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Trademarked: A History of Well-Known Brands from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar

Trademarked: A History of Well-Known Brands from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar

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by David Newton

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David Newton, formerly Head of Patents Information at the British Library, has selected 220 of the most interesting and curious of the brands registered in the first 30 years of trade registration, between 1876 and 1906. He discusses the history and development of a number of household names including Shell, Listerine, Carlsberg beer, Triumph cars and Lea and Perrin


David Newton, formerly Head of Patents Information at the British Library, has selected 220 of the most interesting and curious of the brands registered in the first 30 years of trade registration, between 1876 and 1906. He discusses the history and development of a number of household names including Shell, Listerine, Carlsberg beer, Triumph cars and Lea and Perrin sauces.

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A History of Well-Known Brands From Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar

By David Newton

The History Press

Copyright © 2013 David Newton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7524-9612-2



From Bikes to Cars and Other Things Vehicular

The introduction of the steam train in the nineteenth century brought mass public transportation and by 1900 a billion passenger journeys were made each year. It was the development of the bicycle in the second half of the nineteenth century, though, that brought the first mass-produced transport for which trademark protection was used. The bicycle became commonplace, especially after the introduction of the Rover safety bicycle which had pedals driving a chain to turn the rear wheel.

Companies like Humber, Rover, Singer and Triumph started out as manufacturers of bicycles and tricycles and then, as the internal combustion engine was developed early in the twentieth century, moved into motorcycle and car production. Other companies, like Austin, came directly into motor manufacture early in the twentieth century. Car manufacturers registered trademarks for their brand names and later for the names of individual models. Car and bike trademarks were often in the form of badges.

On the back of the use of the internal combustion engine in road transport came the growth of the use of petrol and the rise of the oil companies. Firms like Shell and Standard Oil (abbreviated to SO and later called Esso) started out selling oil for lighting and heating and only in the twentieth century sold it for transport use. Other manufacturers developed components needed for the motor car, like Joseph Lucas's lamps and Herbert Frood's brake blocks, which he called 'Ferodo' as an anagram of his surname (trademark number 286,194 of 1906).

In the railway business few companies bothered to take out trademarks, although the Cammell company, which manufactured steel products, took out early trademarks for their steel rails, railway carriages and other items. Other firms, like that of Walter Taylor, who took out a splendidly illustrated trademark for his railway vans and removals in 1876 (number 4,034), have disappeared.

Austin Cars

Herbert Austin, the son of a Yorkshire farmer, was born in 1866 in Buckinghamshire. He went to Australia in 1882 but returned to England in 1893 to run Frederick Wolseley's sheep-shearing factory. He had already built some experimental cars when in 1901 he became the manager at the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company.

In 1905 Austin found a site at Longbridge outside Birmingham and set up his own Austin Motor Company. The following year the firm's first trademark, showing 'a winged wheel kicking up dust', was registered (number 286,069) and production was just 120 cars. Twenty years later 14,000 cars were being produced each year and in 1931 a 'flying A' replaced the first mark. The year 1932 saw the introduction of the best-selling 'Austin Ten'.

In 1952, eleven years after Herbert Austin's death, the Austin Motor Company merged with the Nuffield Group, which had earlier swallowed up the Wolseley company, and the British Motor Corporation was born. Another merger in 1968 formed British Leyland but by 1975 it had run into difficulties and was nationalised. In 1986 it became Rover Group and soon the Austin brand was dropped. Manufacture of cars at the Longbridge plant ended in 2005.

Bell Punch Ticketing

The Bell Punch Company was established in 1878 to acquire the patent rights of an American registering ticket-punch that was used in conjunction with a series of pre-printed tickets to check the receipt of money. In 1884 John Melton Black joined the board as managing director and soon afterwards began to develop a small rotary ticket-printing machine. In the same year the firm registered a trademark (number 40,471) and a site was acquired in Tabernacle Street in the City of London, where a factory was built. The trademark shows a ticket punch similar in design to those illustrated in some of Black's many patents.

In 1891 the London General Omnibus Co. started to use the Bell Punch ticketing system and it was soon extended over all routes. The company had transferred to Uxbridge by 1922 to expand production and during the 1920s and 1930s it started to produced taxi-meters and ticketing systems for cinemas and horse-race betting.

Later Sumlock Anita Electronics Ltd was set up as an offshoot of Bell Punch to produce 'comptometers' and it made the world's first electronic desktop calculator, the 'Anita', in 1961. The Sumlock business was bought by the American firm Rockwell in 1973 but in 1986 its Portsmouth factory closed while the remainder of Bell Punch eventually became part of the German Höft & Wessel Group.

Cammell Railway Engineering

Charles Cammell was born in Hull, Yorkshire, in 1810, the son of a wealthy ship-owner. His first employment was as an apprentice ironmonger but he later set up the iron and steel business Johnson Cammell & Co. in Sheffield with Henry and Thomas Johnson. By 1854 the company had offices in London and America and in 1870 it opened a factory at Dronfield to the south of Sheffield, first making railway wheels and then steel rails.

In 1877, as Charles Cammell & Co., the firm applied for trademarks depicting a camel (numbers 10,807–10) for which it claimed use since 1855. The camel logo continued in use until 1972, when it was replaced by a CL monogram design. The goods covered by the trademark show the wide range of products manufactured, including iron and steel, boilers, weighing machines, machine tools, files, tools, cannon, railway carriages, railway trucks and other carriages. In 1882 the Dronfield factory was closed and a new one opened in Workington on the Cumbrian coast.

Cammell & Co. merged with the Laird shipbuilding firm in 1903 to form Cammell Laird. The Laird shipbuilding business had been started in 1824 by William Laird, a Scot, who moved to the River Mersey and set up a boiler-making works which later expanded into iron shipbuilding. Later still the railway business became Metro-Cammell, based in Birmingham, and in the 1990s this merged with GEC Traction to form GEC-Alstom, now part of the engineering company Alstom. The shipbuilding business on Merseyside went into public ownership in the 1970s, was de-nationalised in 1983 and recently closed altogether.

Commer Vehicles

Commer began in 1905 as Commercial Cars Ltd and in December of that year the firm applied for its first trademark (number 278,012), in the form of a letter C made from a wheel, from its headquarters in Gracechurch Street, London. Soon it set up a factory in Luton, Bedfordshire, where it remained for almost fifty years, mainly producing trucks.

Military vehicles were built during the First World War but when peace came the firm declined and in 1926 was taken over by Humber, which was amalgamated the following year into the Rootes Group. Production of vans and trucks continued at Luton but after the Second World War a move was made to nearby Dunstable.

The American company Chrysler took a 30 per cent holding in Rootes in 1964 and bought the rest in 1967. The Commer name was dropped in 1976 and in 1979 Chrysler UK was sold to the Peugeot-Citroën group. The truck-making business was sold on to Renault.

Crossley's Engines

The firm Crossley Brothers was set up in 1867 by Francis (Frank) Crossley when he bought the engineering business of John M. Dunlop in Great Marlborough Street, Manchester. William Crossley, his younger brother, soon joined him, concentrating on business aspects at the firm. The brothers made machinery for rubber manufacturers, including the nearby firm of Macintosh for their raincoat fabrication.

In 1869 Crossley Brothers acquired the world rights to the patents of the German firm of Otto and Langden for their new gas-fuelled internal combustion engine and in 1876 rights were also acquired for the famous Otto four-stroke cycle engine. The firm moved to larger premises in Openshaw, Manchester, in 1880 and the following year registered a trademark for the Otto Gas Engine (number 26,000); by 1882 the brothers claimed to have sold over 8,000 engines. In 1898 the company built its first diesel engines and soon began to make petrol engines, which found their way into Leyland and other buses.

In 1904 cars started to be made and a separate company was set up to manufacture them in 1910 using a Coptic cross as its logo. In 1919 Crossley bought Premier Gas Engines of Nottingham, where large engines were built. In the 1960s the firm went bankrupt but was revived and joined Amalgamated Power Engineering, which later became part of Northern Engineering Industries, which in turn was taken over by Rolls-Royce plc in 1998.

Humber's Cars

Humber & Company, better remembered for its cars, was set up as a cycle manufacturer in Beeston, Nottingham, by Thomas Humber in about 1869. Humber entered into a brief partnership with Marriott and and then also Cooper from 1875 but this later broke up, with Marriott and Cooper continuing to sell their own Humber bicycles. Thomas Humber registered four trademarks to distinguish his own company's 'Genuine Humber' bicycles and tricycles in 1885 and 1886 (including number 45,748 for the 'Cripper', named after Robert Cripps, who successfully raced Humber cycles). Two years later, after a fire in the Nottingham works, the company set up a factory in Wolverhampton and later moved to Coventry. Humber bicycles gained a good reputation throughout the world and the firm continued to prosper.

The very first Humber car, the 3hp Forecar, was built in 1896 and owed a lot to the firm's cycle origins – it even had pedals to help it up the hills! The Phaeton, driven by a mixture of belts and gears, was the next car and at the turn of the century Humber began making the Humberette (trademark 256,044 of 1903).

Humber took over Commer Cars in 1926 and the Hillman Motor Car Company, which had works in Coventry adjoining those of Humber, in 1928. The firm became part of the Rootes Group just as a slump hit car manufacturers and in 1932 the cycle business was sold to Raleigh. The Second World War saw the firm producing military vehicles and aircraft engines but it returned to manufacturing luxury cars after the war. American car maker Chrysler bought a stake in the Rootes Group in 1964 and later bought the whole business. By 1974 the well-known Snipe and Hawk models had been dropped and the only remaining Humber car in production was the Sceptre.

Lucas Lamps

Joseph Lucas was born in 1834 in Birmingham but it is not known whether he was related to the Joseph Lucas of London who took out patents for lamps in 1785 and 1793. As a youth he was apprenticed to a silversmith as an electroplater but in 1860 he started on his own selling paraffin and then hollow-ware (bowl or tube-shaped items of earthenware) from a basket skip on wheels. Later he started to make hollow-ware and then lamps. He continued to sell products made by other people, including the Tom Bowling lamps made by Isaac Sherwood. (The Tom Bowling was a ship's lantern named after a sea-shanty written by Charles Dibdin in 1789.)

In 1875 Lucas founded a factory in Little King Street which he called the Tom Bowling Lamp Works and here he manufactured lamps. He made his first cycle lamp in 1878 and by 1882 he had applied for his famous 'King of the Road' trademark for lamps and lanterns (number 22,822). The lamp business was very successful as cycling became increasingly popular. In 1872 Joseph's oldest son Harry had joined the business and after ten years he became a partner in Joseph Lucas & Son. About this time other lamp-makers started copying the Lucas product and in 1885 Lucas successfully took an infringer of his bicycle lamp patent (GB 2,493 of 1880) to the High Court. By this time the firm was also making saddles and other parts for bicycles and by 1897 they started to sell kits of components for cycle manufacturers.

In 1902 the firm started to produce oil lamps for cars but in the same year Joseph died of typhoid while on holiday in Naples. Acetylene lamps followed and later electric lamps were produced. By 1976 turnover was £719 million from vehicle equipment, aircraft equipment and industrial products. In 1996 Lucas Industries merged with the Varity Corporation of America to form LucasVarity plc; this was acquired in 1999 by the American company TRW. The earliest trademark still registered is the Pathfinder (number 34,783) for lamps made of tin or brass; this was first registered in 1884.

Premier Cycles

The bicycle manufacturing firm Hillman, Herbert & Cooper started in business in Coventry in 1875. Three years later the firm applied for a trademark for bicycles and tricycles (number 15,568) with Coventry cycle manufacturer Singer. In 1880 another trademark was registered by the firm at its Premier Works for Cooper's lamp (number 22,340).

In 1884 the firm applied for trademarks for Kangaroo and Premier cycles (numbers 36,402–3), and the following year a kangaroo logo was registered (number 45,791). The Kangaroo cycle had a smaller front wheel driven by a gear-and-chain mechanism, allowing the rider to sit further back but still reach the pedals. Soon this was being copied by other manufacturers.

The Premier, named after the cycle works in Coventry, was the first safety bicycle with a cross-frame design. Following the success of this cycle the firm was renamed the Premier Cycle Co. in 1891. The first motorcycles were manufactured in 1908 but in 1921 the firm was taken over by Singer.

Raleigh Cycles

Frank Bowden was a lawyer and cyclist who in 1887 bought a small workshop in Raleigh Street, Nottingham, that produced diamond-frame safety bicycles. At the end of the following year the Raleigh Cycle Company began life as a public company and on 29 December 1888 it made an application for a trademark (number 84,260) for velocipedes, and Bowden lost control of the company. Within eight years he bought back the firm and it remained with his family for many years.

By the early 1920s the firm was producing 100,000 cycles each year, along with Sturmey-Archer gears and motorcycles. Humber cycles was acquired in 1932. Soon a three-wheeler car was in production. By 1951 production of cycles was over a million but cycling was in decline. Raleigh bought up Triumph cycles in 1954 and BSA in 1957. Raleigh was then taken over by Tube Investments (TI), which amalgamated its British Cycle Corporation into Raleigh, but in 1987 TI sold the business to Derby International. In 2001 the management bought out the firm and recently revived the Chopper brand from its home at Eastwood in Nottingham.

Rover Cars

The Rover car company began life as Starley & Sutton, when John Kemp Starley, a manufacturer of cycles with his uncle James, and William Sutton, a cycling enthusiast, became partners in cycle manufacturing. They set up a business producing penny-farthing bicycles and tricycles in the West Orchard factory in Coventry in 1877. George Franks, a retired diamond merchant who had put money into the business, suggested the name Rover for Starley's cycles and in 1884 the firm registered the name Rover as a trademark (number 35,242) for tricycles. Soon they were also producing Rover small-wheeled safety bicycles, which became a huge success. In 1888 the firm and the Rover name were taken over by Starley under the business name J.K. Starley & Company, but in 1896, five years before his death, Starley sold out for £150,000 and the firm became the Rover Cycle Company. The company also used the trademark Meteor (for example number 216,247). After 1901 the company started to build motorcycles under the name Imperial Rover.

The first Rover car was sold in 1904 and in 1906 the firm became the Rover Company Ltd. Rover merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation in 1967 and the following year with British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation. For some years the Rover Group, as it became, was owned by British Aerospace and then, from 1994, by the German car maker BMW, but in 2000 BMW split the company and sold off MG Rover, which went out of business in 2005.


Excerpted from Trademarked by David Newton. Copyright © 2013 David Newton. Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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