Ann Banks Pencils – Part 2 of 2

This is part 2 of a post on Ann Banks pencils.  The first part can be found here and I suggest you start there if you haven’t read it already.

So to recap from part 1, Ann Banks had lost her court case trying to stop another partner of Banks & Co using the Banks name in his new venture.  This paved the way for the confusing situation where there would be two Banks & Co pencil makers from Keswick operating at the same time.

Instead, Ann Banks elected to manufacture pencils under her own name.  Therefore, I believe that the Banks & Co pencils in the picture above are actually the ‘other’ Banks & Co (i.e. not Ann).

They could technically be pencils made by Ann before she changed to her own name, or pencils made when the first Banks & Co existed, however, they are dated 1905 on the other side, so I think the best bet is they were Gibson made Banks & Co.

Jenkinson’s Practical Guide to the English Lake District 1875 has one of the earliest advertisements I could find referring to Ann Banks branching out on her own after the end of Banks & Co.

Inviting tourists and potential purchasers in to the factory was a technique employed by a number of the Keswick manufacturers.  One of the perks of attending the factory was that you could purchase pencils with your ‘name put on in a few minutes’ –  a bit like this perhaps…

I came across these two pencils in a market stall in London. The seller had no other pencils and seemed surprised they were there too.  Clearly he had forgotten about them and made up the price on the spot.  Luckily for us both it was a price that I was happy to pay for this rare pair.  Nice to keep them as a set after all this time too.

I can’t be sure which maker put these together as there is no brand stamped on the pencil.  I’d be inclined to say Hogarth & Hayes when I compare them to others in my collection, but they could quite as easily be from a ‘Banks’ entity.  The square core and ‘trough and lid’ style construction is very ‘Keswick 1800s’.

Saying that, I have seen pencils like this before (they tend to come in a set of two) that have round cores.  The finish on the round core versions was not quite as nice, so perhaps they also made these personalised pencils in various price brackets.

Also, that is not a crack in the end cap you see in the picture above, its a natural colour difference.  I think the end caps are made of bone given that we are pre-plastic at this stage in time.

The pencil above has the same Ann Banks stamping as the pencils in part 1, however as you can see, it has some additional ‘tourist’ stamping on the other side.  I like the fact that this example had to have been bought directly from the factory, it adds a certain nostalgia to it.

On Saturday 12 November 1887, the West Cumberland Times reported that Ann Banks had sold up and the new purchasers intended to incorporate the business as a limited company to become ‘Ann Banks Limited’.

So the Ann Banks name would stay, but at this point it looks like Ann is no longer involved.

The Ann Banks Limited pencils do not look unlike the Ann Banks pencils and they still retain the square cores. However, there are a couple of small differences worth pointing out.

Firstly, they have elected to add a model number – number 42.  I can’t imagine there were 42 variations of pencil at this stage; I wonder what the point of this was.

Secondly, they have rather cool fully finished tops, in other words, the lead does not go all the way through the pencil.  This is really something quite unusual to see.

Interestingly, this advertisement published on Saturday 21 May 1892 in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald still refers to A Banks.  It appears that even though Ann was no longer involved, the new company owners were keen to keep the history of the company as part of their advertisements.

By 1893, a mere 6 years since the formation of Ann Banks Limited, the business was up for sale again.

The announcement was made within the West Cumberland Times on Wednesday 22 February.  I’ve decided to keep the article whole, but I’ve also included the advertisement above it.

I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the parrots, but I found it pretty entertaining.  Whats the difference between a ‘good’ parrot and a ‘not-good’ parrot, and what was the parrot to canary ratio I wonder?

With the small window of production, pencils with Ann Banks Limited stamping have a certain amount of rarity to them.  The example below was clearly made in 1888, which would put it in the first year of production.

As with most company news, the winding up of Ann Banks Limited was published in the Gazette on 9 may 1893.

Things move a little quickly here.  It looks like following the winding up of Ann Banks Limited, the chairman, Mumberson, continued the business under Ann Banks and Partners.  This appears that this happened straight away as the advertising in the English Lakes Visitor from Saturday 07 October 1893 includes the new branding.

However, on Wednesday 10 October 1894 the West Cumberland Times advertised the sale of Ann Banks & Partners’ premises and contents.

On Saturday 3 November 1894, the Maryport Advertiser reported that Reuben Mumberson (a name we have come across before above) had purchased the assets of Ann Banks & Partners.

However it wasn’t to be for the continued life of Ann Banks & Partners as it would appear that Mumberson swiftly dissolved the partnership.

The Gazette published the announcement, but it was also mentioned in the Liverpool Mercury on Monday 12 November 1894.  So what happened, was it not a viable business?  Well this doesn’t appear to be the case and in fact it looks like Mumberson simply got a better offer for the assets.

In 1894 Hogarth & Hayes bought what remained of Ann Banks & Partners.  This was something that Hogarth & Hayes were clearly proud of as they continued to highlight this point in advertisements many years later, such as this example from the English Lakes Visitor of 5 August 1899.

If you have an interest in reading some more about Keswick, it might be worth taking a read of my post on Hogarth & Hayes here as a sort of sister post to this one.  It’s nice to see that they kept the reference to Ann Banks in their adverts.

In case you were wondering, the two cover images for both parts of this post were taken from the Illustrated Magazine of Art December 1853 issue.  This issue featured a long article about the pencil making techniques at the Joseph Banks factory, but from my research, the techniques employed when Ann took over remained largely the same.

7 thoughts on “Ann Banks Pencils – Part 2 of 2

Add yours

  1. Ann Banks was my great great great grandmother and I’m very proud of her achievements. I was very interested to see you had some of her original pencils. I was wondering how you went about finding them as I would like to have one myself to keep in the family from the time she ran the business.


    1. Hi Helen
      That’s really neat that Ann Banks was your relative. Do you have any pictures of her? I couldn’t find one during my research.
      In terms of finding them, they are definitely tricky to come across. I’ve seen a couple come up on eBay once but it’s rare for sure.
      You could get in touch with the Cumberland Pencil Museum as well, they might be able to point you in the right direction


  2. Dave, thanks very much for this feature on Ann Banks. I stumbled across iyour blog while researching the Banks family, who were first cousins of my Pearson ancestors, who emigrated to Canada. It’s remarkable that Ann would take up her husband’s business, and in competition with his old partner, no less. If this was not enough, it seems her brand became as popular as the original, and lasted for more than 20 years after her death in 1871!


    1. Thanks Greg!
      Ann Banks has been one of my favourite pencil makers to research, such an impressive character. I’ve been lucky enough to find a nice selection of examples of Banks pencils, but they are normally very hard to track down. With any luck more will appear in time and I’ll get to add them here!


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