S. & J. Watts & Co.

S. & J. Watts & Co.

S. & J. Watts & Co. was a wholesale drapery business established by brothers Samuel and James Watts in Manchester. Between 1851 and 1856 the company built a huge warehouse in the centre of town. Inside the warehouse, 600 staff looked after finished goods :

          • 1st floor : dresses, woollens and dyed goods

          • 2nd floor : umbrellas,bags, corsets, boots and shoes

          • 3rd floor : ribbons, silks and underclothing

          • 4th floor : lace and furs.

During the Second World War, the Watts’ warehouse was bombed in the Manchester Blitz, but was saved from destruction when the fire was smothered by textiles after the water supply had failed.

S. & J. Watts traded until 1960 when the company merged with a rival firm to become Cook & Watts, which was taken over by the Courtaulds Group in 1969. The Watts warehouse is now a Grade II listed building and since 1982 has been the Britannia Hotel.

There is a lot of variety to be found with Watts’ overprints, from inverted versions, size of lettering and use of italic font. Also, note the use of the letter I insead of J in the company name on the earliest overprints.