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Old Letterheads & Receipts From Whitechapel

March 13, 2020
by the gentle author

It is my delight to publish these old Whitechapel letterheads and receipts from Philip Mernick‘s astonishing ephemera collection. Many are remarkable for the beauty of their typographic design as well as revealing the wide range of industry and commerce. 

Speigelhalters were in Whitechapel from 1928 until 1988

Gardiner’s Corner was a familiar landmark in East End for generations

This was the family business of the artist Nathaniel Kornbluth

All letterheads and receipts courtesy of Philip Mernick

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Old East End Letterheads & Receipts

The Trade Cards of Old London

16 Responses leave one →
  1. March 13, 2020

    A fascinating collection – and I really want to know what a ‘Ginger Bleacher’ does?

  2. Rachel Lucas permalink
    March 13, 2020

    Caroline – bleaching fresh ginger dries it for preservation purposes and is still done today!
    An absolutely fascinating collection and a valuable insight into our social history. The elaborateness of that funeral! Wonderful.

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 13, 2020

    I was wondering about ginger bleaching too! And the same company sold Pencil and Mexican lead (?!) and was yet another Mustard manfacturer (obviously an important trade at the time!)

    I thought Charles Webster, the horse and carriage proprietors were the most evocative of the Victorian age in today’s selection – who wouldn’t want a commercial phaeton? Or a wedding carriage, omnibus, drag (?), or wagonette – all presumably horse driven. I was surprised that they didn’t supply fancy hearses as well, but perhaps the funeral directors J.Bradford had cornered that market.

    The other one which really got me wondering was Thomas Bugden who supplied leather, India rubber and gutta percha bands and it looked like they had a Royal warrant. What on earth were the bands used for? The mind boggles…

    Design wise I think Morris and Jones and H. Karet and Sons are today’s most attractive letterheads, although it is interesting to see how the style changes to the much simpler versions in the later designs.

    Final thought – when did ‘Bought of” die out, and does anyone know what ‘Dr to’ means?

  4. March 13, 2020

    What a lovely collection. I remember going to APM in Mansell Street to collect paper samples on my way too or from Curwen Press [APM by then fully integrated into Wiggins Teape, also now long absorbed by a French mill group and largely closed down].

  5. Bernie permalink
    March 13, 2020

    For Jill Wilson: “Dr to” simply means “Debtor to”.

  6. Richard permalink
    March 13, 2020

    ‘ India Rubber and Gutta Percha’…great stuff!

  7. March 13, 2020

    ‘Dr to’ means ‘Debit to’ from memory, from debitor, I think

  8. March 13, 2020

    Delightful! Naturally, I appreciated the design aspect of the flourishes of the old fonts — but I really enjoyed seeing the more personal imprints and mark-making. The sturdy — thump! — of a rubber stamp, the scribble of a snub pencil “3 weeks”, the many and varied signatures, and the industrious check mark across the whole bill indicating………PAID in full. Paid, alas? Paid, on time? Paid by the skin of our teeth? I imagined the various dip pens, and ink wells, and desks full of cubby holes, and (what are they called?) sleeve protectors and green eye shades.

    This is a magnificent collection — brimming with stories.
    Thank you Philip Mernick and GA. (I hope a book on this collection is forthcoming. I’ll be first in line.)

  9. paul loften permalink
    March 13, 2020

    The stamp of authority and with a signature to boot. Just try and deny that you ever received those goods! By the way I’ m still looking for that parcel Amazon claimed to have delivered and left on my doorstep last week.

  10. Pimlico Pete permalink
    March 13, 2020

    The notion of signing across a stamp isn’t unknown to this reader but I don’t remember why it was done. Did it offer a contractual obligation?

    And “Dr to” would surely be “Deliver to”. Perhaps ideally delivered in a landau and pair just to impress the neighbours.

    Friends in Singapore and Malaysia refer to the “chop”, the company or personal rubber stamp still widely used on paper documents. And its variant “to chope” — emphatically placing a small object, usually a small packet of tissues, to reserve a table space in a communal canteen or food court. “Why you steal my place, I chope it already!”

  11. March 13, 2020

    For Pimlico Pete: when a stamp had to be affixed it was signed across so it could not be used again.

    ‘Deliver to’ would be nice, but sadly just a DebtoR, so the same contraction as DoctoR

  12. March 13, 2020

    Fascinating! I was surprised how many manufacturers there once were; Tools, saws, scales, coachbuilders, furriers. The choice of words in our communication is so different now.
    Very interesting series.

  13. RogerB permalink
    March 13, 2020

    Fantastic graphics!
    I think the stamp was simply a form of tax, banks used to have to charge for cheques in the same way.
    Pity there’s nothing from the Bell Foundry, it would be lovely to see the receipt for ‘Big Ben’. (I worked there in my gap year).

  14. March 13, 2020

    A fascinating Collection of old Paper-Documents!

    Love & Peace

  15. March 14, 2020

    Wonderful to see the old sales papers. It brings history alive!!?????????

  16. Irene Potter permalink
    March 15, 2020

    Thank you so much for this weeks selection of vintage ephemera. Fascinates me to imagine the history attached to these documents. Always look forward to reading your blog.

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