Street View: 44
Address: 11 Aldersgate Street
The history of Maw’s firm has been well researched by various people, so I will give you just a basic overview and a few links(1). What I will also do is provide some pictures to show you what kind of supplies could be bought at Maw’s.
It all started with George Maw, from Lincolnshire, who, in 1807 started a partnership with his wife’s cousin Hornby in Fenchurch Street. In 1814, he set up for himself by purchasing the business of a surgical instrument maker in Whitecross Street. In 1825, he moved the business to 56 Aldersgate Street where his sons John Hornby and Solomon joined him. The firm moved again in 1834 to 11 Aldersgate Street where Tallis was to find them, but by then it was in the hands of son Solomon; father George had retired in 1829(2) and the eldest son John Hornby in 1836(3). As you can see from the vignette in the Tallis booklet, the shop and workplace comprised quite a substantial set of buildings behind the modest shop front.
Solomon brought in his son Charles in 1860 and the business became S. Maw and Son. But Solomon was not to enjoy the partnership for very long, as he died the following year.(4) Charles took in his own sons and various Maws have run the business until the 1970s when they were taken over by a large international supplier. After WWI, the factory had been relocated to New Barnet.
The firm brought out various price lists of the products they could supply, three of which which you can view online here, and from time to time also a book of illustrations. The pictures below are from the Book of Illustrations to S. Maw & Son’s Quarterly Price-current,
In 1868, Maw’s took out a patent for “a perfume flask to be called ‘Gaskings perfume pistol flask'”. The Chemist and Druggist found it interesting enough to write a short description about it with a picture to illustrate it (or did Maw pay for the item and is it really an advertisement?). The stock of the pistol was made of india-rubber and could be filled with perfume. A little pressure would force a thin spray from the glass barrel. The magazine wrote that “it will no doubt be very popular at Christmas parties”. No doubt, but I am afraid that if I were to carry such a pistol on the Underground, I would instantly be set upon by the anti-terrorist brigade.
After a fire in December 1856, the Aldersgate premises had to be rebuilt and twenty years later, after the Maws had acquired the neighbouring premises, a new front was put on. According to The Chemist and Druggist, it was “a handsome front extension” designed by the same architect, H.B. Garling, who had also designed the main building after the 1856 fire. The plot the Maw business stood upon roughly corresponds to where Cooks’ Hall once stood.(5) That building was not rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1771, but as late as 1893, the Ordnance Survey map still identified the plot as such.
Meanwhile, John Hornby Maw, after his retirement in 1836, had founded a decorative tile making business for his sons George and Arthur, first in Worchester, later at Benthall, Shropshire. The company, after a few restarts, still exists. See here for their history and here for their website. The old factory is now a craft centre, see here.
(1) The Chemist and Druggist, 1905, p. 47-48 (online here)
Chronological list and copy of information in The Pharmaceutical Industry: A Guide to Historical Records, edited by Lesley Richmond, et al., Ashgate, 2003 (online here – a bit lower on the page, so scroll down or use search). The same source is used by CollectingMe.com.
(2) The London Gazette, 17 July 1829.
(3) The London Gazette, 17 June 1836.
(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861.
(5) See the website of The Worshipful Company of Cooks of London here.
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