From the category archives:

Shipper’s Tickets

I am very happy to announce that after a 20 year wait, I have acquired the complete archive of Manchester’s most successful ticket printer, B. Taylor – including largest textile ticket collection in the world.

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The plain looking books below are just part of the collection, but contain thousands of tickets for merchants selling fabric across the world from the 1800’s to about 1940.

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Just one of the 65 books above contains 2,000 different tickets!

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bk12f sample spread of the book contents DSC00012 sample spread of the book contents

 

DSC00018 original drawings and copyright applications

 

DSC00033 original painted artwork for the tickets original artwork for the tickets original artwork for the tickets

The collection also includes tens of thousands of tickets from around the world, plus ephemera including adverts for the printer, trademark applications, invoices, photographs and even the original painted artwork and names of the artists who created them. A complete history of ticket creation, printing and trade.

B-Taylor-ADVERT Advertising showcard

Along with the 2,000 stamps, masses of artwork, unique archive material sourced from Manchester warehouses, personal interviews with merchants and textile workers over the last 20 years, this is now the most comprehensive collection in the world.

The point of this website is to show the amazing art and marketing used by Manchester textile merchants, which has been largely ignored or dismissed as “commercial art”.

Please get in touch if you are a publisher, museum, graphic designer, typographer, fashion/textile designer or historian and are interested in any collaborations.

Note that I have put this material on the website from my own personal collection, with many items and much of the information gleaned from personal interaction with those involved in the trade.

I am always happy to help those who are interested in this subject, but please follow in the spirit of this website by not copying any information or images without my permission.

 

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Chinese ticket book and translations

by admin on 30/01/2015

I thought it about time that I had some of the Chinese tickets translated.

The style and printing of tickets, or “Chops” as they were often referred to, was designed to replicate the silk paintings that were familiar to Chinese buyers.

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China was a huge market for the Manchester textile trade and the diversity and care of how the trademarks were chosen was no different than that for the Indian or African market. To a western eyes that do not know the fables or spiritual references such as myself, the images can often look repetitive and indistinct. However, on having just a few tickets translated in the following (flash based) ebook….

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(Click this book image or the link below for the ebook)

http://interiorphotography.net/textile/Chineseticketbook.swf

…it becomes more obvious that symbolism – such as a pearl in an oyster signifying a baby boy for instance, and locally recognizable figures such as warriors from stories, or Thunder Gods from fables again proves that Manchester merchants knew exactly what images would attract buyers to their particular brands.

The ticket book dates from around 1910 but the designs may have been created years earlier. I have no doubt after seeing original artwork for these tickets, that Chinese artists would have been employed as ticket illustrators by the big printers (B Taylor employed 20 full time artists) in Manchester, rather than train Western artists to draw in a Chinese style.

The ideas for the designs would have sometimes been suggested by the Chinese fabric importers and merchants, or by the agents and salesmen of the Manchester merchant firms, to ensure their local relevance.

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I just acquire this ticket, named “Standing Wall”.

Without the caption, I may as a Westerner looked at the design as just three random Indian people.

But it isn’t. The title describes exactly what is happening and it is an absolutely logical and charming detail of life in rural India. Obviously with no shade and heavy loads to carry upon your head, wouldn’t it be marvelous if there were a small section of wall built that meant instead of putting your load down when having a rest, it could be temporarily held at head height on top of the wall.

The added bonus of the wall would be to provide some much needed shade, in which a cigarette could be enjoyed.

A simple but elegant part of rural Indian life illustrated here as a trade mark to remind cloth buyers how good life can be. Much better than putting a picture of Queen Victoria, Empress of India on the label.rest-wall

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I recently acquired around 50 original paintings used by Manchester merchants to create tickets for the Chinese and Japanese markets.

Some are painted on art card, some on thin paper and some on silk with dates marked at around 1910. The ones from religious fables have a description on the back explaining what is the meaning of the illustration. The style and quality varies across the collection but they do seem to be drawn by an artist from that region rather than by a Manchester artist imitating Asian techniques. Althought the image quality is kept purposefully low to prevent copying from this site, there is a zoomed in detail shown of one of the pieces of art to show the technique. Maybe original artwork was bought from the Far East and adapted, with borders added by Manchester artists to convert the image to the style of a ticket.

The subject matter ranges from daily life such as cycling around, to religious, to more abstract.

If anyone can provide any translations, or has any knowledge of the subject matter, significance or any other thoughts on the first examples I have found of original artwork, I would love to hear from you.DSC00038 DSC00058 DSC00061 DSC00077

 

 

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I am well aware that the British Empire was responsible for many atrocities, divisions and oppression. However, it is a commonly held belief that the British imposed religion and cultures upon those people it came across, with little regard for their existing beliefs or traditions.

In terms of India, the ticket below epitomises probably how most people think the empire looked upon the country

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But what is clear from my collection is that, in terms of cotton merchants at least, there was a great deal of interest and respect of local customs. This may have been simply because if local Hindu buyers saw images of the deity Shiva  stuck to the cloth they would be more inclined to buy it, rather than one with a depiction of Queen Victoria. However we may discount the motivation, the end result is more important than the reason, because it has left us with the largest collection of “ethnic” imagery ever amassed. It is a shame only a fraction exists but I thought it would be interesting to compare a Western cliche image and its Indian counterpart as a simple visual demonstration of exactly how reverential and interested Manchester textile merchants were in using images which had relevance to local buyers on the other side of the world.

Bear in mind these are just a few examples of a huge forgotten chapter in art history. One merchant could have 10,000 different trademarks, all of which were drawn and printed among the sooty factories of an industrial English city, but were destined for village markets and stores across the world. In fact, the merchants became so astute at manufacturing and marketing their fabric, that 85% of the world’s population wore cloth from Manchester in the 1880’s.

I have similar examples from Africa, South America and China

Respecting and celebrating the culture of your customer was obviously good business and I would argue more ethical than the homogenous globalisation of brands and logo’s we see today from the likes of Starbucks, McDonalds or Nike.

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Although the huge collection I built up was really about being in Manchester when the textile merchants were closing down in the 1980’s, a good source for anyone wanting to start collecting shipper’s tickets is eBay.

Often described as “fabric labels” or “linen labels”, there are a few that appear for sale ranging from $5 to $50 each.

The following designs from  merchant operating in the Far East were recently offered by a German eBay store seller (email can be provided on request)  and really are some great old examples of trademarks that still pop up now and again.

Just don’t bid against me please!
28935f67bf7ceb06b7dab17bf82787379  4047a6bf65813443564cd0a4674da95d4 2731b25c9ad820064c0bae5bc7834d072   300cef7e8a15725576fe76d4fd53e48fa  49f62b9d9c6548c7c156c72f699966b47 44b4e683f30085434b6347e662a62c84b  24cac48e10939b3c5b1621fe26673c4ef

 

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I have just completed the task of scanning and creating an eBook of an old Machester book containing tickets which go back to the 1830’s.

http://www.interiorphotography.net/textile/MalcomRossBook1/MRoss.swf

Malcolm Ross & Co. primarily sold cotton thread into Japan, China and India and this book was put together in around 1925 as a definitive catalogue of the trademarks used by Ross and their customers in the Far East. Judging by the style of printing and illustration, some of the tickets date from the 1830’s and there are some dates in the book as late as the 1920’s, so this collection is unique in that in spans the 100 years of printing and trademark development from plain color bookplate type labels, to 16 colour tickets….

Early label design

 

 

 

 

 

Indian loop the loop ticke 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ethnic variety is astounding and if any of you can help translate or explain some of the text and imagery, I would really appreciate it. The reason why there are several ticket designs in a variety of colors is that each color denoted a different type of thread, so the buyer could buy using the color coding if they were illiterate.

I would be interested to know the meaning or use of these for instance

letter tickets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book contains a photograph of an Indian looking child holding a cricket bat

Indian child cricketer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the ticket that was created from the photo, which shows that Manchester ticket printers used images supplied from foreign markets to create designs. I assume the child may be the son or daughter of the import merchant

Cricketer ticket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the tickets are listed as being printed by Norbury Natzio of Manchester which was a large   printing company famous for employing Adolphe Valette at the same time these tickets were drawn, so maybe he had a hand in their creation.

NOTE THAT ALL IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE ARE COPYRIGHT AND MUST NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION

 

 

 

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I recommend anyone interested in the history of theses amazing trademarks try and attend a special lecture later this month given by my friends at the Bolton Museum….

‘Bolts around the World': The Global Appeal of Bolton’s Bolt Label Collection with Teri Booth, Documentation Assistant

Bolton was the center of the bleaching industry and their museum archives include many trademark stamps and labels which will be used to illustrate this fascinating lecture.

Bolton Museum was one of the first museums to realise the cultural significance of this part of the industry and have a webpage dedicated to the subject

http://www.boltonmuseums.org.uk/collections/local-history/work-and-industry/bleaching/

Friday 24 February 1pm to 1.30pm at

Learning Studio 1 in Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive or the Library Lecture Theatre

Le Mans Crescent
Bolton

Lancashire

BL1 1SE

Free, No booking required.

Email:museum.customerservices@bolton.gov.uk 
Telephone: 01204 332211

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I just bought 2 labels from eBay.  One was printed by a “W.S. Doty” and they seem to go together as a trio  but unfortunately I was outbid on the one illustrated here.

I am presuming it is an English textile factory because of the spelling of the word “Colour” and the 2 large chimneys suggest the factory was running on steam rather than water. I am guessing from the look of the building that the label could be around 1820 but would love to have someone enlighten me as it is a very early example of a fabric label.

Maybe the typeface will help date it?

 

Unfortunately the seller won’t let me know the identity of the buyer, who may have bid high on it because they recognized the building.

 

The other 2 labels that were part of the trio are below and may help in determining the date

 

This is the view of Adam Daber, Curator of the Museum of Science and Indistry in Manchester, England

 

It’s not a mill that I recognise and is pretty unusual judging by the shape of the roof and the very small windows below the roof in the middle section – almost inferring that the two lower sections were extensions to the original building. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, so my deduction would be that someone was commissioned to make the ticket plate with no particular knowledge of textile mill architecture. But you are correct in deducing that this is a steam powered mill – or a conversion – evidenced by the engine house to the right and chimney beyond.

 

There was a phase where mills were built with Mansard roof designs, as per the 1818 extension at Quarry Bank incorporating the large waterwheel and its more modern successor, but the pitch of the roof was continuous rather than broken by a few courses of bricks, and the Mansard was designed to increase working space within the top floor roof space.

 

Generally, steam engines were only introduced successfully into cotton mills from the late 1780’s – Arkwright’s Shude Hill Mill in Manchester, built in 1781 as a steam powered mill, was unsuccessful in that the engine recycled water to the waterwheel, which then drove the machinery – so a loose date of 1790 – 1820 would seem fair.

 

This is the response from Daniel Smith, former Curator of the Bolton Museum

All I can say about the mill in the red ticket you didn’t get is that its very big for 1820s, and that would be a bit early for so many floors of steam powered machinery too. I’d put it a decade or more later. Really interesting set of though, the red and green ones remind me of bookplates. The shape of the mill is also interesting at the roof line – not exactly the lancashire pattern. Scotland might be a good intuition

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The Stavert Zigomala ticket book

by admin on 30/07/2011

I recently finished a 4 month process of restoring and digitizing a merchant’s book of  shipper’s tickets, which had unfortunately been left in a damp environment for several years.
All the tickets have been individually scanned at high resolution but before I started the restoration, I took a quick reference photo of each page. I thought it would be interesting to turn those into an ebook so you can enjoy what I saw – as probably the first person to open the book in 40 years. Contact me directly for a link to the book

 

Stavert Zigomala was established in Manchester back in 1830 and their main trade was with Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela.

 

There are over 500 different ticket designs in this single book, giving an idea of the variety of trademarks each merchant used. These tickets were used alongside Stavert Zigomala’s 2,500 trademark stamp designs

 

 

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