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RT Tanner & Co Ltd

R.T. Tanner & Co, the partnership 1877 to 1908

On the 5th September 1877 the dissolved partnership was listed under business changes in the The Stationers Fancy Trades Register and the following advertisement appeared in the issue.
[Business Changes. P.174. Hunt & Tanner Messrs 222 Upper Thames Street have dissolved partnership]

(late HUNT & TANNER)

By the time of his death on 6th September 1880 Richard Tanner had built up a strong business merchanting paper to printers and publishers in London which had become significant enough to endure after his death in 1880 until his eldest son, William, could take control when he came of age. In his will drawn up on 31 May and proved 21 September 1880, he appointed as his executors his wife Mary Ann Scotney Tanner, James Rogers of 21 Great St Helens in the City London, wine merchant, and John Macnab of 4 Harrington Gardens South Kensington Middlesex accountant. He left his eldest son William Anthony, born in 1866, the goodwill ‘of his business as wholesale stationer’, but he was not to be entitled to any accrued profits of the business before he was twenty-one.

The City Press states that the Will of Mr Richard Tuppen Tanner late of 8 Dorset Street, Salisbury Square, Wholesale Stationer and of 48 Belsize-avenue Hampstead, who died on the 6th September was proved on 21st of that month by Mrs Mary Ann Scotney Tanner, the widow, Mr James Rogers & Mr John Macnab the executors, the personnel estate being sworn under £20,000. The testator leaves to his wife absolutely £200 and all his furniture, plate & household effects; and for life an annuity of £800 to be reduced to £200 per annum in the event of her marrying again; to his son, William Anthony Tanner, the Goodwill of his business; to his executors Mr James Rogers and Mr John Macnab £50 each and the residue of his property upon trust for all his children.
[Hampstead & Highgate Express Saturday October 2 1880]

Several obituaries appeared following his death.

“We regret to have to record, in our obituary notices for the past fortnight, the name of the late Mr R.T. Tanner, wholesale stationer of Dorset-buildings, Salisbury Square. His geniality and true kindness made him popular with everyone with whom he came in contact. The business will be carried on as hitherto”.
[The British and Colonial Printer & Stationer 16 September 1880 p.561 St Brides Printing Library]

“On the 6th September, aged 55 Mr Richard Tuppen Tanner, Wholesale Stationer, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street. Mr Tanner was formerly assistant to Messrs Spalding & Hodge, and was well known to a large circle of the Trade, by whom his death will be sincerely regretted”.
[Stationery Trades Journal 20 September 1880 St Brides Printing Library]

“I am sorry to have to chronicle the death of Mr Tanner, formerly known as the member of an Upper Thames-street firm in the Trade. The deceased gentleman had not been in business on his own account very long, but had gathered together a very nice circle of clients, by whom he will be much regretted. The late Mr Tanner was in all senses a gentleman – in business and out of business and his place will be hard to fill. I understand his business will be carried on as usual by the capable staff in Dorset-buildings.”
[The British and Colonial Printer & Stationer p.601 St Brides Printing Library]

John Macnab, James Rogers and Mary Ann Scotney Tanner entered signatures on behalf of R T Tanner & Co in the signature book of the Union Bank of London on 10th September
[There is no mention of the Company or its dealings in the Minute Book between 1880-87 and sadly the general order book mentioned next to this entry does not survive]

Due to fire and the passage of time the earliest surviving records are a ledger dating from 1887, and the minute books dating from 1908 when the partnership became a Limited Company. However what is known is that Charles Green, Frank Garrett and Henry Still Pearsall were certainly involved with the business by 1881 and almost certainly from it’s beginning in 1877 and it seems likely that the business was carried on by them, and the executors during this period.

Charles Green was listed as a wholesale stationer aged 25 in the 1881 census lodging with Henry Rogers and living next door to James. Charles married James’s daughter Kate in August 1882. When reporting the deaths of Frank Garrett and Henry Still Pearsall in the minute book of July 1926, it stated they were with the Company all their lives. Frank Garrett, then aged 22, appears as a Commercial Clerk in the 1881 census, and Henry Pearsall is listed as a traveller (stationers).

In September 1881 having left Tottenham School at St.Leonards, Hastings, William Tanner went to Cheltenham College. Aged sixteen he left in December 1882 to join the business. On 20 September 1887 he reached the age of 21 and on the 22nd he and Charles Thorpe Green appear as signatories for R T Tanner & Co in the signature book of the Union Bank of London
[There is no mention of the Company or its dealings in the Bank Minute Book between 1880-87 and the general order book mentioned in the entry does not survive]

From this entry at the bank and the surviving ledgers, it appears that it was at this point that Charles Green became a partner in the business with William, who in turn became the driving force in the business. Exactly when Frank Garrett was included in the partnership is not clear, he appears in the wages list in 1889, where there is no mention of either William or Charles, and in the 1891 census aged 32 as a manager wholesale stationers.

There is no list of employees until 1889, when the salaries total was £432.12s 10d. This was most likely for office staff, stockmen, warehousemen etc as the following names are listed showing their salaries which make an overall total of £1466.8.0d.
Johnson £35, Acres £29, Garrett F £380, Pearsall H.S. £300, Temple £104, Ernest Lodger £60 for six months, Arthur Eames £100, R. Dennis £25.16.2d part of year - £40 p.a. Apart from Frank Garrett who was the office manager the other men were the commercial travellers who went out to sell to customers.

Garrett F405450500
Pearsall H S300275200
Loder E150150200
Eames A120133.6.8
Stacy C 100
Dennis R5575
Rason H507580
Simmonds H2636.833.6.8
Waldron part19

On the 17 June 1890 “William Anthony Tanner, son of Richard Tuppen Tanner of Salisbury Square deceased, occupying premises at 8 Dorset Buildings, Salisbury Square, and carrying on the business of a Stationer”, was admitted to the Freedom of the City of London by Redemption in the company of Horners. In December he became free and on the Livery of the Stationers Company, at which time he was shown at Salisbury Square and Albemarle, Beckenham. As yet it is not clear why he became Free of two City Livery Companies, but from the Horners’ records he appeared to take an active part in their proceedings, attending Meetings of the Court from 1892 to 1905 and being elected Renter Warden in 1899, Upper Warden in 1901 and Master in 1902. The Clerk reported his death at a meeting on the 21 October 1908.

From entries in The Times in April and June 1891 R T Tanner instigated the winding up of two companies who owed them money.

In the matter of the Companies Acts 1862-1890 and in the Matter of the Publishing Company Ltd. Notice is hereby given for the winding-up of the above named company by the High Court of Justice was on 20th April 1891 presented to the said court by Charles Thorpe Green and William Anthony Tanner trading together in co-partnership under the style or firm of R T Tanner & Co of Dorset Buildings, Salisbury Square, Wholesale Stationers creditors of the company
The Times Thursday April 23 p915 issue 33306 col A

In the matter of the Companies Acts 1862-1890 and in the Matter of Hansard Publishing Notice is hereby given for the winding-up of the above named company by the High Court of Justice was on 13 May 1891 presented to the said court by Charles Thorpe Green and William Anthony Tanner trading together in co-partnership under the style or firm of R T Tanner & Co of Dorset Buildings, Salisbury Square, Wholesale Stationers creditors of the company
The Times 9 June Tuesday 9 June p914 issue 33346 col.A

In 1893 R T Tanner & Co appear giving £5.5.0d in a list of contributors to the London Orphan Asylum Watford for the maintenance & education of homeless children of either sex which the Mangers gratefully acknowledged
The Times Wednesday May 14th p914 issue 33959 col.B

advert in 1893 in British Printer By 1895 business had increased to such an extent that it was found impossible to cope within the limited accommodation at 16 Dorset Street, so a plot of ground, one-hundred yards from the office at the corner of Primrose Hill and Hutton Street, was leased and a five-storey warehouse was built.

Agreement made this fourth day of October 1895 between The Honourable Gilbert George Reginald Viscount Cantelup and William Anthony Tanner and Charles Thorpe Green both of 16 Dorset Street Salisbury Square in the City of London Wholesale Stationers all the messuages and premises 40 and 41 Primrose Hill for a term of three years at an annual rent of £180 [East Susses Record Office Ref: DLW/365 date 4 Oct 1895 : Gilbert George Reginald, Viscount Cantelupe, to William Anthony Tanner and Charles Thorpe Green, both of 16 Dorset Street, Salisbury Square, London, wholesale stationers]

The cost of this building, with a floor area of about 10,000 square feet was £3,500, and it was built like a fortress to carry hundreds of tons of material and later machinery. In 1903, it was converted into a factory and the first machines were installed. Tanners became the proud possessor of a large power guillotine run by electric power. For sixty-two years the original wooden joists carried the full weight of the entire plant without any trouble and were still in perfect condition when the building was finally demolished in 1963.

By 1899 William A. Tanner, Charles T. Green and Frank Garrett were partners of R.T.Tanner & Co, with an office staff of five, five travellers, eight warehousemen and two van drivers. The office hours were 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On the 1st October that year William Tanner’s younger brother Arthur joined the company commencing a career to last over 60 years. Arthur was born 6 September 1879 and was educated at Cheltenham College from Easter 1894 until July 1896. A family legend has it that as their father had died on his first birthday that the event was not celebrated until he was twenty one. For the first three months he received no salary, after which he received £4 3s. 4d. per month, not exactly a princely sum even for those days. What he was doing in the three years between school and starting work has not yet been identified. It is believed this gap may have been due to the fact the business could not support him.

In January 1900 the following appeared in the London Gazette
Notice is hereby given that the partnership heretofor subsisting between us the undersigned William Anthony Tanner, Charles Thorpe Green and Frank Garrett carrying on business as Wholesale Stationers at No.16 Dorset Street, Salisbury Square in the City of London under the style of R T Tanner & Co has in so far as the said Charles Thorpe Green is concerned been dissolved as and from the 31st day of December 1899 by mutual consent. All debts due & owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said William Anthony Tanner and Frank Garrett by whom the said business will in future be carried on under the above style or firm.
Dated 1st January 1900
William Anthony Tanner
Charles Thorpe Green
Frank Garrett

The trade was then informed of the dissolution of the partnership from two entries in the February edition of the Stationery Trades Journal.
Tanner R.T. & Co (William Anthony, Charles Thorpe Green and Frank Garrett) 16 Dorset Street, Salisbury Square E.C. Wholesale Stationers Dec 31. Debts by W A Tanner and F Garrett who continue
February 1900 p96 From the Gazette

We are informed that Mr Charles Thorpe Green (who has dissolved his partnership with Messrs R T Tanner & Co) has joined the board of Messrs Strong & Hanbury Ltd.
RTT were still supplying Strong & Hanbury with pleated postal wrappers in in the 1960s and 70s.
Stationery Trades Journal February 1900 p 74

Fires in the premises of companies within the paper industry were very common and the following report appeared in the news section of The Times on Saturday 5th December 1903
FIRE A fire broke out in the neighbourhood of Fleet-street yesterday afternoon in one of the warehouses of Messrs R T Tanner & Co paper merchants whose premises are situated between Dorset Street and Primrose Hill. At first one of the private fire hydrants with which the building was fitted was brought into play, but the fire began to spread rapidly. Eventually 21 steamers and 150 fireman were concentrated on the fire. At half ground, and the upper floors of the warehouse were becoming involved. The operations of the fireman were watched by a large crowd among the spectators of the work being two of the chief officers at the Paris Fire Brigade, Major Cordier and Captain Gilbert. These gentlemen donned mackintoshes and large hoods, and during the operations entered the building. After the fire was extinguished they expressed great admiration of the work and the methods of the London fireman. At half-past 4 o’clock it was obvious that the fire was under control, and soon afterwards the official ‘stop’ message was circulated. The cause of the fire has not been ascertained. The following is Captain Hamilton’s official report “called at 3.8 pm to 39 and 40 Hutton Street City to premises occupied by R T Tanner & Co. Wholesale Stationers landlords unknown; cause of fire unknown; contents insured in the Sun; building insured in the Law; damage – a building of five floors about 90ft by 50ft (used as offices and stores) three upper floors and the contents severely damaged by fire, and part of the roof destroyed, rest of the building and contents damaged by heat, smoke and water: 37, ditto B Lloyd (Limited) Stables; proprietors the Agricultural Hotel Company (Limited) Salisbury Square EC contents Yorkshire: building and the contents slightly damaged by smoke and water; 23 Whitefriars-street city C.A. Riley licensed vitualler the Harrow the landlords the City of London Brewery company, roof slightly damaged by breakage: 28 and 32 Hutton Street City Smiths Printers Agency landlord unknown contents Phoenix, building and the contents slightly damaged by water: 3 Tudor Street City W J Pethybridge & Sons paper agents ground floor and the contents damaged by water”
The Times Saturday Dec 05 1903 p 8 Issue 37256 Col .B category news

Followed by a Fire Inquest on the 16 December
The second case was that of the fire which occurred on the premises of Messrs R T Tanner & Co. paper merchants and wholesale stationers 39 & 40 Hutton Street. The fire in this instance began in one of the passages where paper was stacked, and the damage was about £8,000, which was practically covered by insurance. Several employees admitted that they smoked about the spot where the fire occurred, and the evidence of the members of the Fire Brigade & Salvage Corps ascribed “smoking” as the cause of the outbreak. The jury, without retiring, concluded that the cause of the fire was unknown.
The Times p11 issue 37265 col.F

On the 3 August 1905 R T Tanner & Co were in the news again
Police Courts
Charge of Forgery
At the Mansion House Frederick Harvey 52 was charged before Alderman Horatio Davies with forging & uttering orders for the delivery of goods with intent to defraud. The principle witness against the prisoner was a youth named Frederick James in service in Clerkenwell as a store keeper. He stated that on the 21st ult the prisoner whom he had known about eighteen months, called at his shop and stating that he was very busy asked him to take an order for him to the warehouse of Messrs R T Tanner & Co wholesale paper merchants of Dorset-street, Salisbury Square. The order was for 12 reams of paper, and purported to come from Messrs C P Hodgson & Son, printers in Newton Street. The witness was detained at Messrs Tanner’s premises and given into custody, but subsequently discharged. In October and November last the prisoner had sent him with similar orders to the firm of Messrs Dickinson & Co (Limited) Old Bailey and he had received there nine gross of Vanguard Royal Boards and 12 reams of paper, which he took to the prisoner, who gave him 2s on each occasion. On being arrested the prisoner admitted giving the last order to the boy and said he had been hard up and trying to get a few shillings anyhow. He added that had he known the boy was in custody he would have given himself up. The orders were forgeries. Replying to the usual caution, the prisoner said he had acted as the intermediary for another man, whom he first met in a free library in Blackfriars road. Sir Horatio Davies committed the prisoner for trial at the Central Criminal Court. The prisoner applied for counsel to be assigned to him under the Poor Prisoners Defence Act. Sir Horatio Davies told him to make his application to the Recorder at the Old Bailey. The Times Thursday August 3 p9 13 issue 37776 col.C

The Company had a range of product lines other than paper and card for jobbing printers. Shortly after the turn of the century, having installed special machinery for making "fancy" cards, they were able to supply correspondence cards and special cards to suit the wallet of the customer. These were produced in a variety of styles and designs, hand and machine made.

A point best demonstrated by photos taken from the roof tops of the factory in 1906, show that the business was sited at the traditional centre of the newspaper printing industry just off Fleet Street.

A most important part of the archive is the three series of surviving issues of the Tanners Trade Circular, 1906-14, 1922-24 and 1952-1980. The volume of information contained there is too vast to include in this history and in due course it is hoped copies of the entire catalogue will be available on this site.

In 1906 the Trade Circulars mention the Adhesive Dry Mounting Company Ltd in which Tanners held an interest. The essence of the process, invented by this Company, was to use a patented adhesive film, which by the means of a heated press fixed a print to its support. The advantage this process held over that used by printers previously is that it did not distort the picture when mounted as was common with the moisture from the adhesive.

In March 1906 the editor wrote: "Naturally we have seen many changes, but it is most satisfactory, in looking over the pages of our first journal to find the names of very many customers with whom we are still on the most friendly terms. To know that we have been doing business with so many firsts for close upon thirty years, and still have their entire confidence and support, is a matter for which we can be justly proud. It is also interesting in looking over early records to note the difference in prices that exists today to what was general in 1877. Paper which was then sold at 5½d.per lb. and thought cheap, now sells at 2¼d. per lb., and from what we can see there is absolutely no difference in the quality. All along the line there has been marked reductions, showing the effects of competition, and, incidentally, its value to the members of the craft".

About the office building the editor wrote: "At 16 Dorset Street, the order and sample departments are on the ground floor. Here also is the invoice department, whilst the general and private offices are on the first floor. The remainder of the building is devoted to warehousing large stocks of paper, each floor as far as possible being set apart for one particular class of goods. In 1899 the 5-floor warehouse at Primrose Hill was built but this was partially destroyed by fire on December 4th 1903 and had to be rebuilt. The whole of the space in the building is utilised, the paper being stored in large racks that extend from floor to ceiling. We find this method of storage possesses many advantages, not the least being that the system prevents the outer wrappings from becoming broken. The machines for cutting, scoring, round cornering and deckling cards are on the ground floor, and are run by electric power. In this department also, there is a large power guillotine, as well as the special machines for making our patented Pleated Postal Wrapper. We have branches at Paris and Buenos Aires. At the latter address we not only trade as paper merchants, but we also supply machinery and sundries of any description for the printer and stationer. Mr. H.J.Osborne, our South American represetative is at present paying a visit to the Mother Country after an absence of six years".

The business was represented by ten travellers who called regularly on printers and stationers in London and Suburbs. In addition, there were several reps in the Provinces as well as a resident representative in Cardiff who devoted his time to the West of England trade. Several of these employees joined the firm at its commencement. At this time the partners runnning the business were recorded in a photo in Highlight. It is likely the main driving force was William Tanner as was borne out in 1908 when he acquired the majority shareholding upon incorporation.

In May 1906 the representatives were listed as C Wakefield, E.Loder, W.H.Pocklington , F Bayes, R.B.Scruby, H.S.Pearsall, M Smith, G.F.Maisey, H.J.Oxborne, C Stacy and D.O.Evans. Frank Garrett visited Newfoundland, where he was able to correct the supposed date of an old document in the Museum at St.John’s by five years by using his knowledge of water marks, and also during the month he made a hurried visit to Paris, where he found business considerably dislocated through the Printers’ strike, which commenced on March 19th.

The 7th July 1906 found the premises closed, the men taking their annual holiday on that day - an outing being arranged for them by brakes to Knockholt Beeches, where dinner was provided at the Horse-shoe Hotel. In the same month the trade circular included a tongue in cheek advice for the customers of the business and updated onto the level of service on delivery that was available. The editor commented "we are now making a feature of exceptionally prompt deliveries of small orders, and have put on extra light vans which will be used exclusively for this purpose. Printers, therefore, who require but a small quantity of paper for an urgent job, can feel assured that it will be supplied without delay, upon receipt of order by wire, letter or telephone. We always keep on hand large stocks of papers of every description, so that hardly any order will either be too small or too large to execute immediately." Many printers lacked the storage capacity or were unable to finance the holding of large stocks.

Despite the invention of the telephone business remained based on frequent face to face contact between customer and company representatives. The earliest listings in the London telephone directories for R T Tanner & Co appear in 1903, their number as wholesale stationers at16 Dorset Street being Holborn 17, and as paper merchants at Primrose Hill E.C. Holborn 17a. The editorial note for the customers was as follows in September 1906: "Travellers are like other mortals in so far as they require holidays. For this reason, together with our continually increasing business, it has been impossible for our reps to call two or three times a week on our customers. We might mention, however, that any orders sent to us will receive the same personal and careful attention as they could if delayed, awaiting a visit from our traveller".

In October in order to encourage the use of the trunk telephone wires at night, the Postmaster General decided that, "from the 1st October the charge for three minutes trunk wire conversation between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am is to be half the day rate, except in the case of calls for which the ordinary day charge for three minutes conversation is 3d. 6d. or 9d. In the case of those calls, however, a double period of time will be allowed".

In November due to the increase in business in the export department it was transferred from Dorset Street to 39 and 40 Hutton Street. Also Frank Garrett went to Paris for over a week primarily to accompany his son, Frank Anthony, half way on his journey to Spain, where he was to join, for a time, a large mill "in order that he might become efficient both in the Spanish language and in the manufacture of paper".

It would appear that the business was performing well and growing at this time. Although there were concerns apparent in 1907 from the shortage of supply of wood pulp. A five to ten shillings increase per tonne was creating anxiety in the industry generally and R T Tanner & Co whom were dependent on paper mills for its supply. This was an issue that was to always be an ongoing one for the Company, and a feature of a main commentary in Jan 1908.

In 1907 The Limited Partnership Act became law which was possibly what prompted Tanners to form the new Limited Company

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