J R Gaunt
Image courtesy of eMedals.com
James Richard Gaunt first worked for Firmin & Sons in London. In 1881, he was managing Firmin's Birmingham button works, working alongside is son, Charles Frederick Gaunt who was apprenticed as a clerk. Together, they left Firmin's in 1884, to found J.R Gaunt & Son.
C.F Gaunt began running the company at the age of 24 in 1888, relocating it to 33 Clifford Street, Lozells. Between 1885 and 1935, he filed for over 100 patents for both products being made for the company and safety improvements for the operators. In 1895, the company purchased the Works, previously owned by David Faris. However, the Faris Works building exploded due to a faulty boiler in 1912, and a new smarter building was constructed between Alfred Street and Warstone Parade East. J.R Gaunt also acquired the sword-makers Edward Thurkle in 1897.
During the First World War, J.R Gaunt employed over 600 people. They made cap badges and buttons for every branch of the Empire Armed Forces. They were also known for manufacturing military, navy, railway and police buttons, helmets, buckles, whistles and clasps.
The house designer, Edward Carter Preston, was renowned for designing the bronze memorial plaquettes (the 'Dead Man Penny') presented to family members of individuals who died during service. The company was renowned die-sinkers and medallists.
In 1973, the Birmingham Mint bought J.R Gaunt, at which time Mr. Eric Watts was the managing director. The sale was completed for 600,000 pounds.