HT&D (et al) history
The earliest buttons in my collection are made by the company called Hammond Turner and Dickinson (HT&D), a partnership between Samuel Hammond (died 1825), John Turner (died 1840) and John Dickinson (died 1822).
Carl Chinn, Emeritus Professor at the University of Birmingham, wrote (see reference below) “Apprenticeship records for Warwickshire show that Samuel Hammond himself had been apprenticed as a toy maker to James Kempson in Birmingham in 1754. By 1775, he was included in Swinney’s Birmingham Directory as a button maker at 55 Snow Hill.”
The 1781 Bailey’s Northern Directory lists Samuel Hammond, button maker, at 89 Snow Hill and the 1788 entry in the Birmingham District Traders Guide and Residents Directory reads ‘Hammond & Co., Snowhill’.
John Dickinson (see reference below, and note that he spelled his own name variously – it’s not just me!) was born in Chester 21st July 1762. His obituary says that in 1777, at the age of 15, he moved from Chester to Birmingham to become an apprentice to Mr Samuel Hammond, button maker. “During the time of his servitude he conducted himself with so much propriety, and acquired such an ascendancy in the esteem and confidence of his master, that when it expired he was admitted into partnership with him, in connection with another gentleman.”
That must have happened between 1788 and 1793 as the Universal British Directory of Trade for 1793 listing reads ‘Hammond, Turner and Dickenson, button makers, Snow-hill’. The company must have been trading under that name by 1792, when the directory data would have been collected.
Some sources suggest that the company existed in 1717, but I have been unable to establish where that date comes from. A page torn from a company catalogue which is in my custody on a temporary basis says ‘Established 1717’. It is undated, but it must date from the early 20th century as it gives a telephone number, Birmingham 2106, for the company whose name is given as HT&S Ltd and the company became ‘Limited’ in 1903.
Carl Chinn also has a comment on the date. He wrote “On May 11 1870, a descendant of the Turner family* wrote to the Birmingham Daily Post to state that the firm of Hammond, Turner and Sons had been on the Snow Hill site for 99 years. This would accord with the dates when Samuel Hammond began trading there.” *I believe this letter was written by John Pemberton Turner, only son of James.
Whatever the legal niceties, HT&D was probably using that backmark on buttons made in Birmingham from around 1792. Following the deaths of John Dickinson and Samuel Hammond in the early 1820s the company was known as Hammond Turner and Sons (HT&S) and was run by John Turner and his two sons, William Hammond Turner and Samuel Hammond Turner. By 1851 all three of these people were dead.
At this point, the company set up a factory in Manchester (Lancashire) in partnership with someone called Bates and was known as Hammond Turner & Bates (HT&B). During the American Civil War the company made some very fine buttons, although I’m sorry that they were for the southern states (the ‘Confederacy’): despite my reservations, I have two examples of these highly collectable buttons in my collection. The name HT&B continued to be used in Yorkshire until at least the late 1880s, but not in connection with button making. (See Directories for a little more information.)
The Birmingham-based company HT&S continued trading into the early 20th century although, after the 1850s, they appear to have made fewer buttons and to have concentrated on ‘other’ metal items, such as those associated with chinaware like cake stands and biscuit barrels. They also made sugar tongs and tea strainers and, from the 1870s, had a silver hallmark (HTS) which they applied to items like belt buckles.
A limited company Hammond Turner & Sons was established in 1903 and the company’s assets were eventually sold to at least one company making similar products.