Thursday 11 November 2010

160 years or 151 years young ...

As those who read this Blog will already know C Brandauer and Co Ltd will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2012 which is a fantastic achievement.  However, it has crossed my mind recently that this year, 2010, could be our 160th anniversary as a family of steel pen manufacturers.

It is understood that in 1850 my great, great grandfather, Mr Joseph Letiere Petit and Mr Robert Ash formed a partnership to manufacture steel pens.  Their factory was at 70 Navigation Street  Birmingham.  The partnership was dissolved in February 1862 as they were bought by Charles Brandauer and his partners.  If this is correct this year, 2010, is our 160th anniversary.

Though I am reliably told that 1850 is the date of the formation of Ash Petit I am not so sure.   From my research I know that Joseph Letiere Petit worked as a tool maker, learning his trade, at the well known pen manufacturers, Hinks Wells in Birmingham prior to forming his own company.  This is backed up by a Letters Patent document dated 20 November 1857.  The provisional specification was left by John Hinks, George Wells, and Joseph Letiere Petit.  Hinks and Wells were manufacturers and co-partners and Joseph Letiere Petit, of Aston, near Birmingham, Tool Maker.  The nature of their invention was "an improvement or improvements in metallic pens".  I find it difficult to believe that if Mr Petit had his own business he would have gone back to his previous employer to work on a new invention?  

There is another Letters Patent, dated 22 September 1860 left by Robert Ash and Joseph Letiere Petit stating that both are manufacturers, which is not the case in the earlier specification which makes me believe that their partnership was not formed in 1850.  However, in due course I may come across paperwork to confirm that Ash Petit was formed earlier. 

Colin Giles, of the Pen Room in Birmingham, has found an entry for Robert Ash and Joseph Petit in the city rate books for 1859 showing that they were based at 70 Navigation Street and comprising warehouse, shops, stable and premises.  A steam engine doesn't appear in the rate books until 1860!

The oldest ledger owned by the Company is one belonging to Ash Petit and dates from 1859.   It is a deep green ledger approximately 20 cms wide, 33 cms top to bottom and 4cms deep.  It appears to be a sales ledger listing the companies to whom they sold pens and pen holders.  The last entry is dated 31 January 1862 and is an order from Newey for black pen holders.  Interestingly, in 1858 Thomas Newey was based at 70 Navigation Street which is where Ash Petit were based from 1859...

It does make sense that the sales book closed at the end of January 1862 as Brandauer was busy buying Ash Petit and land for a new factory at the beginning of 1862.

So, has my family been trading/manufacturing pens in Birmingham since 1850?  Perhaps someone will be able to confirm this with some proof.  If so, we are 160 years old this year.  Or, as I rather suspect we began in 1859 and so only 151 years young!

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