Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 133,395 pages of information and 211,464 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Peacock and Co

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of 2 Prebend Street, Islington, London (1922)

of 3 Adelaide Terrace and 2 Prebend Street, Islington, London, N1. Telephone: Clerkenwell 8963. (1929)

Peacock puzzles was started in 1853 by Edward James Peacock. He was a Baptist Reverend as well as being a Carpenter. He had worked as a Manager with Edward Wallis in London in the late 1830s early 1840s, who was a very well known Publisher, Bookseller and Map Dissector.

1841 Edward James Peacock and his family went to Australia, where he was variously a Policeman, Missionary to the Aborigines, Schoolteacher and finally a Post Master.

1853 After some colourful adventures, he returned to U.K. having 'made his pile' and opened Peacock and Co making children's furniture, toys, and notably, Dissected Maps, from 3, Adelaide Terrace/Prebend Street, London.

1861 The firm prospered until Edward James felt the Missionary call again. He passed the firm to his son William Peacock, who drove the firm forward, expanding business until it became recognised as one of the world's most prolific producers of wooden jigsaw puzzles in the late 19th Century. The early puzzles were of Dissected Maps and a Religious theme and were produced with distinctive wooden boxes with a sliding lid.

Cardboard boxes were introduced at the turn of the century when wood was becoming a scarce commodity and not cost effective.

1910 William continued until 1910 when, on his death, the firm passed to his two sons William Edward and Albert Frank. Thus the firm became Peacock Brothers - still working from the same address.

1918 William Edward turned the firm into a Limited Company, with a member of the Hamley family as one of the Shareholders. It is possible that Peacocks actually made some of the puzzles produced under the Hamley label at that time.

1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Picture Cubes, A B C Blocks, Dissected Maps and Puzzles, Pulp Wood Puzzles, Jigsaw Puzzles, Cut-out Alphabets, Tennis Presses, Nursery Furniture, Desks, Drawing Slates. (Stand No. F.2) [1]

1926 There was a fire at the premises. Extensive damage to all four floors was shown. After a rebuild, the firm continued to expand and became a victim of its own success.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Jig-saw Puzzles, Dissected Puzzles and Maps. Cut-out Alphabet, A B C Blocks, Picture Cubes, Pulp-wood Dissections, Drawing Slates, Farmhouse Models, Tennis Presses, Table Tennis Outfits, Nursery Furniture, Children's Desks, Benches and Shops. (Stand Nos. C.28 and C.41) [2]

1931 The premises became too small to contain their output and new premises were built at 175/179 St Johns Street, London. Peacocks realised that they had to bend with the times and introduced cardboard puzzles. The toy production side of the firm had also expanded and many articles were produced from wooden bricks, parquetry mosaics, table-tennis sets, bagatelle, blackboard and easels, farm cottages and animals, Noah's Ark sets, battleships and more. A departure from the practical diversions came with the introduction of Teddy Bears. All Peacock Teddy Bears have a white cotton label with red embroidered lettering of Peacock of London on one of the hind pads. The Peacock Bears continued until 1939, well after Chad Valley Co had taken over the business.

1934 At the height of their success, Peacock and Co continued until the firm was acquired by Chad Valley when William Edward Peacock was 64 years old. There were no sons from his marriage to continue the running of the firm.

1936 Peacock died and was buried in Abney Park Cemetery in a unique grave, the bed of which is in the style of a geometric jigsaw.

1970 The name Peacock and Co was not finally lost until 16th October. This would have been on the formal dissolving of the name.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Puzzle History