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Image showing pattern books used at the Soho foundry

Pattern books

Within the Archives of Soho there are several large volumes containing the patterns for much of what Boulton and his partners sold. At some point after the death of Matthew Robinson Boulton in 1842 pattern books from Boulton & Fothergill, M. Boulton (Firm) and M. Boulton & Plate Co. were acquired by the silversmiths and electro-platers Elkington & Co. These pattern books were cut up and rearranged into 8 new volumes, and eventually were acquired by the Library and added to the Archives of Soho. Their patterns cover everything from candlesticks and lamp stands, to dishes, cruet stands and toast racks, to tea pots, jugs and decanters, and even urn designs. Many of the items were clearly for wealthy customers, such as sugar bowls, for those who could afford the luxury of sugar, and illustrious ink well sets.

These pattern books were such an important part of the work at Soho Foundry that the pattern store buildings were expanded twice, in 1799 and 1809. The latter almost doubled the existing storage space. [B&W Misc Portf Box 8; fig 35 Demidowicz, Soho Foundry] The pattern books were also possibly used as a reference source by those outside of the business, as a letter from Charles Dick of Birmingham to Matthew Robinson Boulton requests the loan of a pattern book so as to fulfil a specific order on the continent. [Letter. Charles Dick (Birmingham) to Matthew Robinson Boulton (Soho). 29 Mar. 1814. MS 3782/13/9/130]

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