At the recent Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage, it was announced that a small purchase had been made and donated to Archives & Collections, Library of Birmingham and this blog is to inform people about the item.
It is an invitation ticket to an exhibition of paintings at Everitt and Hill, art dealers, on New Street, on 18 August [c.1860], (reference number MS 4869 Accession 2017/ 007). The invitation was to James Baldwin and the paintings he was invited to view were:
James Watt and his First Steam Engine by Lauder R.S.A.
Shakespeare and Milton by John Faed
The Wanderer’s Return by Henry O’Neill
Broken Vows by Philip Calderon
It was, of course, the first item which attracted the attention of the FoBAH Committee.
A younger brother of artist Robert Scott Lauder, he was born at Silvermills, Edinburgh, the fifth and youngest son of John Lauder of Silvermills (proprietor of the great tannery there) by his spouse Helen Tait. Under the guidance and encouragement of his elder brother Robert, he rapidly developed an early love of art.
He attended Edinburgh Academy from 1824 to 1828. He joined Robert in Italy in 1834, and remained there nearly four years. Upon his return to Edinburgh he became an annual contributor to the Exhibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy, and exhibited occasionally at the Royal Academy in London, where his works attracted much attention.
In 1839 he was elected an associate, and in 1846 became full member, of the Royal Scottish Academy. The painting of James Watt and the Steam Engine: the Dawn of the Nineteenth Century, 1855, is said to be one of his principal works.
The painting is now held in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.
James Baldwin was a successful businessman who had a paper making works on Sherborne Street, Birmingham. To expand the business, he developed a steam-driven paper making works on Lifford Lane, Kings Norton, which he had purchased c. 1850. He called the new works Sherborne Mill. It was conveniently situated at the junction of the Stratford and Worcester canals, offering an easy supply of coal and raw materials as well as easy distribution of the finished paper. The mill also recycled waste paper. The main products of the mill were brown paper for wrapping and blue paper for bags. It also made gun wadding. Baldwin was an active campaigner for the abolition of the heavy excise duty on paper which was eventually repealed in 1862. He was a self-made man who lived at Breedon House and was Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1853 – 1854.
In the 20th century, the mill buildings were converted to hold the Patrick Collection of vintage cars. It is now called the Lakeside Centre and the Lombard Rooms.
There are a few other records in Archives and Collections relating to James Baldwin:
Conveyance of property in Kings Norton 1850
MS 3398/2 (Birmingham MSS C/1 387120)
A letter to the Rt. Hon. Lord John Russell, Prime Minister on the evil effects of the excise laws on the paper from James Baldwin of the Sherborne paper mill Birmingham. 25 June 1848. 12 pp.
Birmingham Miscellaneous D/5 63678
Typescript copy of the above.
Deeds relating to Moseley estate. 1861-1865.