General Metal and Holloware

Richard Perry, Sons & Co
Edward Perry

Temple Street

Much of the account below is taken from W. H. Jones's "The Story of Japan, Tin-Plate Working and Bicycle and Galvanising Trades in Wolverhampton", 1900.  Further information has been supplied by Iris Bean, whose great great grandfather was William Perry, Richard's brother and Edward's uncle.

Unfortunately Jones is not at all strong on dates.  According to Jones, these two firms of japanners and tin plate workers were started at about the beginning of the 19th century, one by Richard Perry and his son, George; and one by his other son, Edward.  It seems that Edward Perry became much the larger firm but it eventually came to be part of Richard Perry's firm.

Edward Perry

Jones says that "Edward Perry was of medium height, a thin wirey man, with a fidgety manner and of a restless disposition.  He had dark piecing eyes and an incisive way of speaking".  

Edward Perry (photo from the History of the Chamber of Commerce)

Perry was a self-made man.  He attended Wolverhampton Grammar School (and later in life became one of its trustees).  He started work as a japanner at the Old Hall works in Wolverhampton and then started his own small firm in Queen Street.  As Jones has it: "by dint of hard work, pluck, perseverance and good common sense, he built up the business".  He moved to much larger premises in Paul Street.  

When the workers in these trades decided to produce a rate book and impose it on the employers, Loveridge and others accepted it but Perry was one of those who refused, arguing that the rates were based on hand work and could not possibly apply to his highly mechanised works. 

The strike was long and bitter, with Perry resorting to importing foreign labour from France and Germany and eventually prosecuting the strike leaders and having them imprisoned.  He won.  

Perry then entered local politics and was elected Mayor in 1855, during which time he, with considerable courage and determination, settled a dispute about the waterworks which had brought local government in Wolverhampton to a farcical, bankrupt halt.  He was re-elected for another year. 

Perry took the initiative in forming the Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce, calling its inaugural meeting at the Town Hall on the 12th March 1856.  He was elected its President on 9th May 1856 and remained its President for its first eight years.  He was also a shareholder in the Mechanics Institute in Queen Street.

Jones says: "It was said of him that he never shrank from discharging any public duty.  Not possessed, as he said, of extraordinary talent, yet by plodding industry and business capacity, combined with honesty of purpose, he rose by his own exertions and successfully conducted a large manufacturing concern."

He built himself a large house, Danescourt in Tettenhall.  This house was designed by Joseph Hanson (of London cab and Birmingham Town Hall fame).  But as soon as it was finished, Perry died.  His burial (and that of his brother, Richard) is recorded in the registers of St. Michael's, Tettenhall but neither his grave nor Richard's can now be found.

Edward Perry had no children to carry on the business after his death.  Jones concludes:  "His trade, after his death, was transferred to his nephews, Messrs. Lees, who at that period were carrying on the business of Richard Perry & Sons, in Temple Street.  At the present time [sc.1899] the same concern is being carried on by William Lees, under the title Richard Perry, Sons and Co.".  The Jeddo works themselves were sold to John Marston, a former apprentice, eventually becoming part of the Sunbeam works.

Note:  Edward Perry had a brother William, who seems also to have been a japanner.  William had three sons:  Henry (whose trade is not known); Edward (who was also a japanner in Wolverhampton but who later moved to Manchester as an artist); and Theodore (also a japanner; his son Charles was a tin plate worker).

Richard Perry, Sons and Co.

This company, set up by Richard Perry and his son George, was in Brickkiln Street.  Father and son had both been japanners in the Old Hall works and struck out on their own.  Jones gives no further information about this firm until we find his reference to Edward Perry's nephews, the Lees Brothers, carrying on the firm of Richard Perry & Sons.  On Edward Perry's death they acquired his business, possibly by inheritance.  It was, almost certainly, a much larger concern.  It therefore seems that the company known as Richard Perry, Sons & Co, was a direct continuation of Richard Perry and George Perry's firm and incorporated Edward Perry's business.


A coal box in wood and brass and the maker's plate from it.

Thanks to A. Tozer for the photos.

Richard Perry, Son & Co has some current fame as it is one of the few companies which has been positively identified as having engaged the services of Dr. Christopher Dresser, though exactly what that prolific Victorian industrial designer was engaged to do is not known.  This firm was one of those which, at that time, marked at least some of its wares.  Such marked pieces are now rare and, on the grounds of a possible connection with Dresser, tend to be expensive.  But they can be used to give some idea of what sorts of goods Perry's were producing.

This jug, by Richard Perry, is typical of the kind of design to which the name Dresser is almost automatically applied.  In fact it could have been designed by any tinsmith.  It consists of three frustra of a cone - the simplest shape to make from sheet metal.  The handle, with the "typically Dresser" handle is also as simple as can be.  Straight lines are easier, and cheaper, than curves.

Water jug with the (unusually clear) maker's mark on its base.

(thanks to the ebay seller who let us use these - but we have lost her/his name!  Please contact)

Further information on these companies is not available, not even their ultimate fate.  Their product range can only be surmised from marked pieces which still survive.
  Two tankards (?), both with the mark shown above.  That on the left seems to have its lid missing. 

It is the same height as the one on the right but heavier;  its base is differently constructed.  The thumb catch is inefficiently designed - it is difficult to use it to open the lid.

A plain water jug with its maker's mark.  This jug is very similar to those of other makers but people keen on finding Dresser in everything will seize upon the handle, which is almost geometrically semi-circular and less sinuous than the handles seen on other maker's jugs. 
Two water cans, one showing the pattern of roundels which seem to occur frequently on Perry peices. 

Angeline Johnson suggests that, if there is a design reference here, it is an arts and crafts medieval reference, to heraldic roundels, shield bosses or door nails.

A water can, quite unlike the oval bodied type produced by Perry and all the other manufacturers;  and with a handle that is Dresseresque and was used by Loveridge and others long before Dresser.

Thanks to Ken Cummings, of Greensboro, NC, USA, for the photo.  

Two half covered coal scuttles, one with the roundel pattern and the other with a scale like pattern.

Perry's, like all the other brass and copper ware makers, were general tin plate workers, probably before, during and after the time they were turning out brass and copper wares.  This is a hot water plate by Perry's.

This photograph of a Perry hot water plate was kindly sent by Andre' Janssen.


The maker's name on the bottom of Andre' Janssen's hot water plate.
Robert Cordon Champ has kindly sent two photographs of his 'Kordofan' chamber-stick, which was made by Perry in conjunction with Christopher Dresser.

It was produced in brass, or tinplate, and enamelled in the fashionable colours of the period. This example, unusually, is in the original finish.

He also has another example, with no Dresser label, that was produced by Griffith and Browett Limited, of Birmingham.

A close-up view of the maker's mark.

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