chance Brothers Ltd. In the early 20th century, many new ways of making glass evolved at Chance Bros. such as the innovative welding of a cathode ray tube used for radar detection.

Pilkington Bros. Acquired a 50 % shareholding in 1945 but the Chance operation continued to be largely separately managed and a factory was established in Malvern in 1947 to specialise in laboratory glass. In 1948 the Malvern plant produced the world's first interchangeable syringe. By the end of 1952 Pilkington had assumed full financial control of Chance Bros., but did not become actively involved in its management until the late 1960s.

In 1992, during a period of rationalisation at Pilkington, a management buy-out reverted the Chance plant in Malvern to private ownership and it once again became an independent company, changing its name to Chance Glass Limited. Since then the company has continued to develop its range of products and processes, and areas now served include the pharmaceutical, chemical, metrology, electronics and lighting industries.

The extensive Chance Bros. Glassworks in Spon Lane, Smethwick, West Midlands. All the buildings are part of the works.

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life Policy Stamps

The Life Policy stamps of Great Britain are surely the most striking, and arguably the most attractive, of all the revenue stamps to have been issued there.

In 1853 a new stamp duty was introduced on life insurance policies. The scale was:

Sum insured £500 or less - 6d for every £50 or part thereof
Sum insured over £500 to £1000 - 1/- for every £100 or part thereof
Sum insured over £1000 - 10/- for every £1000 or part thereof

Values of 6d, 1/-, 2/-, 2/6, 5/-, 10/-, and £1 were recess printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co. Sheets were of 18 stamps, three rows of six. Although the stamps were issued in the same month as the introduction of official perforation in Great Britain, the size of them was problematic and it was not until 1872 that they were first perforated. Until that date, all the stamps were issued imperforate. Stamps on the sides of the sheet were left imperforate during the perforating period.

In 1860 duty was imposed upon policies covering accidental death at the following scale:

Sum insured less than 2/6 - 1d
Sum insured over 2/6 - 3d for each 5/- or part thereof

As a result a 3d stamp was issued, though a 1d stamp was not issued until 1870. Life Policy stamps were withdrawn in 1881, though the tax remained in force for some time later, the duty being paid by embossed general duty adhesives. 

For the overprint collector Life Policy stamps present a real challenge. A few insurance companies are known to have overprinted these stamps but they are extremely scarce. I have only two in my own collection and the rest of the stamps shown here represent the sum total of overprinted Life Policy stamps that I have seen.            

by Mark Matlach

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pawsons & Leafs Ltd.

In 1780 William Leaf opened the first wholesale silk warehouse in London, at 110 Fleet Street.The firm underwent a number of name changes over the next century before becoming Leaf & Co. Ltd in 1877. In 1832 John F. Pawson established I. F. Pawson & Co., a textile and clothing wholesaling company based at 5 and 9 St. Paul's Churchyard, London. The business was later styled as Pawson & Co., becoming Pawson & Co. Ltd in 1873.

In 1892 the two textiles companies merged to become Pawsons & Leafs Ltd. The company operated from Pawson's original premises at St. Paul's Churchyard until 1964, when the business relocated to 32/43 Chart Street. The company appears to have ceased trading some time after 1968.

There are 16 different overprints recorded for Pawsons & Leafs and the pre-merger companies of I. F. Pawson & Co.; Leaf, Sons & Co. and Leaf & Co. Ltd.

StyleSG Cat. Numbers
Received for / I. F. PAWSON & Co. / £........ / …........H4aIRL, IRS
Received for / LEAF, SONS & CO. / £H3aIRL
Received for / LEAF, SONS & Co. / £H3bIRL
Received for / LEAF, SONS & CO. // £H3eIRS
Received for / LEAF, SONS & CO. // £H3eIRS
Received for / LEAF, SONS / & Co. / £H4aIRS
Received for / LEAF & CO. LTD.H2d172
Received / with thanks for / PAWSON & Co / LIMITEDV4b172
Received, / with thanks, for / PAWSON & COMPANY / (LIMITED). / £............. / …...........H6aIRS, 172
Received for / PAWSON & COMPANY / (LIMITED). / £............... / …...........H5bIRS
RECEIVED / £ / for / PAWSONS & LEAFS / LD.V5b172
RECEIVED / £ / for / PAWSONS & LEAFS / LD.V5d172
RECEIVED / £ / for / Pawsons & Leafs / LD.V5d172
RECEIVED / £ / for / Pawsons & Leafs / Limited.V5d357, 368, 421
Received / £ / for / Pawsons & Leafs / Limited.V5b329, 368, 421, 442, 465
PAWSONS // & LEAFS, LTD.H2d465, 488, 506

Legend : 
IRL = 1d Inland Revenue (large) type of 1860 - 1867
IRS = 1d Inland Revenue (small) type of 1868 - 1881

by Mark Matlach

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

J. W. Allen

J. W. Allen was a military outfitter, luggage manufacturer and one of the longest standing barrack furniture makers in British history.

The business was established in London in 1788 under the name John Allen, but little is known of its early existence. By the 1820s the firm began to appear in the London Trade Directories under Trunk Makers and listed as Allen, John 22 Strand. By the 1840s the company had workshops in Hungerford Street, Whitechapel. By 1865 the company name had become J. W. Allen and there were large, smart premises at 37 Strand. Catalogues from this period show that the company was selling travel items such as portmanteaus, trunks, and leather traveling bags, as well as barrack furniture such as portable armchairs, portable washbasins and portable beds. The business advertised heavily in Army Lists and periodicals likely to be of interest to the travel-minded. The company name in the advertisements appeared as either J. W. Allen or simply Allen; presumably the firm was so well known at this time that it was recognized by the abbreviated name.

The last known entry for J. W. Allen in the London Trade Directories was in 1913. The company's fortunes had declined by this time and it was trading from much smaller premises on the Strand.

Advertisement 1868

by Mark Matlach