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  #1  
Old 18-04-10, 08:13 PM
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Default J. R. Gaunt & Son Company History

I thought I would start to post up my findings about the history of J. R. Gaunt & Son here, rather than to the other two recent threads on the J. R. Gaunt’s History Timeline or the J. R. Gaunt & Son Advertisements, if only to try and keep things in chronological order as I put them up.

I must say that I am particularly grateful to Forum member btns, not only for all his interesting postings on the subject of Gaunts so far, but also for sharing information on his sources with me. Specifically I owe him my thanks for telling me about three interesting small articles that have appeared in Button Lines: The Journals of the British Button Society, which I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. I believe two of the articles (both published in two parts) are from the 1970s - one by Captain Nigel Waite on ‘J. R. Gaunt and Son Limited’, touching on the Firm’s history, the kind of items made and the actual manufacturing processes; whilst the second is by Lynette Carey about ‘The J. R. Gaunt Collection’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which also briefly talks about the Company history, though is mainly about her work in cataloguing the buttons in this collection. The third Button Lines article is perhaps the most pertinent here, and is actually by John Richard Gaunt (grandson of James Richard Gaunt, the J. R. Gaunt in the Company’s name) - it is entitled ‘J. R. Gaunt & Son Limited: A Brief History by John R. Gaunt’, and is from 1994.

Where applicable I’ll make reference to these Button Lines articles, as well as to relevant trade directories and census returns. I do stress, these will only be preliminary findings, and there will still be much work to be done to establish a full picture of Gaunt’s badge making activities, let alone when certain Gaunt marks were used, etc. Nevertheless, hopefully this will give other Forum members involved in researching this particular firm something to work on – more to come over the next few days then!

Regards

Martin
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Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

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  #2  
Old 18-04-10, 08:35 PM
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Martin, you're a star - and btns is one too !
I'd be very interested in seeing the article about the BMAG collection - I spent a day going through it all, though I admit, not much about the buttons ! Julian

Last edited by KLR; 19-04-10 at 08:05 PM.
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  #3  
Old 19-04-10, 08:15 AM
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Default Gaunts of Rowley and Birmingham

James Richard Gaunt, who went on to found J. R. Gaunt & Son with his eldest son Charles Frederick Gaunt, was born on 24 December 1834 in Birmingham (James’ birth date is noted in his record of baptism, which took place at St Philips Church in Birmingham on 2 March 1835). He was the son of Richard and Ann Gaunt, and had a number of brothers and sisters. In the 1841 census returns for Birmingham the family were living at 36 Water Street (Ref. HO/107/1144/6, ff. 10v.-11r., pp. 13-14), where Richard Gaunt’s occupation is given as “Buttonman”. Richard Gaunt himself seems to have come from the Black County town of Rowley Regis in South Staffordshire, and by the 1851 census we have him and his family living in a house at 18 Court, Morland Street, where he is now listed as being a “Tool Maker”:




Ref. HO/107/2057, f. 559, p. 20

In his account of the Firm’s history John Richard Gaunt says of his great grandfather Richard that he “was a toolmaker and button man” and that he lived from “1809 until 1895”. So far I haven’t looked to see if the dates for Richard Gaunt are correct, but certainly the census records appear to corroborate John R. Gaunt’s information. Mr Gaunt also mentions a John Gaunt and a Josiah Gaunt who were brothers, and were recorded as being “Button men of Summerhill” in 1767, which would suggest button making was an industry which the Gaunt family had been involved with for a number of years.

Richard Gaunt is also in the 1861 census in Birmingham, only this time at 49 Unett Street, and is down as a “Stamper & Piercer” (Ref. RG9/2157, f. 76, p. 20). Interestingly btns has found that Richard, who it seems had his own business, became bankrupt in 1862. Further details of this can be found in the on-line version of The London Gazette. Whilst Richard appears to have carried on, ten years later in 1872, another entry in The London Gazette talks about the liquidation of his assets. By the late 1850s Richard’s son James Richard was in London, and was supposedly working for Firmins, but more on that in my next posting.

Regards

Martin

P.S. For those that are interested The London Gazette also notes the dissolution of a number of partnerships involving Richard Gaunt (dates of dissolution in brackets) – with Henry Jenkins as “Button-Makers” (2 April 1840), with John Tyrer as “Button Makers” (8 July 1840), with Samuel Bassett as “Manufacturers of Buttons and other Articles” (26 January 1841) and with George Williams as “Stampers and Piercers” (6 May 1847).
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Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

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Last edited by 'Ticker' Riley; 19-04-10 at 01:08 PM.
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  #4  
Old 19-04-10, 08:05 PM
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Excellent stuff, really looking forward to the next instalment.
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  #5  
Old 19-04-10, 08:47 PM
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Default J. R. Gaunt’s History – tomorrow's instalment

Hi Julian & Keith

Glad you’re both finding things of interest, and perhaps of help? I hadn’t intended to look at Gaunts just yet, but after all the recent postings elsewhere on the Forum, and with btns’ help, things have come together quite quickly. I have to say here that in a posting to one of the other Gaunt threads, I did point out that Firmin’s website has the establishment date for J. R. Gaunt & Son as 1750. Initially I thought this was more likely to be the correct date, as you would expect Firmin to know the history of Gaunts more than anyone! But by now I’m having serious doubts about this because, so far, I can’t personally see anything to suggest such an early date. The answer may be in one of the other companies Gaunt acquired, or possibly something to do with the earlier Gaunt buttonmen in the family? Anyway, I’ll make another posting here tomorrow about James Richard Gaunt and his time in London.

Best regards

Martin
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From Hindoostan, Gibraltar and Almanza; to Dunblane, Alma and Brandywine: Tigers, Steelbacks, Dutch Guards, Leather Hats, Nanny Goats and Red Feathers!
Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

“Scutelliphiliacus in vestri insignia pergaudete”

Last edited by 'Ticker' Riley; 19-04-10 at 08:56 PM.
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  #6  
Old 20-04-10, 11:48 AM
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Default J. R. Gaunt in London

As I noted in my last posting, I’m now going to briefly look at James Richard Gaunt and the fact that he lived in London for a number of years. First up is his marriage from 1857, which was at St John’s Church in Southwark, and where both he and his father Richard are noted as being “Tool Maker”:




Whilst this doesn’t say where he was working, John R. Gaunt in his article claimed James had been “a toolmaker in Firmin’s Birmingham factory”, and that he “finally became a manager in the London branch at Whitehorse Yard”. James Richard had certainly left Birmingham for London, though unfortunately so far I haven’t been able to find him and his new wife in the 1861 census. I have, however, traced a baptism for a daughter called Ellen at St George’s Church in Bloomsbury in 1861, which would confirm James was in London at this time. In the baptism entry, the family’s abode is down as “High Holborn”, and James’ trade as a “Press Tool Maker”. A number of other children were born in London over the next few years, such as his son Charles Frederick Gaunt in 1864, and the 1871 census records James and his growing family living in Clerkenwell at number “2 Wilmington St”, with James given still as being a “Tool Maker”:




Ref. RG10/385, f. 59, p. 23

Further children were born in London after this, including Walter Francis Gaunt in 1875. Exactly how long James Richard was in London for I can’t be sure, but it certainly seems he was there from at least 1857 up to 1875, and probably for a few years after this date. By 1881 though he was back in Birmingham - something I’ll put in my next posting. I have to say that from the above it looks to me more like James was a tool maker at Firmin’s London works, even if he may possibly have started with them at their Birmingham factory. There’s nothing to say here he was the London manager, but perhaps Firmin’s own records would confirm this??

Regards

Martin
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From Hindoostan, Gibraltar and Almanza; to Dunblane, Alma and Brandywine: Tigers, Steelbacks, Dutch Guards, Leather Hats, Nanny Goats and Red Feathers!
Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

“Scutelliphiliacus in vestri insignia pergaudete”

Last edited by 'Ticker' Riley; 20-04-10 at 12:56 PM.
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  #7  
Old 03-05-10, 02:58 PM
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Default J. R. Gaunt & Son of Birmingham

Apologies for not getting ’round to making this posting until now, but it’s taken me a while to sort myself out about things. Anyway, as I said last time, after spending some time in London during the mid-19th century James Richard Gaunt returned to his native Birmingham, and is recorded in the 1881 census as living at 317 Camden Street in Hockley:




Ref. RG11/3005, f. 80, p. 6

As will be seen his occupation is given as “Button Manufacturer Manager”, which looks to fit with his grandson’s assertions that he became manger of Firmin’s factory (even if John R. Gaunt did say this was the London works at Whitehorse Yard rather than the Birmingham factory). His eldest son Charles his listed as being a “Clerk”, and it maybe that this was also with Firmin. Certainly Lynette Carey says in her piece on ‘The J. R. Gaunt Collection’ that Charles was “apprenticed to Firmin & Son Ltd” when he was 16, and John R. Gaunt also has it that, like his father James, Charles “was also employed at the firm” (i.e. Firmins). The only way to be sure of any of this is, of course, would be to find confirmation amongst Firmin’s own archives – something for the future perhaps!

What happened after 1881, however, is the most interesting part the Firm’s history, and also perhaps the most important as it was during this period that J. R. Gaunt & Son appears to have been founded. As btns had noted in an earlier post to one of the other Gaunt threads, a date of 1884 has been quoted elsewhere, including on the Dix, Noonan and Webb website (though they do seem to have confused James Richard Gaunt with his grandson John Richard Gaunt). Nevertheless this does appear to be the ‘accepted’ date for the establishment of J. R. Gaunt & Son, and this is used by John R. Gaunt in his article where he even goes as far as to say “In 1884 they [i.e. James Richard and his son Charles] both left Firmins and bought a small factory in Clifford Street”.

In respect of the supposed foundation of the Company in 1884 then I have been trying to look at some relevant trade directories for this period, though up to now the information I have is far from conclusive. Kelly’s Directory ... of Birmingham, with its Suburbs, for 1883 does not seem to have any entries for the firm of J. R. Gaunt & Son, as one would expect if they were not founded until 1884, and the address of 33 Clifford Street in Lozells, at the its junction with Furnace Lane, was at that time in the occupancy of a butcher called William George (I understand from btns that Gaunts are also not listed at this address in the 1884 Kelly’s Directory).

The next trade directory I have personally been able to look at so far is Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, with its Suburbs for 1890, by which time we do indeed find entries for Gaunt in the alphabetical Commercial section, the Trades section, under both ‘Button Makers’ and ‘Military & Naval Ornament Manufacturers’, and in the Streets section at 33 Clifford Street as “Gaunt J.R. & Son, military ornament & button mfrs”. Charles Gaunt is listed separately in the Commercial section as a “military ornament ma.”, with a cross reference to “see Gaunt J. R. & Son” (more on this another time). Interestingly the main Commercial section entry has “late with Firmin & Sons, London”, which would seen to substantiate the claim that J. R. Gaunt did work for Firmins. By using this in the directory, of course, it looks like he was also trying to bolster his own reputation on the back of that of his former employer:





The Post Office London Trades’ Directory for 1891 also has entries for Gaunts under ‘Button Manufacturers’ and ‘Military & Naval Ornament Makers’, with the first of these actually saying “25 years with Firmins, London”, echoing the entry in the Birmingham directory but this time indicating James Richard not only worked for Firmin but that he would also that have begun to do so with them sometime in the mid 1860s – which is certainly when he looks to have been in London:




This “25 years with Firmins, London” is noted by Peter Nayler in his Military Button Manufactures from the London Directories 1800-1899, though I have to say the way he also has “Firmin & Gaunt” together appears to be a little misleading as it suggests at times they were one firm - which as far as I can see they weren’t. Unfortunately there is still currently a gap in things as far as the trade directories are concerned, something I am hoping I can try and put right by a visit to Birmingham’s Central Library later in the year. At present I have only seen directories from 1883, before Gaunt’s supposed establishment, and from 1890 onwards, when they are clearly at the Clifford Street address. I believe btns has looked at ones from 1884 and 1888, with similar results. Crucially however he has found suggestive evidence that indicates even if Gaunts were founded in 1884, it was only later that they actaully moved to Clifford Street. I’m sure he’ll make his own posting about this, but once we can find some trade directories for the period 1885-1887, this too will hopefully shed some more light on things.

Regards

Martin
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From Hindoostan, Gibraltar and Almanza; to Dunblane, Alma and Brandywine: Tigers, Steelbacks, Dutch Guards, Leather Hats, Nanny Goats and Red Feathers!
Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

“Scutelliphiliacus in vestri insignia pergaudete”

Last edited by 'Ticker' Riley; 04-05-10 at 12:59 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-05-10, 06:34 PM
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Great stuff, Martin!
Well done.
Tinto
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  #9  
Old 16-05-10, 02:01 PM
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Default Theodore Page at Clifford Street

As btns is rather busy at present, he’s kindly agreed for me to make a posting about his finding with regard to 33 Clifford Street, Lozells, the address where J. R. Gaunt & Son supposedly had their first premises. In his account of the Firm’s history John R. Gaunt definitely says that his grandfather and uncle “bought a small factory in Clifford Street”, and that this was in 1884 - the apparent year of the Company’s foundation. However, btns recently found entries in The London Gazette for the bankruptcy of a Theodore Page, tin plate worker, of 33 Clifford Street in 1887! This obviously shows that Gaunts could not have been at the Clifford Street address when they were first established in 1884, as has been previously thought. In this respect the following entry from The Birmingham Daily Post, for February 1887, I have found helps to confirm the matter, as it clearly says Theodore Page moved to 33 Clifford Street in 1884:




At the end of 1887 the following advertisement appeared in the The Birmingham Daily Post under ‘Business Premises to Let’ for the Clifford Street Works:




It would seem the lease was not taken up, as another avert was printed in The Birmingham Daily Post the following February; though this time to “Let or Sell” the property:




Going by these advertisements then, it would appear likely that J. R. Gaunt & Son only moved to Clifford Street around 1888, but until I have had a chance to look at some relevant trade directories it is difficult to be precise about this. The implication of all of this, of course, is that they were actually somewhere else before this date, which would go against what was the established history of the Company, and so now we need to try and find out where? Hopefully they’ll be more on this the once I’ve had a chance to chase up the trade directories in Birmingham’s Central Library!!

Regards

Martin

P.S. Glad to see you’re enjoying following things Tinto. It’s good to know at least a few of the Forum’s members are finding all of this of interest, and perhaps of use? I do realise the nitty-gritty of the Forum are the badges themselves, but I personally find the history of the firms that made them an important part of things as well.
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From Hindoostan, Gibraltar and Almanza; to Dunblane, Alma and Brandywine: Tigers, Steelbacks, Dutch Guards, Leather Hats, Nanny Goats and Red Feathers!
Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

“Scutelliphiliacus in vestri insignia pergaudete”

Last edited by 'Ticker' Riley; 16-05-10 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 17-05-10, 08:13 PM
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Hi Martin,

These threads are all good stuff and make no mistake about it.

Suggest when all done you collate it all together as a pamphlet or small soft cover book and distribute it with an ISBN which at least in New Zealand is freely available from the National Library in Wellington.

Put in lots of references to back up all the points made and it will become an authority on the Gaunt manufacturing company.

Very interesting documentation about the company and I know from researching the early years that there is so much contradictionary evidence about. Basically I gave away the early years but think that I have accurately managed to nail down the A/A era of the company using official company notepaper, invoices etc.

Work like this is not easily carried out so I must congratulate you on your fine efforts.

Regards

Chris

Last edited by hagwalther; 17-05-10 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 17-05-10, 08:18 PM
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I do look forward to each new instalment, it's like reading a good thriller.
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Old 17-05-10, 09:44 PM
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Default Gaunt 1888

Kellys Directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Worcestershire (1888), page 434:

Gaunt J. R. & Son (late with Firmin & Sons, London), military ornament, button & belt clasp manufacturers, 33 Clifford street & Furnace lane, Lozells
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Old 18-05-10, 12:34 PM
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Default J. R. Gaunt Research

Hi Chris

Many thanks for all your kind words on the Gaunt research. As I’ve said before, I’m just glad a few members are finding all of this of interest (at least Keith appears to be enjoying things!). I must also thank btns again for being so ready to share his findings, and his input has definitely helped to steer me in the right direction. To be honest I’m perhaps better placed than others might be to undertake things, given historical research is actually part of my work. Having said that, I really do need to take a page out of Julian’s (KLR) and Stephen’s (bajez) books, and should make the effort to start looking though the various archives in Brum and London. I still have my notes on Ludski/Ludlow here somewhere as well, and must try and make some more postings to that thread too! I doubt I’ll ever get ’round to publishing all of this as a booklet, though that’s certainly a great idea, but maybe I could submit an article to something like the Military Historical Society - though I’m not sure it would necessarily be their kind of thing? I see btns has now posted up a quote from Kelly’s 1888 trade directory, which does fit nicely with the thinking that Gaunts only moved to Clifford Street at that time; and not in 1884 as had be previously assumed. Finding out where they were before this will be interesting, and could also help confirm things regarding the Firm’s establishment – we’ll see what I can find out when I next go to Brummagem then!

Best regards

Martin
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From Hindoostan, Gibraltar and Almanza; to Dunblane, Alma and Brandywine: Tigers, Steelbacks, Dutch Guards, Leather Hats, Nanny Goats and Red Feathers!
Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

“Scutelliphiliacus in vestri insignia pergaudete”

Last edited by 'Ticker' Riley; 18-05-10 at 12:50 PM.
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  #14  
Old 27-06-10, 07:10 PM
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Default Charles Frederick Gaunt

Although I haven’t been able to make it to Birmingham’s Central Library yet to check on those trade directories, I have managed to get hold of a copy of a short biographical article on ‘Alderman Charles Frederick Gaunt’, which appeared in Edgbastonia, Vol. XXXVII, No. 426, November 1916, pp. 250-256. The article is actually referenced as a source in Lynette Carey’s piece about ‘The J. R. Gaunt Collection’ that I mentioned before; indeed the following old photograph of Mr Gaunt himself appears in both, and it would seem apparent that Ms Carey took the picture she used from the one in this earlier article:


Sadly the piece in Edgbastonia doesn’t have much on the history of the Company, however it does confirm a few of the facts already noted above – such as the fact C. F. Gaunt “was born in 1864 in London, where he received his education”. It also says that “At the age of sixteen he left school and began his business training” being “placed by his father in a button manufactory in Birmingham”. The article goes on to tell us that “on the occasion of his father’s retirement from business” Charles went on to “make a successful start as a button manufacturer on his own account”. Being at this point only “twenty-four years of age”, Charles Gaunt, it is further said, “by hard application and admirable business capacities” went on to build “a business of badge, button, sword and accoutrement manufacture, which is now [i.e. 1916] one of the largest and best known in the trade”. It would seem clear from this therefore, that whilst the Firm’s name was “J. R. Gaunt & Son Ltd”, it was the business acumen of the “Son”, namely C. F. Gaunt, which very much made the Company what it became.

Regards

Martin
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From Hindoostan, Gibraltar and Almanza; to Dunblane, Alma and Brandywine: Tigers, Steelbacks, Dutch Guards, Leather Hats, Nanny Goats and Red Feathers!
Interested in style and variation of post-1893 regimental cap badges for the Leicesters, the Northamptons, the Warwicks, the K.L.R., the R.W.F. and the D.C.L.I.

“Scutelliphiliacus in vestri insignia pergaudete”
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Old 07-07-15, 07:05 PM
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Default John Gaunt

I have just been looking at my Grandfathers Birth Certificate, he was born at 5 Birmingham Street, Walsall in June 1898. His father was John Gaunt and his profession is shown as a Buckle Polisher. Birmingham Street is about 4 / 5 miles from Warstone Works where J R Gaunt & Son are located. Can anyone advise as to whether this is just a coincidence or if my Great Grandfather was anything to do with J R Gaunt & Son.
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