18th century trade cards for London book sellers

For those readers who are familiar with All Things Georgian, you will more than likely know of my passion for trade cards and the tiny clues they offer about the lives their former owners. Today we’re going to take a look at just a few of the booker sellers of 18th century London.

We begin with the card above which belonged to Mr George Sael of at No 192, the Strand, London, showing a female figure, possibly Minerva, seated to the right inscribing the text on an oval. George was not only a bookseller, but also sold stationery and purchased libraries or collections of books.

Although it’s not possible to date the card accurately, we do know from his will, that George died June 1799, at just 38 years of age, said to have been due to overwork. Before ‘going it alone’, George had been in partnership with another bookseller, Edward Jeffery, but they had mutually ended their business partnership in October 1788, so this narrows the window to around a ten year span. It would seem likely that George produced or acquired new business cards after the division of the company, to tells his customers where he was now to be found.

When George died, he left a wife, Sarah née Poole whom he had married in Chester on 19 April 1789, and three surviving daughters, Letitia Margaretta, (born 1790), Sarah (born1794), Elizabeth (born 1795) and a two year old son, George. In his will he specified that all his stock in trade and other financial assets should to go to his wife, then to the children when/if they reached the age of 21 and that his wearing apparel should go to his nephew. George was buried at St George’s Hanover Square on 17 June 1799.

As a former citizen of Chester, the Chester Chronicle provided the following notice of his death:

This next one was very attention grabbing, as it shows George III and Queen Charlotte, with an added name-check for the Prince of Wales. As can be seen in the bottom right hand corner this was advertising the bookseller, Alexander Hogg of Paternoster Row who had acquired a ‘New selection of British novels’



Alexander didn’t marry until he was aged, 56, his wife being Hannah May, of the parish of St Olave, Bermondsey. Rather unusually, it was Hannah who arranged the marriage licence on 15 September 1808, rather than Alexander. The couple then married at St Olave’s a couple of days later and on the day of their marriage Alexander also wrote his will, he clearly believed that he wouldn’t live for much longer and wanted to ensure that his new bride was provided for. Sure enough, their marriage was to be cut short, as Alexander died just over 3 months later, at the beginning of January 1809. This perhaps explains why Hannah organised the marriage licence, a ‘quickie’ wedding, Alexander was too ill to arrange it himself.

The Hull Packet, 17 January 1809 wrote:


On Sunday se’nnight, after a long and painful affliction, which he endured with exemplary fortitude, Mr Alexander Hogg, late a bookseller in Paternoster Row, London, in the 57th year of his age; whose strict adherence to honour and honesty, during life, rendered him universally respected and esteemed.

The next card belonged to a John Weble, bookseller at ‘The Pineapple’ in the City Road, London, showing the text inscribed on a sheet, a bookseller standing to right showing books to a gentleman and a lady; an ornamental border framing the image and is rather more elaborate and detailed than that of George Sael.

However, there’s a glaring error which doesn’t look very professional – have you spotted it yet? I think I might have been asking for a refund if I had paid for the card to be printed.

John ran his book selling and stationery business from at least 1770 and was based on Paternoster Row, London. The little we know of his life comes courtesy of the Oxford University and City Herald, 30 September 1820:

At Bromley, Kent, in his 74th year, John Wheble, Esq., the original projector, and till within these few years, the sole conductor, of the County Chronicle. Of an active, intelligent, and truly liberal mind, combined with generosity to a fault, it may be truly said that few men possessed in a greater degree the respect and esteem of the circle in which he moved, or quitted this transitory life more deeply or sincerely regretted. In 1805, Mr Wheble was chosen one of the Common Council of the war of Farringdon Within, an honour which he continue to enjoy until his death.

This one below belonged to a John Pridden, who operated his business in Fleet Street, from at least 1757 until his death in 1807. The card itself has text inscribed within a Rococo border, the Prince of Wales’s feathers in the upper section with piles of books at the sides and was dated 1757.

We know slightly more about John Pridden than we do about some of the other booksellers, courtesy of the Dictionary of National Biography which tells us that John was born in 1728 to a very affluent family, at Old Martin Hall, Ellesmere, Shropshire. He ran away from home to escape from his cruel step-father and headed for London, where he found employment working for Richard Manby, a book seller of Ludgate Hill, whom he eventually succeeded upon Manby’s death, in 1767.

John married Anne Gregory in 1757 and they had two sons, John and Humphry and six daughters, Anne, Elizabeth, Sarah, Frances, Isabella and Margaret. John outlived his wife, but only by a few years, Anne died in 1801 and John’s wish in his will was to be buried in the same grave as his wife so they could be reunited in death on 24 March 1807, at St Bride’s, Fleet Street.

An anecdote written upon his demise in the Oracle and Daily News, 17 March 1807.

Yesterday morning, in the 79th years of his age, Mr John Pridden, nearly half a century a bookseller in Fleet Street, who, by persevering industry, acquired an independent fortune, with strict integrity. The following anecdote of this worthy man must not go untold, as a specimen of the goodness of his heart: Seven years ago, on the failure of his less fortunate next-door neighbour, he invited him to his house, and relinquished business, to give him the opportunity of the remaining on the spot. His kind intentions met with success, and he frequently expressed the pleasure he felt on seeing his friend prosper under his roof.  

I have one final one to share, not because I had researched the books seller, rather that I am curious about a description on his trade card. He tells potential purchasers that he sells books bound in either calves or turkey leather – turkey leather is a new one to me, so if anyone knows about it, please do let me know.


All images are courtesy of the British Museum

London Gazette, 25 Oct 1788

George Sael.  Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; ClassPROB 11; Piece1326

Alexander Hogg. Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; ClassPROB 11; Piece1482

John Pridden.  Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; ClassPROB 11; Piece1460

18th century perfumer’s trade cards

Advertising was just as important in the 18th and 19th centuries as it is today. In order to really promote your business it was essential to invest in both newspaper advertising and also to have a trade/ business card and unlike many today, 18th century trade cards were much more elaborate.

Today I thought I would take a quick look at some of the trade cards for perfumers. I do have to confess this is a rather self indulgent piece, simply because I love trade cards, and along with these are a few invoices that I have come across, so, this is very much a pictorial post.

We begin with a for a Mr Stewart, perfumer of 12 & 13 Old Broad Street, who claimed to be perfumer to the royal family. At first I wondered whether there was just one company who had royal approval at any one time, but this was really not the case, there were many. Having that ‘royal seal of approval’ was the best way for a business to succeed. 

Next we have Lewis Hendrie, comb maker to their majesties and perfumer to royal princesses, as we can see on this invoice from 1784, held by the British Museum.

John Thomas Rigge was an importer of foreign perfumes to be sold to the likes of King George III and of course, his son, George, Prince of Wales who always liked to keep up with the latest trends. John Thomas ran his business from two premises, 65 Cheapside and 52, Park Street, Grosvenor Square, with his wife Rebecca, along with several sons and daughters, so very much a family affair. Below we have both a bill of sale and his trade card, both courtesy of the British Museum.


British Museum

You can almost imagine the wonderfully heady smells in Alexander Ross’s perfume shop picture below, which, it would appear, he ran with his wife Mary and two sons, until his death in 1819. Alexander clearly wanted to ensure that Mary wasn’t left short of anything when he died, but his priority in his will was to bequeath her all his wines and spirits (should we read anything into that?). He was in partnership with his sons, Thomas and William to whom he left three London properties along with the business.

Interior of the shop of Alex Ross, perfumer in London; a large table displays the many perfume bottles and scents on offer, wooden chests on bench next to table contain further goods; garlands of flowers hang from walls;

Next we have Thomas Golding, of 42, Cornhill, perfumer to Her Majesty, Queen Charlotte. We can see from this invoice that not only was he a perfumer, but also a manufacturer or razors, dressing cases, pocket books and pouches, clearly someone who knew how to diversify in order to meet the needs of his potential clients. Below the invoice we also have his trade card. This invoice was for a Captain William Sherry, who it would appear was the captain of the ship, ‘Jamaica’ of Bristol. It would appear that Sherry was purchasing a variety of products including Windsor Soap, a variety of pomatums and lavender water.

Both items courtesy of British Museum

Could the famous perfumer, Sangwine, have fitted anything more onto this?

Courtesy of Meisterdrucke Fine Art Prints

Also, courtesy of Dr Alun Withey, from his personal collection, I’d like to share with you this receipt (below) from Sangwine’s who sold a leather pouch to a Mr Batt. It would appear that the family had begun to diversify from selling just perfume by this time.

So far it hasn’t been possibly to ascertain who was running the family business by 1810, but it had previously been run by Richard Sangwine, who when he died left it to his son, Richard and wife Mary to continue running.

Mary died in October 1810 and left a will in which she divided her estate between her three children, not equally though, it was split into six, with Ann receiving 3/6th’s, Frances 2/6th’s and her son, Richard for reasons known to his siblings, just 1/6th. I do wish she had elaborated on why Richard junior received the smallest share – but she didn’t!

By 1810 Richard junior’s son, Thomas was clearly involved in the family firm as we note from this receipt.


Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece:1623

Header Image

Illustration from Ackermann’s ‘Repository of Arts’, part 1 or 85, series 2, vol 1. 1816

Lotions, Potions and Pills – Druggist Trade Cards

We have looked at trade cards on a couple of previous occasions and it appears that many of our readers like them as much as we do. So, today we’re going to look at a specific trade – that of a druggist or chymist.

Wellcome library
Wellcome Library

Our first offering is a lovely card for a Joseph Leaper, who was running his business in Bishopsgate, London. We love that not only did he make up lotions and potions, but also diversified into coffee, tea, chocolate and snuffs, a real 18th-century entrepreneur.

Joseph Leaper. Wellcome Library
Joseph Leaper. Wellcome Library

As the card is giving away few clues we can’t be sure whether it relates to him Joseph senior or junior who took over the business on his father’s death in 1750. His will made no clear mention as to who was to take over the business after his death, but family were clearly important to him and he made provision for both his children grandchildren and so if this trade card postdates Joseph senior’s death, then it’s safe to assume his son Joseph took over the reins In Joseph senior’s will he specifically wished to be buried with his wife in Whitechapel, or, if he died in Derbyshire, to be buried at Osmaston, near Derby. Joseph senior got his wish to be buried with his wife and didn’t make it to the pretty village of Osmaston. He was buried 21st May 1750 at St Mary’s, Whitechapel.

The next one conjures up quite a dramatic image, someone clearly spent a great deal of time designing this. Something this detailed and imaginative would probably have been expensive to produce. You could spend hours just reading the symbolism contained within it.

Richard Siddall. Wellcome Library
Richard Siddall. Wellcome Library

Richard Siddall who was operating his business from the Golden Head, Panton Street, near the Haymarket. He was a maker and seller of all manner of chymical and Galenical medicines. He also sold ‘The Elixir for the Asthma and for gout and rheumatism’.

We know that he was already trading from that address when he married on 9th November 1751, as the London Magazine, or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer, Volume 20 as it confirms his marriage to Miss Sukey le Febre (sic), fourth daughter to John le Febre (sic). In May 1753 Richard was declared bankrupt, so we have no idea what became of him after that. We do, however, know that his business was taken over by Daniel Swann, as he used an identical trade card showing the same address, just with a name change.

Our third one is for GJ Beavan who was trading at 114 High Street, Cheltenham, so, a fashionable spa town, an ideal place to visit for the upper classes and potentially lucrative for the businessman.

GJ Bevan Wellcome Library
GJ Bevan Wellcome Library

This one tells us little about who Beavan was, but we do know that his company took over the business from Paytherus, Savory and company who also owned a warehouse on Bond Street, London and who were involved from 1793, in the production of Cheltenham Salts. Beavan’s was certainly trading under its new name from 1818 onwards according to the newspapers and we see this advert below for one of their products in 1832.

Cheltenham Chronicle 18 October 1832
Cheltenham Chronicle 18 October 1832

The final one belonged to John Kempson Esq., a druggist of Snow Hill, London and according to Yale Centre for British Art was dated c1770. This helps us to narrow it down and we have found that John died in 1788 whilst getting into his carriage at his home in Cheam, Surrey. His will confirms that the main beneficiary of his estate was his wife, to whom he left £1,000, so not an inconsiderable sum of money. John was buried at St Dunstan church, Cheam on 6th November 1788, aged 77.

John Kempson. Yale Centre for British Art
John Kempson. Yale Centre for British Art

It would appear that John didn’t work alone but had a chemist Richardson Ferrand working with him according to a newspaper report in the Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette of May 19th, 1804.


Derby Mercury 11th May 1753

Worcester Journal 29 September 1808

Chelmsford Chronicle 07 November 1788

Featured Image

Showing the effect of taking Cheltenham Salts c,1820

18th-century business women – trade cards

We have looked at trade cards in a previous blog and if we’re honest this post is slightly self-indulgent as we’re fascinated by them. Today we thought that we would focus on the trade cards for those women who chose to run their own business or were forced out of necessity to continue running their husband’s business after his death as they would most likely have no other source of income.

There is an assumption that all women in the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century needed or wanted a husband to secure their position in society, although for some this was not the case. Whether they succeeded on not we may never know, but they certainly tried to be self-supporting.

We have previously looked at Eleanor Coade, businesswoman extraordinaire, a force to be reckoned with and we have our very own ‘Georgian Heroine’ Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, who, whilst not running a business in the way you would expect, lived life on her own terms in a male-dominated world. She was paid by the government for her work as a sort of spy, reporting back to them about life in France around the time of the French Revolution and organising the major event of the golden jubilee for George III, almost single-handedly such. So, women were not all sitting around gossiping and drinking tea, looking pretty and waiting for ‘Mr Right’ to sweep them off their feet.

Women have always run businesses and in the eighteenth-century having your own business card and advertising in the newspapers was an excellent way of self-promotion, so we’re going to take a look at some such cards.

Our first and the earliest and most unusual card we found is for Dorothy Pentreath (1692-1777), known as Dolly, as her trade card states; she was ‘the last person who could converse in the Cornish language’ – she also sold fish for a living.  Dolly was apparently not averse to cursing people in her native language when annoyed, oh and was possibly a witch! So multi-talented – quite a woman it would seem.

Dorothy Pentreath of Mousehole, Cornwall. Wellcome Library
Dorothy Pentreath of Mousehole, Cornwall. Wellcome Library

There are many for occupations traditionally associated with women, such as fabric and frock sellers, but we wanted to look at the unusual ones, so our next offering is a seller of plates for coffins, near Newgate, London.

Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection

Susanna Passavant took over a going concern from the late William Willdey, jeweller and toy man, Plume of Feathers, Ludgate Hill, opposite the Old Bailey.

Trade card for Susanna Passavant. British Museum
Trade card for Susanna Passavant. British Museum

Next, we have one for Mrs Wood, a midwife in 1787, whilst a common occupation, this is the only trade card we have come across to date, for a midwife offering her services.

British Museum
British Museum

Sarah Greenland, tobacco and pipe maker, who was possibly also an exporter of her goods.

British Museum
British Museum

We love this next one, Mary Wiggett, chimney sweep. Mary took over the business after her husband died and remained at ‘The Broom ‘. Her unique selling point was that she would ‘make foul chimneys clean, and when on fire, puts them out with all expediency’.

Trade card for Mary Wiggett, chimney sweep. British Museum
Trade card for Mary Wiggett, chimney sweep. British Museum

This next one is quite sad. This was dated 19th June 1830, Martha Banting of Bampton, Oxfordshire was notifying people that her son John was no longer a part of the business, but that she would continue trading alone. On the 26th June 1830, Martha wrote her will – it was proven on the 28th July 1830. Despite her demise, her children inherited the business, so hopefully, they continued trading under the Banting name.

Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection

Our final offering is Dorothy Mercier, printseller, stationer. Dorothy née Clapham was the widow of the artist Phillipe Mercier (1689- 1760). She would buy and sell old prints and frames. She also sold writing paper, vellum, drawing paper, lead pencils, chalks, paintbrushes, watercolours, so she would have been very popular with the artists of the day. Oddly she also sold ladies fans. She was also something of an artist as she was selling her own paintings of flowers too. Quite the entrepreneur.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum

18th Century Trade Cards

Thomas Bakewell, next door to the Horn Tavern in Fleet Street, London. Selleth all sorts of fine French, Italian and Dutch prints and maps...
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Today we hand out business/trade cards like confetti, most being mass produced for a few pounds. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the same commodity in the Georgian period. The variety of ‘trade cards’ is immense everything from grocers, to wholesalers, from funeral directors to hosiers and hatters, the list just goes on; every trade you can think of and many more you would never have thought of. The aim of these cards was to achieve maximum publicity so it was important to make them both visual and textual.

Trade cards were used to establish links with other local businesses and were taken very seriously as they were legally binding contracts. They were often handed out in public squares and markets, a great marketing tool as they still remain today. Trade cards would usually have a merchant’s name and address along with a description of where to find them. They also served as invoices, receipts, and places to jot down quotations, price lists, and other handwritten information.

One thing I had noticed was how much more intricate they are in design than anything you would see today. They are so fascinating that I simply had to share a few with you.   According to the British Museum, many of the cards they hold were originally collected by the sister of Sir Joseph Banks, Sarah Sophia Banks, who will make an appearance in another of our books in the future. I wanted to include a portrait of Sarah Sophia Banks and, in my usual style, this caricature of her really was too much to resist … sorry!

An old maid on a journey by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed looking for them.

Our first offering is ‘Daniel, a real working Goldsmith  & Watchmaker, of Clare Street, Bristol’.  There were so many for goldsmiths and horologists that I was totally spoilt for choice.

Daniel a Goldsmith Bristol
Courtesy of the British Museum

In the 18th century, all but the upper-class women would have had to work and there are a surprising number of trade cards still in existence relating to female occupations.  Women were barred from most trade guilds and there were few if any formal organisations to support them. The only exception being that if a woman’s husband died she would be entitled to run his business and his membership of that guild would be transferred to her meaning that she could retain his privileges and also take on apprentices thereby allowing the business to continue to operate.  For financial reasons a widow would probably need her late husband’s business to continue and so she would have trade cards printed to ensure the continued support of his clients.

elizabeth bagwell
Courtesy of the British Museum

Our next reads as follows-

Catherine West, at the Hatt & Seven Starr’s in Monmouth Street the Corner of Browns Gardens Facing the Seven Dials, Sells all sorts of Womens Apparel Both New & Second Hand Wholesale & retail at reasonable rates viz. silk gowns, scarlet cloaks, market womens cloaks, all manner of stuffs in the piece, russells, stuffs damasks, cambletts, cambletees, prunell’s , callamancoe’s, Irish stuffs, joans, spinning & made in the gentelest manner, likewise gives ready money for womens apparel rich or plain, N.B. At the above place are sold ladies beavers, mens hatts new or second hand by the maker John West.

Trade card for Catherine West
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Howgate & Edmondson, sadlers and cap makers, opposite the Coventry Cross near Conduit Street In New Bond Street, London.

Trade card for Horgate & Edmondson, sadlers and cap makers
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

The painter, William Hogarth’s sister Mary and Ann were also running their own business, ‘frock makers’, frocks being outerwear, not dresses as we may refer to them as today, in their case they made clothes for children.

Trade card for Mary and Ann Hogarth. © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection
© Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection

Charles Hill tea dealer and grocer
Courtesy of the British Museum

Our next one is Charles Hill, a grocer, selling amongst other things coffee, chocolate and cocoa – clearly a place I would have spent hours in!

Followed by Ashlin, a glass carver, grinder and guilder, his importance being denoted by the use of the Prince of Wales feathers a crown and motto ‘Ich dien’, a crown and laurel garland on top of the oval; lion and unicorn supporters.

Glass grinder
Courtesy of the British Museum

A somewhat more artistic card, that of  David Shilfox, engraver and printer, at 349 Oxford Street, opposite Oxford Market, London.

Courtesy of the British Museum

I would like to share this card that was very kindly brought to our attention by our friend, the Female Master of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers.

Trade card for John Cotterell, china-man and glass-seller. © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection.
© Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection

A tea that is just as popular today as it probably was in 1804 – Twinings being sold by John Deck.

Twinings Tea
Courtesy of the British Museum

For the wealthy of the 18th-century pineapple was immensely popular so I couldn’t resist including the trade card for Negri and Wetten, confectioners, at the Pineapple, Berkeley Square.

Courtesy of the British Museum

For those who like something a little more obscure, I offer the trade card for  H Longbottom, skeleton supplier.

DRAFT Trade card of H Longbottom, skeleton supplier
Courtesy of the British Museum

And finally  we have Owen and Cox, appraisers, undertakers, at their ‘upholstry and carpet warehouse’, … Funerals furnished‘.

Apraisers and undertakers

In case you weren’t aware of it, there is more information in the London Book Trade 1775 – 1800, in this excellent, searchable resource

The Bodleian Library online also has a wonderful section on trade cards that are worth a look.