Thursday, August 16, 2007

Briggs & Co. - 1879 Patented Transfers

Briggs & Co. was founded in 1874. They invented the iron-on transfer method for embroidery. I just recently found some wax transfer sheets, patented dated October 14, 1879.

In 1895, the company was incorporated and became William Briggs & Co. That company joined Coats in 1939, and is still in existence today. The company became famous for traced linens and heat transfer printing after WWI. They made embroidery and needlepoint kits under the brands Penelope, Anchor and Fleur de Lis. Today William Briggs produces tapestry wool and kits for Coats companies around the world. The William Briggs Mill is located at the Halliwell Business Park in Bolton, UK.

I have several of the early catalogs, from Briggs & Co., that have printed illustrations of the stamped pattern motifs that had available. The early catalogs were imprinted with "Briggs Patent" on the cover in gold lettering. They are cloth-bound, with brown, blue or burgundy covers. They are not dated, but are prior to 1895 when the company incorporated.

Kate Greenaway designs were in the catalogs, mostly for splashers. They also released a booklet catalog called Village Scenes which was dedicated to illustrations by Kate.

Dover has put out a couple of books of Briggs' designs and are readily available:

Designs and Patterns for Embroiderers and Craftsmen: 512 Motifs from the William Briggs Company Album of Transfer Patterns by Marion Nichols

400 Floral Motifs for Designers, Needleworkers and Craftspeople by Briggs & Co. (Author), Carol Belanger Grafton (Editor)

The original catalogs are much harder to find - I am lucky to have several of them.

J.F. Ingalls was a "Special Mail Agent" for Briggs and imported the patterns for the American consumers. Briggs & Co. had ads in the Ingalls' magazines in other publications. Ingalls also published a paperboard copy of the Brigg's Transferring Papers catalog and provided copies to its subscribers.

Now Back to the Wax Transfer Sheets:

The tissue transfers are very fragile and there was a significant amount of bleed-through between the tissues. I photo copied the tissues and used a LOT of white-out to remove the extraneous lines. I recopied the white out sheets, cut and pasted them together and reduced them to 25% so I could show them to you.

These are part of a Stamping Outfit that was sold for about $1.00. 100 designs, plus a catalog and a few booklets came in the outfit. These three sheets contain 65 patterns - there probably was another 30 image sheet and another 5 image sheet (just a guess on my part) in the outfit.

See the next entry to see the wax transfer images.


Anonymous said...

I found your blog while looking up Briggs transfers for a book I'm editing. Your comments on Ingalls were very helpful.

Are you aware of any evidence of Deighton's transfers being imported into America in the nineteenth century? The author believes they were, but has no evidence (and she's too old to use the internet)

Thanks for any help you can give.

Rowan said...

I have retrieved a Clemetis set of linen from the loft- part worked by my grandmother- guess sometime in the 1960's. I did a fair bit of work on it before children and the fingers a re feeling a bit itchy to do something again. have been tryibg to have alook around to see if I can fibd out anything more.

marjcap said...

I was given a copy of the catalog book be a woman from Pensylvania. It is as described, cloth cover, gold letters on front, no date.
Wonderful litle designs

Judith Proctor said...

Molly Proctor's book on Art Needlework and Embroidery Transfers is now available at
and has quite a bit about Briggs' and Deighton's history.

Cactus Pearl said...

its years too late to really answer your question. but i want to put the information out there for anyone else who is looking.

the answer is yes and no.

in the late 1800's early 1900's
Neither Deightons nor Briggs transfers were imported.
instead they had American Associates who had copies of the designs and Printed the transfers here.

the Deightons associate was a Mr. Deighton of the American Transfer company of Passaic New Jersey.

Briggs Associate was Joseph Walker
of the metallic transfer company in Irvington New Jersey.

by circa 1903 neither Deightons nor Briggs were still in business in America. because of the Kaumagraph company (information was found in 1922 New York court of appeals Kaumagraph VS Stampagraph)

so any transfers from these companies found in the united states printed after 1903 would have been imported

Daisy Debs said...

I am so glad that you started this ....I have been trying to find out any info about Briggs.....also Penelope ( who was she ? ) .Thankyou for sharing your knoweledge .

Cactus Pearl said...

daisy dee you asked a year ago

Penelope was the wife of Ulysses of the classical Greek poem the Odyssey.

Wm Briggs used that as a brand name mostly for their tapestry department

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the Irwell Art Needlework brand by William Briggs as I have a piece and I saw this item on ebay currently( and I wondering if the Irwell brand was used much. Does anyone know of any other examples? Jenny

Alan said...

Hello Cactus Pearl,

I'd be very grateful if you could tell me how you know that a Mr Deighton of the American Transfer company of Passaic New Jersey was the associate of the English Embroidery transfer company of Deighton Bros.
It's not that I don't believe you, but I would like to fill out the detail. I think this Mr Deighton may have been my grandfather's cousin.

Daisy Debs said...

Thankyou to Cactus Pearl for answering my question about the name Penelope . I had hoped it to be a Mrs William Briggs ! :) Did William actually design /draw these pictures ? And who were the artists who painted the Cottage scenes I love to stitch ? Sorry , so many questions !