No silver lining for Edward Penty (all that glitters is not gold)

I asked one our research volunteers, Becki Robertson, to investigate the history behind this advertising card in the museum collections. 

She writes “Edward Penty produced a flier advertising his business. We knew from the pamphlet that he was an electroplater, that he had taken over the business from one Henry Burgess, and that he was based at 10, New Briggate. As to when the leaflet may have produced, he had, most uncharitably, left us no clues at all. However, the directories of Leeds Library have not let me down yet. Without a definite starting point to work from, I grabbed the nearest directory to hand, which proved to be 1878. There was no mention of Edward Penty in 1878, but I found the business at 10 New Briggate. At this time it was still owned by Henry Burgess. Therefore it was fairly safe to say that the pamphlet had been produced some time after 1878. I then jumped ahead a few years, to 1881. In 1881, I discovered that the business was now listed in Edward Penty’s name, but he had moved premises, and was now practising from 79, New Briggate. This was incredibly kind of him, as it meant I could date the pamphlet as having been published sometime between 1878 and 1881, after he took over the business, but before he moved premises (10, New Briggate being the address he advertised). I was intrigued to see how Mr Penty had fared in his trade, but sadly it seems to have been less successful then his advert would have us believe. I happened upon an announcement published in the London Gazette, dated 2nd February, 1883 which runs as follows:

The Bankruptcy Act, 1869; In the County Court of Yorkshire, holden at Leeds

In the Matter of Proceedings for Liquidation by Arrangement or Composition with Creditors, instituted by Edward Penty, of 79, New Briggate, Leeds, in the County of York, Electro Plated Goods Manufacturer and Electro Plater and Gilder.”

There is no reference to Edward Penty in later editions of the directories.”

Closer examination of the advertising card reveals that it has some testimonials inside dated 1878 and 1879 all addressed to Henry Burgess.  His clients had included the Queens Hotel, Powolny’s restaurant and the New Theatre Royal and Opera House, Leeds.  Becki is right that the card must have been made to promote the business under the new management of Edward Penty and it states “Edward Penty has specially fitted up extensive premises of Electro Plating in all its branches, and has laid down the most modern and improved Machinery for Stripping, Buffing, Plating, Polishing and Burnishing”.  Sadly it seems that all this investment came to nothing and the business folded in just a few years – an all too familiar echo of the current economic climate.

Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds History, with research by Becki Robertson.

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