One of my passions is collecting secondhandbooks. I have a large collection of travel guides and quirky oddities. The Illustrated Catalogue of Goods Manufactured and supplied by WCooper is one of those quirky oddities. It was published approximately in 1903 and features such wonderful gems such as bathing tents, bug destroyers, Churches and vapourising compounds. You name it, they make it and ship it worldwide.
The illustrations are a delight and the descriptions are even more so. The company was housed in the Old Kent Road in London with show-grounds and offices. The Sylvan Grove housed all Iron Buildings and Rustic Works. The Devonshire Grove housed all the Moulding Mills and Glass and Iron Warehouses. There are even photographs of the buildings themselves.
The pages are a delight to browse through discovering ranges of window boxes, from 6s per foot run; a garden swing height 10ft width 4ft cost £1 10s od; a Ball Room, Drill or Lecture Hall, erected complete for £275 or marked for re-erection and bundled and packed on Rail or Wharf for £185. However, these prices do not include any Band Stand, Counter or Lavatory fittings. You can even specify the size you want and they’ll make it.
How about a dwelling especially for hot climates. Specially designed for Tropical climates.
Not only do they do buildings, but they also had their own pesticides, in particular, Weed Destroyer. Used for permanently destroying vegetation on Walks, Carriage Drives, Railway Stations, Ash Tennis Courts, Stonework grown green etc. Used at Kew Gardens. Complete satisfaction guaranteed! Refuse imitations. A quote from a satisfied customer “It brightens the Gravel Walks”.
But perhaps you are more taken with our more temperate climes and require a bathing tent! Again, this poses no problem and there is a range of canvas bathing beauties for you to choose from. My favourite is “The Surprise Tent”. 8ft square at the base. Strong polished wood frame. Available in plain cloth at £2 2s 0d or Striped cloth at £2 15s 0d. Very Punch and Judy.
I loaned it to my Dad for a while and he loved it. He read it so often he scarily knew all the prices of the tropical bungalows you could order for your Mission overseas. It made him laugh and that was the whole point, and should you need a bathing tent, make your choice from the following lovelies. The telephone number is 1246 HOP 🙂