This is the place to come to learn about Avery style needle cases.


To date, the names of only 24 companies are found on the 202 patents or design registrations uncovered for Avery style needle cases.  Of these businesses 10 were located in the Redditch area, 13 in Birmingham and 1 in Liverpool.

All 10 companies from Redditch were needle manufacturers, however only 6 of these actually patented or registered more than one needle case design:  W. Avery & Son (122), Henry Milward & Sons (10), Joseph Welch - aka J. Welch and C. Laight (3), William Bartleet & Sons (2), W. Hall & Co (2) and James Smith & Son (2).  Of the 145 designs registered by the needle manufacturers, 122 or 84% were created by Avery.  These figures do not include the over 100 flat-style designs Avery described in his patents that appear not to have been produced.  With the exception of W. Avery & Son, the business operations of the needle manufacturers revolved around the production of needles not needle cases.  It’s interesting to note that most of the designs the other needle manufacturers registered were made exclusively for themselves.  Only one of their designs was actually produced with another company’s name, although a few have been found with no name inscribed or stamped on the actual needle case.

Of the 13 Birmingham companies that were designers/patentees, 5 were die-sinkers, stampers, piercers and toolmakers, 3 were jewelers or needle case manufacturers, 1 was a machinist, 1 was a steel toy maker, 1 was a designer and modeler and later a patent agent, 1 was a picture and fine art dealer and 1 was a photographic case maker and purse manufacturer.  These firms designed/patented 55 unique designs or 27% of all designs (55 of 202).  Although we can only prove that 44 of these designs were actually produced, we know 36 additional designs by the Birmingham machinist Albert Fenton were patented in conjunction with two Redditch area needle manufacturers.  These Birmingham companies would have been just the kind of businesses with all the skills necessary to produce fancy brass needle cases.  Based on the types of industry in Birmingham during the Victorian Era, it seems most likely that all brass needle cases were actually produced in the Birmingham area with the exception of a couple, perhaps, being manufactured in Liverpool where one of the designers/patentees, who registered 2 designs, was located.

design drawing

What the data tells us

With regard to the needle manufacturers, with the exception of Avery, they did not design/patent very many designs and normally did not license their designs to other parties.  When compared to other business types, Avery is the dominant designer/patentee.  Not only did Avery register 122 or 60% of all registered designs (202 total), but his name was stamped or engraved on at least 26 of the 46 designs that were produced from the designs registered to the other designers/patentees who were not needle manufacturers, thus increasing his percentage to 73% (148 of 202).  His closest completion here was the die-sinker Buncher & Haseler who registered a total of 14 designs of which 3 were varieties of the same design.  Moreover, all of the designs registered to Buncher & Haseler can also be found with Avery’s name proving that Avery had a serious business relationship with them.  Again, the data indicates Avery had relationships with most of these companies.  This data proves that Avery was truly the leader with regard to registering needle case designs.

NOTE: Only registered needle cases were included in the analysis of designers/patentees.  See Designer/Patentee Data and W. Avery & Son Data for details.

Company List

William Avery & Son (short version) – Headless Cross, Redditch (some with Albert Fenton) or William Avery & Son (more detailed version) – Headless Cross, Redditch (some with Albert Fenton)

F. Floyd – Birmingham

Elijah Atkins – Birmingham

William Bartleet & Sons – Redditch

W. W. Gould & Sons – Redditch

Bancroft Brothers – Birmingham

William Hall & Co – Studley (Redditch area)

Buncher & Haseler – Birmingham

Henry Jenkins & Sons – Birmingham

Charles James Carr – Liverpool

Frank S. Kendrick – Birmingham

J. Clarke & Son – Birmingham

Thomas Kendrick – Birmingham

Coggins & Baxter – Birmingham

James William Lewis (some with George Archbold) – Birmingham

John Anthony Croft - Astwood Bank, Redditch and Richard Newhall – Astwood Bank, Redditch

Henry Milward & Sons – Redditch

J. M. Farnol – Birmingham

James Smith & Son – Ashwood Bank, Redditch

Albert Fenton – Birmingham

Samuel Thomas & Sons – Redditch

John Fenton – Birmingham

Joseph Welch – Redditch (aka J. Welch and C. Laight) and Charles Laight- Redditch

William Woodfield & Sons – Redditch

Needle Manufacturers

needle manufacturer