Shoesmith & Etheridge Ltd

Shoesmith & Etheridge Ltd

Hastings, U.K.

Albert George Barrett Shoesmith (1876-1957) was the son of George Shoesmith, a grocer’s assistant. In 1899, Albert married Rosina Osborne and had become a jeweller’s assistant. In 1908 Pike’s Hastings Directory reported that he was Manager of the Sussex Post Card Co. and by 1909 was publishing real photographic cards under his own name, and also coloured halftone cards of Hastings.

During World War 1 sales of postcards in Britain became seriously depressed. Possibly to reduce his capital exposure Shoesmith decided to enter into a partnership with George Etheridge in March 1915 to sell cards jointly under the name Shoesmith and Etheridge. Albert Shoesmith stepped down from the day-to-day running of Shoesmith & Etheridge in 1927, although he remained a director.

World War 2 brought difficult trading conditions, but unlike many other postcard publishers Etheridge managed to keep production going. With the return of peace, Etheridge, helped by his son-in-law, David Albert, further modernised the cards.

By May 1934 Shoesmith & Etheridge real photographic cards acquired a distinctive trademark comprising the helmeted head of a Norman knight, with the word “Norman” added in a scroll underneath. As many as nine variants are known and postmarks indicate that all nine varieties were first issued in 1934. During 1939 the helmeted badge was discontinued on some cards in favour of a circular badge with “Norman” forming the top half of the circle and “S & E Hastings” the lower half.

The final design of back, which was introduced in July 1953 used a redrawn Norman head enclosed in a circle. In the mid 1950s cards began appearing with backs printed in blue instead of familiar black. By 1962 Etheridge and his son-in-law tried re-issuing some of the black and white cards as coloured halftones but later switched to using genuine colour photographs.

Although no longer publishing cards, Shoesmith and Etheridge are still in business, based in Uckfield, producing stationery, wrapping paper and other items. In 1992 the firm was acquired by Johnston Press plc, an Edinburgh firm, which publishes over 200 local newspapers.