Jones had an excellent reputation, even amongst his fellow printers. Two good examples of Jones’s work are kept at the V&A.
Robert Jones & Co (1760-80) produced an extensive range of high quality textile goods and his furnishing fabrics were highly reputable in the Georgian times. The exact location of his factory is not known, though he appears in the Bow Land Tax Assessment Books between 1765 and 1773 with sizable estates.
There are records that in 1771 the company leased land (worth £20), for which they paid £50 in land tax indicating a sizeable holding and a very valuable business. The auction details published at the factory’s closure in 1780 mention “42 acres of rich marshland, 18 of which is Whistering (bleaching) ground, with 11 Workshops, Copper Houses and stabling for 6 horses”. A long list of “very valuable Plant and numerous Implements” attached to the notice gives an excellent picture of the various activities necessary in the production of high quality cloth and the scale of the business.
One of the pieces kept in the V&A is a monochrome piece printed with madder on a white background listed as “a rural scene showing animals and birds set amongst a rugged landscape and ruins and follies” inscribed with “R. Jones & Co Old Ford 1761”. Its delicate design was made by two engraved copper plates. This was a new process introduced into England in 1756 from Drumcondra, Ireland where it had been developed by Francis Nixon in 1752 as a way of printing on linen.
On permanent display at the V&A in the 1700s English Gallery is a second polychrome piece, again inscribed with the company name and the date of 1769. The design shows groups of elegantly dressed 18th century men and women disporting themselves among classical ruins in the countryside; they are engaged in conversation while following the country pursuits of hunting and fishing. Three different techniques have been used here to produce a range of colours. Two copper plates have provided the background design in purple (madder) and other colours have been added by block printing with pencilled-in blue (indigo applied by brush).
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