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of London, bankers
1728 John Bland, a City of London goldsmith, started to offer banking services to his customers. Bland traded under the now famous sign of the black horse in Lombard Street (the symbol itself had been used as early as 1677, by another Lombard Street goldsmith, Humphrey Stokes).
1764 Following Bland's death, the business was carried on by his widow and two sons. The bank expanded and went through a number of partnership changes over the next two decades.
1788 The association with the Bland family ended with the death of Bland's son, also called John.
From the outset, the customer base was made up largely of merchants who traded in the Port and City of London. However, a significant proportion of business also came from the wealthy aristocracy who spent the "season" in London. For some of these customers, loans were advanced purely on the security of their art collection.
During the first half of the 19th century the bank incurred heavy losses as a result of a downturn in the sugar trade, something it had been heavily involved in financing. However, it was able to survive largely due to its more successful involvement in the cotton trade – this subsequently became its primary focus.