Review of ‘Derbyshire Illustrated Letterheads’, by Jill Banks

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

DERBYSHIRE ILLUSTRATED LETTERHEADS

The contents of this visually appealing book have been collated by Jill Banks, who whilst working as an archivist at Kedleston Hall became familiar with a treasure trove of illustrated Derbyshire letterheads dating back to 1759.

Headed by miniature works of art from professional engravers, almost 120 documents were selected for publication. The majority are 19th-century invoices submitted to the Curzon family for a wide variety of goods, whether livery for a footman or repairs to Blue John in a chimneypiece, or more personal items such as spectacles, a chocolate pot, lemon biscuits and even Lord Scarsdale's newspapers.

Businesses in the county town offered every imaginable need from taxidermy to whips and spurs, coffin boards, lobsters and oysters, copper baths, or freezing machines 'to freeze from one to three ice creams at the same time'.

Traders around the Peak were also well patronised and their illustrated letterheads are amongst the most evocative. Timber was purchased in 1884 from Marsdens of Wirksworth, now Traid Links, whereas a letter from a Wirksworth wine & spirit merchants (which had a whisky bottling plant in the town) refers to shooting rights at Grange Mill. In 1910 a Darley Dale nursery, now Forest Garden Centre, supplied 1,000 rhododendrons. At different times lunch, tea and ale was enjoyed in the Peacock Hotel at Rowsley - depicted with a group of anglers and a coach and four; roofing joists came from Tideswell; paint from the Via Gellia Paint & Colour Company - both of its works shown in fine detail; and quilts and towels from Millers Dale Mills. Their letterhead of 1886 gives a birds-eye view of extensive mill buildings with smoking chimneys and busy loading yards - an absolute gem amongst many.

Derbyshire Illustrated Letterheads by Jill Banks is published by Landmark Collector's Library at £9.99 and widely available locally. (ISBN 13:978-1-84306-226-4)

Review by Julie Bunting


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