Copestake & Co. was a lace manufacturer and wholesaler established in London in 1825 by two young men called Groucock and Copestake.
The original premises of the business was a small room over a trunk shop at 7 Cheapside. In 1830 George Moore was made a partner in the firm which became Groucock, Copestake & Moore.
As the popularity of lace goods increased, the company was able to grow and in 1845 new headquarters were established at 5 Bow Churchyard. By now the company also had factories in Nottingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Paris and New York. In addition to manufacturing various types and qualities of lace, the company made lace edgings and curtains as well as silk and cotton nets. The firm also marketed sewing and needlework accoutrements such as needlework cases. According to the 1865 Commercial Directory, Copestakes were also warehousemen for “ lace and sewed muslins, crapes, gossamers, velvets, artificial flowers, millinery, baby linen, shawl and haberdashery, umbrellas and parasols.”
The original partners, Groucock and Copestake died in 1853 and 1874 respectively, and as new partners joined the firm it underwent a number of name changes, becoming Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co, then in 1877, Copestake, Crampton & Hughes and later Copestake, Lindsay, Crampton & Co.
The first security endorsements used by Copestakes were the official Post Office underprints, which were used from 1867 until about 1880. These official underprints were in the colour of the stamp and always appear under the gum. In the same time period, unofficial underprints were also in use. These are always over the gum and are found in various colours not related to the colour of the stamp.
In 1868, Copestakes commissioned what may well be the first perfin on postage stamps. This is the very rare “S C”. Copestakes was also among the first companies to begin security overprinting their stamps.