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British Industrial History

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Iliffe and Sons: 1920

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Printers, Publishers, Lithographers, Photo-Engravers, Transfer Printers, Electrotypers and Stereotypers

In addition to what may be termed the staple industries of Coventry, the city is also the centre of a very important section of the printing trade, being the home of the old-established firm of Iliffe and Sons Ltd, the proprietors and printers of a number of well-known specialised and technical journals.

Owing to the fact that the publishing part of the business is conducted from the London offices of the firm, few people realise, perhaps, the magnitude of the works output, but some idea of this will be gained from the fact that something like sixty tons of printed papers are now being turned out each week, and there is every indication that this quantity will be exceeded in the future.


It is only possible to refer briefly to the different publications of the firm. which include-

  • "The Autocar" (price 3d. weekly), which was founded as far back as 1895, and has always been regarded as the leading motor paper and the authority on all motoring matters, not only in this country, but also abroad. It enjoys the largest circulation of any automobile paper published throughout the world.
  • "The Agricultural Gazette" (price 2d. weekly), an old-established farming paper dealing with all aspects of modern farming, including the use of tractors and other motor machinery for agricultural purposes.
  • "The Amateur Photographer and Photography" (price 3d. weekly). A splendidly illustrated weekly journal for photographers, features of which are practical articles for beginners and advanced workers, criticism of readers' work and interesting competitions.
  • "The Automobile Engineer (price 2/- monthly). This is a highly technical monthly journal, dealing with the design and construction of motor vehicles and aircraft, and intended for engineers, designers, draughtsmen, manufacturers and works managers.
  • "The Motor Cycle" (price 3d. weekly). Enjoying, as it does, a weekly circulation of well over 100,000 copies, this is one of the best-known of Messrs. Iliffe's publications. It is read by motor cyclists all over the world.
  • "Motor Traction" (price 3d. weekly). An illustrated weekly paper devoted to mechanical road haulage. It deals in a practical way with all types of industrial motor vehicles and their use for goods or passenger transport.
  • "Engineering Production" (price 1/- monthly). The journal of works practice and administration. This is the only British engineering paper published that concentrates on the all-important subject of production.
  • "Cooper's Vehicle Journal" (price 12/6 per annum; 25/- with coloured plates). Founded 40 years ago, this is the recognised organ of the coach and motor body building trades. Following recent developments, it also deals with aeroplane construction and motor car maintenance and repairs. It is issued monthly, and its circulation is confined to the trade.
  • "Ice and Cold Storage" (price 8/6 per annum). The oldest and best-known publication of its kind. It gives a monthly review of the ice-making, cold storage and refrigerating industries.

Messrs. Iliffe & Sons, Limited, also publish numerous handbooks in conjunction with their various weekly and monthly publications, and undertake general printing work of all kinds, both letterpress and lithographic.


Another department of the firm is that devoted to the designing and printing of transfers, these being supplied for a wide variety of purposes, such as affixing to bicycles, motor cycles, talking machines, agricultural implements, hardware, pianos, safes, tramcars and railway carriages. A speciality of this branch of the business is the production of window transfers for advertising purposes, these being supplied in all sizes and in any number of colours.


Photo-engraving is yet another branch of the firm's activities, and they possess a very up-to-date plant for making process blocks in line, half-tone or three-colour, and also electrotypes and stereotypes by the most modern methods. Connected with this department is a large staff of photographers, artists and designers for the preparation of original illustrations, drawings and sketches, photographic retouching and the working-up of rough designs.

The works throughout are equipped with the latest appliances and machinery, among the latter being no less than six large, specially-built rotary printing machines, each of which is designed to print, fold, stack and count 64-page sheets at the rate of six thousand copies per hour.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • From Coventry Chamber of Commerce Year Book 1920