Embossed Commercial Cover


Pantechnicon is a commercial trademark and company name, formed from the Greek pan ("all") and techne ("art"). It was used by a large establishment founded in Motcomb Street, Belgrave Square, London, by the builders Seth Smith Brothers, originally from Wiltshire. It opened around 1830 to provide storage facilities required by the clients of their new housing in Belgravia.

The very large, distinctive, and noticeable horse-drawn vans that were used to collect and deliver the customers' furniture came to be known as "Pantechnicon Vans." The term passed into common British usage much as 'Kleenex" is used today.

Though small by modern standards, the vans were impressively large by those of their own time. They came in lengths of between 12 and 18 feet, and were up to 7 feet broad. The roof was a segment of a cylinder 8 inches higher in the middle than at the edges to ensure ready drainage but it had boards round the edges to allow stowage of extra items. Below the roof-line the body was a cuboid box except that behind the space required by the front wheels when turning tightly, the floor was lowered to permit greater internal headroom. This was achieved by cranking the back axle downwards as in a float. The lowered floor also saved some of the lifting which was a feature of using normal horse-drawn lorries and vans, which needed a deck high enough to fit the steering mechanism below it. Access was obtained through hinged doors at the rear. Outside these, the tailboard was hinged upwards from the level of the well. WikipediA

The building was largely destroyed by fire on February 13th, 1874,
but the facade still exists.

This letter from The Pantechnicon Company was addressed to Messrs Cunliffe & Beaumont [Solicitors] at 43 Chancery Lane.
By a great many notices in the London Gazette, they seem to have specialized in bankruptcies.

The reverse of the envelope bears the embossed 'return address' of The Pantechnicon Company.

While it's a stretch of the imagination to think that this cover is related to this particular notice of a close date, it is quite likely that a claim from The Pantechnicon Company would have been sent to these Solicitors for another bankruptcy proceeding.

Note that the cover is marked "Pantechnicon" and "File". Unfortunately no contents remained pinned to it, though the holes so indicate that at one point they were attached for reference.


11th October 2016