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PEAL AND COMPANY LIMITED {BOOTMAKERS}

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4454
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/Pages/ ›
Full title: PEAL AND COMPANY LIMITED {BOOTMAKERS}
Date(s): 1811-1964
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 30.72 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Peal and Company | boot makers

Context

Administrative/Biographical history:

Peal and Company, boot makers, produced bespoke footwear for 174 years, between 1791 and 1965. The founder of the family firm was Samuel Peal, a shoe maker from Wirksworth, Derbyshire who came to London and established himself at Stepney Green. Peal had taken out a patent for rendering clothing materials waterproof by finely brushing them with a coat of caoutchouc, Indian rubber solution. The process quickly proved its worth, Peal's boots and shoes becoming renowned for their comfort and durability. The success of their products allowed the firm to relocate to the more prestigious West End, at 7 Frederick Place, Tottenham Court Road. Further moves took place in 1830 to 11 Duke Street, Grosvenor Square; in 1886 to 487 Oxford Street and finally in 1958 to 48 Wigmore Street.

In the course of its 174 year history, control of Peal and Company passed through six generations of the Peal family. The second incumbent, Nathaniel Peal was apprenticed in April 1808 and went on to display a selection of boots at the Great Exhibition of 1851. A century later, Peal and Co.'s products were shown at the Festival of Britain exhibition. The firm also had trade stands at the Badminton, Burghley and Hickstead horse trials, and at the Royal International Horse Show and Horse of the Year Show. Attending such prestigious events helped Peal and Company attain a reputation that was second to none.

This reputation was also earned by the salesmen who, from the 1880s onwards, travelled extensively throughout North and South American, Europe, Asia and the Far East. They succeeded in winning an enormous number of foreign orders and by the 1960s around two-thirds of the footwear produced went to export. In addition to taking measurements, the salesmen made outline drawings of every customer's feet. These were kept in a series of Feet Books that now form the bulk of this archive collection, with 617 of the books available for consultation. The books were extensively used in the firm's shop as well as by the travelling salesmen. A list of some of the interesting and famous customers is given at the end of this introduction.

Orders were posted or telegraphed back to the firm's factory in Jeddo Road, Acton Vale, with delivery of the finished shoes generally taking around 6 weeks. Unfortunately, in its last few years Peal and Company had great difficulty in replacing skilled craftsmen who had retired or left the firm. This led to longer delivery times and to the eventual demise of the firm. Upon closure, the trading name was sold to Brooks Brothers of New York, who still produce a range of traditional English-style footwear marketed under the Peal banner.

Content

Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Peal and Company, bootmakers, 1811-1964. The collection consists of 660 items, 40 of which are administrative records such as account books and ledgers. The remaining 620 volumes are 'Feet Books' recording each order and usually containing an outline drawing of the customer's feet. Every book includes 150 orders and was given a running number. The earliest surviving book is no. 23 from the 1870s and the last is no. 1002 from shortly before the firm closed in 1965.

Selected list of customers:
Academics:
Hugh Trevor-Roper 543 (822) page 42
Art Dealer/Gallery Proprietor:
Sir Hugh Lane 02/096 (371) page 95
Actors/Film Industry:
Frank Allenby 02/503 (781) page 53
George Arliss 02/052 (327) page 68
Adele Astaire (later Lady Charles Cavendish) 02/366 (644) page 142
Fred Astaire 02/260 (538) page 64 &
Mrs F E Astaire 02/366 (644) page 142
Joan Barry 02/495 page 94
Ethel Barrymore 02/038 (313) page 68,
John Barrymore 02/038 (313) page 56.
Humphrey Bogart & Mrs H Bogart (Lauren Bacall) 02/618 (999) pages 33 - 34
Herbert B Brill, producer 02/620 (1002) page 68
Sir Charles Chaplin 02/231 (509) page 49.
Gary Cooper 02/610 (992) page 42
Mrs Walt Disney 02/399 (677) page 35
William Dozier, actor/producer 02/559 (838) page 37
Edward Dymtryk, director 02/495 (773) page 94
Sir Douglas Fairbanks 02/373 (651) page 74
Henry Fonda 02/620 (1002) page 108
James Garner 02/597 (880) page 126
Cary Grant 02/558 (837) page 87
Rex Harrison 02/576 (857) page 7
Van Heflin 02/524 (802) page 60
Boris Karloff 02/433 (711) page 42
Steve McQueen 02/592 (874) page 26
John Mills 02/483 (761) page 42
David Niven 02/580 (861) page 32
Sir Laurence Olivier 02/526 (804) page 80
Charles Buddy Rogers 02/415 (693) page 33, actor/jazz musician, husband of Mary Pickford
Mrs Rudolph Valentino 02/541 (263) page 102, actress Jean Acker
Sam Wanamaker 02/610 (992) page 76
Jane Wyman 02/613 (995) page 14
Bankers:
N Hambro, Coldham Hall, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, 02/390 (668) page 139.
Guy de Rothschild 02/392 (670) page 151 and Mrs Guy de Rothschild 02/421 (699). page 1
Industrialists & Engineers:
Miss Irving J Bloomingdale 02/240 (518) page 89
Mrs Gilbert Colgate 02/361 (639) page 20
Henry Ford II and Mrs H Ford 02/613 (995) pages 26 - 27
Mrs Wallace Goodrich 02/399 (677) page 122
R Noel Guinness 02/263 (541) page 32
Howard Heinz 02/330 (608) page 38
Faith Rockefeller 02/301 (579) pages 4 and 5
Gladys Rockefeller 02/341 (619) page 131
Edgar Saunders, Chairman, Guinness 02/541 (820) page 39
Richard W Woolworth 02/614 (996) page 103
Military:
Field Marshall Lord Allenbrooke 02/012 (287) page 17
Air Vice Marshall Playfair 02/406 (684) page 71.
Col. Frank Shuttleworth, Old Warden Park, Biggleswade 02/013 (288) page 1
Musicians/Singers:
Eddie Fisher, singer 02/565 (844) page 137
Edward German, composer 02/034 (309) page 126
Benny Goodman 02/614 (996) page 19
Dean Martin, singer/actor 02/585 (867) page 93
Jehudi Menuhin 02/594 (877) page 2
Dickie Valentine 02/578 (860) page 26
Photographers:
Richard Avedon 02/555 (834) page 37
Walker Evans 02/520 (798) page 100
Politicians - UK:
Lady Violet Bonham Carter nee Asquith, 40 Gloucester Sq., Liberal politician 02/453
Mrs Neville Chamberlain 02/027 (302)
Rt Hon Sir Anthony Eden KG 02/489 (767) page 81
Politicians - foreign:
Dean G Acheson, US Secretary of State, 02/499 (777) page 109
Barry Goldwater, Senator (Republican presidential candidate) 02/591 (873) page 54
Edward L Kennedy 02/594 (877) page 5
John F Kennedy 02/568 (847) page 102
Mr Marx of Berlin c/o Dr W Smith, West Lodge, West End Lane, Hampstead, 02/003 (023) page 142
Col. Elliott Roosevelt, son of FDR & Eleanor 02/466 (748) page 112
Theodore Roosevelt 02/036 (311) page 54
Publishers:
Conde Nast 02/250 (528) page 104
Royals and Aristocrats - UK:
HM King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, 02/414 (692) page 4
Hon F Bowes-Lyon, brother of the Queen Mother 02/087 (362) page 79
F J Bowes-Lyon, Grenadier Guards 02/417 (695) page 57
Lady Rosemary Spencer Churchill 02/526 (804) page 22
Lord Louis Mountbatten 02/212 (490) page 40 & 02/336 (614) page 99
Lord Petre 02/499 (777) page 1
Duke of Westminster 02/541 (820) page 18
Royals and Aristocrats - foreign:
Prince Aga Khan 02/013 (288) page 57
Princess Eugene of Belgium 02/299 (577) page 17
King of the Hellenes (Greece) 02/409 (687) page 94.
Crown Princess of Greece 02/418 (696) page 111
Prince Nicholas of Greece 02/047 (322) page 23
Prince Peter of Greece 02/439 (717) page 121
Crown Prince Constantine of Greece 02/575 (856) page 86
Crown Princess of Japan 02/299 (577) page 92
King & Crown Prince of Norway 02/427 (705) page 78
Prince Christian of Schleswig Holstein 02/049 (324) page 87
Crown Prince of Sweden 02/285 (564) page 40
Queen Marie of Yugoslavia 02/555 (834) page 147
Sportsmen:
J H Parks 02/401 (679) page 15 cricketer, Surrey and England

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English

System of arrangement:

This collection is arranged in the following series: LMA/4454/01 - Administration LMA/4454/02 - Customer Orders.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at: http://search.lma.gov.uk/opac_lma/index.htm

Archival Information

Archival history:

The records were originally deposited with the British Records Association early in 1965 before transfer to the Greater London Record Office in December of the same year.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1965 (BRA 1428).

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

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