Thomas Handford (1797 - 1865)T. Handford is first noted in the London Directories of 1797 as a Pocket Book Maker at Saville Passage, Bond Street. By 1799, Handford and Son are listed at 98 Strand whilst Thomas Handford is listed at 5 Glasshouse Street and Swallow Street, Piccadilly. Both are shown as Pocket Book Makers and it is likely that when Thomas' son joined the family business, they moved and increased their number of premises. By 1800, they moved to 94 Strand whilst the 2 Piccadilly address are no longer noted.
Handford had a few different addresses after 1800 but most were on Strand. By 1813 he had moved to 7 Strand and by 1835 they were also resident at 6 Strand. In 1851 the company moved to 5 Strand. Both a Thomas and James Handford were born in 1801 and presumably they were twin grandsons of the founder of the company. Both worked in the family business with the census of 1841 noting Thomas as a Trunk Maker at 6 Strand and James as a Dressing Case Maker at 7 Strand.
There was also a T. Handford listed in 1813 as the Patentee for the Naval and Military Cork Trunk with premises at both 84 St. James's Street and 384 Strand. This is likely to be the same company and certainly by 1820 the Handford at 7 Strand was also advertising waterproof cork travelling trunks.
Although Handford's started off as Pocket Book Makers they quickly grew to also make portable desks or writing boxes, copying machines, dressing cases and all sort of other boxes as well as trunks. On September 25th 1812, Handford received his patent for a Light Water Proof Travelling Trunk (described above as a Naval and Military Cork Trunk) and it became his most recognised item. Its popularity was such that the company continued to manufacture it for the next 50 years. The trunks are very distinctive and good looking with black leather set on wood and edged in brass.
Aside from having a number of premises, Handford also looks to have had a good size workforce aside from the family members. In 1804 Abraham Selfe was indentured as an apprentice with Handford for 5 years but by 1825 they were advertising for 4 qualified cabinet makers to make writing desks with constant work. There is no doubt that the company was successful and the quality of their work is still apparent today. Three generations of the family ran the successful business up until the death of Thomas Handford on the 28th of October 1865.