D. & T. Robertson (Limited)
Messrs. D. & T. Robertson (Limited), Furnishing Ironmongers, 226 and 228, Sauchiehall Street.—
The firm of D. & T. Robertson, wholesale and retail house furnishing ironmongers, was established in 1871, at 284 and 286, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, after which it became a limited company. As things go now-a-days, seventeen years is a comparatively short term in the life of a business house, yet in that period this firm has attained a position in the commercial world which many older houses have striven in vain to occupy. Numbering many of Scotland's nobility amongst their patrons, their wares are deservedly esteemed not only in Glasgow but throughout Scotland and the United Kingdom, even in London itself. Their commercial relationships do not indeed end even here, but extend to the colonies and India. The business has been carried on in the firm’s present premises for some six years past, and even in that time it has been found necessary to carry out very extensive alterations, with the view of better accommodating an ever-increasing trade. Quite recently some £200 has been expended in the formation of a very handsome staircase to connect the upper and lower showrooms, and adding yet another artistic attraction to premises already possessing a very considerable amount of architectural merit.
The house in Sauchiehall Street at once proclaims its vocation, and stands out boldly from its neighbours. The design of the front is such as to form an appropriate setting for the metal work so attractively displayed in the windows. Situate but six doors from Cambridge Street, and extending far to the rear, the Sauchiehall Street premises communicate with No. 17 in Cambridge Street, which also belongs to Messrs. Robertson. All the heavy goods traffic of the business, therefore, can be carried on without in any way interfering with the working of the shop proper and detracting from this convenience of such of their patrons as pay the firm a visit. Large though the frontage is, so numerous and varied are the articles supplied by the firm that the windows, crowded though they are, and arranged in excellent taste, can suffice to show but a few typical examples of the extensive assortment within.
Entering, however, one is immediately impressed by the order and method everywhere observable, and by the facilities afforded for the examination and comparison of the artistic household treasures spread out for that purpose, and which comprise everything held in esteem by the modern house-wife, from the plainest ware, suitable for the rough usage in the kitchen, to the most elaborate electro-plate for dainty use in the dining room. The showrooms, indeed, are galleries which from their size, their imposing appearance, and their method arrangement, would be no disgrace to a museum of very considerable proportions. They thoroughly bear out the boast of the proprietors, with regard to their main showroom, that it is the largest and most handsome in Scotland in the trade.
The Showrooms on the ground floor, or street level, are together 120 feet long by 30 feet wide, with the magnificent height of 16 feet, which is in some parts made by a large opening through the floor above. The whole are fitted with glass-fronted cases, such as are appropriate to the storage and display of the goods of the firm. Those on the right are of a costly air-tight character, and are reserved for a most extensive and varied assortment of silver electroplated and similar goods of all kinds. On the left are artistic brass and copper goods, together with articles of Britannia metal, japanned toilet ware, trays, &c. On tables in the centre are arrays of fancy articles, paraffin lamps, and ornamental brass-ware tastefully displayed. Towards the middle of the length is the counting-house, while the rear portions of the premises are fitted up more for the storage than the display of goods, although used for the latter purpose also ; here general kitchen goods and ranges, and at the opposite side are stored a most varied selection of coloured tiles of a very high class.
The new staircase has already been referred to ; the lighting at night is effected by a novel method which has been recently patented. Four bronze figures which, carry the lighting arrangements are highly ornamented at all times, and appropriately emphasize the approach to the main salon. This room, with its almost regal proportions of 80 feet length and 30 feet in width, and its light and elegant-arched roof, presents a most imposing appearance. It is handsomely decorated with walnut-wood panels in the form of a high dado, which at the same time serves to separate as well as to fittingly surround the very numerous stoves, grates, chimney-pieces, &c., that are as it were framed therein. This method for displaying these articles is almost, if not indeed quite unique, as it was a happy inspiration which prompted the firm to adopt it and so enable a visitor to see at once the effect which any combination of stove, tiled hearth and fender, would have in room. The panelled walls are equally effective as a background for the exhibition of the very chaste selection of gaseliers, lamps, brackets, and other lighting appurtenances.
There are two other rooms on the first floor, one devoted to the exhibition of artistic placques, mirrors, and sconces, together with artistic tile-work generally ; and the other, the front salon, is devoted principally to the display of wrought-iron metal-work, both in gaseliers, brackets, dog-stoves, &c.. With the more executive departments of the premises we are scarcely at present concerned. Yet although we are dealing more results than with methods, it is allowable to point out that it is the appreciation which their patrons have shown to their executive ability that has placed the firm in the proud position it has attained.
One production especially has met with high favour. The form of kitchen-range patented by the firm, and known as the “Robertson Self-setting Range”, is a distinct advance in such matters, and has now successfully withstood the test of practical working for some seven years. It possesses the merit of great simplicity, it is self-contained, and therefore required no building in. It has no descending flues and utilises the heat to the utmost. Such flues as there are, are lined with firebrick promoting the consumption of nearly all the smoke. We therefore get great saving in fuel and cleanliness in use, together with convenience and capacity for cooking.
Another of the firm’s specialities is a small machine for preparing coffee at the breakfast table. It may be considered somewhat in the light of a small still, and no machine yet invented prepares coffee in such perfection. The name of this most useful domestic appliance is “Robertson's Napierian Coffee Machine”, and is manufactured by the firm either in electro-silver, bronze, porcelain, or glass, thus rendering it fit for not only ordinary domestic use but also for elegant presents, for either of which purposes the variety of prices at which it is to be obtained eminently suit it. There are many other articles for which the firm is deservedly celebrated ; they are, however, too numerous to particularise ; the trouble of a visit to their showrooms amply repays itself ; the accommodation at their command, and the evidence that every device which knowledge or experience could suggest has been adopted to secure favourable and convenient inspection of their stock, justifies the assertion that they are in a position to supply the wants of their customers both quickly, and well.
This firm, we observe, holds a stall (No 1154, Court 35) at the International Exhibition, where is to be seen a very fine selection of the various articles dealt in by a house in this line of business, such articles in the newest designs and altogether of the most artistic and recherché descriptions. Placques, candelabra, mirror sconces, wrought iron, and other artistic brass work are specialities at this stand. In fact, we do not observe any stall in the Exhibition where more taste has been displayed either in the arrangement or manufacture of the goods shown, and we do not think that the artistic display here made has been equalled by any firm in the same line at any of the exhibitions recently held.
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