Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Thomas, The Victoria & The Kilpack Connection

A summer holiday to Guernsey let us look closer at the life of Thomas Brooks, son of John Brooks and brother to Vincent.

Thomas was born in 1818 in Oxford Street, London. By the 1841 census he is a publisher living near Regents Park. In 1844 he marries Letitia Kilpack of 41/42 King Street, Covent Garden. Seven years later his brother Vincent Brooks would move his lithography business next door to number 40.

Letitia was daughter of Thomas, a tobacconist, and half-sister to Sarah Louise Kilpack -more of her later.

The census of 1851 records Thomas and Letitia living at 6 Gloucester Gardens, St.Pancras. This time Thomas, like his father, is a stationer. By 1861 they are in Jersey. By 1871 they are running the Victoria Hotel, St.Peter Port, Guernsey. Thomas, as well as Hotelier, is listed as a merchant.

From looking through the local almanacks at the Priaulx Library we found Thomas and Letitia at the hotel from 1867 to 1880. 1867 was the year of Thomas's father's death, which may have funded the purchase of the hotel. Thomas died in February 1881. Two months later, in the 1881 census, Letitia is back boarding in St.Helier, Jersey and ends up back in Hackney, London until her death in 1907.

Many biographies quote Letitia's artistic sister Sarah Louise Kilpack as visiting her friend Letitia Brooks in the channel islands. As we have now seen, this was actually her half-sister.
Thomas's father, John Brooks, had started visiting Jersey in the 1830's and from the early forties settled as a wholesale stationer and paper merchant. His eldest son Vincent stayed in London, Thomas followed sometime after, whilst youngest daughter Harriet although London born is recorded in a diary as christened in St. Aubins Church May 13th, 1841.

Friday, 15 July 2016

E.McKnight Kauffer Posters

When researching the history of Vincent Brooks Day and Son you soon find the many stunning posters from the hay-day of the art form during the twenties and thirties. Of the many top graphic designers patronised by the likes of Frank Pick of London Underground and Jack Beddington of Shell was Edward McKnight Kauffer.

I recently found a copy of 'E.McKnight Kauffer: a designer and his public' by Mark Haworth-Booth in the local library.  It's an interesting read coupled of course by Kauffer's great art works.

Power -The Nerve Centre of London's Underground 1931
E.McKnight Kauffer, Vincent Brooks, Day & Son

Of particular interest to this blog was a 1937 quote by Kauffer, 'Lithography still tends to be commercially practical for reproduction and most of my posters are done by an old firm still using in most cases actual lithographic stone'. It was only three years later that, when being wound up, Vincent Brooks Day and Son was described as having 'somewhat ancient type of plant'. So maybe using traditional stones was not so commercially practical after all! The story in the family is that, after the firm was acquired, Wilfred Vincent Brooks ended up furnishing his Mill Hill home with a patio of lithographic stones.
Stonehenge - See Britain First on Shell 1931
E.McKnight Kauffer, Vincent Brooks, Day & Son

The books also mentions the talents of Thomas Edgar Griffits and how he must of overseen the translation of many of Kauffer's pieces from paper to lithographed reproduction. Again, the firm's efforts to look after and develop their staff paid dividends in the business that Griffits must of attracted.  

Psalm Thing Beautiful

We came across this beautiful little book while browsing the internet today. Reportedly published by Vincent Brooks Day and Son in the late 1860's, it is Psalm 104 illustrated by Susan Maria Farington of Leyland in Lancashire. Fully extended the book opens up to three and a half meters long.

Fully details are on the wonderful Chetham Library site which container many other intriguing items.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Kensal Green Reformers Found

Long on the to-do list has been a visit to the wonderful Kensal Green Cemetery, it's Dissenters Chapel, monument to Robert Owen and the Reformers Memorial. Driving from Neasden to Hammersmith with a bit of time to spare I took the opportunity. 

I parked and started walking towards the sign-posted Dissenters Chapel. I guessed that the other monuments wouldn't be too far from there. Getting an idea of scale and seeing that the Chapel was right down by the main gate, I headed back to the van. I drove to the 'main gate' only to find that all vehicular access was via the gate I had already been into. I drove back up the road and then slowly back down through the cemetery. Not wanting to waste too much more time I enquired in the office as to the location of the monuments. Armed with a printed out map and short information sheet I set off again...   

The two side-by-side monuments, in this not-so-elaborate end of the graveyard, are hard to miss.
It was almost chilling to see the names of many people that we have come across in our research all listed in stone in one place but I was now in too much of a hurry to be truly moved. Details of the two obelisks and their inscriptions can be found on the Wikipedia page linked to above.

My next task is to work on connects of those people listed back to John Brooks. We already have links to my favourite vegetarian Julian Hibbert, John's fellow accused William Devonshire Saull, John's publishing of Robert Owen's works, his associations with Richard Carlile and John's son Vincent staying on John Minter Morgan's farm. Hopefully more to follow....

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Curious Water-Colour from Canada

The beauty of the internet and the accessibility to information it has created was demonstrated last year when we were contacted by a lady from Canada. A friend of hers had acquired a water-colour entitled 'The Curio-Hunters'. It shows two orthodox priests admiring what looks like a holy-water bottle.   

On the back of the picture is pasted a note:
"27 Hornsey Rise Gardens, N

My dear May,
I am sending this little water-color with best wishes for your birth-day.

The old gentlemen are “curio-hunters” in another part of the world, in the same way as your own father is, in this England of our’s.

With love from Mrs. Brooks and myself.

Yours faithfully,

Oct. 20th, 1901"

We have managed to find out nothing more about the painting or who May was but at least the modern owner of the piece knows a little something of the giver.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Taylor and the Elderly Woman of Means

Wedding Banns of Robert Taylor and Harriet Robinson
Ever since we found the old notes (1940's) copied from a diary (1830-40's) we knew that:
"Mrs. Robinson was married to Mr. Taylor Jan 17th, 1834. "
We guessed that Mrs. Robinson was a Harriet Robinson who had witnessed John Brooks's marriage to Elizabeth Stagoll in 1808. We also guessed from other mentions in the diary that the Mr. Taylor was the Rev. Robert Taylor. But up until now we could find no evidence!

Many a biography talks of Taylor and his marriage to an elderly lady of property. An obituary stated that, 'he met a lady somewhat stricken in years, who subsequently became Mrs. Taylor. This wedding, of course, roused the ire of Miss Richards [who Richard Carlile had introduced to him and this had lead to a promise of marriage], who commenced an action for a breach of promise of marriage, and recovered 250l. damages, to avoid the payment of which Mr. Taylor and his bride departed for Tours. Though some disparity of years existed between Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, they lived very happily."  

Also mentioned on the wedding document is Thomas Prout, possibly of 229 The Strand, who has correspondence with Francis Place regarding the Reform Bill. Also listed is William Devonshire Saull who you can read about here.

The King Against Robert Taylor and Others

As detailed in other posts in this blog we know that a Harriet Robinson who witnessed the marriage of John Brooks and Elizabeth Stagoll in 1808 went on to marry the Rev. Robert Taylor (poss. Jan 17th 1834). We also knew that John Brooks had published Taylor's Diegesis; Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity' in 1829. We have recently rediscovered details of events from the previous year;

The initial charges date from 1827 but the case did to get heard until Jan/Feb 1828. 

1st count.
"Robert Taylor...John Roome...Thomas Brushfield...William Devonshire Saull...John Hanger...John Brooks...William Freeman...being persons of wicked, profane, and irreligious minds and dispositions...on the 1st day of January, in the 7th year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the Fourth [1827]...did wickedly and impiously conspire, combine, confederate and agree together, to blaspheme our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and to bring into ridicule and contempt the Christian Religion and the Holy Scriptures."

The indictment continues;

They "open[ed] a certain room, for the purpose, amongst other things, of delivering therein blasphemous and impious discourses,..."

"and did also...in pursuance of the said conspiracy...print and published, and cause to be printed and published, a certain impious and blasphemous libel, in the form of an advertisement...

The ninety-third discussion will be held in the Areopagus, on Tuesday, the 13th inst, at seven precisely.
Subject-"The Character of Christ," as published by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. The Reverend Orator will deliver a Philippic in expose of the atrocious villains that characterise the Jewish Vampire, (meaning our said Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) and in respectful challenge of his Ministers, to come forward and shew, if they themselves are not ashamed of him. 
The Holy Liturgy, as performed every Sunday, and in the ninetieth Oration delivered by the Rev.Orator, in irrefutable demonstration of the forgery and imposture of the four Gospels, are to be had of the printer, J. Brooks, 421, Oxford Street, and at the Areopagus, every Tuesday evening, 86 Cannon Street.

2nd count.
...by blasphemous and impious speeches and discourses, and by other unlawful means, to bring into hatred and contempt and ridicule  the Christian Religion and the Holy Scriptures; to the high displeasure of Almighty God...and against the the peace of our said Lord the King, his crown and dignity. 

3rd count.
...such persons aforesaid...disregarding the laws and religion of this realm...[brought] into contempt the Christian Religion. [And did] deliver and cause to be delivered divers wicked, impious and blasphemous discourses...to wit, 500 persons, then and there, on these dates and times, assembled to the great scandal the Christian Religion..."    

According to Richard Carlile writing in 'The Lion' (No.3 vol 1. Friday, January 18, 1828) Robert Taylor stood alone charged of the second indictment. At the time of writing we can not discover what happened to John Brooks and the other five accused. At one point they are offered no further action if they just plead guilty but they are talked out of this by Taylor as a matter of principle.
Whatever happen to them we know that on the 7th Feb Taylor was sentenced to a year in Oakham Goal.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Poems, No Pictures

Poems by Charles Hetherington

A recent addition to our collection of VBD&S artefacts is this copy of 'Poems By Charles Hetherington'. Published in 1868 it is unusual as Vincent Brooks, Day & Son were lithographers and producers of images. This book contains not one single picture!   

Why would VBD&S print this? The name Hetherington rang a bell. Henry Hetherington was a radical printer in the first half of the nineteenth century, a contemporary of Vincent's father John Brooks. 

Maybe Vincent was doing his son a favour? Well, as it turns out Charles father was called Joel, so no connection there. Charles (B.1811), at the time of this book, lived in Hampton, Kingston and had been an invalid for twenty years. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Return to Production

Wet sponge, dry sponge. Sponge, sponge, sponge.

For two days at the end of January myself and Barry (current owner of Vincent Brooks, Day & Son) took part in a wonderful Stone Lithography course at the London Print Studios.

No matter how much I read about lithography I always struggled to understand the rather complex processes involved in 'chemical printing'. The course offered by the London Print Studios gave the perfect opportunity to get some hands on experience using techniques and machinery that have changed little in the past one hundred years.

The first day started with creating our image on the stone. This could be done free hand or by tracing an existing image using red conte 'carbon' paper. The crucial science bit is that all the drawing materials contain an amount of grease.

The image is then 'Etched' twice onto the stone.
Old Press, J Greig & Sons, Edinburgh
This process involves using varying strengths of acidic gum. The acid reacts with the unmarked stone causing it to reject ink and attract water. The acid that is applied to the drawn image will dissolve the grease into the stone making those areas attract ink and repel water. The stone is quickly inked after the first etch. This consolidates the greasy areas with a uniform layer of greasy ink. The second etch uses less acid and stabilises the image ready for printing.

Snap plus three (four fan pattern rolls from each of the corners)
Layers of ink were gradually built up using a fan pattern from each corner of the stone until we were finally ready to print a proof.

At last fully quality images started roll off the press, well, there was always one area that hadn't come out as dark as it should. Not enough ink, a slight dip in the stone?

White spirit to remove ink before changing colour
 To preserve the image another layer of ink was applied straight after printing (before rushing off to look the results!) This first inking is referred to as a 'snap'. Each layer of ink applied to build up the ink for the next print is snap plus one, two, three etc.

On the second day we had the chance to alter or add to our images. A blue ink was then used to show us the process of switching inks. Finally we used this second colour to add detail to a few of the printed sheets from the day before. This gave us a two colour image and showed the importance of the registration marks made on the paper and the stone.

The final hour of our two days was spent cleaning ink from the stone and graining it to remove the surface which has been chemically altered by the various processes of adding acid and grease. A giant heavy spinning disk called a levigator is used to grind the stone.  Sands of various causeness is added to slowly refine the polishing.

The levigator grains the stone 
 I've almost made the whole process sound simple but that is without mentioning the talc, gum arabic, nitric acid, etch ratios, buffing, asphaltum, naps, hot etches, tympans, and lots of sponging.

 The group of six worked really well as a team and everyone got hands on with every stage of the process.
For Barry, the smell of gum brought back boring Saturday mornings watching an old man go through the many monotonous stages of lithography. We both found the course very insightful and as informative as it was creative.

For those wishing to continue lithography the studios offer access to all the equipment and materials needed to take up the art form on a regular basis.

Barry left with his handful of prints. The first lithographs produced by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son since the 1970's.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Old Tom

It is obvious from many of the speeches that we have copies of that Vincent Brooks, Day & Son were always very proud of their employees and the way they were treated at the firm. Frederick V Brooks wrote in his autobiography,

"As will appear at a later stage of this Chronicle, I am Managing Director of a Company employing about eighty hands, with two exceptions the journeymen have all been apprentices of mine, while by the time that a new boy has been with me a couple me more than a couple of days, he feels that he has come to stay, that there will be no “blind alley” for him unless he makes one for himself and that a daily greeting, if we meet, is the custom of the house.
Have we any labour troubles? Certainly not, the staff is carefully selected by promotion from the lower grades and the work being high grade wages are well above the average. "

We were fortunate recently to be contacted by a descendant of one such employee. None other than Thomas George Broadstock who's name had already come up a few time in various documents.

Thomas had joined the company as a seventeen year old in 1869 soon after Vincent Brooks had taken over Day & Son. He was still working for the firm in 1924 at the age of seventy two!

During the company's centenary celebrations in 1923 Thomas presented the Brooks brothers with a portrait and in a later speech is noted for his length of service. In another comic pamphlet he is referred to as 'Old Tom'.

We were also sent this wonderful photograph of Thomas at work. If the picture that Thomas is holding in the photo is the same piece of work that we have a copy of (See post) then the photo dates to 1937.
If correct, this makes Thomas eighty-five!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Finally a 'Spotlight on' More Recent History

The following article was kindly sent to us by Barry Reed, the current owner of Vincent Brooks, Day & Son. With Barry's help we are slowly filling in the gaps in our knowledge- from 1940 right up to the present day.

The article is from the in-house journal of International Printers Ltd.

Journal of International Printers Ltd
June, 1966
Vol. 2, No. 2
Pages 2 & 3

Spotlight on…
Vincent Brooks, Day and Son

We went to Vincent Brooks, Day and Son-adjoining the Baynard Press at Chryssell Road, Brixton-with the intention of obtaining a column of copy for INTo PRINT about this unit of the General Printing Division, a subsidiary company of Sanders Phillips since 1940.
Twenty minutes’ conversation with Ernest Hart, and we realised that half a page would not do justice to what we discovered to be the oldest lithographers in the United Kingdom, and possibly the oldest company in our Corporation.

As our young apprentices should know, lithography was introduced into Britain by Senefelder, who came to Britain for a short visit in 1800. As a result of that visit, his partner, Philip Andre, came over here, took out patents and, in 1803, published the first album of British lithographs, or Poly-autographs, as they were then called.
The firm which was to become Vincent Brooks, Day and Son was founded in the year 1823 by William Day at Gate Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. The new ‘plano-graphic’ process of printing from the lithographic stone was to be developed commercially and stones and presses were imported from Germany.
In 1835 Louis Haghe, the Belgian artist, became a partner in the firm, which was renamed Day and Haghe.

Earliest auto-lithography
Haghe was the first artist lithographer to create what is known today as auto-lithography, in colour. In one of his many articles, the late T. E. Griffits, chair of Vincent Brooks, Day and Son from 1942 to 1957, recalled seeing one of Haghe’s best works, ‘The Burning of Jerusalem’, in the window of Cornelissen’s in Great Queen Street, where, he says, it was displayed for many years.
INTo PRINT rang Cornelissen and learned that they still have copies of this print.
Among many other works Haghe lithographed a large number of illustrations to a book entitled ‘Sketches of Belgium and Germany’. It was published in 1840.
This beautiful work consisted of black chalk drawings printed on a deep-buff tint on which highlights had been scrapped away.

By Royal Appointment
Recognition of the high standards of work achieved during the pioneering years of lithography came in July 1837, when the firm were appointed lithographers to Queen Victoria.
In 1845 the firm became Day and Son. In 1848 the firm of Vincent Brooks was founded and the two firms merged under the name of Vincent Brooks, Day and Son, in 1867.
The Royal Family were so interested in lithography that the Prince of Wales and Prince Alfred paid a visit to the works in Gate Street in 1856.

The ‘Grammar of Ornament’
It was about this time that the Owen Jones ‘Grammar of Ornament’ was lithographed and printed at Gate Street. This great work consisted of 100 Imperial Quarto plates, some having as many as 16 printings with gold and silver. The plates were lithographed in just over a year, a wonderful achievement. The book was reprinted from the original set of 280 imperial size stones in 1910, and again in 1926.
Another interesting piece of work was the lithographing of ‘The Last Supper’ in over twenty printings. This was the largest coloured lithograph of the period and a specially large press (Antiquarian) was erected to take the stones.

A gold medal
The firm exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and were awarded the Gold Medal of the exhibition for their fine display of colour printing.
It was about this time that Vincent Brooks, Day and Son were appointed lithographers to the Prince of Wales.
The ‘Vanity Fair’ cartoons of famous personalities by ‘Spy’ were reproduced by Arthur Duke of Vincent Brooks, Day and Son, for nearly 40 years from 1860[sic].
In 1870 a delightful book entitled ‘The Riviera from Cannes to Genoa’ contained 12 lithographs in colour from drawings by the then Dean of Canterbury.

In 1898 the firm’s premises at Gate Street burned down and they moved to 48 Parker Street, Kingsway.

Brilliance and permanence in colour
Many beautiful lithographs in colour were drawn by Charles Risdon, printed by Vincent Brooks, Day and Son, and published by George Rowney. Copies of his ‘Holy Family’ and ‘Venice’ were seen again quite recently –splendid examples of colour printing in every way. The blue of the sky and the red of the clothing had retained their brilliance.

Turner, William Morris, ‘Baxter’ prints
Works by J. M. Turner, William Morris and many other distinguished artists were reproduced in colour of exceptional quality.
‘The Botanical Magazine’ plates were lithographed and printed for many years on a hand press and later on a flat-bed machine. They were skilfully drawn and printed in black from stone and the prints were hand-coloured. The firm also produced ‘Baxter’ prints under licence.
In 1909 George G. Harrap published the first book illustrated by Willy Pogany , ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’, followed by ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’, with many auto-lithographs by the artist.

Dickens’ illustrations –from steel engraved plates
Dickens’ works, published by Chapman and Hall, had illustrations which were printed from the original steel-engraved plates on a star press. The plates were then transferred to stone and printed as a sheet of 16 pages. To obtain the rich quality of the original prints a second black was drawn to a setoff of the original black and these stones were then printed by direct litho.

Renaissance of auto-lithography
In 1910 the firm became the official printers to the Senefelder Club and thus began the renaissance of the artist auto-lithographer. A large number of enthusiastic artists produced some excellent lithographs, although very few were in colour.
In 1912 the first offset printing machine was introduced and two pictures for a publishing house were drawn by Griffits and James Bolland. They were a great success and astonished many printers because of the lack of visible texture and the very rough paper on which they were printed. Rough cartridge and antique papers were then beginning to supersede the smooth litho and chromo paper, up to then the only paper suitable for direct litho printing.

(Image above) T. E. (Tom) Griffits began his apprenticeship with Vincent Brooks, Day and Son in 1899.His long experience with the firm of which he became chairman in 1942 covered a wide range of work, from the ‘Vanity Fair’ caricatures to the earliest London Underground posters of John Hassell. Griffits collaborated with many artists in his lithographic life, among them Joseph Pennell, Muirhead Bone, William Nicholson, Spencer Pryse, Will Dyson, Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Barnett Freedman.

The first Underground posters
The firm reproduced some of the first London Underground posters introduced by Frank Pick, whose design influence is still felt. Pick’s artists became famous. Fred Taylor, McKnight Kauffer and Walter West are names one associates with these pioneering days.

(Image Left) There is little doubt that the patronage of London Transport and Shell between the wars developed the quality of lithographic poster reproduction in this country to a high level. Barnett Freedman, brilliant auto-lithographer, freely acknowledged his debt to Griffits, and there is little doubt that the whole school of auto-lithographers (Edward Ardizzone, S. R. Badmin, Clarke Hutton, Lynton Lamb) owned much to Griffits and Vincent Brooks, day and Son. The 1920 poster above is from the London Transport’s Museum.

Shell posters
Early Shell-Mex posters were largely reproduced by Griffits and printed at Vincent Brooks, Day and Son Ltd. Barnett Freedman produced his own lithograph for two of them under Griffits’ supervision. This artist produced a fascinating ‘Peep show’ advert for Shell and also lithographed a fine set of illustrations for Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer’.

Fire again
Nine months after they were taken over by Sanders Phillips and Co. Ltd in 1940, the Parker Street premises were destroyed by fire during an air raid, but the company, operating from London offices in Norfolk Street, Strand, son established Government contracts for reproducing maps for Bomber Command, plans for M.I.8, and, after ‘D’ Day, ‘communication maps’ which were collected by the R.A.F. and flown direct to France.
When these contracts ran out at the end of the war, Ernest Hart decided to specialise in the reproduction of town and country planning maps, and this now constitutes the main business of the company, and is expanding.
Typical of their work is a new series of land utilisation maps for King’s College Geographic Department, which are produced in 11 colours.
Recent examples of their work include motorways and transport maps for the Greater London Council.

ERNEST HART (left) has been a lifetime with Vincent Brooks, Day and Son. He is not related to TOM HART, managing director of the General printing Division, but is the father of JOHN HART, who has just joined Cond’s from the Baynard Press. With Ernest, and in both pictures, is chief draughtsman, SIDNEY REED.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Vincent Brooks, Day & Son on Wikipedia

Wikipedia now hosts a page on the history of Vincent Brooks, Day & Son.
The fully referenced article traces the origins of the businesses of Vincent Brooks and William Day. It follows the in-corporations, bankruptcies and mergers that finally lead to Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Ltd.

Amongst the notable work mentioned in the article are the Vanity Fair caricatures, the Underground and railway posters and all the early pieces from the era of the great exhibitions.

The wonderful thing about Wikipedia that has made it such a worldwide success is that anyone can edit material. So know of anything missing or incorrect? Just log in and edit away! The article can be found here.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The Brooks' Journey to Jersey

A week's holiday in the delightful Channel Island of Jersey recently allowed us to do some on-site family research. John and Elizabeth Brooks appear to have moved from London to Jersey during the 1830's. The reason for this move are far from clear. Was John's radical printing press getting him into hot water? Was it a commercial decision as John turned more to wholesale stationary? Or was it to aid the convalescence of their daughter Harriet?

The notes made from Elizabeth Brooks’ diary show that she was visiting Jersey from the middle of the eighteen thirties. This period also ties in roughly with the time we stop finding books printed by her husband John Brooks from his Oxford Street premises. The census of 1841 shows John, Elizabeth, daughter Harriet and their son Vincent’s first wife Mary all living in the High Street of St. Aubins in the south west of Jersey. Elizabeth’s diary tells us that Harriet was christened on 13th May 1841 in St. Aubins although we could find no official record of this event.

The next diary entry of note refers to ‘taking Millbrook Cottage Xmas 1845’. Millbrook is on the south coast of Jersey just outside St.Helier. A librarian at the Société Jersiasie informed me that, at this time, the Millbrook area was just starting to develop with fashionable houses set amongst the sand dunes. This move closer to St.Helier links in with John Brooks’ purchase of some property in the Caledonia Place area of St.Helier, down on the dock side. The descriptions found in the Jersey Almanacs change over the years but list John Brooks as either a Wholesale Stationer, Paper Merchant or a Paper Bag Manufacturer, but always in Caledonia Place (pictured below). His son-in-law Samuel Buttfield is also listed as a Merchant operating from two doors down the street.
Caledonia Place St.Helier
The Brooks’ then made a move into St.Helier itself and in the 1851 census we find them at King’s Cliff. Again, according to the librarian, a very smart and very English part of town. We know that they lived at number eight but on our brief visit we were unable to locate which house this was. However the picture below should give you an idea of the area. King's Cliff (now Lower)

At 5.30 am on 11th January 1855 Elizabeth Brooks passed away at the age of 66. She was buried at the Almorah Cemetery a short distance from the house. One of the first places we visited was this cemetery but our grave hunt proved fruitless. Two days later the ever-helpful librarian at the Société Jersiaise searched her records and found a cemetery map and grid reference. That afternoon, crawling on all fours, we uncovered Elizabeth's headstone hidden engulfed by a holly bush. The picture shows us taking a rubbing of the headstone once we had given the tree a good trim. Grave rubbing Almorah

1861 finds John Brooks living with his daughter Harriet’s family in Buckingham Lodge, Duhamel Place, which is pictured below.
John Brooks made it to 84 years and 9 months before passing away at mid-day 12th January 1867. He joined his wife’s side, in Almorah and we hoped to see his named carved below that of his wife. Unfortunately the lower part of the headstone was too badly worn to read anything.Buckingham Lodge Duhamel Place

When John died he was living at 16 Regent Road and had been there with Harriet’s family since at least 1865 when he wrote his Will. With Regent road running in the shadow of St. Helier’s Regent Fort the house at first appears nothing special. However, reading a plaque on a neighbouring building describing the views of open country across to the coast that such properties enjoyed back in the eighteen century made us realise that this was the back of the house. Walking through an archway away from the road we viewed the house in it’s fully glory (trying to imagine it without the car park and secondary flats that have been build on the back garden). In it's day it must of been one of the finest houses in St.Helier.
16 Regent Road St.Helier
On John’s death the business passed to his son Frederick. Records from the Jersey archive hint at trouble in 1875. These legal documents are handwritten in eighteen century French legal jargon and have been a pain to translate. From what we can just about comprehend in 1875 the business was in debt and all the Brooks children, Vincent, Frederick, Harriet and Thomas, renounced their inheritance to escape the effects of bankruptcy.

Of John and Elizabeth's four children, Vincent stayed in London carrying on the printing business that later turned into Vincent Brooks, day and Son. Frederick, who had previously been out in Quebec, settled down in St.Helier to run a boarding house first at number 6 and then at number 3 Elizabeth Place. Harriet’s husband Samuel Buttfield died at the age of 43 and she returned to London to be mentioned in Frederick Vincent Brooks’ biography who wrote “it is a joy to know [she] is still living as Mrs Buttfield at Bush Hill Park, Enfield.” We have no trace of Thomas except from an old family tree which has him married to a ‘Kitty’.[Letitia Kilpack, ran Victoria Hotel, Guernsey 1867-1881].

Friday, 12 June 2009

What's my name?

In the autobiography, frederick writes:

"The records of the Parish Church, St. Ann’s, Soho, bear witness that a little later the label “Frederick Vincent” was attached to me in solemn form, and certain promises were made on my behalf in which Miss Castell, a girl friend of my mother, took part: for a long time I thought that her name had been added to the others.

At school I was always known as “F.V.C. Brooks”, which my schoolfellows used to suggest savoured of a redundance not wanting in other directions : but on going to the Church Registry many years after I found that the extra name was a myth."

The extent of our author's mistaken belief regarding his own name has been discovered on obtaining a copy of his marriage certificate. Just how long the erroneous middle name persists after Frederick's school years, he fails to mention but long enough for him to spell it out for eternity on his wedding day.

In fact, Fred's baptism does record Castell as a middle name.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Vincent Brooks, Day & Son call it a day


NO. 0062 OF 1940

As at 25th January, 1940, the date of the appointment of a receiver for the debenture holder Submitted by Wilfred Vincent Brooks, a director on the 4th day of March 1940


1. The Winding-up Order was made on 5th February, 1940, upon a creditor’s petition to the Court on 24th January, 1940.

2. The Company was incorporated on 14th May, 1898, under the Companies Acts, 1862 to 1893, with a nominal capital of £10,000 in £1 shares and was formed to acquire and take over as a going concern the business carried on at 48, Parker Street under the style of Vincent Brooks, Day & Son and to carry on the business of printers, lithographers, etc. By special resolution confirmed on 17th June, 1908, the company became a private company.

3. The issued capital is £10,000 consisting of 7,000 shares issued as fully paid and 3,000 shares issued for cash.

4. The Company’s registered office has throughout been at 48, Parker Street, Kingsway, W.C.2. and its business has been conducted from these premises.

5. At the date of the Winding-Up Order the directors of the company were Wilfred Vincent Brooks, who was appointed on 18th August , 1920, Mrs. Marjorie Mary Brooks, who was elected on 25th July 1935, and Douglas John Helme Coulson, who joined the board on 30th January, 1936. The qualifications for directorship was the holding of shares in the Company to the nominal valve of £100.

6. Under the Articles of Association the remuneration of the directors was fixed at the sum of £2. 2. 0 a piece for each attendance at a board meeting. On 26th October, 1922, Wilfred Vincent Brooks and Frederick Allan Brooks were appointed joint managing directors at the salaries of £1000 each per annum after the death of their father, who had been the managing director from September 1898. F. A. Brooks’ appointment as managing director was terminated in October, 1928. He was then engaged as Manager of the photo-litho department at a salary of £750, his brother’s salary being increased to £1250 as sole managing director, with an allowance of £500 for expenses. F. A. Brooks became the assistant managing director in 1928 and in 1930 his salary was again increased to £1,000 per annum. In 1932 the board suspended the assistant managing director as 28th February, 1933, and removed him from that position and from the board. W.V.Brooks has returned himself as a creditor for £2,654. 8. 10 in respect of indrawn salary. Coulson has been the Company’s secretary since 7th January 1932.

7. By an agreement dated 17th May, 1898 between F. G. Bowen (vendor) and the Company, the latter acquired the goodwill and all other assets of the business of Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, which business is said to have started in 1823. The consideration was fixed at £9,880 and was satisfied by the payment of £2,880 in cash and the balance by the allotment to the vendor and his nominees of 7,000 £1 shares in the Company as fully paid.

8. Annual accounts of the business have been prepared and audited regularly. These disclose fluctuating results until 1919 and then a general upward trend in turnover with an average of over £1,000 per annum net profit until 1927. Dividends at the rate of 10% per annum, free of tax, were paid for each of the eight years to 30th June, 1927. Dividends for the four following years were as follows:- 1928, 5%; 1929, 7 ½%; 1930, 10% and 1931, 5%. No dividends were paid after that year. From 1932 to date profits were earned in only two years namely, 1937, £256 and 1938, £551.

9. It appears that the original lease of the premises at 48 Parker Street was surrendered and that a new lease was granted to the Company for a term of 28 years from 29th September, 1902, at a rental of £215 per annum for the first 14 years and £230 per annum for the remainder of the term. During 1920 the Company acquired the freehold of these premises for approximately £5,000. Additions and improvements have been made to the premises from time to time, the balance on the asset account as at 30th June, 1934, being £17,141. 8. 3. In accordance with a valuation obtained on 30th May 1935, the freehold premises account was appreciated to £22,500. On 29thJune, 1939, the Company disposed of the freehold for £21,000 out of which the mortgage debt of £14,425 and various other commitments including a bank overdraft of £5,000 were discharged. The balance of the purchase money was retained by the purchasers against the rent payable under a 44 years lease of the premises which was granted to the Company at an annual rental of £1,450.

10. In January, 1936, the Company agreed to the terms of a resolution passed at a conference of certain creditors under which they were prepared to grant a moratorium of three months from 29th January, 1936, in respect of liabilities as at 31st December, 1935, provided Mr. A. Granville White was appointed financial supervisor and that all the Companies cheques were countersigned by him. The moratorium was extended from time to time in order to give the Company an opportunity of finding new working capital. Several financial schemes were arranged but they could not be satisfactorily completed. Eventually the Company entered into negotiations for obtaining an advance of £7,000. Pending completion of these negotiations overdraft facilities were arranged on the understanding that the overdraft would be discharged immediately the advance was received by the Company.

11. On 29th June, 1939, the Company issued a debenture charging its undertaking and all other property and assets with the payment of all moneys due or to become due to the Bank.

12. W. V. Brooks states that the returns of sales for the last three months of the year 1939 did not average more than £600 a month as against a normal turnover of £1,400 or £1,500 a month; that the Company had practically no orders on hand for January and that, therefore, he decided not to accept the advance.

13. On 10th October, 1939, a creditor for £186. 3. 1 obtained judgment against the Company in that sum and costs. Leave to proceed to the enforcement of the judgment was suspended provided the Company paid a sum of £50 within 4 days of the Order and the balance by installments of £50 a month. The Company paid £50 on 21st November, 1939, but the cheque for the second installment was dishonored on presentation. No further payment was made by the Company and the creditor presented the petition on which the Winding-Up Order was made. In the meantime, on 25th January, 1940 the debenture holder appointed Mr. A. Granville White of 73, Cheapside, E.C. as Receiver.

14. W. V. Brooks and Coulson attribute the failure to the outbreak of the war.

15. The Receiver for the debenture holder is continuing the business in the hopes of disposing of it as a going concern, but he states that having regard to the specialised and somewhat ancient type of plant he doubts whether the assets will realise sufficient to discharge the debenture liability, particularly bearing in mind the somewhat heavy claims of the preferential creditors.

16. As a result of the statutory meetings of creditors and contributories held on 14th March, 1940, the Official Receiver remains the Liquidator of the Company.

Dated this 24th day of June 1940

H. P. Naunton,
Official Receiver.

33, Carey Street,
Lincoln’s Inn,
London, W.C.2.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Stagoll, Robinson and the Devil's Chaplain

In the previous post we saw that Elizabeth Stagoll's marriage record was witnessed by Harriet Robinson. To strengthen our theory that this 1808 wedding of John Brooks and Elizabeth Stagoll is the one relating to our family tree we now turn to examine Miss Robinson.

Our first reference to Harriet Robinson came from Elizabeth's copied diary entries:

"Mrs Robinson was married to Mr Taylor Jan 17 1834"

Rev. Robert TaylorA subsequent entry tells us that Mr. Taylor died in 1844. Both these dates tie in with the Rev. Robert Taylor, a radical free-thinker and anti-clericalist nick-named 'the devil's chaplain'. In 1829 John Brooks published Taylor's 'Diegesis; Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity' and both Brooks and Taylor were acquaintances with Richard Carlile and Julian Hibbert.

It is interesting to note that John Brooks was an executor in Hibbert's will. When the non-animal-eating Hibbert died suddenly in 1834 (also recorded in the diary) a sum of money left to Robert Taylor was 'revoked by a codicil, in consquence, as he states, of Taylor having married a Lady of large fortune'. The Cambridge Alumni Database also records this marriage to 'an elderly lady of means'.

Parish records for St. Giles in Field indeed register the 1834 marriage of a Robert Taylor and Harriet Robinson although we have yet to obtain a copy of the certificate.

The Cambridge records also record Taylor's 1844 death in Tours, France. This might explain another diary entry:

"Left Tours for Jersey June 4th 1842...
...my second visit to Tours June 7th 1844. Mr. Taylor died about 7th June 1844"

So to summarise, the 1808 marriage of John Brooks and Elizabeth Stagoll looks very likely to be the correct one. Harriet Robinson was a good friend of Elizabeth who later married Rev Robert Taylor. Elizabeth continued to visit Harriet even after the Taylor's move to Tours and yet another diary entry records a last visit to Mrs Taylor in Cumberland.

Cambridge Alumni Database
The Gentleman's Magazine Published by F. Jefferies, 1834

Monday, 23 February 2009

Stagoll verses Steggall

Frederick Vincent Brook's autobiography names his paternal grandmother as Elizabeth Steggall. Although we are fortunate enough to have a transcription of some of her diary entries we have always struggled to learn much about her origins or even her marriage to John Brooks. It now seems that the spelling of her surname could well have thrown us off the scent.

Our first inkling that something was not right was when the only marriage record we could find for the name John Brooks was for a marriage to an Elizabeth Stagoll. This wedding took place on the 10th May 1808, which is a little early considering Frederick's memory of John Brooks returning from America 'in time for the Waterloo Rejoicing' in 1815. At a time when there was only one form of contraception it is also unusual that Frederick's father, Vincent Brooks, wasn't born until the same year.

Was there any evidence to back up the 1808 marriage certificate?
We are fortunate to have a copy of the record of Vincent Brook's first marriage to Mary Ann Wybrow in 1839. Elizabeth, his mother, signed as a witness to the event. Although surnames are different (the first an unmarried Stagoll, the second a married Brooks) we can compare the signatures from the two marriage documents. Both names are abbreviated to 'Elizth' and are remarkably alike.

What else do we know about Elizabeth that might add weight to our theory?
All we know about her family comes from a snippet in her diary:

"My beloved sister Fanny married Feb 27th, 1820.
Elizabeth Matilda Clara born Dec 30th, 1820, her only child.
On the 10th of January 1826 my dear sister with her husband & child were lost off the Texel coming from Bolivia to Amsterdam".

A search of parish records for Elizabeth Steggall produces nothing.
A search for Stagoll gives us the following results:

Elizabeth Clarkson and John stagoll Married 1787 St.Botolph Without Aldgate,
Children and christening dates:
Elizabeth Stagoll, 1789 St.Olave
Mary Stagoll, 26.10.1791 St. Botolph Without Aldgate
Matilda Amelia Stagoll, 17.08.1792 St. Olave
Martha Stagoll, 09.10.1793 St.Olave Hart Street
Fanny Stagoll, 26.06.1796 St.Botolph Without Aldgate
Jonathan Stagoll, 15.05.1803 St. Botolph Without Aldgate

So here we find an Elizabeth Stagoll who would have been nineteen or twenty at the time of the 1808 marriage and who also had a younger sister called Fanny. This fits in nicely with the diary entry. In naming her child 'Elizabeth Matilda', could Fanny also have been using the names of two of her older sisters?

The chances of our Elizabeth being a Stagoll instead of a Steggall are looking more likely. However, does the real key to the mystery lie in the name of a witness on the 1808 marriage certificate?

To follow, Harriet Robinson and the Devil's Chaplain...

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Percy Bysshe Shelley and the pirate

Percy Bysshe ShelleyOne of the more notable books published by John Brooks was an edition of Shelley's Queen Mab. The rather unauthorised appearance of this volume, how it was obtained and Shelley's amendments to it have long intrigued scholars of the subject. The text below comes from two sources. The first first-hand account was written by Thomas Medwin and comes from 'The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley' published in 1847. The second is from 'The complete poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley' by Donald H. Reiman (2000). Reiman describes Queen Mab,

'...perhaps Shelley's most intellectually ambitious work, articulating his views of science, politics, history, religion, society, and individual human relations. Subtitled A Philosophical Poem: With Notes, it became his most influential -- and pirated -- poem during much of the nineteenth century, a favorite among reformers and radicals.'

"One evening he [Sir Thomas Lawrence] persuaded me to accompany him to the Owenite chapel, in Charlotte-street. In the ante-room, I observed a man at a table, on which were laid for sale, among many works on a small scale, this History of the Nairs, and Queen Mab, and after the discourse by Owen—a sort of doctrinal rather than moral essay, in which he promised his disciples a millennium of roast beef and fowls, and three or four days' recreation out of the seven, equal division of property, and an universality of knowledge by education,—we had an interview with the lecturer and reformer, whom I had met some years before at the house of a Northumberland lady. On finding that I was connected with Shelley, he made a long panegyric on him, and taking up one of the Queen Mabs from the table, read, premising that it was the basis of one of his chief tenets, the following passage:

"How long ought the sexual connection to last! What law ought to specify the extent of the grievance that should limit its duration! A husband and wife ought to continue so long united as they love one another. Any law that should bind them to cohabitation for one moment after the decay of their affection, would be a most intolerable tyranny, and most unworthy of toleration."

If Lord Melbourne did not hold similar opinions, he at least thought there was no harm in encouraging them, by presenting Mr. Owen to our Queen. The question is, whether, in the - present state of society, and with the want of education that characterises the sect of which Mr. Owen is the founder, the Socialists, their tenets are, or are not pregnant with danger. This philanthropist, however, certainly is sincere in believing the contrary; and up to this time experience seems to have confirmed his belief. He has spent his life, and expended his fortune in inculcating them; and a more thoroughly amiable and moral man does not exist. "He has had but one object in both hemispheres," (to use the words of Frederica Bremer,) "to help the mass of mankind to food and raiment, in order that the mass may make provision for their mental improvement; for when the necessary wants are satisfied, man turns to those of a more general and exalted kind. Hence, when the great day work of the earth is done with men, the Sabbath will begin, in which a generation of tranquil worshippers will spread over the earth, no longer striving after perishable treasures, but seeking those which are eternal; a people whose whole life will be devoted to the improvement of their mental powers, and to the worship of the Creator in spirit and in truth. Then the day will arrive in which the angels will say, 'Peace upon Earth!!!'"

This edition of Queen Mab, that has led to the above quotation, bore the name of Brooks as publisher. It contains a beautiful frontispiece illustrative of the death of Ianthe, and as a motto, the well-known line from some Greek dramatist —probably Eschylus—which may be rendered:

Give me whereon to stand, I’ll move the earth.

Brooks did, or does, live at the bottom of Oxford Street, and I paid him more than one visit. He had a correspondent at Marlow, who knew Shelley, but whose name I have forgotten, from whom he obtained a copy of Queen Mab, which, like the Wandering Jew, had probably been left by Shelley's inadvertence in his abode here. This copy was exceedingly interlined, very much curtailed and modified, as by a specimen given in a fragment entitled the "Demon of the World," appended to "Alastor;" and what is still more important and worthy of remark, with the Notes torn out. The copy had been revised with great care, and as though Shelley had an intention at the time of bringing out a new edition, an idea which his neglect of his labour shews he soon abandoned. This emendated work is a great curiosity, and has scattered about the pages rude pen-and-ink drawings of the most fantastic kind, proving the abstraction of his mind during this pursuit. It was a comment that led me to many speculations, suggesting a deep sense of the obloquy of which he had made himself the victim, and betokening a fluctuation of purpose, a hesitation and doubt of himself and of the truth or policy of his theories. That Mr. Brooks (he was the publisher if not the printer of the Owenites) did not make use of the refacciamenti or pentimate in his numerous reprints of Queen Mab, may easily be conceived, for these very alterations were the only objectionable parts to him, and he would have thought it a sacrilege to have struck out a word of the original text, much less the notes. Queen Mab is indeed the gospel of the sect, and one of them told me, that he had found a passage in Scripture that unquestionably applied to Shelley, and that the word Shiloh was pronounced in the Hebrew precisely in the same manner as his name.

It is much to be desired that Mrs. Shelley should endeavor to obtain this Queen Mab of Mr. Brooks. I have no doubt that he would estimate it at a price far beyond my means, nor have I made any overtures to him for the purchase, invaluable as its acquisition would be to me at this moment."

Donald H. Reiman;

"Brooks, an Owenite publisher, produced a “very handsome edition,” priced 9s. (see ad reproduced in Shelley Library, 55). Its engraved title page omits the subtitle and mention of the notes and includes only the epigraph from Archimedes. It does, however, contain a striking vignette depicting Queen Mab calling forth the sleeping Ianthe’s spirit, which was drawn by Charles Landseer (son of the engraver John Landseer) and engraved by Edward James Portbury (who did much engraving for the gift books of the 1820’s and 1830’s). Brooks, who includes the dedicatory poem to Harriet (in the copies we have seen) and does not provide translation of the notes, took his text directly from [the] 1813 [edition], a unique copy of which he had obtained from Robert Madocks, Shelley’s handyman and the agent for his landlord in Marlow who had confiscated it years earlier in addition to other of the Shelley’s belongings left behind along with an unpaid balance. This copy contains Shelley’s draft revisions of Queen mab into Demon and other shorter pieces, which are mentioned above and which ended up in the hands of Forman and ultimately Pforzheimer.

Brook’s edition follows 1813 closely but not uncritically: rarely emending the text of the poem proper, it is somewhat freer with the notes, especially in revising Shelley’s grammar and in correcting errors in the foreign language passages (once in Note 17 even “correcting” back to the orginal an intentional change Shelley made in Horace’s Latin). Several of these changes were transmitted through Ascham to Mary Shelley’s editions. Perhaps Brooks’s most significant textual gaffe in editing the poem comes in VIII.232-33, where, misunderstanding Shelley’s grammar, he initiates three misguided emendations (“extends / Its…wields” for “extend / Their wield”) that were also transmitted through Ascham to Mary Shelley. Beyond this textual important edition, Brooks’s influence on the transmission of Queen Mab extended in 1833 to his acquiring the stock and stereotyped plates of Mrs. Carlile’s 1832 piracy, which first printed the notes as footnotes to the poem, at the bottom of the page. Brooks published this pocket-sized edition under his own name for the price of 1s 6d., and from him the plates seem to have passed on to Hetherington and Watson, who continued to make Queen Mab widely available to the lower classes."

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Investigation on Illustration

Phil MayThe following adds a little more to a query made some time ago regarding a menu sporting the image of Wilfred Vincent Brooks. Don Grant of The London Sketch Club was kind enough to give some suggestions as to the identity of the artists and their artwork featured on this curious occasion which may, in time, provide the answer to Wilfred's connection.

Don points out that the pictures depicted behind Wilfred by artist John Hassall bear similarity to the work of other artists in the aforementioned London Sketch Club.

Top left has a resemblance with an illustration first printed in The Illustrated London News entitled "Deuced Funny" by Phil May. It apparently shows Melton Prior, a war correspondent, sharing a joke with the Punch cartoonist Alfred Chantrey Corbould.

Below this, two monkeys are depicted with their tails entwined. These are in the manner of Clarence Lawson Wood, also once an illustrator for the Illustrated London News. He is known for his ape and monkey drawings. I've not been able to locate an identical image but this is quite close.

Other proposed illustrators include William Heath Robinson. All pinned up follow this paired 'entre nous' theme.

Gerry was able to provide a photo of his illustration by John Hassall for which we are very grateful. His grandfather had connections with the 'Entre Nous Club Commitee', the role of which still remains a mystery. This picture is shown top middle, above Wilfred's head. Can anyone identify the other illustrators or illustrations?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Back to Baxter

A few months ago we were contacted by Mic Relf of the New George Baxter Society. He was keen to trace the missing 'George Baxter and his Methods' chapter from My Life's Medley. After some correspondence Mic asked if he could use some of the information on this site for a forthcoming presentation at the Society's AGM. Mic's knowledge of Baxter is superb and his work has filled in many a blank hole in our own knowledge. He was also kind enough to send us the illustrations that accompanied his presentation.

"The Printing company of Vincent Brooks is best known to ourselves for the ‘official’ republishing of Baxter’s prints in the mid 1860’s on presses that Baxter had lent them, managed by George Baxter Jr and under the supervision of George Baxter himself.

‘Vincent Brooks’ the company that we know was run by Vincent Robert Alfred Brooks (1815 – 1885) but we can’t overlook the influence of his son Fredrick Vincent Brooks (1848 – 1921) who joined the company during the company’s close association with George Baxter.

Vincent Brooks father was John Brooks a Bookseller and Stationer, who had set up business at 421 Oxford Street, London about 1813. He mixed in the literary circles publishing books by Shelley, Lamb, Coleridge and others. His wife, an amateur actress of some distinction and great beauty, was painted by the well-known artist Charles Hayter.

About 1820 John Brooks became interested in politics and was actively involved in the activities that bought about the Reform Bill in 1832 (giving voting rights to middle class-men over 21) and then the Chartist Movement, which demanded voting rights for all men over 21.

He was obviously an activist and one of his riskier activities was printing a poster, which was later held to be seditious (stirring up rebellion against the government) entitled:

The idea was to cause a run on the Bank of England and to stop the political efforts of the Duke of Wellington who was out to stop the Reform Bill being passed. A few years later he was approached to be a Constable but when being sworn in at Westminster Court he continually refused to swear on the bible and was fined £8.

His son, our Vincent Robert Alfred Brooks was born on October the 25th 1815.
After his schooling he worked for a short period with a firm of Artist Colourmans before joining and then taking over his father’s printing company about 1843 aged 28. Some time before 1851 his father had left the business and took his family to Jersey.

Vincent Brooks’s first colour efforts were on show at The Great Exhibition 1851. Interestingly Day & Son, who, we will see, Vincent Brooks would take over in 1867, were prize medal winners at the same Exhibition. A short while after he moved the business to 40, King Street, Covent Garden.

In 1855 he was conducting a Lithographic class for Ladies at Marlborough House, Prince Albert had arranged for it to be used as the National Art Training School later to become the Royal College of Art. Here he came to the attention of the Queen, Prince Consort and the Princess Royal and was entrusted to produce the Princess’ own picture “Dying Soldier on the Battle Field” in aid of the Patriotic Fund.

In 1857 Leighton Bros left Red Lion Square and Vincent Brooks took over part of their business. In 1859 the business moved again this time to 1, Chandos Street and in the 1862 Exhibition Vincent Brooks won a Gold medal for his Lithograph of Mulready’s ‘The Wedding Garment’.

In 1864 Vincent Brooks acquired plant and premises of Messrs J.S.Hodson & Son of High Street Lambeth and he embarked in letterpress and colour block printing. Hodson’s process was based on W. Dickes method and Hodson’s son was apprenticed to Leighton. One of Hodson’s principal customers was Mr Edward Whymper who, though by trade a Wood Engraver, was subsequently much better known as a Mountaineer and Lecturer. Mr Whymper’s work at the time chiefly consisted of coloured illustrations for the frontispieces of ‘The Leisure Hour’ and ‘Sunday at Home’.

At this stage shall I introduce you to the son, Frederick Vincent Brooks. Born on December 21st 1848 in the same room at, his Grandfathers house, 421 Oxford Street that his father had been born 33 years earlier, he was christened at the Parish Church, St. Ann’s, Soho, coincidentally the same church where up to only a few years ago the New Baxter Society held all their AGM’s in the Allen Room.

Frederick was schooled in various establishments but in 1862 we find him at the
High School at Bishop Stortford (only 20 odd miles from this AGM venue). A couple of stories came from his schooling with interesting colour printing connections.

In 1863 Frederick won a book as a school prize, it was entitled “Wild Sports of the World” with coloured plates by W. Dickes, one of George Baxter’s licensees. Frederick stated “I was very proud to be able to point out to the principal, Dr. Goodman, that the maps were engraved by my father”. Another book was won on Speech Day of 1864 entitled “A Chronicle of England” by Doyle, a well-known book illustrated with some of the best work by the colour printer Edmund Evans.

In 1865 he befriended Cecil Rhodes, who was only 12 years old at the time, later to be founder of the diamond company De Beers and the South African politician, his father being vicar and visitor of the school.

Frederick won a scholarship to Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge but he didn’t take this up as “my education was cut short in consequence of my father’s urgent need for help in his business”.

This must have been about 1866 and Fredrick states “Perhaps the most interesting work was going on at Lambeth as at the time my father was printing many of the ‘Baxter subjects”

Let me now take you back a couple of years to 26th & 27th July 1864 – George Baxter had held his 2nd unsuccessful auction of prints, plates and plant in 4 years which made him announce that “The entire series of these highly popular pictures are now in process of republishing by George Baxter, The inventor and Patentee, 12 Northampton Square London EC”. Within 6 months on 14th January 1865 he declared himself bankrupt so output of this series with labels on the reverse, where they can be found, must be small.

Vincent Brooks then purchased many of Baxter’s plates and printed them using Baxter’s presses which he had lent him on the understanding that George Baxter Jr took up the management of them and that George Baxter himself supervised the work. Everyone counts these Vincent Brooks printings as genuine George Baxter prints.

There are two known Vincent Brooks adverts stating “Republication of Baxter’s Celebrated Oil Prints”. The first states published by Vincent Brooks so must have been issued somewhere between the date of purchase of the plates and March 1867 i.e. the date Vincent Brooks took over Day & Son. Then the second slightly shorter list stating published by Vincent Brooks Day & Son, which would date it between March 1867 and Aug 1868 when the plates were sold.

Labels can be found on the back of these Vincent Brooks printings but they are very rare and only seem to be found on a few different subjects. By the time Vincent Brooks Day & Son were republishing Baxter prints after March 1867 it was without the benefit of George Baxter senior who had died in Jan of that year, after having an accident the previous November.

On both these lists are two interesting prints – new items not previously published by Baxter himself, “Miniature designs - The New Ten” showing the Princess Helena and Prince Christian, Courtney Lewes says this dates the printing to before June 1866 as they were married in July 1866 and would then have been described as Prince and Princess Christian. Prince of Wales and Queen Alexandre were married in 1863 so possibly could have been designed anytime between 1863 and June 1866. Was George Baxter involved in the original design?

The second item is the “soon to be published, The Tired Soldier”, interestingly the copy at Lewes Town Hall that we saw at the summer meeting is noted in pencil “printed (or presented) by my nephew Mr G Baxter 1867' (that would be George Baxter Jr).

So when did Vincent Brooks buy the plates? Courtney Lewes states it must have been by 1866 but he also states these plates were “thought to be stock held back from Bankruptcy (January 1865) OR sold before” so it could have been as early as late 1864, just a few months after Baxter’s own republishing. This is also ties in with George Baxter Jr who, in a letter in 1875 states “at the end of four years Vincent Brooks found the business did not pay… and I should have to leave and obtain a buyer for the plant” Le Blond bought the plates and blocks about August 1868 which could again date the purchase of the plates to 1864.

When Vincent Brooks purchased the “celebrated business of Day & Son Limited” that had gone into liquidation in 1867 it is interesting to note that he was financially assisted by Mr Henry Graves the Printseller of Pall Mall. This Mr Graves is also directly connected to George Baxter as at some stage he acquired and printed in monochrome the plates of ‘The Opening of Parliament’ and ‘The Coronation of Queen Victoria’. It has always been presumed he purchased them from George Baxter but perhaps he received them via Vincent Brooks who might have decided not to republish them himself, they were not included on either of his republishing lists and it has always been assumed he never had them.

At this stage I mention Day & Son, a celebrated company in their own right. William Day, senior, was a lithographer as early as 1823 and by 1825 was at 59 Great Queen Street. Interestingly he described himself as 'Successor to Rowney Forster', a firm of artists' colourmen who are today known as Daler–Rowney the major manufacturer of artist mount board.

By 1829, they had moved to 17 Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where they remained until Vincent Brooks moved into the premises in 1867, coincidentally this is only 100 yards from where the Society holds its committee meetings, we must have walked right past it so many times.

From 1833, the firm was frequently referred to as 'Day and Haghe' due to the popularity of the work that Louis Haghe, the Belgian draughtsman and watercolourist, did for William Day. It is not certain whether this was an official nomenclature or not.

They were “Lithographers to the King” and shortly after 'Lithographers to Queen Victoria and to the Queen Dowager, Queen Adelaide' as early as 1837 and when
William Day died in 1845, his son, William junior, carried on the business changing the name to Day and Son. They were awarded one of only four 'prize medals' for their display of colour lithography at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

It is not noted why Day & Son went into liquidation. They were the largest and most prominent lithographic firms especially known for the quality of their work and in many ways had a better standing than Vincent Brooks themselves.

On 3rd August 1868 Vincent Brooks, through George Baxter Jr, sold all Baxter’s plates and blocks to Le Blond, George Baxter Jr then Vincent Brooks’s employment.

Between 1869 and 1906 Vincent Brooks printed their well-known ‘Vanity Fair’ caricatures starting with Benjamin Disraeli.

By 1871 it is noted in records that Vincent Brooks employed 168 men and 40 boys.

There is a further Baxter connection when in 1885 Vincent Brooks acquired the remaining part of Leighton Bros. On the 29th Sept 1885 Vincent Brooks died and was buried at Wandsworth Cemetery but the business which had been successfully run by Frederick for many years went on to further successes.
In the early 1920’s they can be found at Parker Street, Kingsway as this interesting photograph illustrates.

1923 saw the centenary of this successful Lithographic house and one of the speakers was the then, Baxter Society President, Courtney Lewes who “responded in amusing an interesting fashion, recalling many facts connected with the introduction of Lithography into London and referred especially to the work of George Baxter in regard to which Mr Lewes is an authority.”

They were successful printers throughout the 20th century and appear to have printed many Railway and travel posters which are greatly sought after. Vincent Brooks Day & Son were taken over by Banyard Press in 1960.

So where did all this information come from? Courtney Lewes’ The Picture Printer, Baxter Society Journals, Baxter Times and The Centenary Baxter Book and also a new source a website I recently stumbled across.


Simon Vincent Brooks (Vincent Brooks’ great, great, great grand son) had recently discovered an old manuscript in his grandfathers house, he soon discovered that it was the autobiography of Frederick Brooks and promptly published it on the Internet. Chapter V was titled George Baxter and his Methods – I thought - this is going to be the only known account of how George Baxter produced his prints. Unfortunately, although Frederick knew enough about the subject and felt it important enough to warrant its own chapter it doesn’t appear that he ever got round to writing it. All the same I greatly appreciate Frederick’s and then Simon’s [and Laura’s] hard work to give us much new information."