Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Jaques and Son

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1839.
1938.

of 15 to 21 Kirby Street, Hatton Garden, London, EC1. (1922)

of 20-21 Kirby Street, Hatton Garden, London, EC1. Telephone: Holborn 1654, 3051. Cables: "Croquet, Smith, London" (1929)

of 361 Whitehorse Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. Telephone: Thornton Heath 4242. Cables: "Croquet, Thornton Heath". (1947)

Established 1795

A well known London maker and publisher of games particularly in the 19th century. The company published both Happy Families and Snap in the 1860s.

  • Extract from Company History: (02/08)

"Passing down the family business from father to son has become increasingly rare. Passing it down in happy circumstances for six generations may be something of a record. Thus it seems only fitting that John Jaques is the company that invented Happy Families.

Today, John V and Christopher run the oldest games and sports manufacturer in the world. Their sons, Benjamin, Emmett, Joe and daughter Clare, will be the seventh generation in an unbroken line which began with a country boy named Thomas."

  • 1765 Thomas Jaques was a farmer's son of French Huguenot descent was born. Following a country childhood in Grittleton near Chippenham, Wiltshire, Thomas, having finished his schooling, left in a wagon for London to seek his fortune. He was, by then, an ambitious young lad of fifteen.
  • 1780 Thomas arrived in London, where his traditional Huguenot craftsmanship skills flourished, and became apprenticed to a bone and ivory turner, Mr Ivy, at 65 Leather Lane in Holborn. Thomas's instinct and good sense extended into his private life: at twenty-one, Thomas married Mr Ivy's niece and continued to work for Mr Ivy.
  • 1795 His employer and mentor died. Thomas, now thirty, was so well-versed in his craft that he could take on the business and establish himself as "Thomas Jaques, (Manufacturer of Ivory, Hardwoods, Bone, and Tunbridge Ware)". It is from this date, that John Jaques marks its official beginning. His decorative card illustrates his bold, ambitious nature as well as his meticulous attention to detail: a one-man business, he nonetheless offered his wares "for Wholesale and for Exportation". Thomas worked in wood, bone and ivory, handcrafting carved snuff-boxes, coat, hat and hair brushes, paper knives, work boxes, glove stretchers, and the inlaid woodwork known as Tunbridge Ware. In 1795, a son John was born, the third of seven children, and the son who would carry on and expand the family business. At fifteen, John was apprenticed to his father and five years later partnered him in the firm, which became "T. and J. Jaques, Wholesale Ivory Turners".
  • It was, by this time, too narrow a description, as their materials now included hardwoods. Lignum vitae was the unique wood which was to become Jaques croquet mallets. Turkey boxwood was destined for mallets and balls. In fact, before long Jaques would become timber-based, as they are now. As the father and son partnership prospered, so the family grew. John married, and fathered a son: John Jaques II. He, too, was apprenticed as a young man, to the family firm, which by now, had expanded into additional premises at 102 Hatton Garden. (Leather Lane was retained.) From this time on a series of events shaped the history of Jaques, especially the invention of many famous games and sports, which led Jaques to 'teach the world to play'.
  • Early 1800's John Jaques II invented Happy Families, Tiddledy-Winks, Ludo and Snakes and Ladders and was awarded the freedom of the City of London in 1869.
  • 1849 Nathaniel Cooke (John Jaques II father-in-law) took the basic chess pieces and with a revolutionary design based on the Elgin marbles, changed the look completely, into today's design. Howard Staunton, a famous exponent of the English School of Chess was so impressed that he allowed his name and signature to authenticate every box of pieces.
  • 1851 John Jaques II won a place in sporting history and a gold medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851 for his introduction of Croquet to Britain.
  • 1864 John Jaques II wrote and published "Croquet: The Laws and Regulations of the Game".
  • 1884 John Jaques III joined the company and expanded production into sports equipment for cricket, tennis, football, hockey, badminton and archery. With this expansion the company moved to Kirby Street.
  • 1902 John Jaques III invented Gossima which swept the country and became Ping-Pong. This later was renamed Table Tennis.
  • 1922 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Sports Goods and Games; Brands "Magpie," "Eclipse," "Empire,", Jaques' Croquet, Tuffanuff Footballs, Standard Bowls, Staunton Chessmen, Ping-Pong. (Stand No. H.34) [1]
  • 1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Tennis Rackets, Croquet, Footballs, Indoor Games, the latter including the original Staunton Chessmen. Sole distributors 1928 L.T.A. Official Ball (Official Ball of the English Lawn Tennis Association). (Stand No. B.31) [2]
  • 1941 Jaques factory in Hatton Garden was demolished in the blitz leaving only a burnt safe, containing the original Pattern Book of designs from 1795 to 1870. John Jaques IV re-established the factory from the ashes of Hatton Garden with the help of his loyal staff. The new factory address was; 361 Whitehorse Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. MI 9 employed Jaques to make prisoner of war escape kits in the form of many games including cribbage boards with secret map compartments.
  • 1946 John Jaques IV invented the resin lawn bowl, which was superior to anything of its time.
  • 1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of all equipment for Archery, Badminton, Bowls, Football, Hockey, Croquet, Cricket, Golf, Squash, Tennis, Billiards, Chess, Darts, Dominoes, Indoor Games, Roulette3, Ship's Games, Table Tennis. [3]
  • 1950 John Jaques IV introduced the laminate glass fibre archery bow, laminated tennis racket frame and transformed the traditional wooden badminton racket into a lightweight, steel-shafted 4oz version.
  • 1965 John V and Christopher take-over the business.
  • 1995 John Jaques and Son celebrated two hundred years.


  • Note:
    • The company has its own website - see [2] below


See Also

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  • [1] The V and A Museum of Childhood
  • [2] Jaques Website

Sources of Information