Benetfink & Co
Benetfink & Co. was a large retail business located at 89-90 Cheapside, London, from c1845 to 1907. The firm described themselves as “furnishing ironmongers” and sold a huge range of metal ware products for the home. An advertisement from 1852 claimed that Benetfink would furnish an eight-roomed house for £5.
The store also housed an optical department where chandeliers, lamps, optical lanterns, and cameras were for sale. A sports department offered a wide choice of bicycles and sportswear. By the turn of the century Benetfink was selling Kerry and Enfield motorcycles and a range of motor accessories such as jacks, motor watches, and headlights.
In 1907, Benetfink & Co. was taken over by the A. W. Gamage department store.
I have seen a 1903 Royal Naval College Cadets cap with a Benetfink label.
A W Gamage ltd began life in 1878 in a rented watch repair shop and, after quickly becoming a success amongst its customers, was established as a London institution. It was founded by Arthur Walter Gamage, who soon bought out his partner, Frank Spain. In time it was to grow large enough to take up most of the block in which it was situated, it was unusual in that its premises were away from the main Oxford Street shopping area, being on the edge of the City of London at Holborn Circus.
Gamages had many departments – a much larger number than modern department stores. There was a substantial hardware department on the ground floor which included specialist motor parts and car seat cover sections. There was a photographic department, and camping, pets, toys and sporting departments, the latter selling shotguns. The toy department was extensive and there were substantial fashion, furniture and carpeting departments and in later years a small food supermarket.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the so-called A W Gamage purported to be the ‘world’s largest sport and athletic outfitter’.
An example of a A W Gamage cap is the 1906 England Trial Cap