Sheldrick & Sons


Town Hall, Brighton

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Stationers, engravers and printers, 22 Ship Street, Brighton. This firm opened for business at Ship Street in 1903 or 1904 and around the same date an associate firm, Brewster and Sheldrick, began trading at 2 Castle Street, Hastings. By 1907 Sheldrick & Sons had established a branch at 9 East Street in Brighton. This closed by 1915, as did the Hastings shop, but at Ship Street it was business as usual until at least 1919.

Sheldrick & Sons sold black and white, often slightly bluish tinted, collotype cards of Brighton. The earliest cards seen (for example a view of Holy Trinity Church in Ship Street, postmarked November 1904) have a white border around sharp-edged pictures and printed captions in a quite modern font. Somewhat later printings (on sale by 1906, if not earlier) have vignetted edges to the pictures and printed captions that combine an antique "Gothic" font (for the place name "Brighton" at the bottom left of the pictures) with a more modern serif font for the detailed caption (such as "Palace Pier") printed in a central position at the base of the pictures. Still later versions (on sale by 1909 and printed in England) have pictures that extend to the edges of the cards and captions printed entirely in crisp sans serif capitals. They have very similar backs to the cards with vignetted pictures and were probably supplied by the same manufacturer.

By 1908 Sheldrick & Son also marketed coloured halftone and coloured collotype cards of Brighton, but it is their monochrome counterparts that modern collectors prefer. A coloured collotype of the beach at the foot of West Street was also available as a monochrome halftone card published by F. T. W. Dennis & Sons of Scarborough.

During the First World War, Sheldrick & Sons re-issued 12 of their best selling views of Brighton (The Aquarium, Beach etc.) as sepia tinted collotypes with lengthy printed descriptions on the back. Known as the "New Collograph Series" the cards were printed in England by L. S. Co., Ltd., and could be bought in packets containing the full set of views, as well as it would seem separately.

The founder of Sheldrick and Sons appears to have been John Richard Allen Sheldrick, who was born at Islington in London in about 1866. He was the son of another John Sheldrick, a flour factor, who had been born at Sawston, south of Cambridge, in about 1833.

The 1901 census locates John Richard Sheldrick, his wife Fanny Ellen Sheldrick (who had been born in Brighton), two sons (John Engledow Sheldrick, aged 6, and Reginald Holford Sheldrick, aged 1), and his widowed father at 43 Harburton Road in Islington. He is described in the census as a "stationer's manager". At the time of the 1911 census, the Sheldrick family was living at 35 Southdown Avenue in the Preston district of Brighton. Perhaps they had moved from London because Fanny wanted to be near her relatives or longed for sea air! The census describes John as a "law and general stationer dealer". The Sheldricks remained at 35 Southdown Avenue until at least 1922.

Although there were other persons called Sheldrick living in Brighton during the early twentieth century, their age and occupations would seem to rule out any connection with the Ship Street firm. It is tempting therefore to assume that J. R. A. Sheldrick was indeed the firm's proprietor, but an unsolved question is who were the "Sons"? J.R.A.'s two sons were much too young to have helped in the business. Is there perhaps a possibility that the business was actually set up by John Sheldrick Senior (the retired flour factor) in conjunction with his son, J. R. A. Sheldrick, and an as yet unidentified second son? Once again, more research is needed.

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