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Bill A 01-02-15 07:25 PM

1 Attachment(s)
A J.R. Gaunt & Son (Canada Co.) Ltd. Catalogue, dated March 1917. Note their description of their business activities.

manchesters 01-02-15 09:09 PM


Superb. Well done.

So, J.R. Gaunt of Canada DID manufacture badges, at Beaver Hall Hill, Montreal.

Can we therefore assume that badges marked "JR GAUNT, MONTREAL" were indeed manufactured in Montreal


Badges marked "JR GAUNT, MONTREAL. MADE IN ENGLAND" were not.


2747andy 01-02-15 09:11 PM


Originally Posted by Bill A (Post 297093)
A J.R. Gaunt & Son (Canada Co.) Ltd. Catalogue, dated March 1917. Note their description of their business activities.

many thanks!


altcar73 01-02-15 09:32 PM

I still can't see any evidence that they actually manufactured badges in Canada. They had some printed paperwork produced giving a Canadian address. Also, giving addresses in New York and a couple of other locations. Whilst they give a London address, badges were not manufactured there. So, why assume badges were manufactured in Canada? Where is the evidence? It looks like an assumption to me............nothing else at this stage.


manchesters 01-02-15 09:55 PM

1 Attachment(s)
This is a 1912-1913 Trade Directory for Montreal.

Pretty conclusive if you ask me that they were in fact manufacturing military gear in Montreal itself.


'Ticker' Riley 03-02-15 11:11 PM

J. R. Gaunt & Son in Montreal (& in London)
As someone with an interest in J. R. Gaunt & Son and their history it is great to see the advert pages from The J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada Co.) Limited catalogue of 1917, so many thanks to Bill for sharing this, and thanks also to Simon for the extracted details from the 1912-13 Montreal Trade Directory, which, again, is really good to see. However I’m afraid that I have to agree with Dave, and neither the pages from the catalogue nor the entries in the trade directory prove that Gaunt actually manufactured items at their Beaver Hall Hill address.

Back in 2009 I posted up some J. R. Gaunt & Son advertisements here, which were taken from the Army and Navy Gazette for 1918. These clearly give addresses at Conduit Street in London, but as far as I am aware this was just the Firm’s outlet in the Capital. Similarly, when it comes to trade directories you can find ones that give just a London address for Gaunt, even though this was only their retail premises and the factory was in Birmingham. For example here are the entries for ‘Military & Naval Ornament Manufacturers’ from the ‘London Section’ of Stubbs’ Directory: Manufacturers, Merchant Shippers, and Professional. British and Foreign for 1919:

More important still, in respect of both the London and Montreal addresses, is a reference I made in another posting back in 2009 here, where I noted a letter that a John Dunnigan had put up on his buttons website (apparently now no longer available), and which he had received from J. R. Gaunt & Son Ltd (by then part of The Birmingham Mint plc) in 1985. The letter set out details of the Company’s history, and crucially had this to say about both their premises in London and Montreal:

I think this would seem pretty conclusive that J. R. Gaunt & Son didn’t manufacture anything in Canada, given it comes almost from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

Best regards


Bill A 03-02-15 11:49 PM

Hello Martin, To follow on your point, in 1985 Guant was only selling and not making. The Gaunt firm in Cananda had been eclipsed by other makers and military outfitters, and no longer had the volume or competitive edge to make badges in Canada. My understanding is that they ceased making badges in Canada at some time before or circa the Second World War and had become more of an outfitter / tailor concern during the latter part of their operations in Canada.

'Ticker' Riley 04-02-15 10:05 PM

J. R. Gaunt & Son in Montreal (& in New York)
Hi Bill

Sorry I haven’t responded before now – work and such! Anyhow, I’m afraid I’m not sure quite what you mean when you say that by 1985 Gaunt “was only selling and not making”, are you taking about the company in Canada, or J. R. Gaunt & Son back in England? I’ve not personally come across anything about Gaunts over here not manufacturing things by the 1980s, and understood that when the business was sold to Firmin & Sons in 1991 it was done so as a going concern. In a circular letter sent out at the time of the sale to Firmins it does talk about Gaunts having “been located for the last two years in the Icknield Street factory”, which sounds to me like they were still making things in Birmingham at least! A copy of this circular letter also used to be on Mr Dunnigan’s site, but again this is now no longer available, though, thankfully, Forum member ‘btns’ has posted up a full transcription here.

As to Gaunt in Montreal, in 1994 John Richard Gaunt (grandson of James Richard Gaunt, the J. R. Gaunt in the Company’s name, and former Chairman of the Firm) wrote an article for Button Lines: The Journals of the British Button Society entitled ‘J. R. Gaunt & Son Limited: A Brief History by John R. Gaunt’, which I have previously referenced on the thread about ‘J. R. Gaunt & Son Company History’. Significant Mr Gaunt said that Charles Frederick Gaunt opened “offices in New York and Montreal” going on to say “The dates of these events is not known but he was in Montreal in May 1914”; I have a note that J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Limited were actually incorporated on 7 July 1908. He then has this to say about what happened to these “offices” following Charles’ death in 1939:

So to recap, in 1985 J. R. Gaunt & Son (albeit by then part of The Birmingham Mint) believed that the company in Montreal had been just a selling outlet and not a factory, and writing in 1994, John Richard Gaunt, ex-Chairman of the Company before it was sold to The Mint, also thought it, along with the business in New York, were just “offices”. Accordingly, as far as I can see, there’s nothing here to suggest that badges were made at the Beaver Hall Hill address, and I have to say that I would consider the Company as it was in 1985 and Mr Gaunt to be both pretty authoritative sources on this issue.

Maybe there was badge manufacture by Gaunt in Canada, and if so perhaps this was somewhere else? I did try and look up Beaver Hall Hill on the internet, but all I found was a Côte du Beaver Hall. I don’t know if this is the same street, but this doesn’t look like a particularly industrial area to me. I wonder if historic mapping of Montreal might help establish exactly where the Beaver Hall Hill address was, and what kind of building was there? I personally think that we should be cautious in assuming that Gaunts actually made badges in Canada, especially as the sources I’ve quoted have the company in Montreal as being just a selling outlet/office.

Best regards


'Ticker' Riley 05-02-15 07:54 PM

J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Co. Ltd, Beaver Hall Hill
Hello Bill

I’ve been looking through your posts again, and think your comment about Gaunts by 1985 “only selling and not making” was about the Canadian business. I also see that elsewhere you talk about the Montreal company being bought by Scullys in 1984. According to John Richard Gaunt’s 1994 article, of course, the link between J. R. Gaunt & Son in England and the firm in Canada was cut around 1939, so after this date the Montreal company appears to have been a total separate entity.

I take it you think the 1985 letter, and possibly now the 1994 article, were written too late after the event to count, so I think it should point out that these were both specifically dealing with the history of the Company. The letter says it was compiled using “information obtained from various employees”, whilst Mr Gaunt’s article was derived from his personal recollections. I do appreciate what you are saying, but I think you seem to be approaching things from the standpoint that Gaunt’s definitely manufactured badges in Canada, whereas I am looking at it based on the two sources I’ve quoted which clearly indicate the opposite.

It is without doubt interesting that there are Gaunt badges with Montreal marks, and that in addition some of these have “Made in England” on them. It is therefore a completely logically explanation to suggests that those without mention of England had been made in Canada, whilst the others simply imported. However, again, this is on the assumption that badges were made in Canada, and as I have said, given the information from the letter and article, this doesn’t look to be the case and I really do think this needs to be treated with caution. Perhaps there is another explanation for the two differing Gaunt Montreal marks?

I have been trying to look into things again today, and have found another reference, coincidentally from 1939, so at the time Mr Gaunt believes the Canadian “office” was sold to “Mr Folwer”, which gives another address in Montreal for “J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Company, Limited” being “616 Lagauchetière St. West”, which was apparently “2 Doors West of Beaver Hall Hill”. This seems to now be Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest, which cuts across Côte du Beaver Hall, so it would appear this latter street is what was earlier known as Beaver Hall Hill; though exactly where on this street Nos 63 & 65 were is another matter.

I also came across two other advertisements for the Montreal company, the first being from The Quarterly Militia List of the Dominion of Canada, March 9, 1915, p. x, whist the other is taken from Men’s Wear Review, Vol. III, No. 1, January 1918, p. 24:

Both give the Beaver Hall Hill address, alongside the London Conduit Street one. Given the nature of this thread I thought they’d be of some interest, even if they don’t help us address the question about whether or not J. R. Gaunt & Son ever actually made badges in Canada.

Best regards


manchesters 05-02-15 08:03 PM


Clearly you are putting a great deal of time and effort into this issue and I really appreciate your help.

However I cannot help but lean towards thinking that Gaunt in Montreal were more than a distributor.

Can I take you back to the 1913 Trade Directory which clearly states the following:-

1. "Military Belt MAKERS"

2. "Military and Naval Ornament MANUFACTURERS"

That to me implies more than just a premises for distribution of foreign made products.

Also the fact that the premises takes up two numbers on Beaver Hall Hill, ie No.'s 63 & 65 tends to suggest a large enterprise.

It certainly isnt clear cut at the moment and requires some research from someone in Montreal who can access local history records for the period.


altcar73 05-02-15 08:39 PM

What manufacturers say in their advertising material and what they actually do is often two entirely different things. It is called marketing/sales strategy. Also, because they appear to occupy one or two adjoining premises in Montreal does not point towards a manufacturing base. If they were importing British made goods then they would need storage space and possibly space for displays etc. The evidence provided thus far seems even more clear cut than was previously the case. It is interesting that on one of the adverts it says " All uniforms are guaranteed Best London (West End) cut and MAKE and the gold lace of the finest quality". It goes on to say "Prices moderate INCLUSIVE OF DUTY". (Import duty?)


Bill A 05-02-15 10:53 PM

I have spoken about this with two knowledgeabe Canadian collectors, and their opinion is much like this thread. One says they made badges in Canada, the other says they didn't. Obviously more research will need to be done to confirm the issue either way.
Additional information was that the dies may have been made in the UK by the firm and shipped to Canada. Here the striking was sub-contracted to a maker. The Beaver Hill addresses appear to have been the distribution / tailor / outfitting shop. And, some of the catalogue listings were never made in Canada, but being of a generic nature (like rank badges) they were imported and sold from the store.
This has been an enlightening thread and challenges some ccwd (collectors' conventional wizdumb). Still more research to be done, and hopefully a conclusive answer can be arrived at.

'Ticker' Riley 06-02-15 08:25 PM

J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Ltd
Hi Simon

Glad to hear my efforts are appreciated, even if we don’t appear to see eye to eye on this matter, and yes I have spent a fair bit of time considering this. I’m afraid that I’m one of those people who doesn’t just accept things, but would rather try and investigate something myself where I can. Through my work on local history and my profession as an archivist, I know that just because something is repeated over and over again it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right! In this instance I’m simply trying to reconcile the information we have where, on the one hand, there is a belief that Gaunts did make badges in Canada, but on the other, we have the 1985 Gaunt letter and John Richard Gaunt’s article which seem pretty categorical the Montreal operation was only a selling outlet/office.

I do understand what you are saying with regard to the 1912-13 trade directory entries, and where it talks about J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Ltd being ‘makers’ of military belts and ‘manufacturers’ of military and naval ornaments. But the difficulty I have, which Dave has already tried to address, is if the Canadian company did operate as an outlet, then the listings are merely similar to the one I quoted from the ‘London Section’ of Stubbs’ Directory for 1919, where we find just the London address under ‘Military & Naval Ornament Manufacturers’, even though things were actually made in Birmingham.

Obviously as Montreal is in Canada, and not England, there is a difference, which was presumably behind the need to have it incorporated and registered in Canada as a distinct company (no doubt there were other benefits too from this if you were importing goods). Don’t forget that the Canadian advertisements give at least Gaunt’s London address as well as a Beaver Hall Hill one, clearly linking J. R. Gaunt & Son in England with its subsidiary in Montreal; not to mention ones in New York, Melbourne and Bombay!

I couldn’t agree more and that what we really need is someone local in Montreal, who could take up things and do some in-depth research. I have been having another go again today, and believe that I’ve now identified where on Beaver Hall Hill/Côte du Beaver Hall Gaunts were; though the original building does not appear to be there today. I still need to do more on this, and whilst it won’t answer any immediate questions about whether the Firm did make badges in Canada or not, at least it should be of some interest to Forum members who have been following this thread. I’ll try and get things sorted over the weekend, and will post up my findings as soon as possible.

Best regards


'Ticker' Riley 06-02-15 08:31 PM

J. R. Gaunt & Son in Canada
Hello Bill

It was very interesting to read about the opposing views of the collectors you’ve consulted, which, as you point out, mirrors the discussions on this thread. As you also say, more research is obviously required to get to the bottom of this, something I have acknowledged in my reply to Simon. There should be something in Montreal that could help, though given Julian has identified records about the Canadian business in Birmingham Archives, it would seem there is also scope for investigations on this side of the Atlantic as well. If there was ever any manufacturing in Canada, either directly by the Montreal business, or by sub-contractors, then I would have thought this should appear in the archives. I see now that you believe the Beaver Hall Hill address was only “the distribution / tailor / outfitting shop”, which in someway goes with what J. R. Gaunt & Son said in 1985 and Mr Gaunt’s article of 1994. As I’ve just noted in the posting above, I do have further information on the address/es of the Canadian company, which I’ll endeavour to post up here; if only for interest.

Best regards


'Ticker' Riley 10-02-15 09:49 PM

J. R. Gaunt & Son's Montreal Addresses
My apologies for taking a little longer than anticipated to get back about this, but it ended up being slightly more complicated to work things out than I thought it would be. Nevertheless, I’ve been busy using the very interesting set of Montreal trade directories that are available on the website of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, which are here, if anyone wishes to look, to try and find out more about the addresses of J. R. Gaunt & Son in Montreal, and herewith are my findings:

The earliest entry for Gaunts that I could personally find was in Lovell’s Montreal Directory For 1908--1909, where they are listed as ‘J. R. Gaunt & Son Ltd’ (note without the word ‘Canada’ as part of their name) and with the address of “104 Lindsey Building, 518 St Catherine West”, in the alphabetical section of the Directory, and at “rm 104, 518 St Catherine W.”, in the classified one. Although they are to be found in both the alphabetical and classified sections, they are not specifically noted as being at 518 St Catherine West in the streets section, possibly indicating that they had only recently moved in there?

Anyhow, in the equivalent Directory for 1909-10 we find they have moved to the familiar “63 and 65 Beaver Hall Hill” address, and that they are now called ‘J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Limited’. The differences here would appear to tell us quite a bit about the Canadian operation. The fact that their first premises looks to be just a room fits well with John Richard Gaunt’s statement about his uncle Charles opening an “office” in Montreal, whilst the change of name looks to confirm the incorporation date of 1908 and the establishment of the Canadian arm as a distinct company.

It should be noted here that there is a record of what appears to be Charles Frederick Gaunt arriving in Quebec aboard the ‘Empress of Britain’, out of Liverpool, on 27 August 1908, with his stated “Place of ultimate destination” as “Montreal”. Incidentally, according to the 1908-09 Directory, before Gaunts moved to No. 63 Beaver Hall Hill this was apparently “Kelley’s Dining Room”! For reference below are the two entries from the 1908-09 & 1909-10 alphabetic sections for comparison, as taken from the digital copies on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec site:

It is worth pointing out that the 1908-09 listing terms them ‘Manufacturers’, and in the classified section of the same Directory Gaunts are already under ‘Military Belt Makers’, ‘Military Equipment’, ‘Military & Naval Ornament Mnfrs’ and ‘Military Tailors’, even though they seem to have just arrived in Montreal! I personally find it hard to believe that they could have set things up quite so quickly as to be actually producing things, though, as has already been mooted, I’m inclined to believe Gaunts didn’t make badges in Canada anyway and were simply an outlet for imported items from England. In any event, J. R. Gaunt (Canada) Ltd continued to be at their 63-65 Beaver Hall Hill address right up until the 1915-16 Directory, however in that of the next year, 1916-17, there appears to have been a re-numbering and No. 63 is shown as No. 315, though still with the Company there.

More important is what happens in the 1923-24 Directory, where 315 Beaver Hall Hill is listed in the streets section as being occupied by an ‘E. Bentley’ , who in the classified section is described as “Merchant Tailor” (in the 1922-23 Directory he is recorded as being at “612 St Catherine West”). Gaunt’s new address, meanwhile, is now “358 St Catherine W.”, and where, in the alphabetical section, they are described as “silversmiths”! Not only is this how they are shown in the 1923-24 Directory, but also in that of 1924-25. However a year later on, in the Directory of 1925-26, they are down as “military equipment”; though still at this St Catherine West address.

It is difficult to guess at what might have been happening at this time, but one thing that may be significant is that in the 1922-23 Directory we have the last of the larger entries in the alphabetic section, like those shown above from the 1908-09 & 1909-10 ones. Presumably this kind of listing would have cost more, and previously the only time the Company didn’t run with the larger version was from 1914-15 through to 1919-20, so during the course of the Great War. Whatever the reason, from the Directory of 1923-24 onwards we only have Gaunt’s alphabetic listing as the normal smaller type. For information here are the two entries from 1922-23 & 1923-34, again from the copies on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec website:

By the 1926-27 Directory however, at least according to the alphabetic section, J. R. Gaunt & Son (Canada) Ltd have moved back to Beaver Hall Hill, only this time to No. 313 (the streets section does not show Gaunts at 358 St Catherine West, but neither are they given at 313 Beaver Hall Hill). In the Directory of 1927-28 Beaver Hall Hill is again apparently re-numbered, with No. 315, still in the occupancy of ‘E. Bentley’, becoming No. 1131, and Gaunt’s new address of No. 313 changing to No. 1127.

In an attempt to show the two renumberings of Beaver Hall Hill, as well as Gaunt’s original location at Nos 63-65 (afterwards 315, then 1131) and their move back to the neighbouring property of No. 313 (then 1127), here are the relevant entries from four directories, again taken from the website of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec; left to right, Lovell’s Montreal Directory For 1915-1916, Lovell’s Montreal Directory For 1916-1917, Lovell’s Montreal Directory For 1926-1927 & Lovell’s Montreal Directory For 1927-1928:

Note in the above, and unlike trade directories I’ve seen before, the numbering is shown in a single numerical sequence, rather than having each side of the street given separately (i.e. the odd numbers in one run and the even ones in another, or, as I’ve come across before, the east/north side of a road then the west/south side). This makes working out exactly where things are a bit difficult, but despite this I can assure you all that the numbering did run with the odds on one side and the evens on the other!

Well, I’ll leave things there for now, but I do have more to share, including details of the actual location of Gaunt’s two Beaver Hill Hall addresses, which I’ll post up in due course. In the meantime, I trust at least a few Forum members find the above of interest?

Best regards


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