150 Years of AG&S
(July 5th. 2010)
This web page is a scanned copy of the text of a private publication of Antony Gibbs & Sons Limited, entitled "A Record of 150 Years of Merchant Banking 1808 - 1958", written by Colin Jones.
ANTONY GIBBS (from the painting in the Royal Exchange by Edward Patry, R.B.A.

I      In Brief
II     Foundations

III   Years of Building

IV    Third Generation  18401914     
             Guano and Nitrate of Soda
             Bankers and Financiers

V     Through Two Wars

            The Nitrate Pool and Iodine
            Overseas Ventures
             Secretarial and Financial Progress

VI    The Company

               Principal Addresses (in 1958)

              Antony Gibbs (frontspiece)
              The Private Room at 22 Bishopsgate

 In Brief
The story of Antony Gibbs may be said to begin in 1774, when at the age of eighteen he left Exeter Grammar School and took up employment with a Mr Brook of Exeter. Mr Brook dealt in woollen cloth, and had a considerable trade with Spain. Antony Gibbs' subsequent business ventures on his own account were centred entirely in that country, which was fortunate, for during the greater part of his business life the wars with revolutionary and then Napoleonic France cut off most of the rest of the European continent to English traders - and much of the Iberian peninsula did not entirely escape the tyrant's attention. When in 1808 he founded Antony Gibbs and Son, a month after Wellington's first campaign opened, it was in Spain and Portugal that his new enterprise found most of  its early business.
This early interest in Spain and Portugal played a key role in the later story of the firm he passed on to his descendants. For, after he died, and his two sons Henry and William took over, the firm was one of the first merchant trading businesses to seek opportunities in the newly independent countries of Spanish South America - thus fulfilling one of the hopes the founder had harboured in his many years travelling and trading around the Iberian peninsula. And it was the new countries of that continent and the rapid development of their resources, particularly the natural deposits of fertilisers, that created the growth and prosperity of Antony Gibbs and Sons later in the nineteenth century, and decided most of the major lines of its future development.
The normal constituents of merchant trading, now flourishing almost as separate activities, such as banking, financing, insurance, exporting, marketing, Aand shipping, would probably have grown up anyway - provided the foundations were properly laid and opportunities were offered, sought, and taken. But would the house of Antony Gibbs and Sons have become so important in South America later on had the young Antony Gibbs not become so interested, at the start of his career, in Spain and in the commercial possibilities of trade with its American possessions? Would, for example, the firm have been so important a factor in the world nitrate and iodine markets? And would it have been so successful an enterprise without the foresight, energy and firm principles of the founder and his descendants?

These arc academic questions now - a hundred and fifty years after the house was founded. But the story of those years, certainly more interesting than the merely academic, does incline the reader to observe that back in the days of George III an apprenticeship in a provincial city was as good a way of setting about the business of making history as any other.
ANTONY GIBBS AND SON was the third business that the founder started. Immediately his apprenticeship ended in 1778, he set up business on his own account in Exeter as an exporter to Spain, Italy, and elsewhere. For a while his brother Abraham, who had been in business in Genoa for nine years, joined him in the partnership of a woollen mill in Exeter. But the woollen industry of the west country was declining, and when his brother died at the early age of twenty-eight in 1782, Antony's interest flagged.
But he kept his export business going by himself, with financial help from his father, who was a surgeon in Exeter. The young Antony had the makings of a successful trader. He made friends easily, he inspired confidence, he had great capacity for work, and his cheerful optimism, integrity, and high principles won him the regard and confidence of his English principals and Spanish clients alike. But his optimism was a weakness that led to rash and hasty ventures. In 1789, when the French revolution broke out and the business of exporting to the continent became more than usually precarious, it led to his downfall. The changed political conditions caught him overtrading and he and his father became bankrupt.
However, he had gained experience of business the hard way, and his mistake was a salutary lesson as well as a challenge. Without further thought he charged himself, and his sons after him, to repay his obligations in full, and though it was 1840 before the last outstanding debt was paid off, it was done.
With the help of family and friends, Antony Gibbs set out after a year for Madrid, wiser, more mature, and a married man of thirty-four. For the next eighteen years his activities were confined almost exclusively to Spain and Portugal, and it was during this period that the foundations of the Merchant Banking House he subsequently formed were really laid. No great commercial house is created overnight. One date, rather than another, may mark the beginning of its formal history, when the newcomer is given a permanent name and takes its place in the competitive world of commerce. But this is only after experience and capital have been acquired, connections and goodwill built up, and openings and opportunities found and explored. In retrospect, it can be seen that it was this that Antony Gibbs was doing during his eighteen-year Iberian 'apprenticeship'.
It was a testing period. England was at war for ten of those years, trade was blocked, the payment of currency disrupted, and plague spread over many parts of the continent. But Antony Gibbs was learning quickly. In 1805, when Spain went to war against England and an embargo was placed on all English property, he had already made arrangements for a Spanish firm to hold his own and his principals' stocks in Cadiz, Seville, Malaga and elsewhere, and confiscation was avoided. Antony Gibbs, and his sons Henry and William, then twenty and fifteen years of age, took up residence for the second time in three years, in Lisbon, where he tried, unsuccessfully, to arrange for the sale of the goods held for him in Spain. His thoughts next turned to the possibility of shipping them to one of the Spanish colonies in South America, where Spanish nationals alone were permitted to trade. This he eventually succeeded in doing, by chartering the Hermosa Mexicana in 1806 for the round voyage to Lima and back, with Peruvian produce, to London.
 Years of Building
BUT Antony Gibbs' Spanish business was now at an end. This time it was no fault of his own. Napoleon now ruled Spain, and many other English traders suffered equally. Though he and his eldest son, Henry, paid several subsequent visits to Lisbon it became quite clear that another venture altogether had to be started. Gradually his thoughts turned to the idea of establishing a business in London. Antony Gibbs was now entering his fifties and he wanted to leave something for his sons to carry on. But he resisted the idea for a long while as he had neither enough contacts in London nor adequate experience of business conditions and methods there. In 1808, however, his opportunity came when he was offered the post of one of the four Commissioners to be appointed for Portuguese property in England.
This post was paid, required residence in London, was most suited to his knowledge of the peninsula, and it put him into touch with London bankers, brokers, shipping and insurance circles. He had, besides, a house in Cadiz (which port was never taken by the French) that his son Henry had organised out of the chaos left by the war. He had an agency in Gibraltar. Both were strategically placed for the development of merchant trading with the two Iberian countries and their colonies in South America - should these throw off the metropolitan grip, which by now seemed probable. Wellington, too, was likely, in time, to throw the French out of the peninsula, whereupon Antony Gibbs' accumulated knowledge of that market and the goodwill he had built up there would come again into its own. He still retained the agencies, for that part of Europe, of leading English textile manufacturers. Unsold stocks of textiles were still being held for him there, and he had the backing and support of his brother George, who had thriving merchant and shipping interests at Liverpool and Bristol.
So in September 1808 Antony Gibbs and Son was founded at 13 Sherborne Lane, Lombard Street. Antony's eldest son, Henry, was now his partner. His second son, William, by then twenty-three, joined the partnership in 1813, and the name of the house accordingly became Antony Gibbs and Sons. But father and sons were destined to be in business together for only two years. In 1815, Antony Gibbs died at the age of fifty-nine, and the two sons carried on alone. But the foundations had been well laid, and though the end of fighting on the continent of Europe did not immediately ease the passage of commerce, with economic and financial crises occurring with typically post-war regularity, the new venture was consolidated and began to grow.
By the early 1820s one of the founder's plans was beginning to mature, as the wars of liberation prised open for foreign firms the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies in South America. Antony Gibbs and Sons was one of the first firms to follow the march of the nationalists' flag, opening offices in Lima, Peru, in 1822 and in Valparaiso and Santiago, Chile, in 1826. Though the firm's first representative at Lima had royalist sympathies, which made things somewhat difficult for him, and despite fairly heavy losses in the early years and a financial panic in London in 1825-26, the new venture survived. Cocoa, cotton, bark, and, later, copper, tin, silver, alpaca and wool were shipped on commission to Europe and English manufactures sent there in return. Insurances were placed and deposits of money and securities held on behalf of clients. By 1832, all parts of the business, in South America and in the developing merchant banking house in London, were on the upgrade, and the next ten years were prosperous.
 Third Generation:  18401914
BY the beginning of the 1840s, William was in sole charge of the business. Henry, who had outside interests, notably as one of the promoters and a director of the first board of the Great Western Railway, which came to birth in the firm's Lime Street offices, had, for these reasons and ill-health, become less active in the firm's business and died in 1842. A cousin, Charles Crawley, who joined the partnership in 1820 and played the main part in developing the South American houses, retired in 1838. In 1843, Henry's son, also called Henry and later created the first Lord Aldenham, joined the firm, becoming a partner five years later. The period of the younger Henry's association with the firm from 1843 until his death in 1907 happened to coincide with a period of quite remarkable growth and prosperity.
 Guano and Nitrate of Soda
The real progress began in 1841. Guano is a valuable fertiliser occurring naturally, as bird droppings, in large deposits on islands off the coast of Peru and in a few other coastal areas in the southern hemisphere. It was rich in both phosphorus and nitrogen, but a consignment from Peru some years before, part of which had reached the London house, had not been a success with English farmers. It was not unexpected, therefore, that the London office should have responded a little coldly, even with alarm, to letters from Lima informing them that they were about to conclude contracts with the governments of Peru and Bolivia for the purchase of large quantities of guano, to be shipped over the next five years - and with substantial payments in advance. The risks appeared enormous. Manure, however successful with the South American Indian, might not be suitable or favoured in European conditions.
But the Lima office had no doubts - fortunately - and the first contract was eventually signed in April 1842. The new fertiliser was an immediate success. By the 1850s sales were increasing at a rate of one-third a year. The demand was such that complaints were voiced by the Peruvians that their guano was being sold too cheaply. English farmers, simultaneously, complained that its price was too high. By 1864, when the deposits of good Peruvian guano had been almost entirely worked out, nearly four million tons had been sold for the Peruvian government, fetching about £20 million - with a proportionate commission for Antony Gibbs and Sons.
Few people today realise the debt shipping owes to Mr Stubbs, a partner of the Lima House. It will be appreciated that the guano trade, because of the nature of the cargo, attracted the worst class of ships and seamen. Mr Stubbs, appalled at the number of ships foundering or putting back into port in a leaking condition through being grossly overloaded, instituted in 1860 a form of control which, having been adopted by Samuel Plimsoll, MP, during his campaign for safety at sea in the 1870s, in effect became the Plimsoll Line of today.
Before a ship was loaded a survey was made and a safe freeboard was calculated for the ship. She was then loaded to that level and the pumps sealed for twenty-four hours, after which time the freeboard was again measured. The ship was not allowed to proceed on her way until a certificate, confirming the result of this test, had been handed in to the Customs House.
This system led to an immediate and permanent improvement in the safety of ships in the guano trade - for four years after its adoption no ship was lost at all.
By this time the nitrate grounds in these countries were being developed and another new fertiliser became available. Again Antony Gibbs and Sons were among the pioneers. Occasional shipments had been taken as a speculation ever since 1830, and later on several undeveloped areas were acquired and factories set up, in part ownership or outright. One of the young men the London office sent out to Chile, when it was acting as agents for the Chilean state railways during the period of construction - his name was North - came to be known as the Nitrate King, because of the leading part he subsequently played in the development of these nitrate resources. By 1881, the nitrate interests of Antony Gibbs and Sons had become large enough to warrant the setting up of a separate office in Iquique, the capital of the province of Tarapaca which, originally Peruvian, had just been won in war by Chile.
While the growth of the guano and nitrate trades carried the firm to new heights, its more conventional bread-and-butter lines in merchant banking in South America suffered from the development of more rapid international communications. Steamers and telegraphs quickened the pace of commercial negotiations and gave the seller more rapid and direct means of contact with the buyer. The commission merchant, receiving overseas goods on consignment for sale and orders for purchases of European manufacturers, was slowly squeezed out, and in his place emerged the broker and the practice of dealing direct with the customer.
New activities had to be sought. It was not necessary to look far to find them. Chile particularly, as well as other South American countries, was growing rapidly. Valparaiso was made a free port. Railways were built. Agricultural produce was being shipped to California and Australia and the country's mineral wealth was opened up. Antony Gibbs and Sons seized its opportunities, though like most other finance houses not all its ventures were equally successful.
 Bankers and Financiers
From quite early on in his career Antony Gibbs had acted as private banker to his clients, in Spain, South America and elsewhere. The custody, purchase and sale of securities, the collection of dividends, and the acceptance of bills became an integral part of his business and that of the house he left to his descendants. As the nineteenth century progressed, so did these parts of the business, and the great increase in trade and the enormous demands for new capital during these years brought further work to Antony Gibbs and Sons.
There were, however, risks attaching to foreign lending, for Lord Palmerston in 1848 had stated that:
       "It has hitherto been thought by the successive Governments of Great
       Britain undesirable that British subjects should invest their capital in loans to
       foreign governments instead of employing it in profitable undertakings at
       home . . .
       For the British Government has considered that the losses of imprudent
       men, who have placed mistaken confidence in the good faith of foreign
       governments, would prove a salutary warning to others . "
Doubtless the firm had this attitude in mind for it did not become an issuing house until 1887, when it invited subscriptions for the ordinary and preference shares and debentures of the Hotchkiss Ordnance Company Limited to the total value of just over £1 million. The following year" it handled two overseas conversion loans, for Greece and Mexico, amounting between them to £11 million. In 1889 it was concerned in four more new issues, all foreign, totalling more than £6 million.
Thus the firm missed being involved, as an issuing house, in the great capital booms and the almost as great (though fortunately less widespread) series of loan defaults earlier in the century, when for instance newly independent countries turned to this country, with its growing wealth, almost as soon as they won their freedom - and defaulted on their loans almost as quickly. But failures to meet obligations by overseas borrowers were still too frequent for comfort when Antony Gibbs and Sons became an issuing house. In 1890 over-investment abroad led to the Baring crisis, in which the firm joined the bankers' syndicate formed by the Bank of England to support the market. The firm decided to restrict its issuing activities in the 1890s, partly because of the risks and the presence of many other houses in the same business, and partly because of the growing demands for capital from the firm's own overseas activities. It still continued, however, to underwrite the issues of other houses and has resumed issuing business itself in recent years.
In Mexico its interest was not confined to issuing Government loans but it participated in the formation, construction and equipment of the Mexican Railways and the Mexican Gas and Electric Light Company (now the Mexican Light and Power Company). The bulk of the latter's initial plant and equipment was ordered and shipped by the firm from Britain.
In 1881 Antony Gibbs and Sons made an important acquisition. It took over the entire business of Gibbs, Bright and Company, the firm that Antony's brother George had helped to develop between 1789 and 1818. Originally located in Bristol, its main office had been transferred to Liverpool in 1805 when that port began to outgrow Bristol. By 1881 the main line of business, which was with the West Indies, had begun to dwindle. The Bristol office was closed six years after the acquisition took place, to be followed twenty-two years later by the closuretof the office in Liverpool and the transfer of the chartering department and other remaining activities to London.
But, half a century before, Gibbs, Bright and Company had taken a step of great significance for its own future and for that of its subsequent owner. Within two years of the discovery of gold in Australia, Gibbs, Bright had opened a house in Melbourne, where it rapidly became one of the leading shipping agents and merchant firms. In 1850 it purchased Brunel's steamship Great Britain, which was engaged in the passenger trade from England to Australia for upwards of the next thirty years. Other houses followed in Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth. Among the shipping agencies the Australian offices received were those of the Orient Line, Eastern and Australian, Houlder Bros, the Mogul Line, Anglo Australasian Steam Navigation, and the Australian Union Line. Apart from shipping, which was and is today its major activity and its raison d'etre, the Australian house also developed rapidly as merchant traders, acting as agents for English firms and securing purchases for local concerns.
After 1881, the injection of new capital by Antony Gibbs and Sons, coupled with the markedly rapid rate of growth achieved by the colony - as it was then -enabled the Australian houses to seize further opportunities. They established steamer services between Australia and New Zealand, sailing vessel services between Australia and Mauritius, and in the 1890s the Intercolonial Steamship Company serving Australian coastal ports. Agencies were obtained from the Commonwealth and Dominion (later named the Port) Line, the East Asiatic Company, and several others. But further development of ordinary merchanting business was for a while restrained by the general uncertainty about the state and future of the colony's economic health in the mid-1880s. Reluctance to embark upon the direct export of primary commodities, such as wool, because of the amount of capital that would have to be tied up, led to the practice of shipping on commission. This in turn led to the purchase of an important wool shipping business, Peele Borrodaile, and the firm's subsequent connection with many of the famous Australian wool clippers.
By this time, Gibbs, Bright held a number of financial agencies from British mortgage, finance and investment companies which, through mortgagees' foreclosures, led to the firm managing a number of wool growing stations. It also represented several British insurance companies in Australia. But during this period before the first world war, the firm ran a large and growing importing business, dealing in all varieties of goods from needles to anchors, including the first motor car to arrive in Melbourne. More familiar commodities included tea, sugar, wines and spirits, sulphur, fertilisers, engineering goods and leather products. Useful export lines that were developed included livestock, dairy produce and flour as well as wool. In addition, the London and Australian offices played a substantial part in the development of Australia's mineral resources, starting with lead in 1895, and later adding tin, gold, and copper, with cement and superphosphates, to the list.y
 Through Two Wars
All the business activities Antony Gibbs and Sons were handling throughout the later nineteenth century and into the twentieth century developed side by side. The normal business of importing and exporting, of shipping and marketing, insurance, finance and banking went on in established centres. At the same time, new openings were created in South and Central America, Australia, Europe and Britain, and in other parts of the world. The difficulties caused by the great wars of the twentieth century, and their economic aftermaths, were accepted and mastered as they occurred. Perhaps the major pre-occupation of the firm as the two decades between the two world wars opened was the deteriorating state of affairs in the nitrate business - still, let it be noticed, part of the central theme of the enterprise as it had developed from the original interests of its founder.
 The Ntrate Pool and Iodine
Antony Gibbs and Sons first organised a nitrate pool in 1907-1908 when large shipments of nitrate on their way to Europe remained unsold and threatened to force a serious break in prices. This gave the firm an intimate acquaintance with the European distributors of this commodity and, after a while, led to the acquisition of a share in the distribution system itself, on the continent and in North America. This proved extremely profitable. The experience and position that the firm gained in the nitrate business led the British government at the outbreak of war in 1914 to ask it to take over the purchasing, shipping, and financing of all nitrate requirements for munitions; to see to its storage in this country, and its delivery to factories. These services the firm rendered without charge to the government. This brief was later extended to include the supplies needed by the French and other allies.
Thus the firm had become involved in every aspect of the nitrate business -development of grounds, production, shipping, finance and distribution. But by the beginning of the twenties the trade had fallen into a serious position. Wartime stocks were being sold off: Germany's synthetic nitrate capacity, fostered by her dire wartime needs, was now producing for the commercial market. A new -and cheaper - method of producing Chilean nitrates had been developed, and most Chilean producers adopted a wholly unrealistic price policy. The market was overloaded, and any further serious break in prices would ruin Chilean producers and European holders of stocks alike.
An Asociacion de Productores de Salitre had already been formed but since no American and, at first, no German producer, was a member it was virtually ineffective. In 1921, however, Antony Gibbs and Sons called a meeting of European holders of nitrate stocks, at their request, and after lengthy negotiations the pooling and financing of stocks was arranged and a minimum nitrate price agreed with the Chilean producers. Despite these steps the losses that had fallen upon the pool's members were considerable, and though the firm's nitrate business had been hived off and separate arrangements made for financing it, the rest of their business suffered a severe loss of working capital, and new developments were sharply restricted.
The pool made the best of a difficult situation for producers and exporters of nitrate alike, but it did not solve the problem for the Chilean producers who were faced with rising costs and inadequate prices. The firm submitted one scheme of reorganisation to Chile, which was rejected, so it set about amalgamating in one company the buying, shipping, insurance, finance and sales interests of the principal European and Egyptian dealers. But this scheme, which reached fruition in 1928, was quickly overtaken by the nationalisation of all production and shipping organisations in Chile in 1930. Two years later, the Chilean government, in effect, nationalised the distribution of nitrate as well, by granting its own corporation the sole monopoly of the export and sale of that commodity.
One of the effects of nationalisation of the industry was to put an end to the main business of the firm, and others like them, in the management of Oficinas supplying stores, etc, and shipping the nitrate. This led to what has since proved a happy partnership between Gibbs & Co and Williamson Balfour & Co, whobthen formed the company now trading as Gibbs Williamson in the northern part of Chile. So successful was this amalgamation of cognate interests that the two firms created a similar organisation in Bolivia. Further, in conjunction with Leng Roberts & Company of Buenos Aires, they opened up in Brazil with a view to developing Chile-Argentine-Brazil trade. Later Leng Roberts & Company withdrew from the company and Richard Thomas & Baldwin took over their shares. Subsequently the Brazilian business, located in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, developed principally with Europe and the shares of the two Chilean partners were sold to the parent firms in London, viz Antony Gibbs and Sons and Balfour Williamson & Company.
Thus, since 1932, the firm had no longer had any interest in the nitrate business, except as credit managers for the group of London banks who helped to finance the nationalised corporation's activities up to the second world war. However, it retained a sales agency for Chilean iodine which was also nationalised in 1930. Antony Gibbs and Sons held the world agency for the sale of Chilean iodine from the very beginning until 1930, when it was placed in the hands of the Chilean corporation's Paris office. This arrangement lasted for only a year, and the agency was returned to the firm, less the agency for the United States market. An association of iodine preparation manufacturers, formed by the firm in 1877, and composed of the principal European iodine preparation makers, still continues in operation, though now without any price-fixing or other marketing responsibilities.
The placing of insurances and the guaranteeing of underwriters was an integral part of the firm's business from the earliest days. The elder Henry, the first son of the founder, was a member of Lloyd's from 1810 and a director of the London Assurance Corporation from 1822. Orders for placing insurance came from the Bristol House of Gibbs, Bright - for their West Indian cargoes - and from the firm's own clients in Spain, South America and elsewhere. In 1821 the Lima house was made an agent for Lloyd's, and for the Liverpool and Glasgow Insurance Associations. Voyages in those days were slow and risky, and rates accordingly were high. The cargo of the Hermosa Mexicana in 1808 was insured against all risks at the rate of ten guineas per cent, plus another one per cent for guaranteeing underwriters; a year later another cargo shipped from Montevideo to Cadiz was insured at six guineas per cent.
This part of the firm's business grew steadily with the expansion of its other activities, and its entry into new overseas markets. But throughout this period Antony Gibbs and Sons merely acted as agents, dealing on behalf of its clients with insurance brokers, who in turn dealt with the underwriters. In 1921, however, a big stride forward was made, when the firm's insurance department became a member of Lloyd's thus enabling it to negotiate directly with underwriters both on its own account and for its clients. Nitrate insurance formed the most important activity for the newly reconstructed department in the 1920s. After the Chilean industry was nationalised, it was one of the three (later four) brokers appointed by the new corporation.
A further move forward came in September 1931 when a separate company, Antony Gibbs and Sons (Insurance) Limited, was formed, and yet another six years later with the formation of the firm's underwriting agency at Lloyd's. The syndicate, at first with six names, started in 1938 and its portfolio grew substantially. By 1 956 the marine syndicate had grown to twenty-seven names, the non-marine totalled thirty-seven names, an aviation syndicate had been started with sixteen names, and an additional syndicate, under a sub-agency, was begun with a list of fourteen names.
The character of the firm's insurance business has always reflected its heavy overseas interests. Though valuable business has been acquired in this country, expansion has been more rapid in the volume of overseas insurances. Apart from South America and Australia, where the firm acquired insurance orders within and without the course of its other activities, it has developed a sizeable and growing American portfolio. Since the last war a chain of agencies has been established in the Caribbean islands and two subsidiary insurance companies in Central and South Africa. In Central Africa it had, or has since found, other trading opportunities apart from insurance.
One of the post-war features in insurance, the growth of life assurance and pension schemes, has also made its mark on the insurance department. By 1955 the volume of business had grown sufficiently for a separate subsidiary, Antony Gibbs and Sons (Life and Pensions) Limited, to be established. This company offers a specialised service to clients and has been making a useful contribution to the firm's resources, -
In 1912 Antony Gibbs and Sons opened an office in New York, and eight years later a separate company, Antony Gibbs and Company Inc, was formed. The growing commercial activity between North and South America, and to a lesser extent between North America and Australia, had made this step desirable. The activities of this new branch of the firm were confined to merchandise, agency and general commercial matters only: no banking operations were undertaken.
The firm's decision to distribute nitrate to the United States gave an immediate impetus to the new office, but the economic difficulties of most of the inter-war period and the cessation of nitrate business retarded later development. Imports of South and Central American goods, such as textiles, coffee, and Indian jute, and hessian, were the main lines, to which have been added at various times the export of cars and machinery to South Africa, the import of Portuguese cork, South African asbestos, Australian meat, pickled lamb and sheep pelts, Indian and Ceylonese tea and West African hardwood. The import of these raw materials, rather than manufactured goods from the United Kingdom during its post-war export drive, has formed the principle kind of new development.
In Australia, after the first world war, Gibbs, Bright and Company found much the same kind of shift in trading habits as was experienced in South America in the middle of the nineteenth century both Australian exporters and foreign importers established their own agencies or acquired salesmen and buyers, and dealt direct with their customers instead of through a trading house. This, coupled with the depression of the late twenties and early thirties, forced the firm to employ its resources in local developments, including timber, wire netting and zinc, stevedoring, road transport, marine salvage, mechanical, structural, electrical, and marine engineering, and even gold mining. Its agency business has lately been concentrated upon the smaller sized local manufacturers, who are less able to employ a fully organised sales machine economically. Among the lines now handled are lawn mowers, power drills, cisterns, gas meters, cookers, water heaters, aluminium ware, travel goods, chairs, tables, and garden furniture, and, in South Australia, wines and spirits. The firm's shipping interests continue to grow as well and still form the major part of its business.
A word must be said about the timber business, which from small beginnings in the late 1920s when the firm became interested in Tasmanian Oak, and acquired standing timber areas in Queensland and a small plywood factory in Brisbane, has now grown until today its various offices have timber departments. The plywood factory turns out more than ten million square feet of plywood annually, while in Tasmania the company owns and operates two production companies and has a substantial interest in a third, in North Queensland another subsidiary produces veneers and sawn timber and, in addition, Gibbs Bright holds a number of agencies of overseas shippers of hardwoods and acts as agents and distributors for many local sawmills, insulating and hardboard manufacturers.
In South America in the last few decades trading for Gibbs and Company has not been simple. Economic crises and national autarchy have swept one country after another. In 1909, when the firm had begun to widen its merchanting activities, it received the agency for Ford motor cars in Chile, and by the time the nitrate industry was nationalised two decades later, other interests such as flour mills, paint, twine, bags, etc, had been developed. During the boom in 'national industries' in Chile and in the thirties and later, the firm helped with the formation of a number of new and successful enterprises, and established engineering, textile machinery and aviation departments, staffed by competent technicians. But despite the present century's periods of frustration, dislocation, and a reorganisation of offices, its development and expansion have been remarkably satisfactory.
 Secretarial and Fianmcial Progress
Acting as company secretaries and registrars was a part of the firm's business that had been developed well before the first world war, but because of shortage of accommodation the volume of business that could be accepted had been limited. In 1936 Antony Gibbs and Sons were able to reconstitute this department, and extra commitments were taken on, including that of the London Produce Clearing House Limited, in 1945, which involved the firm in subsequent preparations for reopening the cocoa, wool, sugar and other terminal markets in London.
In 1932 Antony Gibbs and Sons (Nominees) Limited was formed to hold clients' securities; in 1935 the Anton Trust Company (Unlimited) was established to underwrite issues for new and experimental business; and from 1930 onwards acceptance credits have been issued to British exporters to countries the firm has interests in and to overseas buyers of British goods generally.
In this short review of 150 years' trading it has been possible only to deal with general trends and activities of the parent firm and its main offspring. At the end will be found a list of addresses which will show the extent of its organisation and interests today.
 The Company
But it was in 1948, on 1st July, that probably the greatest break was made with tradition since the firm was founded. A hundred and forty years after the first office was opened in Sherborne Lane, the incidence of high taxation compelled the partners to change the form of the business from a partnership to a private limited company. The name was the same, Antony Gibbs and Sons Limited, and in practice the effect of the change was very little. Some of the firm's branches and departments had already become limited companies and the formation of a parent company simplified the structure.
In one way this change was a measure of the growth and progress of the firm since 1808. It has moved its head office three times, to Great Winchester Street, thence to Lime Street, and finally in 1850 to its present location in Bishopsgate. Its head office staff has grown from eight clerks in 1826 - the earliest figure records tell us - to more than 130 today. And its activities have ranged from fertilisers to aircraft, from private banking to export credits, all over the world. In 150 years the business has gained much, and 1958 is only another milestone.r
                                         PRINCIPAL  ADDRESSES (in 1958)PCIPP
    PO Box Number
 Telegraphic Address
Antony Gibbs & Sons Ltd.
22 Bishopsgate, London, E.C.2.
Antony Gibbs & Sons (Insurance) Ltd.
22 Bishopsgate, London, E.C.2.
Antony Gibbs & Sons (Life & Pensions) Ltd.
3 Gracechurch Street, London, E.C.3.
Gibbs, Bright & Co., Australia and Tasmania
34 Queen Street, Melbourne
G.P.O. Box 261
37 Pitt Street, Sydney
G.P.O. Box 518-B
81 Currie Street, Adelaide
G.P.O. Box 343-C
406 Queen Streel, Brisbane
G.P.O. Box 1415-T
179 St. George's Terrace, Perth
G.P.O. Box 80 B
Newcastle, New South Wales
G.P.O. Box 82 A
44 Murray Street, Hobart
G.P.O. Box 886 J
Gibbs y Cia S.A.C., Chile
Calle Agustinas 1161, Santiago
Casilla 67 D.
Calle Cochrane 805, Valparaiso
Casilla 91 V.
Barros Arana 299, Conccpcion
Casilla 299
Blanco Encalada 496, Talcahuano  
Casilla 2 D.
Casilla 160
Gibbs y Cia S.A., Peru
Edificio "Beytia", Jiron Azangaro No. 377, Lima
Casilla 1227
Gibbs Williamson S.A. Brazil
Av. Rio Branco 52-21° 8/2103, Rio de Janeiro
 Caixa Postal 3982
Rua Jose Bonifacio 29, Sao Paulo
Caixa Postal 8227   
Gibbs Williamson (Bolivia) Ltd., Bolivia
Edificio Patino 1, Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz,  LaPaz
Casilla 957
Antony Gibbs & Co. Inc. New York
61 Broadway, New York 6, N.Y.
Gibbs Foley & Co. (Pty) Ltd. South Africa
Barclays Bank Building, Commissioner Street, Johannesburg
P.O. Box 4082
Port Elizabeth, Cape Province
P.O. Box 1341
Gibbs & Co. (Central Africa) (Pvt) Ltd.
S. Rhodesia
Bryanston House, Gordon Avenue,
P.O. Box 2280

onal views.