William Sugg & Co


Introduction to Publications.

William Sugg was convinced of the importance of promoting his products and the business produced vast numbers of leaflets, brochures, fliers and booklets over his lifetime. He gave lectures which were printed and distributed and wrote several significant books. Even his wife, Marie Jenny Sugg, whose father was a chef in Paris, wrote an excellent cookery book liberally illustrated with the Company’s products.

Publications, especially the leaflets and throw away items are the part of a business that is the ephemera not intended to survive. Why else would there be yearly reprints for instance. So the survival of the ephemera is either by chance or through a deliberate policy of collection. Eventually the ephemera becomes collectable and can be quite valuable for its rarity. In addition for historians, it can provide information not available anywhere else.

In the case of the ephemera of William Sugg & Co it was almost certainly because of the long service of the staff. The sales department and what would now be called the marketing department who designed the publications along with the artist who made the illustrations were proud of their work. Several large books of printers proofs were kept to check and approve the illustrations and wording. In addition the longevity of the products themselves that developed steadily over time meant that it was useful for the sales department to keep out of date copies so they could remind themselves of the changes and even advise customers how much improvement had taken place. You will see in the collection of lighting catalogues in ‘literature‘ that have survived how Mr FC Elton was determined that no-one should take his copies by writing his name right across the cover!

Finally, of course, the fact that the business remained in one place for such a long time would have meant that there were plenty of places for the ephemera to have been left untouched for years. After the final move to Crawley in the 60’s Percy Daw who was responsible for many wonderful illustrations was able to put on an exhibition of the ephemera for the official opening of the extended factory which included many of the items now gracing the pages of this website. So thank you Percy and several other hoarders including my father, Crawford Sugg, for making it possible to provide a unique historical resource for the future.

The section entitled ‘Literature‘ covers the sales catalogues – some of which were even bound sets provided with the relevant dates gold blocked on the spine. I imagine these were for important clients such as the gas companies.

The earliest catalogue sheets appear in two sets that have been bound together and are very delicate. Several of the sheets are printed in red which is a particularly unstable colour that causes the paper to deteriorate. They date from 1885 and frequently refer back many years with phrases such as “EIGHT GOLD MEDALS, for Gas Burners, Lamps, etc., since 1862”.

They are also given List Numbers which continue through the generations of literature.

Books & Papers‘ is a section devoted to the many papers given by William Sugg – and later by others which were reprinted – sometimes following publication in gas journals. The oldest of these is a ‘Paper read before the British Association of Gas Managers on June 2, 1869’, entitled “GAS-BURNERS.”

In addition, this section carries details of the several books written by William Sugg and even probably the very first cookery book on ‘Cooking by Gas’ written by his wife, Marie Jenny Sugg.

The section ‘Advertising‘ covers the actual advertisements, often copied from the magazines and periodicals in which they were printed but also proofs collected in bulging scrap books.

In addition articles relating to important installations or any publication that could be considered ‘promotional’ such as the publication by the Gas Light & Coke Company GLCC on the new Victoria Station and how gas was chosen for this important installation in 1906 against the competition of electricity, subtitled ‘an impressive object lesson’!

The section entitled Patents & Medals’ has been added to show the remarkable quality of the documents that were provided in the Victorian era for the Patents that were valued so highly and the Medals that were considered such an important part of the marketing of the Company.

In order to produce all this literature and promotional material the Company took literally hundreds of photographs and at least two photo albums from 1881 have survived. These photos are so rare that I have copied the whole of both albums to this part of the Publications Section and called it ‘Early Photo Collection.’

Sketch Drawings from 1920’s are two beautifully hand drawn collections of lighting fixtures, both internal and street lighting that were probably part of the decision making process for design or promotion or any process that needed understanding in the development of products.

Copyright © Chris Sugg 2006 onwards

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Site Background & Header

The background to the site is a modern picture of Westminster, the ‘home’ of William Sugg for so many years. It was taken from the roof of The House of Lords during a visit by the Heritage Group of CIBSE in 2004 and centres on Westminster Abbey. The header carries a woodcut of ‘Vincent Works’, the Sugg factory, which might well have been visible from this vantage point. William used this on one of his letter heads. The first and oldest logo also shows the intimate connection with Westminster as it carries the Westminster portcullis with the inscription ‘en avant’ – ‘in advance’. The second logo replaced the earlier one around 1920 and was used right the way through the century until the ‘modern’ era when the ‘flame’ logo was applied to the new era of gas heating equipment with the new factory in Crawley.

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William Sugg & Co