the Flatters in Flatters & Garnett


Anyone learning for ‘A’ ranges in English grammar colleges within the Fifties and 60s can’t have failed to note the provider of the microscope slides and different gear for microscopy and dissection. The title Flatters & Garnett with an tackle in Manchester was displayed on the finish of lots of these microscope slides we had to take a look at and draw.

Find materials for my article on Herbert Womersley, I got here throughout the truth that he attended lectures on microscopy by Abraham Flatters at Manchester Technical College (which, after a variety of mergers, and renamings, emerged as a part of the College of Manchester). Abraham Flatters was one of many founders of the eponymous firm, Flatters & Garnett, though he fell out along with his associate after which arrange store in opposition.

Abraham Flatters

Abraham Flatters had a outstanding climb in life in Victorian Britain. He was born on 1 March 1849. Some printed accounts state that he was born in Lincolnshire. That’s as a result of his delivery was registered within the Gainsborough district. That registration workplace covers components of two counties and actually Flatters was born within the Nottinghamshire village of West Stockwith on the western banks of the River Trent. His father, Joseph, was, in 1851, a farm labourer; in later censuses he’s described as a groom or gardener.

Within the 1861 Census, Abraham, aged 12, was employed on ‘farmer’s work’. We then know that someday between 1861 and 1871 he moved to Manchester. Though there is no such thing as a hint of him within the 1871 Census, on his marriage to Sarah Hannah Rogerson, a cotton weaver, on 29 Could 1871 his occupation is given as ‘velvet finisher’. There’s additionally a report of his working for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway between 1874 and 1878 first as a porter after which as a messenger; he was paid 17 shillings and 6 pence per week. In 1881 he seems as a ‘railway signalman’, maybe working for one of many different railway firms that handed by way of Manchester. Abraham and Sarah had been then dwelling  at 25 Gill Road. However then the 1891 Census reveals he was working as a ‘lamplighter (gasoline)’ dwelling at 54 Croft Road.

The Science Museum web site states:

He got here to Manchester at an early age and had a succession of jobs and had an curiosity in pure historical past. In 1886 he attended a course of lectures on zoology given by Professor Milnes Marshall of Owens faculty. It was on account of Marshalls suggestion that he be part of the the Manchester Microscopical Society, which he did in 1886. 

His working life started at a organic station at St Helier, Jersey. He labored there for a number of years earlier than returning to Manchester in 1895 and arrange his personal enterprise making lantern slides, microscopic slides and microscopic preparations. He additionally grew to become a lecturer in microscopy on the Municipal College of Expertise. 

With the assistance of an article by Brian Stevenson on the web site Historic Makers of Microscopes and Microscope Slides, it may be seen that the Jersey Organic Station was run by Joseph Sinel and James Hornell from 1893. Sinel earlier than he went into partnership with Hornell was already promoting specimens and ready microscope slides beneath his personal title and it might appear that Flatters each discovered loads of his commerce there and realised that he may additionally make a enterprise out of what was his former pastime. The partnership broke up within the winter of 1894-95 and though manufacturing continued beneath Hornell it should have been presently that Flatters returned to Manchester to arrange his personal enterprise. Whether or not the job of lecturing on the Municipal College of Expertise got here first or later I have no idea.

By 1901, Flatters describes himself as ‘microscopist and photographer (pure historical past)’ dwelling at 16 Church Street, Longsight (one of many quite a few districts of the town)—fairly a change from being a lamplighter in 1891. Nevertheless, I ponder if he selected the latter job to be able to pursue his research and pursuits in microscopy. In spite of everything, the work can be for a comparatively brief interval at nightfall after which once more at daybreak; the remainder of the day would have been free.

After Abraham went into partnership with Charles Garnett in 1901, Sarah killed herself in weird and what would have been agonising circumstances. That is how the Manchester Night Information of Tuesday 28 April 1903 reported it:

A outstanding story of the suicide of an aged girl [she was 53!] named Sarah Ann Flatters, of 20, Church Rond, Longsight, was informed earlier than Mr. L J. Altken, performing metropolis coroner, this afternoon.

     In response to the proof, Mrs. Flatters has suffered for about 15 years from melancholia and nervous despair. On Saturday morning her husband, Mr. Abraham Flatters, who, as a microscopist, makes use of many alternative poisons, had left a bottle of nitric acid, correctly labelled, on his laboratory desk, and afterwards gone out. In the course of the afternoon, the outdated girl gained entry to the room, and shortly afterwards informed the housekeeper she was going out for a brief stroll. When she didn’t return, her husband made a useless seek for her till Sunday, when he acquired phrase that his spouse was an inmate of the Manchester Infirmary, affected by the consequences of corrosive poison. There she died on Monday [27 April].

     Mr. Flatters knowledgeable the Coroner that his spouse informed him on Sunday that she had taken a drink out of the nitric acid bottle, believing it was brandy, that she had tried to spit it out on discovaring her mistake, and had gone out to so if her throat would obtained any higher. She had walked about Birch Lane for 5 hours, after which hailed a cab to take her to the Infirmary.

     In reply to the coroner Mr. Flatters stated that nitric acid may hardly be mistaken for brandy, because it was extra like gin or water. As quickly because the stopper was eliminated there can be fumes from the neck and a nasty odor. The ache suffered by Mrs. Flatters should have been horrible as one drop of nitric would burn a gap by way of a chunk of wooden. all of the information he was sure to disbelieve his spouse’s story, and his opinion was that it was a decided motion on her half.

     The Coroner expressed his concurrence, and the jury returned a verdict of suicide while insane.

Later that 12 months Flatters remarried. His second spouse was Emma Bamber.

I can solely quote second-hand the accounts of what occurred to the enterprise, from the Science Museum web site for instance. I’ve been unable to search out the unique sources. In 1897, Charles Garnett, a confectioner and restaurant proprietor, joined the Manchester Microscopical Society and met Flatters. By 1901 Flatters was having monetary issues. That’s when Flatters and Garnett shaped their eponymous partnership. Flatters & Garnett Ltd.  Garnett’s son, a pharmacist was additionally concerned they usually opened a chemists store on Deansgate, Manchester the place they displayed, microscopes, slides and  and lantern slides of pure historical past topics. Flatters apparently made the slides, each microscope and lantern, at his home in Church Street. All went nicely and the enterprise grew. By 1906 12 individuals had been employed. They moved to Dover Road, close to the College, the place they employed out and bought giant numbers of lantern slides for private collections and academic institutions. Nevertheless, in 1909 Flatters fell out with the Garnetts and the latter purchased out his share. Flatters was now not a part of Flatters & Garnett Ltd.

Then Flatters arrange one other enterprise, taking with him among the staff of Flatters & Garnett. That second enterprise was  Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie with premises on Church Street (16, 18 and 20) which might appear to have been homes/retailers within the terrace round his residence.  

Flatters fell foul of a ‘no-compete’ settlement with Flatter & Garnett. The Manchester Metropolis Information of 5 March 1910 reported:

At a current sitting of the County Palatine Chancery Courtroom, Vice Chancellor Leigh-Clare had earlier than him the motion introduced by Flatters and Garnett Restricted, of Dover-street, Manchester towards, Mr. Abraham Flatters, whose microscopical and photographic enterprise plaintiffs bought in 1901. The court docket was knowledgeable that the events had come to an association whereby Mr. Flatters undertook to not solicit orders from individuals who had been prospects of the enterprise bought by him to the plaintiffs previous to such sale. Mr. Flatters agreed to undergo a perpetual injunction restraining him from representing that the enterprise of Flatters, Milborne and M’Kechnie Restricted is identical as, or in any manner related with, the enterprise of Flatters and Garnett Restricted. The Vice Chancellor made an order in these phrases, and defendant agreed to pay the prices of the motion.


From Information journal, December 1910

All through the interval of self-employment, being a part of Flatters & Garnett after which of Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie, in addition to lecturing in Manchester, Abraham Flatters grew to become well-known in skilled and novice microscopical circles. His title appeared within the Manchester newspapers which reported his actions within the Manchester Microscopical Society (which remains to be in existence). There have been over 200 members and comprised numerous sections. The next is from the Manchester Metropolis Information of 20 January 1906:

The annual assembly of the Mounting Part of the Manchester Microscopical Society befell on Thursday night time. The election of officers for the 12 months resulted as follows: Chairman, Mr. Abraham Flatters, F.R.M.S.: vice-chairman Mr. William Buckley; secretary and treasurer, Mr. Emil Watzlaff; auditor, Mr. William Hart; committee, Messrs. Charles Turner, F.C.S., P. Bradshaw, J. E. Storey, J. L. W. Miles, J. R. Wilson, and Charles Camp. The themes of the demonstrations and lectures to be given embody ringing and ending slide, and measurement of microscopic objects; dry mounting and plant construction; diatomaceae accumulating, getting ready, and mounting; mounting in fluids, stains and their traits, mounting objects glycerine jelly, botanical dissection, photo-micrography, mounting in balsam on cavity slips, and zoological dissection.

Someday earlier than 1906 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. He attended conferences in London. The Subject journal of 20 June 1908 gave an account of a gathering at 20 Hanover Sq. which included:

Mr Abraham Flatters, of Manchester, had an attention-grabbing exhibition of microscopic slides, exemplifying the event of a chick at numerous phases from twenty hours to 4 and a half days, and constituting a typical set for educating functions. The strategy of the slides was all that might be desired, and confirmed how far we’ve got travelled within the artwork of part chopping since Kitchen Parker [*] did his well-known work on the early phases of the tadpole and the chick.

Flatters was additionally a member of the Manchester Geological Society.

A slide ringing desk bought by Flatters, Milborne
& McKechnie. Did they manufacture them or
rebadging from a generic producer?
From right here

The commercials and publications from Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie recommend Flatters was a guide to the cotton business in Manchester on microscopical examination of their uncooked materials. He wrote a e-book on the cotton plant and in its preface described himself as ‘Specialist in Micro-Expertise to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce’. He might have discovered some demand for such providers. Imports of uncooked cotton peaked in 1914 at nearly a billion tonnes.

This text started with the lectures on microscopy given by Abraham on the Municipal College of Expertise in Manchester. He’s variously described as trainer, lecturer and demonstrator. I’ve been unable to learn how a lot of his time these actions occupied or for the way lengthy he was thus employed.

He produced three books: Strategies in Microscopical Analysis; 1905. Revealed by Sherratt & Hughes, Manchester; The Cotton Plant. Its Growth and Construction, and the Evolution and Construction of the Cotton Fibre. 1907. Sherratt & Hughes; Photomicrographs of Botanical Research. Not dated. Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie Ltd.

Flatters produced an unlimited array of microscope slides from many alternative organisms. I can solely assume that he had a community of people that offered him with the fabric and the background data to label the slides. With skinny sections little or no unique materials is required and I ponder if he saved paraffin wax-embedded blocks prepared for chopping to be able to fulfil particular person orders or if he made and stained a batch of sections which he may hold in inventory.

Manchester Metropolis Information 14 January 1914

There are giant variety of outdated lantern slides out there on the antiques market made by Flatters & Garnett or by Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie. Did he take all the images, together with, for instance, ones in mines, or did he additionally present a lantern slide making service to these (of which there would have been many) who’ve lectures on the many pure historical past, geological, geographical and historic societies that flourished in Victorian and Edwardian England? My guess from studying his commercials is that he did make lantern slides—a much more specialist job in these days—from different individuals’s negatives. A newspaper commercial from 1914 reveals that the photographic aspect of the enterprise (creating, printing and many others) was a significant exercise.

Abraham and Emma moved to the outer suburbs of Manchester, Syddal Cottage in Bramhall someday within the 1910s. The 1911 Census reveals Abraham as ‘microscopist and science trainer’ using a resident home servant. Put in as caretaker for Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie at 20 Church Street was Abraham’s brother, John Reid Flatters. John, 4 years older than Abraham, additionally labored on the railway in Manchester. The 1921 Census has Abraham down as ‘microscopist and photographer’ and managing-director of the corporate; once more they’d had a home servant.

Syddal Cottage remained their dwelling, actually in 1923 however at their deaths 6 Blackthorn Avenue, Burnage, one other Manchester suburb, is proven as their tackle. 

The corporate appeared to proceed in enterprise till three years earlier than Abraham’s loss of life; it was formally dissolved on 4 July 1926, the applying having been made in March. Nevertheless, in keeping with the 1926 charges data for Manchester, it did proceed beneath the title of ‘Abraham Flatters’ however owned by a Thomas Wyatt who additionally had purchased 16 and 18 Church Street, leaving 20 occupied by John Flatters however owned by a 3rd celebration. How lengthy Wyatt saved the ‘Abraham Flatters’ enterprise going I’ve been unable to search out out.

Flatters should have been a thorn within the aspect of Flatters & Garnett from his departure till his loss of life. I’ll return to the rise and fall of Flatters & Garnett in a future article.

Abraham died on 2 March 1929, leaving £829 (the date proven in a household tree on is wrong). Emma died on 15 Could 1932, leaving £609.

The life and accomplishments of Abraham Flatters illustrate how efforts to offer training for the working man in Victorian England may allow any person with simply main education to realize information and grow to be a talented and knowledgable technician. It was an age during which there was a thirst for information. There have been quite a few pure historical past societies and microscopy golf equipment in Manchester alone. Microscopy, together with the preparatioon of specimens, was a significant pastime for individuals who may afford to purchase the gear. What a distinction to immediately’s Age of Wilful Ignorance.

*William Kitchen Parker FRS (1823 – 1890)

Microscope Slide Labels

I’ve discovered three kinds of miscroscope labels which determine these slides as made by Abraham Flatters (along with ones made by Flatters & Garnett). It’s attainable that some had been made earlier than his partnership with Garnett, others whereas with Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie whereas others may have been when Wyatt owned the enterprise however traded beneath Flatter’s title.

Within the assortment of the
Manchester Microscopical Society


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