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East End Letterheads & Receipts

March 30, 2024
by the gentle author

Join me for THE GENTLE AUTHOR’S TOUR OF THE CITY OF LONDON on Easter Monday 1st April at 2pm



It is my delight to publish this selection of local examples from Philip Mernick‘s astonishing ephemera collection of East End. Many are remarkable for the beauty of their typographic design as well as revealing the wide range of industry and commerce. 

The oldest slop shop in Wapping sold clothing for the slave trade. Click here to read about slave clothing

This advertisement was printed on a one million mark bank note from the German reich, giving it novelty value and also making a bold political statement to customers

All letterheads and receipts courtesy of Philip Mernick

You may also like to take a look at

The Trade Cards of Old London

8 Responses leave one →
  1. aubrey permalink
    March 30, 2024

    The bomb site of Rotherham (“rotherems” as it was known to us kids) was our neighbourhood “adventure” playground after the war. The play and general messing about we used to spend time on was completely unstructured. Amazingly, as far as I remember, there were very few injuries. Stone/brick throwing (sometimes at each other) and balancing on top of 10ft high brickwork walls were some of the activity we were engaged in. Dangerous: yes but that was then and there were few restrictions. These bomb sites were surrounded with hastily built 4 inch thick brick walls for the public safety, but these barriers never kept the kids out and we ran wild over the various damaged sites of innerLondon.

  2. Chris Webb permalink
    March 30, 2024

    I think I’ve spotted a way for Jeremiah Rotherham & Co to provide their address in a more economical and compact way. Probably too late now though.

    So James Collier & Sons were on the phone by 1884, just 5 years after the first service in London. I wonder whether they received many calls.

  3. March 30, 2024

    What a treat! When was the last time you heard the clatter of a typewriter? Or heard the scratch of a dip pen as it skittered across a “pulpy” sheet of paper? Or “got out your red pencil” to mark up a paid invoice? Or had the feeling of accomplishment as you stuck a wad of bills over one of those treacherous spikes on your roll-top desk? I’m told that young people hardly know how to write in cursive any longer. Well.
    Thank you, GA, for taking us back to a time when even the most modest handbill was designed to impress, communicate, establish authority, and look downright majestic.
    Ah, the smell of old paper!

  4. Bernie permalink
    March 30, 2024

    I wonder how much was brought into the Exchequer by the 2d stamp on receipts; a lot, I suspect. I think it died out during my lifetime, but do not remember when.

  5. March 31, 2024

    It is amazing that such mundane pieces of everyday ephemera have survived. My parents were of a mind to keep everything, including receipts. As an amateur genealogist, I am fascinated by any document relating to my family, no matter how trivial. It is so important to digitise and preserve these glimpses of time gone by – they may hold clues and meaning that we can only begin to imagine. Thank you Philip and the GA.

  6. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 31, 2024

    What a fascinating collection, and just the sort of historical memorabilia that I love. Tells us so many things…

  7. March 31, 2024

    Dear Lynne, regarding your blog entry, I can assure you of the following: I occasionally write with my TRIUMPF ADLER GABRIELE typewriter, use my old fountain pen with HERBIN BLEU-NUIT ink, use my DUAL record player from 1976, sometimes switch on my NORDMENE TURANDOT tube radio from 1958 — and my NOKIA 1100, which I use every day, now turns 19 years old.

    I am one of the last “analogue” people. And I love old letterheads & receipts and their smell, without question!

    Happy Easter to you and ALL!

    Love & Peace

  8. Jan permalink
    April 1, 2024

    Amazing collection. I never tire of looking at such ephemera. I think it will be harder for researchers in the future to gain insight beyond the obvious with less hard copies and more online. Interestingly the use of pens, pencils,paper and typewriters has become a cult thing in the 21st century. There are many thriving companies in the UK selling these items.

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