Records of William Brandt's Sons and Co. Ltd, merchant bankers, 1809-1934

Scope and Content

The collection comprises:

  • Commercial circulars sent to Brandt's, 1829-1934 (Bt 1/1).
  • Copy correspondence to addresses within Britain, 1915-1919 (Bt 1/2).
  • Copy correspondence to addresses in Russia other than St. Petersburg, 1914-1916 and 1922 (Bt 1/3).
  • Copy correspondence to addresses in St Petersburg, 1914-1916, 1918-1923 (Bt 1/4).
  • Printed London banking directories, 1870-1918 (Bt 2).
  • Administrative, legal and financial commercial papers of Brandt's including shipping lists, contracts, receipts, accounts and bills, c.1809-c.1838 (Bt 3).
  • Correspondence and other papers of members of the Brandt family, 1833-1856 (Bt 4).

The collection provides rich details about the business of an Anglo-German merchant bank in thelate nineteenth and early twentieth century. Of particular significance is the depth to which thecollection records Brandt's business activities in Russia.

Administrative / Biographical History

Merchant bank, William Brandt's Sons & Co. Ltd, was established by a German mercantile family. EH Brandt opened his first office in London in 1805 where his postal address was Batson's CoffeeHouse. A branch of the firm had also been opened in Archangel, Russia in 1802. In 1861 the companybecame insolvent but Augustus Brandt and others managed to secure 10,000 pounds to save the company.

The firm traded exclusively with Russia (particularly in Archangel, Riga and St. Petersburg)until 1875 when it began trading in Argentinean grain movements and meat refrigeration. It also hadinterests in sugar and cotton mills. It took over the Calcutta house of Scholvin and Co. in 1886 andthereby extended its interests to India. The company had the name William Brandt's Sons and CompanyLimited at the time with offices at 4 Fenchurch Avenue in the City of London.

Brandt's was smaller than many leading merchant banks operating in London in these years. It hadcapital of 0.35 million pounds in 1880 rising to 0.75 million pounds by 1904 and one million by1914. Brandt's belonged to the Accepting House Committee that was set up at the beginning of thefirst world war and acceptances accounted for a substantial part of its business. By 1914,acceptance liabilities in Russia accounted for less than 10 percent of Brandt's business and thelargest portion of acceptance business was with the United States (almost 35 percent).

The bank is first mentioned in the London Banks directory in 1894. In that year itspartners were Alfred Ernst Brandt, Arthur Henry Brandt and Augustus Ferdinand Brandt. Henry BernhardBrandt and Augustus Philip Brandt also became partners in 1895 but Alfred had ceased to be a partnerin the following year. Rudolph Ernst Brandt joined the firm in 1898, replacing Arthur.

Brandt's is no longer in existence but the date of the winding up of the company is not known. Itwas still trading in 1957.


Full sorting and listing of all series has yet to be undertaken. Those that have are arranged inchronological order.

Access Information

ACCESS: Access is permitted to all registered readers.It is recommended that readers wishing to use material in this collection write in advance to theKeeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections stating their particular area ofresearch. Many of the volumes in this collection have decayed and damaged bindings and a significantnumber of the loose papers are in fragile condition. Also, full sorting and listing of all serieshas yet to be undertaken. For these reasons, some items are not currently available forconsultation.

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must besought in advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and SpecialCollections (email Department will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but this is often difficult andthe responsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the personwishing to publish.

LANGUAGE: English, French and German

Custodial History

The greater part of the company's core archive has apparently been lost. What survives is aseries of account books at the British Library of Political and Economic Science and thiscollection, at The University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections.This collection was acquired in several parts through the agency of members of the University'steaching and research staff in January 1983 and May 1991.

Related Material

  • London School of Economics; British Library of Political and Economic Science: financialrecords of William Brandt's Sons and Co. Ltd, 1814-1957. GB 97 BRANDT


  • Stanley Chapman, Merchant Enterprise in Britain (Cambridge University Press; Cambridge 1992)
  • Stanley Chapman, The Rise of Merchant Banking (Unwin Hyman; 1984)