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Papier Mache


Henry Clay

Henry Clay was an assistant to one of the pioneers in papier mache by the name of John Baskerville who started to imitate the highly polished items, that were being imported from Japan, using lacquered papier mache. Which would become known as "japanning". By 1772 Clay had learned enough to start up his own business and in the same year patented a new process for making "paper ware" which involved sheets of paper being soaked in paste and pressed together on a plate. Once separated from the plate they were baked in a hot stove to remove any flexibility, whilst at the same time being coated in varnish or oil. The final product was used like wood, and once coated with colour and oils could be polished to a high shine. Around 1785 Henry Clay acquired a retail premises in London's Covent Garden. George III was one of his patrons by 1792 and Clay adopted the title "Japanner to His Majesty."


Jennens & Bettridge

Aaron Jennens and T.H. Bettridge acquired Henry Clays workshops in 1816 and continued the manufacture papier mache items until 1864. They were based in Birmingham, but opened branches in London and eventually Paris and New York.
By the 1850s Jennens & Bettridge were known as the foremost papier mache producers and were appointed manufacturers to King George IV, William IV and Prince Albert.


Spiers & Son

Richard James Spiers was born in Oxford in 1806. In 1835 he established a shop, selling "fancy good and articles of virtu", at 102 High Street, Oxford. The shop soon became well known for its Papier-mache souvenirs which were "ornamented with views of every college & public building in Oxford". This success meant Spiers could extend the shop to include 103 High Street. After his death the business was continued by his sons, Samuel and Frank.


Thomas Lane

Thomas Lane was a papier mache manufacturer of Greater Hampton Street, Birmingham. He also had showrooms in Birmingham and London which would sell a wide variety of papier mache items, many of which would be decorated with patent pearl glass and gem painted glass.