SALESMAN'S samples from bygone days can offer unique reminders of some of our region's old firms, and this one, recently acquired by historian and avid collector Graham Hughes, the man who amassed Molineux's enviable collection of items relating to club and town, is a fine example.
It's a hefty little specimen booklet with a thick cover and a press-stud to secure it, which was produced by Mander Brothers of Wolverhampton, the printer's ink, paint and varnish manufacturer. There's no date visible anywhere on it, but it has the look of being from the early part of the twentieth century. There are a couple of hundred pages in it, which demonstrate the range of printing inks available, and the different effects achieved by different types and combinations of ink.
Having been closed up for all those years and kept safely buttoned, the colour samples are as bright today as they were when printed.
Mander Brothers was one of the oldest, as well as most famous, companies to come out of Wolverhampton. They were founded back in 1773, originally as makers of varnishes and other chemicals used in the japanning trade, which was relatively widespread in the town at that time. The firm grew and diversified over the following century, supplying inks, varnishes and paints to customers across the country and around the world, with their works becoming at one stage among the biggest chemical plants in Britain. Despite the family's great wealth, they were radical liberals, and did much to improve the working conditions of their employees. Charles Tertius Mander was awarded a baronetcy for his philanthropy, while Sir Geoffrey Mander became a Liberal MP, who fought for shorter working hours.
The family's wealth allowed Theodore Mander, a descendant of the founders, to build Wightwick Manor in the 1880s, which was given to the National Trust in 1937 and remains one of the finest Arts and Craft-era houses in the world.
The site of the eighteenth century Mander factory was completely redeveloped in the 1960s as the Mander Centre, which ensured the name lived on long after the company finally ceased to exist.