G.E. Lewis Company - Company Archives

Object Title

G.E. Lewis Company - Company Archives

G.E. Lewis Company - Company Archives

Date

1872-1946

Reference

LEW 1

Level

Collection

Scope and Content

Bound volumes:, 1. Five ledgers of gun production from serial number 2501 to 16920, containing full, hand-written descriptions of shotguns and rifles, 2. Eighteen domestic day books covering the period 15th May 1872 to 5th April 1946, 3. Five foreign day books covering the period 14th January 1885 to 9th October 1936, 4. Six shooting ledgers containing pattern plate and zeroing details for shotguns and rifles within the serial number range 7001 to 16742, 5. Loose leaf file containing - rebarrelling charges 1959- 1961, 'Gun and New Barrels engraved by Wilde' 1946-1964, 'Barrel Browning by Pickering (later Floyd)' 1944-1962, 'Lemlin Jobs' 1951-1959, Box 1:, G.E. Lewis Senior's Will, made on the 1st May 1888, deceased 17th January 1917, Account of G.E. Lewis' estate following his death, 1917, G.E. Lewis II's Death Certificate, dated 5th August 1949, Copy of G.E. Lewis III's Will, made on 20th May 1984, Front-piece of a Bible, 'The Family Register', listing births in the Lewis family from 7th December 1859 to 7th April 1867 and includes G.E. Lewis II's birth on 5th November 1861, Official document, 'Agreement as to the alteration of the name or style under which the business of the said G.E. Lewis should be carried on', dated June 1908. Relating to when G.E. Lewis Junior took over the running of the company, Tenancy Agreement drawn up between the Trustees of the Birmingham General Hospital and G.E. Lewis Senior to provide consent to manufacture goods at 32 and 33 Lower Loveday Street, 1930, Four slightly differing copies of a 'Schedule and Valuation of No. 32 and 33 Lower Loveday Street', dated 1923. G.E. Lewis' obituary states that he erected premises at Lower Loveday Street when he began the company in 1850 [Douglas Tate, Birmingham Gunmakers (Long Beach, California: Safari Press Ltd., 1997), p. 79], while 'other sources' say 1859 [inc. Nigel Brown, British Gunmakers: Volume 2- Birmingham, Scotland & the Regions, (Shrewsbury: Quiller Press, 2005), pp. 43-44], The Trade Marks Act 1905-1919 and a pamphlet on 'Instructions to Persons who wish to Register Trade Marks', Certificate of Registration as Firearms Dealer, certified to George Edward and Constance Mary Lewis, signed on 1st June 1986, Metal oval framed (from A.G.Bolwell, 8 George St. Bath) of the same elderly man as in the photograph listed as number 34, Unframed reprint of older photograph showing a younger man. Identified as the son of G.E. Lewis Junior, another G.E. Lewis who took over the business in the 1950s and ran it until his death in 1988, standing in the gun room of the Lower Lovestreet premises just before the First World War [Tate, 1997, p. 79], Box 2:, Stock record, 1936 to 1941, Stock Record, 1952 to 1970, Annual Balance Sheets and Trading Accounts, 1923-26, 1928, 1930, 1933-35, 1944, 1954, 1965, and 1985, Register of debts due to the estate of G.E. Lewis, earliest entry 1912, latest 1916, Register of 'Hammerless ejectors', beginning September 1935, Box 3:, Index of names, possibly customers, Two Shooting Registers, commencing from serial number 14321 and serial number 16251, Cartridge loading book, entries dating from 26th January to 31st March 1941, Gun Register, commencing January 1928, Six examples of blank 'Advice as to Reproof' slips, Six examples of letterheads headed with 'Guns and Rifle Works, 32 and 33 Lower Loveday Str. 188_', Six examples of illustrated letterheads, headed with company's name and a list of international exhibitions exhibited at, date '190_', Six examples of letterheads identical to those above printed on pink paper, Six examples of illustrated leaflets on the 'Directions for Measurements' of a gun, Six examples of larger illustrated leaflets, also on the 'Directions for Measurements' of a gun, Three laminated cards on the 'Gun of the Period', Leaflet on 'Baker's Under Gun', Leaflet on The Webley Service Air Rifle Mark II, Pamphlet on the 'Component Parts: Automatic Colt Pistol', Illustrated order form for shot gun cartridges, A3 poster advertising air guns and canes, includes price list, Three examples of illustrated gun case rifle labels, Approximately ten rifle shooting targets, illustrated on the back, some with information about the rifle used. According to Tate, the 'company took a special pride in the patterns produced by its guns' [Douglas Tate, Birmingham Gunmakers (Long Beach, California: Safari Press Ltd., 1997), p. 84], Six examples of 'Hollis' Guns leaflets detailing a Double barrelled Breech-loading gun, Six examples of 'The Ariel - light weight 12 bores' leaflet, Six examples of 'New Model Side Lock Ejector for Coming Season' leaflet, Six examples of small G. E. Lewis business cards, Six examples of larger G. E. Lewis business cards illustrated with an image of the factory at 32 and 33 Lower Loveday Street, Two business cards with 'Mr G. E. Lewis', Four business cards for other business, including 'A. Moss, Baddesley Collieries', 'F.J. Butterworth, General Factor and Automobile Agent', 'Samt Buckley, Steel and Damascus Gun Barrels' and 'Wilcox and Lines, Makers of all kinds of Crest Plates and Thumb Pieces', Three examples of price tags for guns, Blank invoice from Eley Bros. Ltd, Label for guns delivered/transported by train with G.E. Lewis' letterhead, Hand written letter on G.E. Lewis '190_' stationary, address to an unnamed 'Sir' asking for a late payment, Reprint of an article from Country Life (12th September, 1925) by Palmetto, Florida, USA on Magnum 12 Bore Wildfowl guns, Box 4:, Folder containing copies of proposed catalogue illustrations of duck shooting and a copy of the accompanying letter from the artist Kenny Coleman, possibly also the artist of the original sketches listed below, Four, roughly A4 sized ink sketches depicting men and dogs out hunting, with notes about resizing in the margins, Seven small pencil and ink sketches of birds, dogs and men hunting (one of a man shooting pheasant, with a black dog is a reduced version of one of the larger sketches mentioned above), Three larger ink sketches of birds with details of re-sizing in margins, Letter from G.E. Lewis III to John Hollis including six small drawings commission for catalogues, 16cm x 31cm ink sketch of ducks flying, signed 'F.W.M.', 14cm x 32cm ink sketch of pheasants, covered with tissue paper, 20cm x 45cm ink sketch of men shooting pheasants, entitled 'A good light and lift', Two sketches of lined paper, labelled 'No. 1' and 'No.2 and No.3', depicting layout of designs for gun handles- almost identical designs are visible on the handles of 'The Gun of the Period' in the laminated cards listed as number 18, Letter from the Director of Aircraft Equipment at the War Office enquiring about suitable guns for pigeon shooting, dated 19th October 1916, Receipt of Wartime Grant, signed by A. Musgrave, Senior Registrar, A series of correspondence of about 15 pages between the War Office and G.E. Lewis between June and January 1916 regarding licenses to export guns abroad, Approx. 25 licenses for various guns, Two copies of 'A Memorandum for the Information of the Holders of Licenses, Insurance Policy, 'Guardian Assurance & Trust Company of Port Elizabeth, Cape of Good Hope', for two boxes of Cartridges and one case of Rifles to the sum of fifty pounds, Letter from a Postmaster Surveyor in Liverpool regarding G.E. Lewis' enquiries about posting guns abroad, dated 21st October 1916, Copies of official arms related documents, including The Munitions of War Act 1915, Newspaper clipping of a page from the Daily Telegraph dated 8th September 1896 with an article circled entitled 'Tradesmen and Royal Arms', Newspaper clipping backed on card entitled 'Breech-loaders and Muzzle-loads on sale' with a hand written date of 1872, Three newspaper clippings backed on one piece of card from the Illustrated London News from 1904, Correspondence from Fs. Dumoulin & Cie, including a letter about supplying stock to G.E. Lewis, dated 3rd September 1937, an invoice for ú11.17 dated 20th November 1936 and a blank invoice, Typed letter, both sender and receiver unknown, replying to enquiry about postage catalogues, Serial numbers written on the back on an envelope address to 'Lewis Gunmakers' post marked 1956, Slip with serial numbers written on, stapled to the back of an advertisement for 'R.J. Richardson', Box 5:, Four smaller copper printing plates, Approx. 35 barrel stamps, Approx. 100 stencils for numerals, letters and barrel flat markings, Stencil of 'G.E. Lewis Gunmakers', Two stamps and ink pad, Box 6:, Four smaller copper printing plates, 19 copper and wood printing blocks of guns, pheasants and letterheads, Box 7:, Six modern reproduction G.E. Lewis business cards, Six modern letterheads, Six modern business cards, Six modern 'With compliments' notes, Six modern gun case labels, Six modern leaflets 'The Gun of the Period', Three A4 modern copies of the image on the large copper printing plate listed above- one black and white and two colour copies, Two modern packages for cartridges and six modern dummy cartridge shells, Modern apron printed with company logo, Box 8:, Catalogues and price lists from 1881/82 to 1898/99, Box 9:, Catalogues and prices lists from 1899/1900 to 1906/07, Box 10:, Catalogues and prices lists from 1907/08 to 1916/17, Box 11:, Catalogues and prices lists from 1920/21 to 1936, Box 12:, Abridged lists 1921 to 1941, Two sheets of typed office copies of prices for 1948 and 1949, Box 13:, Rifle and Revolver Catalogue, Special List of Shop Soiled Rifles, Second Hand Guns, Catalogue in Hindu/Urdu (?), not dated, Catalogue in French- 'Le Fusil de la Periode', not dated, Box 14:, Various punch stamps, Framed items:, 1. Framed modern reprint of an older photograph of elderly man at a desk, identified as G.E. Lewis Senior in catalogue front-pieces, 2. Framed modern reprint of younger man at a desk, 3. Framed photographic portrait of a man, 4. Framed black and white photograph of a group of men, presumably the staff of G.E. Lewis, 5. Framed paper remembrance plaques for John Lewis, died 1st December 1868 and Elizabeth Lewis (John's wife), died 1st July 1867, 6. Framed certificate from the Exposition Universelle 1878, Paris for 'Une mention honrable' for 'Monsieur G.E. Lewis, dated 21st October 1878, 7. Framed certificate from the Calcutta International Exhibition 1883-1884 for 'Certificate of Merit of the 4th Class', dated 7th June 1884, 8. Framed certificate from the Patents Office for the registration of patents for trademarks and designs, dated 17 January 1885, 9. Framed certificate from the Birmingham Exhibition 1886 'acknowledging the efficient services rendered by Mr G.E. Lewis Jr, 10. Framed certificate from the Birmingham Exhibition 1886 for contributing as an exhibitor, 11. Framed insurance agreement under 'Lloyd's Fire Policy' to insure, for the sum of one hundred pounds, a show case and its contents, signed on the 1 December 1886, photograph of the relevant show case is mounted next to it in the same frame, 12. Framed page from a letter written in Rome, dated 29 September 1888, from artist Kenny Coleman seeking a commission with original sketch of the proposed painting, 13. Framed collection of G.E. Lewis Gunmakers Display Tickets 1890-1900, 14. Framed photocopy of an image on green paper taken from the large copper printing plate (see below), Large copper printing plate, illustrated with stags, lions and a man with two dogs, entitled 'G. E. Lewis, Gun & Rifle Maker, 32 & 33 Lower Loveday Street Birmingham, For Home & Exportation'

Extent

14 boxes, 34 volumes, 14 framed items, and 1 large copper printing plate

Access Conditions

Open access

Administrative / Biographical History

George Edward Lewis was born in Birmingham on the 23rd January 1829 and, on leaving school, was apprenticed into the gun trade. Here he learnt of all branches of the trade and started up in business very soon after being passed fit as a gunmaker in 1850. His first premises were in Bath Street where, at that time, he specialised in engraving. However, he is recorded as moving the business to Lower Loveday Street in 1859 where he was registered as a gun, rifle and pistol maker. Sometime before 1873 he also enjoyed outlets in London, including one at 172 Strand but these were all of fairly short duration. The company was to remain in Lower Loveday Street for well over one hundred years before that area was redeveloped and lost forever. Lewis senior is probably best remembered for his trademark shotgun known as 'The Gun of the Period' which was of good quality and available in both hammer and hammerless forms. Like many of his peers Lewis earned medals by attending the lavish exhibitions of the period and he gained several Gold Medals as well as diplomas and honours for his products at numerous domestic and foreign events. Following his death in 1917 the title of the firm passed to his sons; E.C. and another G.E. Lewis. The former was a noted marksman of the time and undertook the regulated of all guns and rifles while his brother ran the company proper. The brothers were good businessmen and were engaged in War Office contracts and well as being quite early advocates of magnum chambered small bores, the latter may well have been for a burgeoning overseas market. E.C. Lewis had two sons and the elder, E.V. Lewis, was to become an accomplished shot and served with honour during the Great War. The younger sibling and his grand father's namesake, G.E. Lewis was to take the reins of the family firm which he ran until his death in 1988, aged 83. He had also been appointed a Guardian of the Birmingham Proof House in 1951. The company was then acquired by John Harris, a stocker of some repute, who had carried out much work for George Lewis as well as being able to count him as a friend. Harris was to move the company to Price Street and then to Halesowen before reluctantly putting the company up for sale in 2003 when it was purchased by the vendor. [Holt's Auctioneers, Catalogue archive]

Associations

Creator(s) G E. Lewis