William and Elizabeth GAIMES

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William and Elizabeth Gaimes began making boxes of superior quality in 1801, the year of their marriage. William Gaimes had been made a Freeman of the City of London by patrimony in 1797 at the age of 22, beginning to trade as a Jeweller and Cutler from 1801. By April of that year, he was advertising his newly invented copying machine as well as all manner of travelling writing, dressing and shaving boxes and instruments ‘completed in a superior style’. He was to eventually name his copying machine as the Metagraph and, from 1807, described himself in his advertisements as goldsmith and jeweller to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex. He also describes his boxes as being of ‘beautiful mahogany and ... richly ornamented with curious inlaid brass-work...not to be equalled at any other house in the kingdom.’ The business operated from 51, 53 and 54 St Paul’s Churchyard and 56, Cornhill. Their manufactory was at 23 Blackfriar’s Road, Surrey and they also owned a shop at 41, Milsom Street, Bath.

His wife, Elizabeth, was also involved in the family business, and, after the birth of their son, Charles, in 1811, was to apparently take over the business, with advertisements bearing only her name and insurance records showing the business was then, in fact, in her name. With her untimely demise at the age of 36 in 1816, and William having passed away some time between 1811 and 1817, all their stock and home was sold by auction. Their son, Charles, was to become a very well-known and esteemed hat maker, gaining his freedom in 1844.

The Museum of London has a writing box described as: Plain mahogany portable writing desk with brass carrying handles and original lock and key; the inside an original baize-lined writing surface and two flap interiors. An envelope web is attached to the inside of one flap; a large printed label stuck to the underside of the other flap reads. ‘GAIMES il ne ine faut que Soutien 54 St. Paul’s Churchyard and No 6 Cornhill, MANUFACTURER of Copying Machines Writing Desks/& all kinds of Ladies and Gentlemen Portable Cases for every purpose. Completed and adapted for travelling in any part of the World. Manufactured at No.23 Surrey St. Blackfriars Road London, where gentlemen may give orders for their own patterns’.


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