Industrial Souvenirs of Copper and Brass
(c) Vin Callcut 2002-2017. Small extracts can be used with acknowledgements to 'Oldcopper.org' website.
Helpful comments are very welcome.
(A presentation by Vin Callcut originally published in the Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, Vol. 18 June 2010, pp 64-79. This version expanded with extra examples.)
The fascinating range of illustrations are not now with this published text but have been conveniently grouped on separate linked pages.
Hot Stampers and Extruders
Sheet Metal Work
OPTIONAL EXTRAS, ALTERNATIVES
Sheet Metal Work
Industrial souvenirs have a great appeal to some collectors but do not seem to have been studied and published. Some examples are selectively described here with emphasis on items from the copper and brass industry.
Since industry was established, it has been common for organisations to give mementos to clients and special guests so that their own name will be remembered. These are frequently obtained from promotional specialists who apply names and logos to existing commercial products that can then be called ‘Commercial Souvenirs’. However, where it was possible to make the souvenirs in house using the production equipment within a company the gift could be much more relevant. It was essentially typical of the products made by the company. This type of memento can be called ‘Industrial Souvenirs’. Usually their production involved more time and expense than buying in from specialists but the company was assured of having unique mementoes as gifts that were well remembered. They were frequently made specially to commemorate special anniversaries or the introduction of new production plant. The planning and anticipation of such events gave a good lift to employee morale and there was a very good chance for sales and production employees to work together to a much better extent than normal towards special design and production.
Many of the early promotional items were in the form of token coinage. There was great shortage of low denomination currency since silver coinage was of very light weight and flimsy. Initially, the ‘Copper Kings’ saw the opportunity to fill this gap by issuing copper tokens of good weight in values of ½d and 1d. The tokens were redeemable in bulk by traders at the company accounts offices or later at nominated banks. This had several advantages for them since it enabled them to pay their workforce with money instead of truck, it enabled them to lobby the government very directly for approval for the use of copper in coinage and it gave them excellent advertising.
Thomas Williams of the Parys Mine in Anglesey and his ironmaster friend and entrepreneur, John Wilkinson were among the first in the field and were swiftly followed by others. The tokens were produced using the new steam powered minting machinery, mainly in Birmingham near where the currency was wanted. This avoided the cost of transport from the Royal Mint in London. The first issues were during the period 1787-1793 and lead eventually to the official ‘Cartwheel’ 1d and 2d coins being officially issued by Matthew Boulton in 1797. There was another surge of need for copper tokens around 1811-13 and there were then issues by many other organisations.
1 1800 Cheshire Copper Halfpenny Token of 1790 issued in Macclesfield and bearing the legend ‘Charles Roe established the copper works 1758. Diameter 28mm (1?”). The reverse has a depiction of Britannia representing industry with 1790 in the exergue and ‘Macclesfield Halfpenny surrounding. The rim is impressed "Payable at Macclesfield Liverpool or Congleton’
2 7809 Mint badges, brass lapel stud and lapel/tie pin portraying the logo of the Birmingham Mint together with the 'H' representing the old mint of Ralph Heaton & Son founded in 1795 and the 'KN' is for the King's Norton Metal Company. The lapel or tie pin has a pull off safety lug on the end of the pin - the circular front measures approx ¾”, same as above, and the pin length is a little under 2”. Both the badges are 19mm in diameter. Issue date unknown.
3 6785 Proof medallion issued in 1989 to commemorate the founding in 1850 of the Birmingham Mint, the coining press of 1862, the striking press and the mint building of 1862. By 1989 the mint had passed from the ownership of Ralph Heaton & Son to IMI (Imperial Metal Industries or ICI Metals Division). Approx 37mm (1½”) diameter.
4 7645 Coins set in the centre of trays are not unusual but this might have been one of the first. Inside the periphery of the 115mm (4½”) diameter tray is ample information: ‘Impression from a die made by Matthew Boulton at Soho 1804 and used to convert silver dollars captured by the English in the Spanish war. The image of Carolus III being thus defaced’
Traditional brass foundries would cast their products by pouring molten brass to solidify to shape in sand moulds with each shape needing its own wooden pattern. Once made and used for the first time, patterns were identified and kept in store in the pattern loft as carefully as might be until needed again. After being cast and knocked out of the sand, items were usually ‘fettled’ by cutting off the runners, risers and breathers that had let the liquid metal in uniformly and the air out accordingly and dressing the surface as needed. Most castings then needed to me machined to some extent to ensure that faces would mate with assembled components and were also frequently drilled and tapped for securing screws. A decision to make a celebration souvenir would call up top skills to supplement normal procedures.
The pattern had to be made very carefully and finished to a perfect surface finish. The casting surface had to be excellent on all faces so use of the finest grade of moulding sand was essential. If wording was to be inserted in the casting, it had to be very carefully moulded. The design usually required a demonstration of foundry skills such that very little fettling was to be used. If the surface finish of a souvenir was slightly defective and needed attention it was more likely to be scrapped rather than rectified.
1 1228 This superb sand cast brass reproduction of a wooden office hut is in two parts, the base and the hut. The casting technique for the hut is intricate because of the presence of re-entrant features that mean that it was not a simple two-part mould. There are various ways in which this could have been made but clues are covered by a coating of a lasting matt brass finish. The separate base has edging representing pipes with corner bends and is secured to the hut by two screws. The top notice board reads, in relief, ‘R T Crane, Brass and Bell Foundry’ and the base has an impression reading ‘1855 Crane Co 1925’. Height approx 66mm (2⅝”). The company was formed by Richard and Charles Crane in Chicago as R T Crane & Bro. By 1930 they were at Crane Building, 836 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois and had manufacturing plants for cast brass valves, plumbing supplies and other products at Chicago, Bridgeport, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Trenton and North Tonawanda, N.Y.
2 7026 On a similar but simpler theme is this cast brass souvenir from the 1938 Empire Exhibition held in Glasgow. It is well made a replica of the Post Office House in Clachan, North Uist, Scotland by a skilled founder. It appears to be a one-piece casting with an open interior showing a central vertical mould parting line. The ends are left well fettled and smooth. Height approx 44mm (1¾”).
3 1209 A paperweight commemorating 'Industrial Outing 1939' in the form of a dog of spaniel-like appearance screwed to a rectangular base with iron weighting and a green baize under-surface. Intriguingly, there is no mention of the name of the industry, hopefully it can be recognised? American, 58 x 50 x 67mm high. Weight 370g
4 782 A striking central bird motif showing a jay in the centre of a cast brass ashtray was perhaps an obvious but excellent choice made by brassfounders L. C. Jay and Son Ltd., still working in Oak Street, Norwich. It is 125mm (5”) square.
5 3330 & 7899 Besides a high level of foundry craftsmanship, these two ashtrays carry a style of humour that was much appreciated in the masculine environment of foundries. The complex design of the oval dish features a lady on a ladder picking apples from within a mature fruit tree. Unfortunately her skirt is somehow caught on the ladder. The viewer is thus encouraged to turn the dish over and read the message. The centre support pillar contains a rear view that was intended to be risqué in those days. Round the periphery can just be read the name ‘Cox & Co., Birmingham’ and ‘This casting is just as it leaves the sand’. The site of a pouring gate can be seen on the major axis of the oval at the top of the dish which measures 130 x 90mm and weighs about 440g. It is of a late Victorian design.
The Autumnal design of the rectangular tray shows a female gardener wearing a headscarf and navigating a pile of leaves with her wheelbarrow forming a high relief foreground together with its handles, a spade and hazel broom. In the background is a tree and a post carrying the message ‘Rubbish can be shot here’. The bottom of the tray has a decorative scroll. The underside of the tray has a smooth finish and cast-in lettering that is vastly better than that of the oval example. On the four sides it reads ‘Cox & Co. Birmingham’ ‘Leopold Foundry. Brass & Gun Metal Castings’ ‘Est. 1869. Motor Castings a speciality’, ‘This casting is just as it leaves the sand.’ The centre pillar again includes a risqué design. The tray is approximately 150x105mm (6 x 4”), weighs a fairly hefty 900g (2lb) and has a gilt lacquer finish.
6 4761 A pair of bookends specially cast by Bridgeport Brass Co for presentation to employees completing 25 Years Service. The symbolic part of the design includes an hour glass between a pair of wings, illustrating well how time flies when working for a good employer. The bookends have a tapered design that makes them ideal for their purpose in addition to being easy to strip from a mould. Each has a cartouche for the name of the recipient, blank for this pair so perhaps they are from old, non-presented stock. The surface finish is excellent. For this short run of high quality production the use of ‘permanent’ metal moulds and the gravity die casting method would have been ideal. Underneath each end is a slight depression caused by metal contracting on solidification and showing that they were cast, as to be expected, upside down. Each has a height of about 150mm (6") but the weights are slightly different at 1,655 and 1,685g (3lb 10½ oz and 3lb 11½ oz) which is not surprising.
The company was incorporated in 1865 in Bridgeport, Conn., USA to make clock movements and expanded to cast, roll and draw their own copper and brass and manufacture copper- and brass-wares including 'Rochester' oil lamps, burners, electric lamps, fasteners and similar items with a labour force of up to 800. They adopted the motto 'From ingot to finished product'. They were bought out by Olin Brass of East Alton, Illinois, USA and the site closed in 1983. [http://www.barnum-museum.org/artandindustry.htm]
7 6662 Well decorated conventional Victorian desk paperweight by W. R. Leggott of Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and London, brassfounders and fabricators, makers of locks and openers. Length 110mm (4¼").
8 731 & 2791 One of these well-cast hexagonal brass ashtrays has a sharply-defined design that shows a blacksmith swinging his hammer towards an anvil on which is a workpiece that is shown as red hot by the radiation over it. To right seems to be a cut-off saw. Underneath is the legend ‘Established 1888’ and over it ‘Super Materiam Ignis Triumphans’ which can perhaps be translated as ‘Fire succeeds over material’. The underside shows a die-cast finish with raised lettering ‘Made in England’. Another version is also approximately 160mm (6¼”) across flats and has a similar but less well defined design but with ‘1888-1938’ in the exergue instead. The appearance of the underside of this one confirms that this item was cast in sand instead of die-cast and is unexpectedly marked ‘Made in Holland’ rather than England. There is no company name evident on either item but the theme is obviously metallurgical. From a similar design eventually found on a ‘Zippo’ lighter it became apparent that this design of souvenir came not from a brassfoundry was made for distribution by J. K. Smit and Sons who still specialise in providing industrial diamonds and diamond tipped cutting tools. They had and still have premises in Amsterdam, London and New York.
1 5076 6034 A pair of cuff links and a diecast brass key ring showing the Swedish crown and the founding date of 1607 for Skultuna, a name that is still in use for domestic products.
2 2676 Many unusual or miniature items have been called ‘apprentice pieces’ for want of a better description but this pair of bookends have an undeniable provenance as test pieces. Manufacture of this type of component calls up knowledge of gear cutting and other skills needed by the US Navy in a repair shop. Each is made from two parts. There is a fully machined gear section mounted on a toothed rack milled from brass bar stock. The left side is neatly engraved: ‘Machinery Repairman School USNJC San Diego 33, California’ and the other: ‘Edward J. Harner M.R. Class No. 16-58’ and both are well finished with pride. Each is 120mm (4¾”) long and weighs nearly 770g (1lb 11oz).
1 3044 Unusual brass model of a first world war tank made c1922 as a paper weight mainly promoting the ‘Tank Brass’ made by McKechnie Bros. Ltd. who made many varieties of brass and had a good speciality in anti-friction bearing metals. Idle moments at the owner’s office desk might be spent reading their comprehensive overkill of messages: ‘Specify Tank Brand’ ‘McKechnie brothers Ltd Birmingham England’, ‘Non-ferrous ingot metals, phosphor copper, chill cast phosphor bronze bars’ ‘Extruded brass and copper rods, bars and sections, solid brass & bronze pressings’ and even underneath ‘This is one of our solid brass pressings’, ‘and at London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle-on-Tyne – Metal refining works Widnes. They must have used an expensive four-draw mould to obtain the detail on each face. It is 80mm (1?”) long and weighs 650g (1lb 7oz). The company moved out of Birmingham to Aldridge, Walsall and became McKechnie metals.
2 2418 A later souvenir from the same company is this desk penholder by McKechnie Metals, Aldridge, celebrating the opening of their fourth extrusion press, c1988 that had the power to produce large special shapes. A special die had been cut with the 'Mc' initials as the design included in a rectangular extrusion approximately 60 x 40mm (c2¼ x 1½”) with a superb surface finish. The die was used only the once and each section was cut to length on an angle and polished to form a very acceptable desk pen holder.
3 5300 A lucky horseshoe in the form of a promotional hot brass pressing by Robinsons of Liverpool. There was a Joseph Robinson established as a brass founder in Upper Pitt Street, Liverpool by 1832 but a more likely company issuing this might have been the telegraph engineers, A Robinson & Co who made many engine room telegraphs of brass in the 20th century. The search will continue. Size 95 x 76mm (3¾ x 3”).
4 9150 This was not meant to be a tube. It is an educational item from the ‘black museum’ of Aston Chain & Hook Co. Ltd., Erdington, latterly an extrusion plant of Delta Drawn Metals. It shows the back end of a square section copper alloy extrusion cut and opened to show the 'back end defect' that must always be removed to leave just sound rod for further drawing. This type of souvenir is invaluable as an example that is better than a thousand words. Unfortunately it tends to loose perceived value completely when generations move on in industry and may end up being recycled with other scrap instead of preserved with its history. The section was 31mm (1¼”) square.
5 5187 Hot stamped paperweight block featuring Revere Copper and Brass Products. The top has a relief design celebrating the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere in 1775, well celebrated by Longfellow amongst others. From being an excellent silversmith, Revere expanded his industrial interests tremendously and many products are still marketed under his name. Size 80 x 52mm (3⅛ x 2”).
1 4932 A raised electrotype copper relief picture framed in wood with a caption at the bottom reading: 'Compliments of Portland Electrotype & Stereotype Co.' who were at 42 N. Ninth Street, Portland, Oregon. This was probably a Christmas giveaway to clients of this company sometime between 1900 and 1910 although the company lasted until after 1927. The illustration is a 19th Century scene of a mother working over the fireplace hearth, with one child awaiting his food and the other on Papa's knee. The detail is excellent and the copper has a rich golden brown patina under original lacquer during its hundred years of life. The plaque is 130 x 100mm (5 x 4”) and is in a frame that has seen life, being is no longer sealed on the back.
2 8893 Brass wire gauge issued by Aston Chain & Hook, Erdington, Birmingham. There is a wire gauge on one side reading in Imperial inch decimals and Standard Wire Gauge and on the other side a ready reckoner giving a cost conversion from pence per pound to pounds per hundredweight and pounds per ton on the other. It is made from four different thin sheets of copper and brass with the top two on each side rotatable to give the relevant readings in the windows and measures 55mm (2¼”) in diameter.
3 9110 Ladle, dish and circular tray made in copper and boldly marked by Soho Foundry, Ballarat, Australia. These were made by two brothers who restarted the near-derelict Soho Foundry of Robinson Thomas & Co in 1972 using all the old belt driven machinery that had originally been obtained from the Soho works in Birmingham. The operation closed down in 1980, when one of the brothers died it was taken over by the State government and is now a museum shop. The ladle is 195mm (7¾") long, dish is 140mm (5½") diameter.
4 2997 Pillbox promoting E. Thomason’s Manufactory, Birmingham. This is an early 19th century circular brass box with traces of gilding. The inside of the box has a very clear raised image of a fine large Georgian house with a central Greek pediment. Below that is the legend - also in tiny raised letters - 'E. Thomason's Manufactory Birmingham'. Because of the fine stamped brass open work of the lid it is possible that this was a box for smelling salts. Thomason was a commercial rival and outspoken critic of Matthew Boulton. In the 1835 Wrighton Directory he is described as Sir Edward Thomason, jeweller, silversmith, glass cutter, plater and manufacturer of plated wares in Church Street. He had another address at 20, Colmore Row. By 1867 there is no sign of the factory in a Church Street nor his office, which was then a bank at 20, Colmore Row.
5 2990 6347 6425 These are the three designs of tea caddy that were made by Samuel Heath & Son as 'Lipton's Souvenir Tea Caddies' at times during the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, 5 & part of 1926. The three different designs carry design registration numbers that were allocated to Samuel Heath & Sons and also have ‘Liptons’ underneath. Each shows the symbolic Exhibition lion design is raised from the body and the lid has a well proportioned knop. The height of the one shaped like an inverted pear is 135mm (5½"), weight 123g (4oz).
6 9155 Copper button badge with relief of the 'ankh' symbol for copper that was produced for a meeting of the Polish Copper Institute in 1985. When allocating symbols to each of the metals that they knew, Greek philosophers adopted the ankh for copper as the Egyptian hieroglyph for ‘eternal life’. Diameter 10mm (3/8").
1 6562 This stylish late Victorian inkstand was obviously intended for use on the desk of senior management. It was commissioned by Muntz’s Metal Company from a manufacturing jeweller who was required to celebrate the long life of the boiler tubes made by the Company. The centrepiece is an engraved copper tube into which are fitted three copper inkwells with decorated caps. Endplates are used to mount it to the rear of a richly engraved baseplate to which is also fitted a pair of pen rests. The whole is mounted on four feet also made from copper tube.
The inscription reads: ‘This ink-stand is entirely made from a specially hardened copper locomotive tube, one of a set which ran 480,000 miles between the years 1879 and 1898. Muntz's Metal Company Limited, French Walls Works, Birmingham England’.
The main tube and four supporting feet are made of copper tube 78mm (1?") dia. The copper base is a 190 x 140mm (7½ x 5½") copper plate with chamfered edges and art nouveau decoration. Apparently there is a silvered version of this piece in Greenwich Museum. A maker’s note on the base reads: ‘Makers E. Camelinat & Co., amalgamated with Thos & J S Turner Ltd, Fisher Street, Birmingham, England’.
The original patent for 60/40 brass in the form of Muntz Metal had been taken out in 1832 and it had proved very cost-effective for the sheathing of ships. Each sheet had to have the Muntz stamp for gauge and manufacturer. Stocks of sheet bearing the Muntz stamp were exported and held in ports round the world. Some domestic items of Indian design and manufacture and bearing their stamp have appeared. By the end of the century when the inkstand was made the Muntz family was heavily involved in public work. George Muntz was the first MP for Birmingham in 1840. A more common promotional item is their ashtray which can be found made of copper sheet or a 70/30 brass that Muntz knew as ‘Nergandin’. These are marked with an interesting mixture of English and other characters.
2 5315, 6237, 8013, 8222 (x2) Promotional dishes made by Muntz’s Metal Company, French Walls, Birmingham. The centre shows Neptune with a stylised trident admiring a three masted ship that presumably has a hull clad with Muntz Metal. All this surrounded by ‘Muntz's Patent’ and an outer ring of Asian hyroglyphics and the word "Soft". Size 108mm (4.25”) maximum diameter.
3 3304 Fireside flatback or mantleback ornaments in the form of a pair of shoes cut from copper plate and mounted on half section of 2" diameter copper tube. They have whitemetal buttons. Both the tube and plate are thicker than usual for flatbacks with the unseen sides showing obvious signs of prior use and pitting corrosion. The copper tube is heavily blackened as is typical of old locomotive boiler tubes. These items were favourite topics amongst the 'foreigners' made from scrap metal during workshop lunchbreaks. They show much more ingenuity than the cribbage boards more often made during spare time. This type of item was made secretly at work and then presented as a love token. No doubt the wife or girlfriend was very impressed! Length 157mm (6?"). Height 90mm (3½").
4 5140 A trinket dish by The Broughton Copper Co. Ltd. Salford, Manchester that shows the tremendous ductility of their product. It has been made from copper condenser tube approximately 50mm (2") diameter by folding the lower part in a concertina shape and flanging out the top section. The base is carefully closed by folding in the tube side. The Company was taken over by ICI Metals sometime before 1937 and then formed part of Yorkshire Imperial Metals. Records for the Company between 1881-1944 are at Birmingham City Archives Works. Scovill made a similar item, see 4192.
5 4192 Brass Candleholder made from cup drawn admiralty condenser tubing by Scovill, Waterbury, CT USA. Height 55mm (2¼”).
The Scovill Manufacturing. Co. was founded in 1802 in Waterbury, Connecticut and in 1850 was incorporated as Scovill Manufacturing Company. In the early years they produced brass buttons, sewing hardware, cameras, printing plates, oil and electric lamps, fasteners and other brass and copper items. At its peak during the 1940s, 10,000 people worked at the factory, later sold to Century Brass. Also in Waterbury were the main works of Anaconda American Brass and Chase Brass & Copper Co.
Copper refineries convert ore with a high mineral content to pure copper in forms that can be bundled in 25 ton lots and sent anywhere for trade or use in the production of copper and copper alloy products. In good times they may make more money than the foundries and fabricators so can afford to produce interesting items as promotional gifts.
All refineries work to similar agreed standards of purity to satisfy the trading requirements of the London and American Metal Exchanges. Nevertheless they have a great pride in the quality and reputation of their own brand and the extent to which its purity is better than standard. Refineries have their own three-letter brand abbreviations to identity their copper and these are often incorporated in their gifts. It has to be said though that unless you know and admire the products normally made, you might not think that refinery souvenirs are the best choice for mantelpiece display. However, they were some of the most difficult to make when refineries used traditional extraction processes and are much less common now that production methods have become more integrated and environmentally friendly so should be treasured.
1 1830 Bingham Canyon souvenir pin tray showing typical scenes including the mine, a loader, an electric mine locomotive, two miners with an early pneumatic drill and the old town. Interestingly, the tray looks as though it is made as an electroform, a similar process to the electrolytic refining method used to produce their cathodes. However a gentle scrape reveals that it is copper plated zinc sheet. Some of these are marked on the back 'Made in Japan'. Height 115mm (4 1/2"). Weight 85g.
2 1395 Two copper refinery ashtrays that come from the Morenci, Arizona smelter that was closed many years ago. Originally these were made and given to special guests as gifts. The red colour is typical of the oxide on cast copper. The heart shape is 70mm (2¾") square and the Arizona state shape says ‘Morenci ARIZ’ in the bottom. It measures 75 x 83mm (3 x 3¼").
3 3561 A copper tray found in a spoil dump next to a mine at Jerome, Arizona. Most of the mines in Arizona tried casting souvenirs at some time. Some had no embossing but this reads ‘UVX’, the original name for the United Verde Extension and Jerome Arizona mine, before it was renamed ‘Jerome Arizona’. The mine was established in 1883 and closed in 1935. This was very crudely made and is a good example of just how gassy a copper casting can be! It is not surprising that it was scrapped. It measures, 150 x 60 x 20mm (3 x 2¼ x ¾"). The inside is dark, and the back is the red colour of cast copper. Weight 130g (4.7oz).
4 3674 Anaconda Pocket Perpetual Calendar by The American Brass Company. It is 38mm (1½") square and covers the years 1950 to 1977
5 3680 Anaconda The American Brass Co paperweight in the form of the company arrow logo on a base. The item is an excellent quality two-part casting made at the refinery in high conductivity copper and shows no signs of porosity or other significant casting defects. The surface finish is as-cast copper oxide. On the base is the lettering 'From mine to Consumer' and to it riveted the arrow head and part shaft, lettered 'Anaconda' on both sides. Anaconda Copper Mining Company (ACM, until 1915 known as the Amalgamated Copper Mining Company), one of the largest trusts of the early 20th century, owned all the mines on Butte Hill, Montana, USA. In 1922 they bought the American Brass Company. The Anaconda Company was purchased by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) on January 12th 1977.
6 3758 A strictly functional ashtray cast at Enfield Copper Refiners in high conductivity copper and still showing the as-cast purple oxide finish. These were specially cast as souvenirs for guests at an open day in 1969. The underside is covered with a protective green baize. With a wall thickness around 5mm (5/16”), it is not surprising that it weighs a heafty 860g (1lb 14oz).
7 6902 A sample of electrolytically refined copper neatly cropped from a cathode of 99.95+% pure metal. The ore was mined at Mufulera and smelted at Ndola Refinery owned by the Rhodesian Selection Trust (RST International Metals) in what was then Northern Rhodesia c1965. The nodules were entirely typical at that time but process improvements have resulted in smoother cathodes being produced now. Length 160mm (6¼") Weight 1,000g.
8 6903 Miniature anode cast as a gift for special visitors to Ndola Copper Refinery in Zambia c1981. From the fire refining stage of the purification of copper anodes are cast in roughly square shape with ears at two corners to enable them to be hung between the cathodes in an electrolytic refining tank. This has a width, without the ears of 73mm (2⅞") and a weight of 600g wheras production anodes would be about 1,000mm square.
9 7069 When the fire-refining of copper was the main process it was usual to cast it to the form of wirebars for subsequent hot rolling and cold drawing to wire. This souvenir was made for invited guests at the commissioning of the new Southwire continuous copper wire rod plant on the 17th October 1974 at Enfield Rolling Mills, Middlesex. Copper cathodes were then melted in a shaft furnace and continuously poured to give the smaller cast shape shown which was then immediately rolled on to the 6mm diameter size of the top coil. The base is marked on the sides 'First SCR Coil’. Below right is a section from a wirebar and a miniature souvenir gift made for a previous occasion. Wirebars could be 60-225kg in weight, typically 100-125kg and could only be rolled into rod of that size pieceweight before joining for subsequent wiredrawing. The continuous process avoided these joints that gave potential breaks later.
10 9149 A ‘Black Museum' item from Enfield Copper Refiners, Middlesex. This is a section of a sample taken from a 180ton open hearth refinery furnace before it was ready for pouring. The 'gassiness' of the copper showed that it needed further 'poling' by having the melt stirred with long poles made of damp, green wood that bubbled fiercely under the copper and removed excess hydrogen. Normally the refinery foreman would not have needed to section the sample - just feel the weight in his hand to check that it was solid copper. This type of souvenir was invaluable as an example that is better than a thousand words. With the demise of the process and when generations move on in the industry it unfortunately tends to loose perceived value completely and may end up being recycled with other scrap instead of preserved with its history. Length 125mm (5”), diameter 44mm (1 ¾”).
1 701 Arts and Crafts ashtray very well made in Birmingham Handicrafts College with logo in centre. 120mm diameter, 10mm lip, 60g. (E)
1 833 Cast brass circular ashtray with central pillar bearing enamelled badge of The Birmingham Guild Ltd, founded in 1817. Back of pillar has good scroll detail. 147mm dia x 155 high. (C)
2 4923 Elkington & Co Ltd were very proud of their range of cookware made from solid nickel with a casing of copper. This promotional miniature saucepan, or brandy warmer, has a very prominent full-size maker’s mark. Saucepan diameter 65mm (2½”).
3 4062 Cap badge of crossed hammers with motto suffix for the precious metals refiners, 'Johnson, Matthey and Co Ltd'. The back has a handle soldered at the top to convert it to horse brass shape. Height 80mm (3¼").
3 8471 Johnson Matthey coined copper plaque with crossed hammers surrounded by ‘J.M.& Co. Ltd. London’. The size is 33 x 20mm (1¼ x ¾”), representing one of the smaller precious metal ingots.
The firm was formed by Percival Norton Johnson in 1817 and moved to a head office in Hatton Garden in 1822. They expanded gradually and by the 1950s had manufacturing locations in Harlow, Wembley, Royston and abroad. Besides their big range of precious metals they had a secondary copper refinery in Enfield and rolled copper blocks to strip inlaid with precious metal contact materials at Harlow.
8111 A good example of promotional miniaturisation is provided by this Pyrene extinguisher. It bears the simple but effective message ‘Pyrene Kills Fire – Saves Life’. Height 130mm (5¼”).
The pump extinguisher was invented in Scotland but was first financed and made in New York and Delaware in 1907. While the original filling of carbon tetrachloride is not now allowed, the company makes many types of extinguishers to suit industry and domestic properties and all forms of transport.
8794 Promotional oval ashtray that was on display in shops selling Hoover vacuum cleaners made in the classic art deco factory situated on the North Circular Road, London. It consists of two hot stampings joined with solder. The underside shows traces of previous silver plate now long since polished off the top. Width 115mm (4½”)
8860 One of a pair of brass fireside spill holders promoting The Fletcher Russell Gas Co., Warrington, who made gas cooking stoves and heating radiators. The columns tubes are reeded and soldered to the pressed raised hexagonal brass bases lettered with 'Fletcher Russell & Co. Ltd. * Gas*. They probably date sometime between 1910 and 1935. They are 90mm (3½") tall with columns of 50mm (2") outside diameter. The bases are 100mm (4") across flats and well worn at the top corners through over-enthusiastic polishing. Thomas Fletcher switched from making tools for dentistry to the manufacture of gas cooking stoves and heating radiators and merged with Alexander and William Russell around 1895 in Warrington. The company lasted on its own until merging with Radiation Ltd in the 1950s and later into TI New World.
This article shows a small collection of industrial souvenirs that were very meaningful when produced to both those who gave and received them. They mean much less to those who were not associated with the industries but do give a substantial insight when the industrial celebrations and the production techniques are considered. There must be a great danger of them being discarded. So far as is known, no attempt has been made to describe them elsewhere but they will form a chapter in the long promised book. The author would be very glad of comments and to hear of other examples of copper and brass souvenirs by email through vin(at)oldcopper.org.
Library information from directories in Birmingham Central Library and personal communications from vendors.
Eur Ing Vin Callcut, CEng, FIMMM spent all his working life with the copper fabricating industry. He now has a strong interest in domestic copper- and brass-wares and is responsible for the ‘www.oldcopper.org’ website of makers’ marks and other information.
1800 Macclesfield Roe Cheshire Copper Halfpenny Token of 1790 Cheshire Copper Halfpenny Token of 1790 Diameter --- 1.1/8th inches. Construction --- Copper. Condition --- Very fine plus with nice toning. Obverse Description --- Detailed bust portrait of Georgian gentleman facing right, within the legend "CHARLES ROE ESTABLISHED THE COPPER WORKS 1758". Reverse Description --- Female seated (Industry?), operating windlass and holding gearing cog. Around the edge are the words "MACCLESFIELD HALFPENNY". The date of 1790 is shown in the exergue. Rim Type --- Impressed with the words "PAYABLE AT MACCLESFIELD LIVERPOOL OR CONGLETON".
1809 North Wales copper halfpenny token 1793. Obverse: Hooded bust of a Druid to the left, twenty-nine acorns in wreath. Reverse: Cypher of “RNG” with date “1793” above: “NORTH WALES HALFPENNY”. Edge inscription: “PAYABLE IN LONDON BRISTOL & LANCASTER”. Issuer unknown. Good collectable condition with minor pitting, see scan. D&H North Wales No: 3b. Diameter 29mm. Listed in Dalton & Hamer as “RR”, very rare.
1810 Welsh Parys Mine Company (Anglesey) copper penny token 1788. Obverse: Hooded bust of a Druid to the left. Twenty-seven acorns in wreath. Reverse: Cypher of “PMCo” (Parys Mine Company) with date: “1788” above: “WE PROMISE TO PAY THE BEARER ONE PENNY”. Edge inscription: “ON DEMAND IN LONDON LIVERPOOL OR ANGLESEY”. The Parys Mine Company was first to issue tokens, for payment to their workers, and general circulation, ahead of John Wilkinson the Shropshire Ironmaster. This precipitated the development of the whole commercial token series as catalogued by Dalton & Hamer. Nice collectable condition with some edge bruising, better than scan. D&H Anglesey No: 165. Diameter 33mm.
1813 Bristol token
1813 473 Walthamstow token of 1813 with lion on reverse, Britannia with oak leaves on obverse. The copper mill in Walthamstow, now a suburb in North East London, was established to provide local fabrication facilities using copper sheet from Birmingham. This halfpenny trade token, dated 1813, was issued by the British Copper Company, which had an office in London, but had smelting works at Landore (Wales), and rolling mills at Walthamstow (Essex, England). It is catalogued as Withers 610 and Davis (Essex) 39. On the obverse is a lion walking, and on the reverse is the seated Britannia within an oak wreath. This token is copper, 28.5mm in diameter; and is in nice VF+ condition, with traces of red.
1815 Tavistock token 1811 Devon Mines penny token. This is number 1136 in standard work by Withers "British Copper Tokens 1811-1820". Rated as very rare, which means "few specimens available". Earlier reference work by WJ Davis, this is type Devon 25. Thick flan, engrailed edge, Has a couple of minor knocks on obverse (see scan) otherwise in Fine condition.
2062 Bristol Brass & Copper Co. Conder Penny 1811 English Bristol Brass & Copper Co., (Somerset) copper penny token 1811. Obverse: Text: “B B & COPPER CO”, surrounded by, “ONE PENNY PAYABLE AT BRISTOL SWANSEA & LONDON”. Reverse: Shield with sailing ship and castle crested with crossed arms above holding scales and a serpent, “VIRTUE ET INDUSTRIA 1811”. Diagonally milled edge. Nice collectable condition, see scan. Withers No: 441, Davis Somerset No: 85. Diameter 33mm.
2161 Bristol Brass and Copper Co penny token, 1811
2175 600 G. Britain, 1811, 1P Rose Token produced by Rose Copper Company in 1811 and valid in Swansea and Birmingham. 30mm diameter
2258 Cheadle Copper 1812
2260 Devon Mines 1811
2338 1812 VF Gr Br 1P Token Birmingham. 'Copper Token One Penny' round a horse, Prince of Wales feathers surrounded by 'Birmingham & South Wales 1812'.
2340 Rose Copper 1811 Birmingham and Swansea Token
2388 18th Century Halfpenny Trade Token 1791 This is a 18th. Century halfpenny trade token, dated 1791, being a Druid's Head Cornish halfpenny. Please see scan. The piece is in excellent collectable condition about uncirculated. The obverse shows a druids head within oak wreath. The reverse shows a crowned shield with pellets. The legend here states CORNISH COPPER HALF AN OUNCE 1791.
6861 British Empire Exhibition commemorative coin
1175 999 3221 A promotional ash tray in the late Hagenauer style of Walter Bosse but made in USA by the Keeler Brass Co., Middleville, Mich. It is rectangular, 95 x 83 mm and sits nicely on four cast feet with a weight of 190g. Other promotional items that they made included a detailed lizard and a bottle opener. All are well marked with the company name.
5030 and 1970 Virginia Metalcrafters Advertising Display polished letters which read: "Sand Cast, Hand Finished by Virginia Metalcrafters" It measures approximately 200mm (8") long. Also Cast brass ashtray, a souvenir from the historical re-creation of the town of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia having the 'Governors’ Palace' in the centre. The excellent quality sand casting is unfettled and has a good finish on the top face but the underside is fully machined and stamped 'Korea'. Diameter 115mm (4 1/2"), weight 160g.
The historic district of Colonial Williamsburg includes many of the buildings from 1699 to 1780 that formed the capital of the State of Virginia. It has the excellent motto ‘that the future may learn from the past’. Part of the merchandising policy is the sale of museum-quality reproductions including domestic brassware. Originally these were locally sourced but are now procured according to requirements. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_Williamsburg and other sources]
6891 A promotional cast brass trinket tray with a harvest wheat theme in the form of a basket with handles and stalks of wheat. The surface detail and quality is excellent and the size 131x 105mm, it stands on three legs and weighs a reasonable 270g (9½ oz). The underside has cast-in wording 'With the compliments of E.J. Smith & Co., Tyseley Metal Works, Birmingham.
(Check - Edwin Smith, 2, Heneage Street in 1903, Birmingham city centre, not present by 1946).
7852 The brass foundry scene on this souvenir belt buckle was designed and produced around 1980. It is marked on the rear by Anacortes Brass Works Foundry 2000 R Ave., Anacortes, WA 98221, United States.
1165 Swedish promotional penholder made from extruded brass rod of hexagon section cut diagonally from 50mm (2") across flats, and polished. Boliden makers mark 'B' and 'F' either side of rod in a circle. 90mm x 50mm. 390g. (Metallwerken, Vasteräs)
1299 Promotional brass anvil inscribed 'To Forge our Friendship, Luther R Doebler Wolverine Brass Representative'
2406 Pestle and mortar. An international copper standards meeting was held in the works of Hutmen Brass Works in Wrots?av, Poland in 1977. During his welcoming address before the meeting the company chairman gave each delegate a pestle and mortar, saying ‘If you find that you cannot agree on something, put the different ideas in the mortar, grind them together and then pour out the ideal compromise!’
2513 MUELLER BRASS ANVIL, PORT HURON, MICHIGAN. The company was incorporated in 1917 in Port Huron, Michigan and is still providing plumbing supplies, extruded brassware and a variety of other products.
1303 Ampco paperweight. American Metal Products Co was founded in 1914 by August Littman who developed an extra-hard copper-aluminium alloy, aluminium bronze. Since then they have specialised in meeting demands for high strength, low magnetic susceptibility, spark-resistance and electrical conductivity. The paperweight is a miniature of a heavy duty bearing and is marked 'Ampco 18-136'.
851 Circular brass ashtray hot pressed from Delta Bronze No IV, a rare souvenir of a material in widespread use from the 1920's, 97mm (4”) diameter.
2419 Paperweight by Leslie & Co celebrating modernisation in 1994. Leslie & Co. (Coventry) Ltd 202 Waterloo Rd, Birmingham. West Midlands. B25 8LD
3661 Copper on brass dish in shape of oak leaf with ‘Guests Brass Stamping Co., Selly Oak’ marked on the underside. They are now at 112-117 Charles Henry Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B12 0SJ
5539 Bead Chain Manufacturing Company Copper PAPERWEIGHT
6020 Beacon display of curtain rail fittings.
6283 ATERITE ASHTRAY Art Nouveau Copper Nickel Done in an Art Nouveau Style ... " Compliments of ATERITE COMPANY INC N.E.COR JOHN & WILLIAM STREETS NEW YORK CITY " on surface ........ATERITE is a rare alloy of Copper & Nickel. My guess is 1910-1930..Very nice patina,nickley..........Measures 6 inches at widest, tapers to 5 at some points . .......Has a great tooled style to it , with Fantastic geometric patterns ....BACK IMPRESSED WITH MARK of SD CHILDS & CO. CHICAGO.
7003 The round dished pin tray is made of good quality brass, with a milled rim and a central pressed/stamped boss which reads " COX WILCOX & CO. BIRMINGHAM SMALL SPIRIT LAMPS & STOVES" with an oil lamp to the middle against a cross-hatched ground.A nice interesting advertising item!! It measures 4" diameter and just under 1/2" high. There is no mark as to manufacturer but I suspect it was made in Birmingham and dates from c.1900/10. 19th/20th Century Brass Advertising Pin Tray. Cox Wilcox & Co. Birmingham-Lampmakers/Retailers. Cox,Wilcox & Co., Ten Acre Works 1117 Pershore Road, Stirchley West Midlands B30 2YL Tel: 0121 472 1250 the scene above, this shot shows a view from the northern end of Stirchley looking towards Selly Park. The narrow section of Pershore Road cuts through an area known as Ten Acres. This was the home of Cox, Wilcox & Co. Ltd and I was delighted when a housing development in the area retained the frontage of the works building. The yellow and red sign on the bicycle shop says, "Ride a Norman Nippy Moped - British Built". Underneath, S.R.Pountney offers a way to finance the purchase, "Hire Purchase Arranged". [http://www.photobydjnorton.com/BirminghamInColour.html]
7068 Dornach souvenir cymbal celebrating 90 years of manufacturing from 1895-1985 and made from a sonorous alloy made within the Swissmetal Group. In 1855, a rolling mill and foundry, Bueche, Boillat & Cie., was founded in Reconvilier in the Bernese Jura. This company changed its name several times before the formation of Swissmetal: from 1960 it was called Boillat S.A. The first plant in Dornach was also a rolling mill and foundry operated under the name Schweizerische Metallwerke AG Dornach. The Selve rolling mills in Thun were in the group until closed in 1991. Busch-Jaeger Metallwerk GmbH, Lüdenscheid. Germany is another group member. Initially set up to meet the exacting needs of the Swiss watch industry, it now produces precision copper-alloy forms and profiles for the semiconductor electronics industry.
9126 ERM Laboratory Dinner Dance Ticket, Firs Hall, Green Lane, Edmonton 20th December 1967. These tickets were etched from 'engraving copper'. This was a silver-bearing copper with fine grain size rolled to close tolerances and good surface finish for use in the printing industry. Unusually, when the manager of the Rolling Mills was invited to pay for his tickets he was reluctant to pay good money to buy back his own copper!
4066 DERM - Delta Enfield Rolling Mills banding clip
748 Good quality stamped copper promotional ash tray - The Builders Copper Tube Co, Temple Bar, London, Centre logo of feather encircled by copper tube. 125mm dia. 110g.
1258 Boulder copper paperweight showing copper segments formed to make a spiral tube that was used for the sheathing of power cables carrying current from the Boulder Dam hydro-electric power station. It was distributed by the Boulder Dam Visitors' Bureau and was manufactured by General Cable Corporation. The copper was originally supplied by Anaconda Copper but this may be made from a leftover section of copper high voltage transmission cable that was used in building the dam. The city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power oversaw the operation which was built during the late 1920s depression years and has been officially called the ‘Hoover Dam’ since 1947. This section measures approx. 1.5" in diameter and stands about 2" tall.
3717 Anaconda triple message promotional paperweight showing early vertical integration with ‘Anaconda Roofing Copper’ and ‘Anaconda Copper Pipe’ engraved on a base plate either side of a copper pipe bearing its own, slightly battered message: ‘Anaconda from Mine to Consumer’ Length 110mm (4½").
4731 Revere copper elegant promotional paperweight, penholder or candleholder made by deep drawing with four diameters with conical transitions and a rolled edge to the top. The base is rolled in place and clearly marked 'Revere'. Height 90mm (3½").
2787 ANACONDA COMPANY COPPER PAPERWEIGHT This is a round copper paperweight from the Anaconda Company. It has BUTTE stamped on the top of it. Base diameter approx. 2"; about 1" high. In 1899, Marcus Daly merged with Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company to create the Amalgamated Copper Mining Co. In 1910, the company changed its name to the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, after it bought up many smaller companies. The original mines at Butte, Montana are now a pit over a mile long, nearly a mile wide and 1800 feet deep. Mining ceased here in 1982 but the company owned many others world wide. Since 1977 it has been a subsidiary of Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).
2788 Anaconda Company Arrowhead Paperweight. Anaconda Brass started as J.F. Brown’s Copper & Brass Rolling Mills, in 1919, located on Birmingham Street, New Toronto, Ontario. Anaconda acquired the mills soon after in 1922. In its last few years of operations, it was Arrowhead Metals. The plant closed its doors for good in 1989.
3834 Anaconda Copper Mine Arrowhead Key Chain Fob
5998 Copper ashtray machined from wirebar section in 1964 from the Mufulera (MCM) mine, Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia since 1964.
6245 Utah Copper Co. promotional paper weight in the shape of an ingot. Length 74mm (c3"). Utah version began on June 4, 1903 when the original Utah Copper Company (UCC) was created to mine and process low grade copper ore found in a mountain in Bingham Canyon, about 25 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Steam shovels began working on the mountain in 1906. For the next 100 years, shovels, trains and trucks converted that mountain into the world famous Bingham Canyon Mine, a huge open pit copper mine that is more than three-quarters of a mile deep and more than 2 3/4 miles wide across the top and still growing. In 1915, Kennecott Mines became Kennecott Copper Corporation, which purchased a 25 percent interest in the Utah Copper Company and acquired all assets and property in 1936 forming Kennecott Utah Copper (KUC). In 1947, Utah Copper Company was dissolved and became the Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation. In 1981, Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO) purchased Kennecott, and in 1987 British Petroleum bought SOHIO’s interests. In 1989, RTZ Corporation, now known as Rio Tinto, became the owner of Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation.
7073 3 souvenir small copper wirebars made by Enfield Copper Refiners during the 1960s while they were still casting wirebar copper for rolling to copper rod. The top of the casting is fully convex which is typical of a good tough pitch copper. Length 140mm (5 1/2") Weight 200g (7oz) each.
9124 Tie Pin from Metal Marketing Corporation (MEMACO) of Zambia, now owned by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd (ZCCM)
9142 Section of wirebar from Enfield Copper Refiners. Originally it was polished, etched to show the grain structure as cast and then lacquered. Over forty years the etching has been slightly obscured by tarnishing under the lacquer.
4285 Copper ashtray from IMI Refiners, December 1985 575g 'This copper ashtray is a memento of your visit to IMI Refiners. It has been made from a slice of 92mm diameter DHP copper billet cast on our horizontal casting machine. The cast surface is typical of our horizontal product showing the witness of the oscillation of the mould. The underside of the ashtray has been etched to show the cast structure and the centrality of freezing.'
2015 Notepaper box made of sheet brass complete with partly open front and extra flap inside the lid to act as a paper rest. Art nouveau pattern on lid and promotional message for Samuel M Langston Co, Camden and New Jersey ' Leadership by Design'. Width 145mm (5 3/4"), weight 250g (9oz), Underneath initialled 'EAH' 11/15/65, Makers mark 'Grammes, Allentown, PA.'
3997 Promotional paper knife issued by the Bessemer Galvanizing Works in Birmingham Alabama who specialised in galvanising work on electrical power pylons and similar structural items.
4085 2lb Non-sparking copper-aluminium alloy hammer by Ampco.
9148 Telcon non-sparking spanner
5422 Austral Bronze Co., Australian Trade Mission Commemorative 1962 Copper/bronze dish (or small plate) 5" (12cm) in diameter. The medallion centre piece shows a ship passing under Sydney Harbour Bridge, with the words "Australian Trade Mission 1962, M.V. Chandpara" and on the reverse side it reads, "Rolled by The Austral Bronze Company PTY Limited, Australia. 112. Manufactured from Austral Copper and Austral Gilding Metal, 206."
5549 Ludlow-Saylor Wire Company Paper Clip Mini Holder 1931. Advertising mini copper clip board. It is marked, The Ludlow-Saylor Wire Company, 1856-75th Anniversay-1931, St. Louis. It measures 5 3/4" x 4" and is in very good condition with some stain spots on the board.
5564 ARCO, Atlantic Richfield Corporation, formed by merger in 1966 and acquired Anaconda Copper and Brass in 1977. It bought the 'Observer' British newspaper group in the same year. 3" x 2 1/4" SOLID BRASS BELT BUCKLE Hand Made in 1983 by Anacortes Brass Works Ltd. Anacortes, Wash USA, established 1970.
6360 Lockerbie & Wilkinson brass ash tray c1880 shows Lockerbie and Wilkinson's 'Alexandra' Works in Tipton, Birmingham. The company is still going, and - remarkably - is still at the same address, even though they apparently now occupy just one small part of what was once an expansive manufacturing site. The company is now best known for its abattoir and meat processing equipment, but during the nineteenth century they were renowned for manufacturing brass toilet locks (particularly for the railways) and cast-iron items, including huge quantities of cast iron gutters and drain pipes. Given their background in brasswork, it's highly likely that this ash tray was made by L&W themselves. The embossing around the rim is beautifully crisp, and the rather worn image in the base is clear and crisply detailed if viewed on the reverse. The factory is shown surrounded by a quaint wooden fence, and behind it a majestic range of mountains shows how far we have all come! Looking on the reverse, you can make out a little hand cart in the yard, and a George flag fluttering on the smoky breeze. A classic piece of Victorian advertising brasswork, and surely a treasure for all engineering historians, railway collectors, or L&W employees of today! Measures 5 1/4" (13.5cm) max.
6890 Pressed copper ashtray made by Tiptaff of Birmingham to promote ‘The Windsor, The Ideal Breakfast Room Grate’ for D Morgan & Sons, The Parade, Cardiff. Diameter 113mm (4?”).
7032 Promotional ash tray made for British Copper Manufacturers Ltd. 140mm dia. The company was formed in 1924 by the amalgamation of the two major copper smelting firms in Swansea, Messrs. Vivian and Sons; and Messrs. Williams Foster and Company and Pascoe Grenfell and Sons Limited. Messrs Vivian and Sons had been founded by John Vivian, a Cornish mine owner in the early nineteenth century. Messrs. Williams Foster and Company and Pascoe Grenfell and Sons Limited had been formed out of two Swansea firms, Messrs. Pascoe Grenfell and Sons and Messrs. Williams, Foster and Company in c1892. BCM was taken over in 1927 by ICI Ltd and Yorkshire Metals to form Yorkshire Imperial Metals Ltd. which included other factories in Yorkshire and Lancashire.