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Perkins Fairman & Heath
Perkins & Heath
Perkins Bacon & Petch
Perkins Bacon & Co Ltd

Penny Black.
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The following historic overview of the printing firm of Perkins Bacon & Co, was written by James Dunbar Heath in 1913 for the publication 'Records of the Heath Family. Selected and arranged by George Heath for private circulation. 1913'.  The overview begins on page 103 and reads as follows:


In 1819, Jacob Perkins, an engraver and inventor, of Boston, U.S.A., was advised by Sir C.Bagot, the British Minister in America, to visit England with the object of obtaining the engraving of Bank of England Notes.

The chief points of his process were, the engraving on small pieces of soft steel of intricate patterns, vignettes and other portions of the banknote or other document, which after the steel was hardened, were transferred by pressure to a soft steelroller. This in turn was hardened, and the various portions of the design transferred to the steel printing plates. Thus any number of plates could be made, each identical in every line with the original.

He did not get the contract, however, but with Mr.Fairman, an engraver, and Charles Heath, founded, on the advice of Sir Joseph Banks, the firm of Perkins, Fairman & Heath, and obtained large orders from English Banks, which at that time were allowed to issue £1 notes.

The date of the foundation is believed to be Dec., 1819; but by 1822 the name had been altered to Perkins & Heath, and later to Perkins & Bacon.

Perkins Fairman Heath specimen Banknote
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The address, certainly as early as 1820, was at 69, Fleet Street, and so continued until 1904, and in the families of the partners the business was familiarly talked of as "Fleet Street."

In 1834, on Mr.Petch joining, the name became Perkins, Bacon & Petch, and in 1852 Perkins Bacon & Co., and so with addition of Limited in 1887 it has remained ever since.

The changes as far as can be traced, in the partners are shown in the following extracts from the partnership deeds:-

First Partnership Deed, 20th December, 1819.
Jacob Perkins, of Austin Friars, E.C., Engineer.  Gideon Fairman, Engraver.  Charles Heath, of Seymour Place, Engraver.

Date of English Patent (to J.C.Dyer), 1st October, 50th year of George III., assigned to Jacob Perkins, 25th August, 1819; and of Patent to J.Perkins, 11th October, 1819.

Charles Heath agreed to purchase shares in above patents and all others obtained, from J.Perkins and G.Fairman.

The partnerships to be divided into three divisions.
No.1. All work not related to Banks.
No.2. Bank notes and Bank work, except Bank of England.
No.3. Work for the Bank of England and sales of the patents or licenses thereof.

Charles Heath to have half profits of No.1.

J.Perkins and G.Fairman to have half profits of No.1 in equal proportions. C.Heath to have one-fifth profits of Nos.2 and 3.

J Perkins and G.Fairman, four-fifths ditto in equal proportions.

C.Heath pays to J.Perkins and G.Fairman (half each) for his share in Nos.1 and 2, the sum of  £3,000, viz, £1,000 down, remainder in four instalments, at six months intervals, secured by bills.

C.Heath to allow J.Perkins and G.Fairman equally to retain half of his profits for No.1 and 2 until this amounts to £9,000.

In respect of No.3, C.Heath to allow J.Perkins and G.Fairman to retain out of the first profits of his one-fifth share £10,000

J.Perkins and G.Fairman are authorised to sell the patents to the Bank of England; if sold for less than £65,000, the £3,000 and other monies advanced to be returned to C.Heath.

The business of No.1 to be carried on under the name of "Chas Heath & Co."; of Nos.2 and 3, "Perkins, Fairman and Co." The co-partnership was apparently for the life of the patents.

Note,- it is not known how Perkins became acquainted with the Heaths, George and Charles: but the fact that in April 1818, Charles Heath, then engraver to the King, presented to the Society of Arts specimens of American Banknotes, said to be unforgeable, points to his probably having before then been in communication with his brother in the Art, Perkins. The firm of Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co., of Philadelphia, was one of the principal producers of American Banknotes at that time, and probably Mr.Fairman was connected with that firm.

Agreement dated 15th January, 1820, between Charles Heath, Seymour Place, and John Elliot Drinkwater, Fitzroy Square.  The latter having advanced C.Heath £500 of the £1,000 paid to J.Perkins and G.Fairman, and agreed to advance £1,000 more C.Heath agrees to pay him ¼ of his profits under the partnership of 20th Dec., 1819.

Dated 30th August, 1820, modifying that of 20th Dec, 1819.
Owing to the difficulty in making the divisions, it is agreed to consolidate the three branches into one business, and to alter their shares.
The name to be "Perkins, Fairman & Heath," and from this date all the works, transactions and things to be divided into eight equal parts, one to be taken by J.Perkins and G.Fairman (half each) and seven to be divided into three equal parts, one to be taken by J.Perkins, one by G.Fairman and one by C.Heath: but the rights to £9,000 and £10,000 not to be affected, the £9,000 to come out of C.Heath's third of seven eighths, excepting any work or sale with the Bank of England, or licences and sales of patents.
Holdings under this agreement.
Perkins 17/48ths.
Fairman 17/48ths.
C.Heath 14/48ths.



An agreement dated 18th May, 1819, was signed at Philadelphia between Asa Spencer, mechanician, and J.Perkins and G.Fairman, under which A.Spencer was to proceed to England and work for Perkins & Fairman for three years at £3,000 per annum, plus 1/6 (or 1/8 ?) (up to £18,000) of any sums received for the Bank  of England or similar contract. A duplicate is dated 29th May, 1819.



Apparently in 1822, new Articles were signed. George Heath to advance some capital. A criticism of the new (the writing looks like that of J.B.Bacon) compares some of the terms of the new with the old articles, but does not state when or in what form they were signed.

The shares were altered, G.Fairman having sold his 1/16th (purchased by Bull (?) ), and given up 1/16th more, and Perkins having jointly given up the other 1/16th.

Additional capital (amount not stated) was to be raised by C. and G.Heath without security, to be repaid out of the joint stock or capital. And C. and G.Heath, or one of them are to advance Perkins & Fairman in addition not exceeding £1,000 for their expenses for year ending October 31st, 1822, to be repaid out of their first profits, "leaving them nothing for subsistence form October next until this £1,000 is repaid."

Perkins and Fairman are required to devote their whole time to the business, C.Heath as much as he conveniently can, and G.Heath none at all, the firm to stand as now.

Dyer and Spencer should be paid for Bank of England work, but rest of Article goes to deprive M.F. & Co (query Murray, Fairman & Co.), of their rights.

Perkins and Fairman to pay cost of patents and machinery, which latter was to belong to the firm, as C. and G.Heath had since the date of the old Articles given full compensation for the same.

The parties to be allowed sums for their subsistence in proportion to their shares, thus requiring the owner of 3/24ths, to pay as much into the capital as the owner of 10/24ths


PERIOD 1822 to 1829

In June, 1822, Fairman writes to C.Heath asking him to advance the amount of a bill due to Mr.Dyer, and refers to a letter from C.Heath to "Mr.Bacon," (presumably J.B.Bacon, J. Perkins son-in-law). He says, "I shall in all probability leave you so soon that a trifle shall not make any difference in the good feelings that have subsisted for near three years.

Apparently from November, 1822 to September, 1824, there were two distinct firms viz.: Perkins & Co and Perkins & Heath, and the latter claimed from the former about £679 for proportions of rent of smithy at Water Lane (at back of 69, Fleet Street), part cost of workmen, loss on steam engine, etc., and a Mr.Bates, acting as arbitrator, gave on February, 1825, an award substantially in favour of the latter.

Note.- This firm of Perkins & Co., was probably the original of that known later as A.M.Perkins & Son, maker of high pressure steam engines, and heating apparatus, baking ovens, etc., near the Grays Inn Road, in which G.Heath was evidently more or less interested. About 1864, Loftus Perkins, son of A.M., was carrying on the business, now known as Werner & Perkins, Ltd. Peterborough.

No doubt it was about this time that J.Perkins and G.Heath were in partnership as to patents relating to steam engines and steam guns, and Sir William Adams and Mr.Arnold proposed to pay (whether they did so is not known), £5,000 and a further £20,000 in instalments for half J.Perkins share in these patents (2/3rds , G.Heath having 1/3rd.



On April 7th, 1821,C.Heath writes to Mr.Bacon about his account, and refers to "my assignees." He speaks of a private debt to Mr.Perkins and claims "all capital belonging to shares held by him provided the partnership deed allows it."

In May, 1829, the firm, according to circulars issued,  trades under the name of "Perkins & Bacon," and the name of Heath thenceforward disappeared.

Apparently, his assignees were Edward Dollman (his brother-in-law), and H.Corbould (C.Heath's daughter married Corbould's son). On April 3rd, 1826, G.Heath writes to "Mrs.P." (query Mrs.Petch) saying that his sole object was to  bettering of his brother's estate. Mr.Bacon had asked her to contribute to the capital which G.Heath must advance to carry on the business. "It seems," he says "my brother when partner contracted with you and Mr.Drinkwater to hold shares in his profits. Both Mr.D and you wish me to take upon myself personally these contracts and continue them as if my brother had not been bankrupt. This I am quite willing to do, provided it does not give either of you rights of partnership, and you pay me what my brother would have paid me had he continued partner. You answer, let the Firm pay me what they have borrowed of me. I am sincerely sorry it cannot pay you at the moment, but the first debt paid (not in acceptance) shall be yours: meantime I am in advance many hundreds beyond my proportion, because as to the Firm I am bound to advance the whole, and nothing but real necessity compels me to ask you. Out of every £100, I find about £70 and ask you for about £23. Our great distress is certainly passed, and by your doing what is in your power, you will enable me to carry this unfortunate business through its difficulties.

A memo, in G.Heath's writing reads:

"Passing over original capital (£3,000) of which C.H. has probably produced his proportions.
2nd capital, considered as capital, not debt, as to £1,500 of firm.  C.H.'s shares to pay £1,000.  £500 borrowed on property produced by C.H.  Mrs.P. would have to pay about £215." 
3rd, G.H. has advanced £1,700 before Mrs.P. was called on by him to provide him as 13 ½ - 1,700 - 5 ½ - £720* + 215 = 935
The firm owes Mrs.P. about this sum.

(The ledger of Jan., 1826, shows £948 as due to Mrs.Amelia  Petch).

*Note.- These figures, which no doubt refer to the respective shares of  G.Heath and Mrs. Petch, are not clear, and are corrected in pencil, apparently by J.B.Bacon, to £206 5s. and £692 16s 8d. G.Heath evidently meant to show that he should pay 13¼ 24ths of £1,700 and Mrs. P. 5½ 24ths of £900. The correspondence shows that the Petch family came into the business in the same way as the Drinkwaters, viz., by purchase of part of C.Heath's shares.



On July 3rd, 1819, they apparently borrowed from William Vaughan £300, and £100 from Marcus Bull in September, and September 1st £3,000 was debited to Printing Patent, C.Heath credited with this sum December 20th. At December 31st 1819, "Perkins & Fairman" seems to have been valued at £4,4,126.

The earliest item for Perkins, Fairman & Heath is April 1820. On October 31st 1820 is an entry to credit of  G.Heath £3,500. The cast received from G.Heath, October 14th, 1820 to June 20th, 1822 was £4,238, and from C.Heath from February 1st, 1820 £1,648 on balance, while G. & C.Heath are credited with £1,946. Up to June, 1822, J.Perkins had cash £3,004, and G.Fairman £2,173.

The payments by G.Heath in October, 1820 are entered as "on account purchase": this is the earliest entry under his name.

In October, 1819, work was actual being done "by way of experiment for C.Heath and P.& F.," and about April, 1820, a number of plates were made for the Commercial Bank of Calcutta.

H.Petch appears to have entered the firm's service in August, 1823, tho' payments to him were made earlier. W. & H. Petch supplied coal from September, 1821. J.B.Bacon was employed from December 1821.

The Banking Account at Jones, Loyd & Co., was kept in the name of C.Heath for a time, and thus transactions amounting to £36,656 with C.Heath appear in the ledger between August, 1821 and December, 1823.

The ledgers for the next few years are missing, but from 1829 to 1831, Mrs.A.Petch had bill and other transactions with the firm to the amount of about £4,400.

In June, 1834, the balance to credit of G.Heath (including £1,051, allowed him for interest in 1833) was £2,993, while the balance of debit of C.Heath, was £944.

There was the debit of J.B.Bacon, £1,280, to the credit of Amelia Petch, Loan a/c, £240, and of Henry Petch, £212; in 1832, £2,119 stand to the credit of Amelia Petch " Dividend Account," including £521 for interest, but both this and the Loan Account were paid off by 1839. A.M.Perkins and J.B.Bacon seemed to owe about £800 on bills.

J.E.Drinkwater's name appears in 1832 (transferred from the missing ledger), and at June, 1834, there appears £1,831 to his credit. The partnership deed of 1834 cannot be found, but in July, 1834, a new ledger with the name of Perkins, Bacon & Petch was started evidently for the new firm.

Large bill and other transactions with, or in the name of C.Heath still continued, also with A.M.Perkins.

The order for Brazilian notes, amounting to about £23,000 having been executed in 1835, the firm made its first division of profits in April, 1836, G.Heath taking ½ £150, J.E.Drinkwater ¼, £75, J.B.Bacon and H.Petch ¼, £37 10s each, total £300, and dividends were paid thenceforth up to 1886.

By 1838 G.Heath's loans were practically repaid.

In 1844, an account was open with the Trustees of C.Heath's estate, and finally closed in 1848, though a balance to his debit personally of £1,388 was apparently carried forward to a later date.

J.E.Drinkwater having changed his name to J.D.D.Bethune, the loan account in his name was finally closed in 1843. The transactions with J.B.Bacon continued on a large scale, and 1848 closed with £3,209 to his debit.

With this exception, all the complex transactions of earlier day's were now straightened out, and the way was clear for the newer generation of partners about to appear on the scene.

By 1853 Fairman, C.Heath and G.Heath were all dead, also J.E.D.Bethune and Petch; thus D.D.Heath, J.B.Bacon and Henry Malden, with Petch's Trustees, were the actual partners, and the Deed of 17th March, 1853, was signed by them.

Previous partners:
Joshua Butters Bacon.
John Elliot Drinkwater Bethane, died 12th August, 1851. Executor Henry Malden.
Henry Phillipson Petch, engraver, died 8th June 1852. Executors, John Burton and Mrs.M.A.Petch.

Partnership for 14 years from 1st May, 1852.
D.D.Heath, Kitlands, Surrey, 4/8ths (Commander Leopold George Heath to take his share at death).
Henry Malden, 54, Russell Square, 2/8ths (Captain Charles Ramsay Drinkwater Bethune to take his share at death).
Joshua Butters Bacon, 1/8 (Jacob Perkins Bacon to take his share at death).
John Burton and Margaret Ann Petch, 1/8 

£2,400 a year to be drawn out, in quarterly payments, in proportion to share held.
Deed of 29th September, 1866.
J.B.Bacon died Oct., 1863.

The remaining partners purchased from John Burton and Thomas Meates, trustee for the late Henry Petch, his 1/8th share at valuation of £8,390 4s 1d., which sum was paid Sept., 1866.

Partnership of 14 years from 29th Sept., 1866.
D.D.Heath, ½ (Capt.L.G.Heath, C.B., to take his share at death).
H.Malden, ¼ (Adm.C.R.D.Bethune, or Charles Edward Malden, to take his share at death).
J.P.Bacon, ¼ (Alfred Bacon, if aged 21, to take his share at death).

J.B.Bacon was paralysed for some years before his death, but used to be wheeled in his chair into a part of the office in Fleet Street called the "conversation room" to talk to customers, etc.

As early as 1852, his son J.B.Bacon was helping in the management, and latterly was practically a manager.

Apparently the partnership of 1866 was continued until the formation of the Limited Company in 1887, the only alteration being the C.E.Malden took his father's place in 1877.

The loss of the Postage Contract in 1879 of course made a great difference, and marks the termination of the firm's period of greatest activity, and the difficulties in the way of obtaining new work in substitution led to D.D.Heath giving up his partnership and turning the concern into a Company.



About 1887 D.D.Heath, wishing to get rid of his responsibilities as senior partner, it was arranged to form a Limited Company, which was done, the shareholders being the former partners and their families, J.P.Bacon being Managing Director, Sir L.G.Heath Chairman, and C.E.Malden and J.D.Heath the other directors.

On the retirement in 1888 of J.P.Bacon, his place was taken by J.D.Heath, who gave up his position in Colley & Co., and commenced his duties on Jan. 1st, 1889. Mr.J.P.Bacon died in 1890. Later Directors were E.M.Chubb, A.Bacon, G.Heath and H.Hooper.

About 1903, differences arose between the Directors as to the giving up of the letter-press printing and publishing departments, which was eventually settled by a separate Company being formed for the letterpress business, and those of the shareholders who wished to retire  were paid out on terms, out of the proceeds of the Company's real estate. Unfortunately, very great delay and much loss were occasioned through the malpractices of certain persons who had undertaken to register the letterpress Company, the ultimate result being that Perkins Bacon & Co., Ltd., was reconstructed in 1906, the chief shareholders being Sir L.G.Heath, Rev.D.L.Heath, J.D.Heath and C.L.Rynd. On Sir L.G.Heath's death, his shares were divided among his children, and later, Mr.Rynd sold his shares to E.F.Overbury, who now (1912) holds them. The letterpress Company was wound up in 1905 without commencing business.



Sir.L.G.Heath 300  shares.
D.D.Heath and James D.Heath 240 (for Rev.D.I.Heath).
Rev.D.L.Heath 90.
J.D.Heath 90.
George Heath 105.
Walter Heath 45.
Julia Heath 33.
Mary Anne Heath 45.
Sub total 960. Heath's 4/8ths. 

C.E.Malden, Rev.W.E.Hadow, H.E.Malden 120.
D.D.Heath and Gainsford Bruce120.
N.C.F.Uniacke 40.
Miss E.G.Uniacke 40.
Miss G.C.Uniacke 40.
Rev.W.E.Hadow 30.
Miss E.J.Hadow 30.
Miss C.A.Hadow 30.
Mrs.R.E.Hadow 30.
Sub total 480. Bethunes 2/8ths. 

J.P.Bacon 450  (died 1890).
A.Bacon 30.
Sub total 480. Bacons 2/8ths. 

Total 1,920 Shares of £20 each = £38.400

The average annual turnover and dividends, arranged in periods, were as follows.

Average Business Done



Average Dividend



£16,237 (1827)

£4,811 (1821)




£38,148 (1835)

£18,087 (1837)

nil 1835 
£2,000 1836-9



£30,773 (1853)

£14,130 (1848)




£42,619 (1860)

£28,728 (1863)

£18,000 1861



£42,306 (1867)

£31,138 (1869)




£17,793 (1880)

£13,663 (1881)


Note: The burning down of part of the works in 1857 caused no interruption to the Postage printing, premises being taken temporarily at the Savoy.

The Limited Company (Including Letterpress Printing)



£23,599 (1893)

£15,943 (1887)

11/6 a share



£24,981 (1899)

£20,009 (1895)

13/6 a share



The chief undertaking for which the firm is known all over the world was the production of the First Penny Postage Stamp in May, 1840, and thence onwards to 1880, when the British Contract was lost. The "Queen's Head" was engraved by Charles Heath after the medallion by Wyon, and is said that for simple beauty of design and engraving the stamp has never been surpassed. Frederick, son of Chas. Heath, also engraved for the firm, both before and after his father's death in 1848.

The British stamps, with many Colonial issues, became the chief business of the firm, though other important work, such as the Brazilian notes in 1835-9 and 1860-8, made the firm prosperous for a considerable period.

The stamps were printed in the freehold portion of the Fleet Street works, the other work mostly in the leasehold , and after the stamp printing ceased in 1880, as about two thirds of the business was lost, the empty space was filled up with letterpress printing plant and a trade newspaper (the "Grocers' Journal") purchased. Nevertheless, the profits of the concern were much reduced, and owing to the loss of prestige, several other customers dropped off. The printing and publishing part of the business increased considerably in the next few years, but was not very profitable, and was entirely given up when the works were removed to Southwark Bridge Road in 1904.

Since then, only engraving, plate printing and lithography have been carried on, but owing to the loss of several of the oldest customers, and also to the passing of the Australian Note Act, depriving all the Australian Banks of their note issues, no dividend has been paid for several years.

During the period between 1850 and 1860, the Bacons spent large sums on Power Plate Printing Machines, taking up the patents of several inventors, such as Neale, Moss and others, also J.B.Nott. But none of the machines were successful, and apparently only led to litigation. Had any such machine succeeded, the later  fortunes of the firm might have been more prosperous, and it is interesting to remark as a concluding note to this somewhat superficial history, that there are now prospects of some machines of this sort becoming a success, which, with a proposed increase of capital, it is hoped may restore to the old firm some of its former prosperity. J. D. H., 1913



For further information on Perkins Bacon & Co, another detailed book worth reading is "The Line-Engraved Postage Stamps of Great Britain, by Edward Denny Bacon, published 1920".

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