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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Promotional Material

Brown, Shipley & Co. Credit Case

BS & Co Logo

Rd. No.

BS & Co Logo

TTW & Co
(the makers of the case?)

The logo on the case, BS & Co. is that of Brown, Shipley & Co., whose cable addresses were BROWNSHIP - LONDON, and SHIPLEY - NEW YORK. The company is a long-established merchant bank, founded in London in 1818 and still in business today.

Alexander Brown, an auctioneer from Northern Ireland, emigrated to the United States and in Baltimore established the firm that is now America’s oldest investment bank -- BT Alex. Brown. His sons, the Brown Brothers of England - William, George, John, and James - followed in their father’s footsteps. William founded Brown Shipley in England. George and John branched out to Philadelphia in 1818 as Brown Brothers & Co, and James established the New York office in 1825. Further offices were opened in the United States and Britain.

On the 17th December, 1856, the Board of the Atlantic Telegraph Company appointed as Chairman of the Board William Brown, Esq., subsequently Sir William Brown, Bart.

As well as traditional banking services, the company offered postal mail forwarding and accepted telegrams and cables for its clients. A letter in 1893 from Mark Twain to his publishers requests that they cable him at “Mark Twain, Care Brownship, London”, so Brown Shipley provided a convenient way to receive messages while travelling.

The case illustrated here would presumably have contained a letter of credit so that Brown Shipley’s clients could obtain funds in foreign countries, and the rates listed on the case ensured they received a fair exchange in the foreign currency. By the time this case was made (estimated to be around 1900), the cable network was widespread and clients could communicate with Brown, Shipley from almost anywhere they might travel.

For more information on the Brown family and their banking enterprises, see this PDF document on the 1901 Brown building in Baltimore, produced by the US Government’s Historic American Buildings Survey, which includes a detailed history of the company.

If it is ever lost, telegraph


Give early, full and clearly
legible directions.

Sign all your names in full.
(Initials only cause mistakes)

Addresses to our care must
also be in full, or mistakes
will result


Approximate values

England   Shilling say 25 cents
Germany   Mark " 25 "
France }        
Belgium } Franc " 20 "
Switzerland }
Italy }        
Holland   Gulden " 40 "
Austria } Florin " 40 "
Hungary }
Russia Rouble (silver) 56 "
Detail of BS & Co logos and inscriptions on both sides of the case

Images courtesy of Carl McMullin, who describes the case as
"chrome-plated brass, approx 80mm (3") tall by 45mm (1.75") wide".

Research on Brown, Shipley by Bill Glover and Bill Burns.

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Last revised: 18 January, 2012

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