Wednesday 21 April 2010

103 years of production

Each year the directors of Brandauer write a report on the trading year and we have ours going back many decades.  Each report contains very useful information on the 'life' of the Company during each financial year.  Particular interest to me is the information about the production and operations of C Brandauer & Co Ltd during each year.

On 1st March 1965 my Father (J A L Petit, Chairman) completed a re-structuring of C Brandauer & Co Ltd by creating Brandauer Holdings Ltd, of which C Brandauer & Co Ltd became a wholly owned subsidiary of the new Company.

On the cover of the Report of Directors and Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 1965 the new company Brandauer Holdings Ltd is mentioned as 'Manufacturers of Light Pressings and Pens'.  Over the following years this changes as the business expands into new areas.  However, back to 1965 to find out what was important in that first year of trading for Brandauer Holdings Ltd.

The Chairman noted in the Report of the Directors for the year ended 31 March 1965 that the factory extensions, to include a new press shop and precision assembly shop, were nearly complete.  It is interesting to read that part of the assembly shop's output was already sold for indirect export to an American computer company.  Also, to remain competitive there had been a large amount of plant purchased for the toolroom and press shop.

During 1964/65 C Brandauer & Co Ltd concluded a selling agency and distributorship agreement with the Brush Beryllium Corporation of America so that it became their sole UK agent for Beryllium Oxide Ceramics.  At the time this was a new and unique material used in the electronics industry.  It is interesting to read that parts produced by Brandauer from this new material were to be used in the first UK satellite to be launched by the USA later in 1965. 

From reading the Report of the Directors for the year ending 31 March 1965 there is much excitement and enthusiasm for new materials and products but hidden away in the middle is a sad note, to quote my Father, as follows:

"The Pen making side of our business suffered a decline in sales and production during 1964/65.  It is abundantly clear that the overall market for pens can no longer support an economic operation.  Your Board, therefore, had to make the reluctant decision to phase out pen production by March 1966, after 103 years of pen making.  Our many customers have regretfully been informed and except for the No 518 Lithographic pen which stills enjoys a world-wide demand, no further pens will be produced after the end of the current year."

This marked the end of the Company's original reason for trading when it was set-up in 1862.  However, in 1965 one of the directors - Colin Petit (grandson of the original Petit) was requested to take special interest in the pen side of the business, which he did until his death in 1988.  I remember vividly 'Uncle' Colin in his office in the factory and the corner cupboard full of pen nibs so that when customers requested product he was able, for many years, to sell them the particular pen nib they needed. 

Brandauer pens are still used by calligraphers and cartoonists to this day and often I am contacted by them requesting product.  It is now much more difficult to supply customers but through various contacts I have in the pen world I can often help them out. So, production may have finished (not including the 518) 44 years ago but Brandauer pens are still the favoured product of artists and calligraphers due to their outstanding quality.

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