Researching J Beagles & Co

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Beagles Researcher
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Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by Beagles Researcher » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:00 am


I am a Family Historian and am currently giving some attention to a member of my Tree, namely John Beagles. From census information, I have established that he was the founder of the Postcard Publishing firm J Beagles & Co. The facts I have gathered about him so far are as follows:-

He was baptised at Whaplode Drove, Spalding, Lincolnshire on 11 June 1844, one of 7 children of Samuel Beagles a Butcher and his wife Jane nee Booth.

The 1851 census shows that he was a scholar at (presumably) the Village School, as he was living with his parents in Whaplode Drove. The 1861 census still records him at home, but by now was a Pupil Teacher. This indicates that he was helping to teach younger children at the School.

We then have a large gap to 1881 as an exhaustive search has not located him on the 1871 census and I am wandering whether he may have spent sometime overseas. There must have been something that triggered an interest in Photography. A strange thing for a young man from rural Lincolnshire to take up at this time. Whatever it was, it had happened by 1881 as the census records him lodging at 40 Chippenham Road, Paddington, Kensington, London. He gave his occupation as Photographic Publisher. Looking at the household, it would seem that it was a Lodging House and there is no indication that he was staying there through family connections. Whether pertinent or not, another lodger was an Artist from Middlesex by the name of Fred Cowle.

The 1891 census finds him in Nottingham at 55 Cranwell Street, visiting one Thomas W Stevenson, a 43 year old Printer. Was Stevenson the Printer of John Beagles Postcards – if indeed they were being published at this time.

The last census available is that of 1901. He was now living at 9 Rockley Road, Hammersmith, London . It is known that he died in Shepherds Bush in 1909, so I feel that this was his home address.

Old Phone Directories reveal that he had a phone installed at 9 Rockley Road by 1902 and the entry shows that he was trading under the style of J Beagles & Co, Photographic Publishers. A later phonebook for 1905 records the business at 9 Little Britain, Holborn, London. This entry continues to 1908.

By 1909 the entry had changed to J Beagles & Co Ltd, Postcard Printers and Publishers still at this address. It is therefore clear that the Limited Company was formed either just before or soon after his death. Entries continued until 1936, and the Company was wound up on the 18 July 1939.

I am aware from Google searches that J Beagles & Co published many postcards particularly of Actors and Actresses but also of Street Scenes. I am keen though to find as much as I can about the business. Whilst it is hoped a Will (he never married)may surface that shows who the business was left to, and I hope to be able to track down the Company Registration No. required to obtain the Company records from the National Archives which should answer questions about the Limited Company, there still remains a number of questions.

When did he start publishing Postcards?
Where were they printed and who took the photographs?
How did the business start?
Did John Beagles take photographs?
How big was the concern?
Why did it finish? Impending War? Competition from Picture Post and similar publications?
Could he have taken a daguerreotype photograph of my Great Grandparents – his cousin and her husband c.1895?
Could he have taken local photographs when he started?
I have a photograph of my Grandfather on a Postcard taken in the mid 1880’s (?). My Grandfather lived in the next village at the time, but was entirely unrelated to John Beagles then. I also have a framed picture of my Grandfather's Windmill taken around the same time. Clearly posed complete with a Penny Farthing. Nothing is written on the back.

If anyone who has taken this hobby beyond that of Collector - i.e. has actually delved into the History of those resposible for creating the Postcards in the first place, and can shed some light on the business or can give me some pointers on any bases that I have not thought of, I would love to hear from you.

Even if you cannot assist on the history of the business, it would help immensely if you could look at the back of any J Beagles & Co Ltd Postcards for a Company Registration No. and also if you could between you come up with the oldest known J Beagles & Co Postcard and the most recent.

Whether connected or not, but the obituary (Peterborough Advertiser 28 October 1916) for my Great Grandfather records that:-

".....For many years he was Landlord of the White Swan Inn Midgate (Peterborough), where his wife (John Beagles cousin mentioned above) earned considerable reputation as a theatrical caterer, the principals of the best companies invariably staying there. It was understood that it was here, when travelling in one of the Benson Shakespearian companies Mr H B Irving became engaged to Miss Dorothea Baird, whom he subsequently married....

Can anyone tell me whether that was true?

John R G Bland

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by ley58 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:52 pm

Hi John,

I don't know if I can be of some help, but I have recently aquired a vast number of postcards from my dad's house since he passed away two years ago. I have only touched the tip of the iceburg with them but I have come across a postcard of Queen Alexandra showing J Beagles and Co Ltd., Printers and Publishers. This has been hand written on and is dated 1912. Where the stamp would go is printed 'Printed in Emland by J Beagle and Co. Ltd., London E.C.' Regreattably the card has been cut off by about a quater of an inch and (apart from probably dropping it's value considerably!!), it has also cut off where in E.C. they were!

I hope this may be of some use to you and, as I say there are literally hundreds more cards to sort through, so if I come across anything else that may be of help to you I will contact you immediatley!

Kindest regards,


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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by Brianz » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:15 am

"This old-established company was already well-known for its photographic publishing at the turn of the century. Its postcards can traced back as far as 1903 when premises were occupied at 9 and 10 Little Britain, close to the Post office Headquarters in London, and overlooked St. Paul's Cathedral. By 1904 they had also taken over number 11 and many years later part of this same property was occupied by another postcard publisher, Moore and Dewdney, and their name was still visible above the dilapidated shop front in 1976. Beagles' became a limited company around 1908 and ceased to exist just before the beginning of World War II.

Beagles' were noted primarily for their postcard portraits of royalty. Real photographs or bromides, they covered almost every important personage and event for many years, recording weddings, births, deaths, various stages of the children's lives, and the dress and uniforms in which they and their parents appeared. Royalty from other countries also received some coverage. All are numbered, with a sequence of cards carrying a suffix lettered from A to Z.

At one time the firm boasted 5,000 different designs of famous actresses, including novelty cards, jewelled or spangled, luminous pearl cards and some in bas-relief. There is considerable range of action scenes from innumerable plays. An interesting series of skits in sets of six centred around some little children who imitated various key figures. "An Orchestral Rehearsal" issued in 1903 showed one of four years old as a musical director; a second set depicted a little girl as a judge in a Breach of Promise case, and another was called "The Doctor".

A set of "Celebrated Posters" appeared in 1903 and in 1907 a Louis Wain set was entitled "Matrimonial Cats". 1908 saw such varied issues as Leap Year cards, eight Empire Day cards for 24th May, and a set of twelve in colour called "Beautiful Women" drawn by the American artist Harrison Fisher.

The "Celebrity" series included literary figures, the clergy, musicians, politicians, scientists and many others. There was also an extensive series of exhibition cards, such as the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley."

The above is taken from "Picture Postcards and Their Publishers" by Anthony Byatt, F.S.C.A., copyright 1978 by Golden Age Postcard Books, 28 St. Peter's Road, Malvern, Worcs, WR14 1QS, ISBN 095062120X. If you can obtain a copy of this book it also contains 2 reproductions of cards, one depicting Dickens for the centenary of his birth in 1912, the other "The Orchestral Rehearsal" (noted above) and a reproduction of the company Trademark.

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by Pebbles64 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:41 pm

Hi, I have just started collecting some of these postcards, as my grandmother destroyed all her collection after a bad fit of anger (she suffered Altzeimers so didn't realise what she was doing!) My own mother has left me her collection so I am hoping to build it back up to what it was..

Anyhow, looking on the back, all that is on the cards is: J. Beagles & Co Ltd, E.C., printers and publishers. In the stamp area it says Printed in England by J Beagles & Co Ltd., London E.C and their trademark consists of a circle with a curved grid inside, the words Beagles (on the top) Best (over the grid pattern) and Post cards (curved underneath).

Really am sorry there is no other info on the back for you to benefit from.

Curiously, there are a couple of family trees on (you've probably seen them) both have John Beagles, dates same as yours, as son of John Beagles (not Samuel), and Jane Booth...The trees go back to about 1720.. (I'm a keen family historian myself)

Good luck in your search :-)

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by jennifer » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:35 am

I have two post cards by J. Beagles & co LTD E.C. 1. Both post cards are birthday cards, one is an 8th birthday card featuring a young girl and a dog. This one would be 1940. The other card is an 11th birthday card featuring a young girl with some swans. This one would be 1943. I would be willing to sell these. I also have a selection of 14 other cards dated from 1942-1948 for sale if anyone is interested.

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by About Postcards » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:59 pm

Hello John,

Many of the John Beagles theatre postcards used photographs produced by Ellis & Walery for which Beagles claimed to have International rights. The National Portrait Gallery has a collection of photographic images and associated records of the era and they might be able to help.

I've checked lists of Victorian London photographers and thus far there's nothing about JB before the postcard business.

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by About Postcards » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:49 pm

Further to the above here is a link to the J Beagles items at the National Portrait Gallery

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by Winkler » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:33 pm

Hello John,
I am writing from Melbourne Australia. I have two sets of six J. Beagles and Co postcards. One set is of the 'Orchestra Rehearsals' and the other set 'A breach of Promise Case'.
I read your post with interest, even though I am not a postcard collector. I have been selling off all of my Dad's collection of about 100 cards recently. After I sold almost all of the cards I came accross these twelve cards together, and so got on the web to find out more about them, hence reading your story.
Maybe you have had some success with your search, as that was some time ago. All of these cards were posted here in Australia in December 1905 up until March 1906 according to the postmarks.
They all have J.Beagles & Co., London E C. on the back . On the front there is J.B. & Co on the left and on the right D. & Co. Copyright.
Hope this has been of interest.

Can anyone let me know if these cards are special, especially as they are complete sets of six. One has a little split (As though something has dropped on it from the back) Funny thing is that the writer has made mention of the damage, so it happened before it was posted. I quote "Dear Neil, This one got broken, but Auntie Alice will get a new one in Melbourne. Father."
As this my first post It would be nice to get some feedback.
Regards to all

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by DEDEVIL » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:46 am

Hello please excuse my computer illiteracy i think i have made acc and and posting to your ances search.
I am in the same type of boat as Melb above as in i am close to that area and have a maybe set i dont know.
All i can give you is a record of what I have here and details for I know nothing of what I hold cept what has been read here on first search of the postcards.
Amazingly it is 6 cards I hold so it seems that is the trend on past post reading.
There are many things simular and many not.

First is..
Left back:
printed in britain/no sphere stamp square. on photo bottom left front is words .. composite photo. under that is .
no.7111 F / four generations. rotary

Second the pre mentioned Queen Alexandra showing
J Beagles and Co Ltd., Printers and Publishers.
it has the same beagles best sphere logo stock standard on back . no writing. stamp has two full stops instead of stop comma after LTD.front has in pic initials: G.P.U. card no. is 855.G. Her most gracious majesty QUEEN ALEXANDRA THE BELOVED top left beagles postcards.

The next four have on back :
J.BEAGLES & Co., LTD.,E.C.m Painters & Publishers.

last four have stop comma after LTD in stamp square and all are blank no writing.
Good luck in your heritage search my friend and i hope these few pieces fill a blank or two in the ftree puzzle :)

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by matee » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:05 pm

I have small collection of postcards which includes a J Beagles & Co one, so was interested when I found this posting with your research. The National Portrait Gallery site shows 130 portraits linked to J Beagles which includes information on the photographers and/or companies that took the photographs.

This is the url: ... 54&wPage=0

I hope this might give you more information about your ancestor.

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Re: Researching J Beagles & Co

Post by marmaladejane » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:11 am

Hi I have been collecting J Beagle post cards for about 30 years I have about 300 of them from photographic portraits to greeting cards especially I love the first World War ones. If i can help in any way with your search just let me know. I am also researching my family history and know how frustrating it can get.

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