Category Archives: Business

Business Timeline – Are You Ready?

As a semi-retired museum worker, I am keen to see business history captured for the future. Creating your ‘archives’ as you go, whether paper or artifacts…. can help you be ready when your company’s anniversary comes around.

Capturing your business history contributes to the historical knowledge and the local business footprint of activity for your area. As time goes on and new families come to town…. a little of the past will remain for them.

Artifacts can take any form…. often promotional items sporting your logo…. pens, give-aways etc. Do you have an old ink blotting pad, an old paper wall calendar, a desk diary, or a calculator?  These type of  items are already obsolete in this modern day of technology.

Items in the picture above: company register and minute binder, corporate stamp/seal; unused IBM punch cards (circa 1970); vintage IBM flow chart template for use in preparing system and program flow charts by computer programmers; address book; ink and ink fountain pen; letter openers; staple remover, business folder (1991).

Maybe you have items that relate to your business activity? Found at the historic Alton Mill, (which was one of 8 mills in the village of Alton, Ontario, during the early 1900s), are these fascinating balloon moulds…. they relate to the Western Rubber Company, a latex business run on the site by Frederick Stubbs in 1935. Before this textiles were produced by Alton Knitting Mill (1881) run by John A Dods, then his sons until the early 1930s.

Over the years your graphic and logo may have changed. Noting when these changes took place, is useful to date your artifacts. A stationery set of business card, brochures and letterhead paper filed in chronicle order will do the trick.

Your official company seal is likely the first and main artifact to be cared for, along with your corporate articles, minute book and indenture papers.

Among your photographs will be staff, colleagues and customers too, people connections may have changed over the years, make a note of the names and dates on the back of photographs.

Notable documents might include certificates, awards, plaques and more.

Shared below are some recent business anniversaries I have spotted in local advertising. Congratulations go to:

Butcher Furniture – celebrating 60th anniversary

Dufferin Board of Trade – celebrating 110 years

Glen Echo Landscaping – celebrating 40 plus years

Start your archive now…. and write-up your business timeline ready for your next significant anniversary. Let me know if you need some help – it’s what I do!

Sad Demise of Thomas Cook Travel after 178 Years

Above: William and Jessie Parker

With the current news about Thomas Cook & Son closing their doors, I thought I would take a moment to share forward a connection to my family.

The company was originally founded on 9 June 1841 by a 32-year Thomas Cook (1808-1892) of Market Harborough to the nearby town of Leicester to attend a temperance meeting. His son carried on and expanded the firm that went on to become world-famous tour operators.

My Great-Grandfather, likely contributed to Thomas Cook’s early years of success. He worked as a manager/partner with Thomas Cook and family folklore tells how he was responsible for establishing their offices in Italy.

William Brewster Sidney Parker (1875-1940) was married to Emma Clayton, and they had three daughters, the eldest daughter was my Grandmother Agnes Ida (Parker) Bake (1899-1949), my Great Aunt Queenie, Gladys (1897-1980) and the youngest my Great-Aunt Margie, Margaret Cecilla (1909-1985).  Margie was in fact born in Italy in 1909, setting a date when the family were living broad.

Sometime later William married a younger woman Jessie Parker (photographed above), who lived on many years after his death, so I am told, lessening the residue of the family fortune!  However my Mother was proud to receive a small inheritance many years later when Jessie died. A legacy from her ‘famous’ Grandfather!

She often shared stories about his travels abroad. I recall my Great Aunts too discussing their experiences too. They both remained spinsters and lived near Brighton. Great Aunt Margie often visited us, she was an interesting lady, with a definite ‘Italian’ olive skin tan, and the family always wondered if she was in fact half Italian. She was active and outgoing, she danced, travelled, was way ahead of her time with knowledge about health and healthy foods. She was also the first person we knew who owned a colour box Brownie camera.

So, over the years we have always been proud of our connections to Thomas Cook & son.  During WWII the company which was owned by a Belgium company was bought back by Britain and became part of British Railways…. after the war, sold on again to a German bank. Although founded by a pioneering British gentleman, the father of touring and travelling, the company always sporting his name Thomas Cook…. I fear the company had not truly been a British affair for some years.

I was saddened to hear of stranded passengers, the many redundancies and job losses, even private investors (some 20%), but for me fondly remembering my Great-Grandfather (whose picture has become the company logo for my business Treasured Collections) and our family connection to Thomas Cook in the years gone by.

For interesting reading….  BBC Article

Capturing Your Local Business Footprint!

Celebrating The Evening News (Portsmouth), Centenary (1877-1977)

Artifact: First Day Cover, 27 April 1977, featuring William Caxton (1476) stamps, from the collection of Mrs George of Portchester.

This blog entry refers to the local newspaper in my ‘old’ home-town, but the essence of the message is the same, wherever you are!

Marking and celebrating significant milestone anniversaries of your local business, collecting and sharing memorabilia from that event… helps plant the footprint of the business through time.

With social media advancing, and less paper promotional literature, it will become more relevant as time goes forward.

How to do this? Start an archive folder/box now!  Place in it, early business cards, letter head, literature and promotional artifacts… pens, give-aways etc. Add to the box each time your logo changes and you’ll have a ready-made running history for your business!

The Evening News (Portsmouth), Centenary (1877-1977)

The News was founded, as The Evening News, on April 27, 1877. It was launched from a former butcher’s shop at 1 Arundel Street, Landport, Portsmouth. Produced on four broadsheet pages, at the rate of 2000 copies an hour on a hand-fed press which was housed in an erstwhile slaughterhouse.  The selling price was halfpenny! The Run and managed by its founder, Mr J G Niven, who is reputed to be shown driving the dog cart in the illustration.

Another historical snippet from this story is the fact that just six months earlier than this centenary, the 500th anniversary of printing was introduced to England by William Caxton! The stamps on the First Day Cover celebration this 1476 fact!

Take a moment, and gather your artifact collection!  If you don’t know where to start, or need help. Let me know!

With plenty of experience I’ve shared my museum-gained skills with local libraries,  chamber of commerce, non-profit organizations and area businesses!

Capture the Footprint of Local History

Sometimes an old calendar, ball-point pen, business card or booklet can be the only remaining evidence of a local business.

Local business are often the hub of a community, employers, where people work and shop. Help to capture the footprint of the history for your local area by saving, or sharing with local historical institutions, items that might be significant.

Victory Brushes, John Palmers Ltd., Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.

This 14-page booklet was collected and saved with papers by a lady who worked as Personnel Officer at John Palmers, Victory Brushes during the mid to late 1960s. This leaflet was produced for their employees…. the back page states “The quality of Victory Brand Brushes is your responsibility.”

The booklet tells a general through-the-years story about how brushes were made and the materials used, but it also gives a history of the company since its beginnings in 1869 to 1947. It is a treasure for the local business history and area archives.

John Palmers flooring and carpets firms are still in business today, albeit not in Portsmouth. Over the years they occupied various buildings in the Fratton area of Portsmouth City. They also owned a small row of flat-fronted terraced houses in Nancy Road for their workers.

It seems the original premises were a 3-storey plus basement house.
This is a business that grew and became a significant employer in the Portsmouth area.

“Around 1975, I worked as a temporary secretary to one of John Palmer’s sons for a while, Raymond or Stanley!”

The history 1869-1947, as told by Mr John Palmer Junior, son of the John Palmer who started the business.






The Trade Mark logo for Victory Brushes Brand is of course a line drawing of the Portsmouth-based H.M.S. Victory.

A memory story found online…. Portsmouth tales

Do you have any artefacts or stories to tell about working at John Palmers?