This blog post is concerned with the trade catalogue collection held in the Archives & Heritage section of Birmingham Central Library. The collection reflects the wide and varied industrial heritage of the city and surrounding periphery.
We have trade catalogues, brochures, pamphlets and ephemera spanning from the 19th – 21st century; early local patents from 1722 – 1866; local trade business cards from the 18th century and local company reports from the mid 20th century.
Our huge collection typically consists of material from well known established local companies such as B.S.A, G.K.N, G.E.C, W.T Avery, Cadburys, Chance Brothers, Dunlop, Webley and Scott, Lucas Clapshaw & Cleeve Limited, Tonks (Birmingham) Limited, Ingall, Parsons, Clive & Co, Robert Mansell & Son, Bullpitt & Son (Swan Houseware), Belliss & Morcom, Benton & Stone, British Resisting Heat Glass Company, Burman and Sons, Huxley Barton & Sons, Levis Motorcycles, Dale Forty & Co. W.T French & Son Ltd, Eley Brothers, Thomas Fattorini, Fisher & Ludlow, Lee Longlands, Austin Motors, Barrows Stores Limited, Jones & Willis, Clement Heeley, Hockley Chemical Company. Ltd, Hoskins, James Neale & Sons, Charles Obsorne, Parker Winder & Achurch, Rudge Cycle Co. Limited, William Cooper & Son, Samuel Booth plus many more.
The Birmingham Collection, our principal printed bookstock collection providing an account of the cultural and historic development of the city, contains texts on specific local businesses plus histories of particular trades associated with the area.
The trade catalogue collection is a valuable cultural asset and to protect it from damage or loss, holdings are served via a controlled environment in our archival searchroom which adheres to conditions of access found at archival record offices.
The trade catalogue collection still receives gifts and donations made chiefly by the public who contact us from far and wide across the globe, reinforcing Birmingham’s once proud status as ‘Workshop of the World’.
Staff are currently engaged in creating an online presence for the trade catalogue collection via our archival catalogue system, CalmView which can be located via the new Library of Birmingham website at and it is hoped some entries will be accessible in this format come the opening in September 2013.
To accompany our trade catalogues , we retain local trade directories such as The Sketchley Birmingham Directory of 1767, which is one of the oldest surviving trade directories for the city. However, the Kelly’s trade directory series running from 1878 – 1974 is the most popular resource used by our service users. Other miscellaneous trade directories titles held in Archives & Heritage Service include: Pigot, Bisset, Grand National, Bailey Western And Midland, Holden’s Triennial, Wrighton and Webb, Slater’s, Hulley’s, Morris and Co, Shadler’s, White’s, Post Office, Corporation, Harrison and Harrod and Co.
Thank you, Al Barrett.