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Our History

The Nelson Touch

NELSON in 1797 lost his arm in a fight with a treasure ship off Santa Cruz. On his next visit to London he called upon Mr. Thresher at the Sign of the Peacock, from whom he was accustomed to buy large quantities of silk stockings. Mr. Thresher naturally hastened to ex press regret for the loss of the arm, but Nelson cut him short: "Tut, tut man; damn lucky for you it wasn't my leg. I want another dozen pairs of silk stockings."

Napoleon's Compliment
NAPOLEON'S dictum that England was a nation of shopkeepers failed in its sting because it was straightway accepted as a compliment. A nation of shopkeepers? Of course! ‘What better occupation is there? To make, to sell, to buy, to ex change goods, to give service - that may constitute a high ideal.

200 Years' Qualification
Mr. James Bone, in his "London Perambulator," tells of a London man who determined that he would buy his household commodities only from those shops which had been established for at least 300 years. He had no difficulty at all. There was an embarrassment of riches. He got his tea from the firm which owned the tea thrown into Boston Harbour at the start of the War of Independence. His tobacco from the shop where Napoleon bought snuff. His Wine Merchant was established in 1667.

This antiquity of London shops raises a nice question. "Blessed is the nation," said a cynic, which has no history." Then what of shops? Is it better to deal with a shop with a history, or is a brand new shop likely to be more efficient?

The Anvil of Experience
Because it has not hammered on the anvil of experience, a new shop may be inefficient. An old-established firm can be very progressive, This seems certain - if a firm which has a long and honourable history is constantly adapting itself to changing needs and is imbued with the spirit of progress, constantly thinking ahead - then such a firm does give superior service.

Over 300 Years Young
The firm of Thresher & Glenny is such a firm. It was founded over 300 years ago, and ever since has done business with men who have made history. And yet their appeal is based upon the efficiency of their present-day organisation.

Just as a regiment is proud of the engagements emblazoned on its colours, so Thresher & Glenny are proud of the names on the roll of their customers.

Lord Nelson
NELSON, whose stockings Thresher & Glenny supplied, and two of whose letters are reproduced on page 2, was a valued customer.

David Livingstone, the African Explorer, to whose shrine in Westminster Abbey coloured men make pilgrimages. It was Dr. Livingstone who designed the first mosquito net which Thresher & Glenny put into use.

Dr. Jowett
JOWETT OF BALLIOL. It was Jowett, the great master of Balliol, who was responsible for the launching of Thresher & Glenny's Tailoring Department. Dr. Jowett entered the shop one day intent upon ordering shirts. But he was as absent-minded as he was great, and absent-mindedly he asked for a Dress Suit. The firm never changed its expression, but took measurements, procured cloth and sent home the suit. There after Jowett ordered two Dress Suits and a Shooting Suit every year; but his measurements were never taken again.

Sir Auflen Chamberlain
SIR AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, K.G. As these notes were written in November, 1925, no name in the list of customers could more fittingly serve to link the present with the past. Sir Austen has permitted the use of his name for this purpose, together with the statement that he, as did his distinguished father, entrusts Thresher & Glenny with regular orders for his personal wear.

OVER A CENTURY has now passed since GARIBALDI welded the component parts of what we know as Italy, into one nation. A man with farseeing eyes, the domed forehead of a thinker and an unusually long nose that seemed to peer over his rolled moustache, he kindled a flame that has grown into a rearing fire - the Flame of Freedom, born in an ever- growing awareness that Freedom is the greatest thing a man can have, even if often it is accompanied by poverty.

THIS SURGE towards Freedom was symbolised in a RED SHIRT - the shirt Garibaldi's Thousand wore. The shirt that their leader himself wore at the height of his efforts during the Risorgrimento, 1815-1848 is in the possession of the Museo del Risorgimento, Milano. It could be the shirt of a Canadian lumberjack - open necked, with a pyjama-like collar - except that the lines of meticulous white stiches and the precise buttonholes proclaim it to be hand made (sewing machines were not in use in those days). The shoulders are worn and darned, worn no doubt by the chafing of a bandolier, and darned possibly by Garibaldi himself, for the stitches are not as neat as a seamstress would have them. And inside the collar is the oval tag stitched into position by the maker of the shirt and bearing his name and London address. In bold letters the latter stand out: THRESHER & GLENNY, OUTFITTERS, STRAND. So we can associate ourselves with the birth of a nation!

DELVING THROUGH our records reveals a history rich in famous figures. One reads the names of Lord Tennyson and Swinburne. Tom King the famous pugilist of the 1860's, always handsomely dressed, would drive to ‘THE PEACOCK' in his high dog cart.
THERE ARE fabulous orders from the Emperor of Japan for supplying the finest underwear. The Mikado wore each set once only. The Emperor of Ethiopia of that time was not so particular and had a dozen woollen vests. Colonel Baden Powell ordered the first Khaki Shirts for the Officers of the South African Constabulary.

Genesis of our American Clientele
In 1861 the late S. Endicott Peabody, of the United States, entered the shop and ordered some of the India Tweed Suits which he thought would be suitable for the American climate. To-day two of the firms representatives spend four months of every Spring and four months of every Autumn in the United States booking orders from individual customers.

Whilst embarking on one of our earliest trips in 1901 we note that Mr Charles F Glenny had the good fortune to serve Colonel Cody, known throughout the world as L1 Buffalo Bill, with a personally tailored suit.

Mainly Historical
Let us briefly trace our history. In 1755 the firm traded at the Sign of the Peacock, next to Somerset House, Strand, under the style of Newham & Thresher, Hosiers. For some time the Threshers - father and son - carried the business on. Then, Johnny Glenny entered as the dutiful apprentice (1820), and he duly married the daughter of his master, Richard Thresher. John was joined by his nephew in 1870 – Henry J. Glenny, the present head of the firm, who was joined by his son, Charles Glenny, in 1903. The house is "a father and son" house - never has been a "limited liability."

Royal Warrants for over 225 Years
Royal Warrants of Appointment have been held in unbroken line from George III in 1783 to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2009, indeed we are very proud at being able to proclaim the oldest Royal Warrant in the hands of a private trader.

The Original Shop
In the early days the shop was small, the counting-house at the back, the principals and apprentices living over the premises—and under their incomes Seventy years ago the small-paned shop windows made way for plate glass, but when, in 1903, the whole of the interior was reconstructed, special care was taken not to interfere with the exterior elevation, so that the link with the past should be preserved.

Imperial Service
Thresher & Glenny's business from the beginning was Imperial—it glimpsed the Seven Seas. In the days of the East India Company they specialised in outfitting "writers," as its staff was called. Six dozen shirts were taken for a voyage to India. When the Government succeeded the East India Company, Lord Canning and every successive Viceroy, with two exceptions, were outfitted by Thresher & Glenny. Big things were done in outfitting for the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, Ashanti, Egyptian and Boer Wars.

Where Knowledge is Power

Thresher & information concerned.
Glenny had an uncanny knack of gaining of appointments—often before the officer When one irate individual demanded to know how such information was gained, the reply was made, " Sir, if a cat goes to India, it is Thresher & Glenny's business to know it."

That was before 1850!

Tropical Specialists
It was John Glenny who saw the necessity of the closest study of climatic conditions in relation to clothing. He revolutionised the underclothing industry by his invention of India Gauze, and various other specialised materials for Tropical use resulted from his study and experiment.

Correct "Overland" Equipment
The "Overland Route" implied that travellers going East were conveyed across Egypt, the entire journey from Alexandria to Suez being performed in about sixty hours. By order of His Highness Abbas Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, special overland trunks, made by Thresher & Glenny, were regarded as the official ones for the overland journey through Egypt for travellers going to and re turning from East India. The Official Command document, which is dated 1851 is a brilliant affair in blue, purple, and gold leaf in Arabic characters, and is of great interest to customers from the East who are at times able to decipher it.

Those were good old days for London shops; their prices appear low to-day, but they seemed to have yielded good profits. Competition was mild, expenses small, taxation low. Tempora mutantur.

Modern Ideals
To-day, firms are keenly competing with each other to give the best service. Expenses and taxation are high. But the modern methods of organisation, the efficiency standard reached by Thresher & Glenny, enables them to continually add new customers to their proud list, and to develop steady progress in their prosperous service.
Here the keynote is not what we can get, but rather what can we give, of care and personal service. This brings its own reward.

OUT OF all the earth's surface there are only a few square miles where a unique strain of Cotton is grown.

UNDER the Caribbean sun, in the genial climate of some of the smaller West Indian Islands, this wonderful Cotton - SEA ISLAND COTTON - thrives and produces a staple so much longer and finer and silkier in texture than ordinary cotton that it has become sought after throughout the world for the luxurious fabrics it makes.

THRESHER & GLENNY originally introduced Sea Island Cotton into this country and garments woven from this Cotton combined luxury with utility for in addition to their wonderful silky sheen and light weight, they are so durable that they will stand any amount of washing.

FOR MORE than 200 years we have been making Bespoke Tailored Suits. A great deal of care and attention goes into the making of the garments to give the suit that well-bred look.


Materials are all important and our Tailors will help with the selection of cloth, making sure that weight and type is correct for your needs.
YOU WILL then be measured and the Tailor will take into account the bone structure as well as the silhouette in shaping the suit.

A PATTERN is then made and the suit cut out and our coat-makers will start to mould the body and canvases and then finely sew together the various sections. Many hours are spent in moulding and shaping the canvases and the hand finishing is all important for the individual appearance.

WE HAVE in our possession a copy of "The Australian, Indian and Colonial Shipping Circular" registered as a newspaper and published by us. The first issue of eight pages was dated May 1853.

THIS PAPER was subject to a tax of one penny. We reproduce a replica of the stamp, which might be regarded as a philatelic rarity, as it is probably the only one now in existence.

"The Australian, Indian and Colonial Shipping Circular" contained information about the sailing of ships to Egypt and India and Australia. It is interesting to note that the largest ship was the "Carolina Chisholm" (screw) 2.500 tons, and the smallest the Queen Margaret, 533 tons.

APPARENTLY NOT all the shipping companies provided cabin furniture free, for Thresher and Glenny supplied to travellers sofas, chairs, chintz covers, mattress pillows, book cases, wash hand stands, trays, cabin lamps, candlesticks, snuffers, foot-baths, water cans, tin mugs and filtering machines. A large portion of the publication, headed Thresher and Glenny's Price Current, was reserved for prices for practically everything either sex required for a long period abroad, including cutlery, table linen, furniture and "Piece Goods of the best quality and in convenient lengths for making up".

The success of Thresher & Glenny may be due to the habit of asking the right questions of themselves. The questions which have governed the career of the house are:

What is the best quality procurable?
Who are the best workpeople?
How moderately can our products be sold?

This last question is important in these days when economy is the prime virtue both in public and in private life. Admitted that all their goods are of the best quality, and the product of the best craftsmanship, their prices must and do represent a real economy. The patrons of Thresher & Glenny are the men who have given London its reputation for Style and all that constitutes apparel for gentlemen. It is they who have made London mean to mankind what Paris means to womankind.
These men could hardly be induced to enter the huge modern stores. They insist upon dealing with a Specialist who knows his job. At Thresher & Glenny they find a specialist in every department.

Granted Thresher & Glenny mean so much to so many, why this brochure? Because it is true that all do not see a city even though it be set upon a hill.

This can be illustrated. One day a gentleman called at the shop in order to tell Thresher & Glenny that he disliked circulars and would they please not send him circulars. But as he passed through the Tailoring Department he stopped and ex claimed, "Well, I have passed this place for 40 years and I never knew you did Tailoring." He was measured for a suit and is now a valued customer. There was no necessity to send him another circular.

"I never knew." There's the justification for this brochure. There may be many who do not know of the excellent services which Thresher & Glenny can render. We believe that you would appreciate such individual and personal service.
Having thus introduced our House and our Service, may we hope for an opportunity of proving that Service as really worthy of your confidence?