I came across a wonderful group of 3 art shops in London called Cowling & Wilcox recently while trying to find somewhere that had the the new Letraset colours in stock. They seem so popular that no-one seems to have any at the moment.
I received a phone call back from Guy Cowling and I have to say, that I’ve not dealt with such a friendly shop in quite a while. While they don’t have the new colours in stock until the end of next week (Letraset are out of stock and frantically trying to provide supplies to their retailers themselves) they do have in stock the full, original range of 92 colours at the amazing price of £127.95 - that works out at an awsome £1.39 each!!!!
I was chatting to Guy and found out that Cowling & Wilcox were initially set up as an art and graphic supplies shop and were the very first company to be approached by Letraset to sell their products in the 1960’s.
To quote the bio from the company:
“The Start of Our Business.
In 1960 Leonard Cowling and Bernard Wilcox went into partnership specialising in supplies for commercial Art and Graphic Studios. An office was obtained near London’s old Billingsgate Market and Cowling & Wilcox Ltd was born.
In 1961 a need for larger premises led to the lease of a small shop at No 61 Broadwick Street, Soho, in London’s West End.
Our move to Soho attracted many young artists to this area where they could find a good source of supplies, affordable rents and like-minded people.
The Art Schools were producing Design Graduates full of confidence and enthusiasm, ready to take on the world.
The expansion of Soho.
The 1960’s gave us The Beatles, Carnaby Street and most important to us Letraset, developed by two young designers just three streets away.
They came to us first to test their Wet Transfer Letters but when they invented the Dry Transfer System we welcomed it with open arms and we were the first in London to have stocks.
Selling at 5 shillings (25p) per sheet it was a huge money spinner for us, everyone wanted it and it changed the way the commercial artist worked.
The 60’s were exciting. We designed the first Artist Portfolio and added Presentation to our range.
With the demolition of our premises at No 61 Broadwick Street we were very fortunate to be able to move across the road to a brand new shop at No 26. We soon overflowed into No 28 and with the two shops combined settled down for the next 40 years.
New times. New challenges.
In the last four years our Soho Shop has been significantly refurbished and modernised. We have obtained a further shop at Shoreditch to supply the expanding East End of London and a larger warehouse/retail shop at Camberwell to look after our customers in South London.
We have kept to the original concept of a Specialist Fine and Graphic Art Shop but have recently added Digital Supplies and Quality Designer Stationery to our range. Our Fine and Graphic Art Lines are as strong and as competitive as ever and a comprehensive Craft Department rounds us off nicely.
Our Portfolio/Presentation department.
Always a strong interest of ours, we have dedicated showrooms at all 3 shops and a very fine web site www.portfoliosplus.com where you can view and buy on line.”
I’ve got my set of the new colours on pre-order just waiting for the deliveries to come in.
Not only do they sell Letraset products from Safmat, to Promarkers, Tria markers, storage and pads, they sell an AMAZING range of core products that any crafter or artist would give their right arm to get hold of! I personally love to use a Swann Morton type 3 scalpel handle and type 10A blades to cut out and they have the full range of handles and blades on offer. You really want to go over and have a look at the range of products that they sell. Major names such as 3M, Copic, HP, Reeves, Swan Stabilo, Windsor and Newton.
If their delivery service is half as good as their telephone service, they’re onto a real winner in my eyes! I just have to sit and wait for my Promarkers to arrive as soon at they’re in stock now.