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Edward Thomas West DENNIS:
(Note: the information in blue type comes from
his obituary in the Scarborough Mercury Nov 23rd, 1923)
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ETWDs father was Jeffrey Dennis. He was a manager for 50 years at Nories , a
London firm famous for supplying books, charts, instruments etc for
navigation Jeffrey married three times and his third wife Jemima West (b.1811) bore him 4
children Ebenezer Henry West (b Jun 1841,Stepney, d 1898).(
Ebenezer remained in London , but ETWD’s sister, younger
brother and his mother remained in touch ) Jemima
Ellen West (b Dec 1844), ETWDennis himself (1847) and Frederick (1850). His
father Jeffrey died in
March 1850 (in Hackney.London)
His obituary says that Edward Thomas West Dennis was born on September 4th 1847 in Stoke
Newington. London. ( Birth certificate shows neighbouring West
In the 1851 Census Jeffrey’s widow Jemima was living with a Thomas West
with ETWD and Frederick. There is no mention of ETWDs sister Jemima Ellen West
- His younger brother Frederick Gregory West Dennis was born in 1850
and later was a stationer in Scarborough with the firm of Dennis & Holloway.
(see 1851 census entry for Thomas West)
- He was apprenticed for 7 years to a bookseller stationer and printer
After his apprenticeship he was a librarian at Leamington for a couple of
years (say 1868 to 1869), In late 1870 he married his wife, Emily Jane Willifer
, stated in the 1901 and 1911 censuses to have been born in Leamington
In March 1870 he moved to Scarborough. In partnership with his brother-in-law Mr.Thomas.W.Case
he bought the library and business of a Mr George Crosby. This included “The
Scarborough Mercury” Later he bought out his partner and disposed of
“The Scarborough Mercury (Thomas Wythe Case
is listed in the 1851 and 1871 Censuses, he was married to Jemima, the sister
of ETWD She gives her first name in 1871 Census as Ellen ,born in Islington, Mx.
In the 1861 Census she was still living with her uncle Thomas West in Deptford)
- I have an 1871 copy of “Dennis & Case’s” Scarborough Guide.
(Excerpts below) . In it they mention their shop at 83 Newborough St for books and fancy stationery. They
also ran the Dennis & Case Bar Lending Library at 82 Newborough St. They also mention
, “Dennis & Case’s photographic views in great variety”.
Dennis later ran a library, retail shop and branch shop at the Spa.
In the 1883 Dennis Guide to Scarborough
a full page was given to photographs for sale , for all GB locations. (
photographs with ETWD on them denote his copyright ownership). Given this photo
trade background , it was natural for Dennis to take up postcards, when
they started in 1894. He did simple “Dainty” folded Easter cards and Xmas
cards ,in 1892 certainly , they were reviewed in the stationers trade press.
This side of the business was minor.
- Dennis greatly expanded the printing side of
the business to such an extent that he needed new larger premises. Printing
became his firm’s major occupation
- In the London Gazette of Oct 17th 1893, notice is given of the partnership
dissolution with his brother Frederick and it was stated that his printing
business at Westmount was exclusively his. 1893 marks the start
of ETWD’s printing full time and the end of bookselling/libraries etc.
- In 1904 he had an office in London at Cheapside
- His business became a Limited Company in April 1905
- Up to 1914 , Dennis’s premises were at Westmount, off Westborough.
(This Westmount Mews has long since disappeared, the remains of the old road
entrance to it is down below between Boots and Waterstones) . Where Westmount
used to be, is now a fire exit yard from the back of Mecca Bingo,
formerly the Capitol Cinema..
- The Logo on the left hand side of No 24 (See close up picture) reads “ The / Dainty Series / E T W Dennis
/ &Sons Ltd / Printers &Publishers / Westmount/
Doorway / Westborough / Press
” The last word “Press” on this logo is very faint and easy to miss.
- Probably Westborough Press, Westmount would have been the main
office/reception /printing part of the business, and with additional
printing done at 24 Vernon Road. The “& Sons Ltd” is for the Ltd company formed in 1905). “The Dainty
Series” name was first used in 1903, for picture
cards and was well established by 1904/05. The Edwardian craze for
sending/receiving picture postcards exploded in 1903/04/05 and extra printing
capacity would certainly have been needed then. Dating the sign to before 1903 makes no sense as the “Dainty Series” trade name did not exist then. (
For post 1900 postcard details on this Dainty Series click on following link
Post1900Dennis.htm. ) My best guess for date of this logo is 1905/1906,
his firm was working flat out at that time to satisfy domestic demand as
well as exporting to Australia and New Zealand. At the least he would have
needed extra storage space, in 1905/06
- Kelly’s Directories shows that his address was Westborough Press, Westmount for 1897, 1909 and 1913. By 1914 he had moved to
Printing House Square, Melrose Street where the firm stayed until 2000, when
the business finished. By 1914 the business was a national one with offices in
London & Scarborough. The Melrose Street premises were bombed and burnt
out in March 1941 (rebuilt in the same year)
He was enrolled as a Congregationalist, but in
1897 he joined The Society of Friends (Quakers). His sons all went to
the Quaker School at Great Ayton. (His son, Herbert, became the headmaster
there). He was a secretary to at least two Quaker Summer
Schools, the 1903 one in Scarborough and the Kirbymoorside one
- (For a photographic souvenir of the 1904 Quaker Summer School
search for “Buttercross” Kirbymoorside 1904 in the web site Flickr. This was attended by
Joseph Rowntree and also ETWD)
- He was a Gladstonian Liberal and contested a
North Ward Municipal Election in 1905, which he won. (his opponent was Mr .S.C.Platts)
He died on 19th November 1923, leaving his sons to run
the business.( The
1881 Census shows that he had five sons in 1881, Edward.Willifer (aged 9),Frederick.Willfer (8), Ebenezer.Henry (6), Arthur.Meridew (4), Herbert (less than one year)
.His last (sixth) son Arnold was born in Sept 1885.. ETWDs son’s name of “Ebeneezer Henry” is possibly a reminder of ETWDs elder
brother, who had remained in London.
- The 1911 Census reports ETWD and his wife and his son Arnold (a Clerk of
Works) in the same
household in Scarborough
- His printing business in the 1890’s concentrated on the cheaper end
of the market. Helmfried Luers has found a reference to him in a German trade
magazine for the art book trade, “Journal fur Buchdruckerkunst”, March
22, 1894. Dennis had
submitted some examples of his colour printing to them. They were
below the German standards of chromo lithography, but they were cheaper
and quite pleasing . The Journal suggested that German art printers
- It would be good to have examples of his commercial art printing in
the 1890’s. This clear connection with the German printing trade probably
inspired him to produce British PPC’s in 1894, a trade which was
developing fast in Germany at that time.
- An example of Dennis’s cheap simple limited colour printing is the 1895 Whitby
card, illustrated (somewhat faded, I regret) .
Also Dennis colour printed the
Dennis&Holloway court cards
- As well as printing his own PPC’s in 1894 he also printed
artist drawn PPC’s for Cassell , of which a couple of examples for 1894
- In early 1898 he started publishing an extensive series of GB court
cards with printed pictures from photographs that he had taken (His
initials ETWD are on a lot of them). As an aside, he must have also gone to
the Sudan with the British forces for the 1898 Sudan campaign, Collectors of
Sudanese cards have found some Sudanese PPCs published about 1902, with his
initials in the photograph and published with the same style features as his
1902 UK PPCs. It is clear that a number of his Sudan photos used, were taken in
1898., (one of them certainly the day after the battle of Omdurman.)
- He was printing and publishing greetings cards before 1894. I have seen a
trade magazine reference to an Easter greetings card, pre 1894
- In the 1901 UK Census his age is given as 53, born in London and working
as a printer and publisher. His son Edward was 29 ,born in Scarborough and
working as a printer . Another son Ebeneezer was 26 and working as a printer
and printer’s traveller (the description “jeweller” in the 1901 Census is
mistake, it should be “traveller”!)
- The firm was always a national one and would always have been in
any top ten list by size of GB PPC publishers
- There is a brief obituary in the “British Stationer” of December 1923. It
finished “he leaves two sons to carry on” (these were Ebenezer Henry and Arthur Meridew)
- His son Ebenezer Henry became the head of the business when ETWD
died in 1923.
- Most unfortunately the firms records were destroyed in a WW2 air raid
There was a very close link between the British North East and Germany
in the late 19th century, both for ship building and agricultural produce
Hartlepool was a major port for the importation of German
foodstuffs. This 1885 postcard is typical of these links showing twice a
week direct sailings between Hartlepool and Hamburg. Picture cards were
well established in Germany by 1894 and this would have encouraged ETWD to produce
picture cards for the UK
What would we like to know about ETWD?
Any further information welcome, especially a good photograph and/or
examples of his 1890’s printing.
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