Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Grey and Sons

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1830 The story of John Grey banjos started when Jacob Solomon and his family left Exeter, in Devon, to settle in London and start a wholesale hardware business.

1832 Jacob's son Henry started a fancy goods business (beads, costume jewellery and steel pen nibs) on his own.

In the course of time, musical instruments were included in the Firm's stock and a wholesale catalogue issued in 1860 by Henry Solomon and Co of 134 and 31 Houndsditch and 27a Duke Street. Banjos ranged in price from: "No. 1, small size, each 3s. 6d." (17½p) to "No. 8,, full size, pearl mounted, with vellum head and tuning screws richly inlaid, each £1 8s. 6d." (£1.42½).

1861 Henry Solomon sold the musical instrument side of his business to Barnett Samuel, who had married his sister Caroline, in 1849.

By 1911 Barnett Samuel and Sons had formed a subsidiary company John Grey and Sons and used the name as a trademark on its instruments. Earlier instruments had just Grey and Sons Ltd as the trademark. The company made some of their own instruments and had many made by the usual 'makers to the trade' of the time. The badging of John Grey and Sons is not a good indicator of manufacturer.

By 1928 the gramophone manufacturing and sales operation of Barnett Samuel and Sons had been renamed the Decca Gramophone Co[1].

1929 Decca Gramophone Co was acquired by Decca Record Co. The remaining part of the Samuels company dealing in instruments was contained in just 8 shares of John Grey and Sons.

1932 The shares in John Grey and Sons were bought by Rose, Morris and Co who made banjos up to and after the second world war.

1960 The Rose-Morris company was bought by Grampian Holdings and continued to produce cheap banjos labelled "John Grey".

From 1967, the company started selling its own products and just use the trademark "R.M" from Rose Morris. Rose-Morris are today a large musical department store.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 24 September 1928
  • [1] British Banjo Makers