Page revised 18 January 2004




The London firm of Jenner & Knewstub, heraldic stationers, die-sinkers, engravers and illustrators, who have been noted in business between 1868 and 1889, produced crests of outstanding quality, including stationery for the Russian Imperial family. Illustrated is a sheet which may have been produced as a sample of their output for prospective customers, or for sale to discerning collectors. A search among the records of the Patent Office has located only one submission relating to crests: it was entered by Fabian James Knewstub, one of the principals of the firm, in April 1869.

Among the author's collection of crest and monogram albums is a rather battered album containing a collection of outstanding quality, which it is believed may be largely Jenner & Knewstub material. One page in this album carries eleven monograms, three of them crested, one crest and two armorials. On the facing page are pasted eleven signatures, six of which carry the initials RA. Identification of the monograms which were not accompanied by a signature has been effected through the good offices of Mark Pomeroy, The Royal Academy's archivist, and study of the membership list in The Royal Academy1.

A search on the internet found an index2, created at City University, London, of titles of books reviewed in the Athenaeum, which included a reference to a publication titled Arms, Crests, Monograms and Autographs of the Members of the Royal Academy. It seemed clear that this work, reviewed in 1871, related in some way to the set in the album, the production of which had been tentatively dated to the period 1866-1871.

The review3 is informative:

  • Arms; Crests; Monograms and Autographs of the Members of the Royal Academy. Part I. (Jenner & Knewstub.)
  • This book has a special interest, as affording an opportunity of gauging the progress of a very popular taste of the day. Of the armorial bearings it may be said that some R.A.s are conspicuous by having none, so far as this publication informs us. Most of them display crests, which, of course, presume the existence of arms; Sir F. Grant, for example, is distinguished by the splendour of his heraldic achievements. The greater number of the "Monograms" -such, for instance, as the capitally-combined "G.E.S." of Mr. Street- are really ciphers, and not monograms at all; on the other hand, Mr. Richard Redgrave joins his two 'R's" back to back and triumphs as a monogrammatical artist. To many the autographs will supply a good deal of amusement. We can attest the fidelity of the reproductions of handwritings, which are too frequently anything but caligraphic.
  • The monograms (not to be so pedantic as George Frederick Stephens, author of the above review) and the facsimile signatures are:

    John Henry Robinson  
    Richard J Lane
    William Calder Marshall
    Henry Le Jeune  
    Edward William Cooke
    Edwin Landseer  
    Charles West Cope
    Robert Redgrave
    William Charles Thomas Dobson
    George Edmund Street
    John Henry Foley
    Thomas Sidney Cooper


    The lone crest, by the placings of the signature in my album, would appear to be that of Thomas Sidney Cooper.

    The armorials; which are beautifully executed in roundels, are of two Presidents of the Royal Academy: Sir Francis Grant and (Sir) John Everett Millais.




    The ascription of the 'book' to Jenner & Knewstub is helpful, though it does raise the question of exactly what form the publication took: it is believed that it may have been no more than one or two sheets. The review also begs the question 'were there further parts?'




    There is no record of a copy of the published work being held in either the archives or the library of the Royal Academy, which is rather unfortunate. It does not appear in the on-line indexes of the British Library, and extensive searches by the staff of the National Art Library have failed to locate a copy. Truly the location of The Athenaeum index on the internet was most fortuitous. (See post script.)

    As might be expected, the arts are represented in collections of Victorian crests. Among the institutions which have been noted are the Royal Academy itself; the Goupil Gallery; the Art-Union of London at 444 West Strand; the St James Gallery of Art; Old Bond Street Gallery, 25 Old Bond Street; and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, the latter appearing in two versions, the second carrying the additional title New Society of Painters in Water Colours. The album mentioned above contains a stylish crest incorporating the initials DGR and the address 16, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, which, we are informed in a pencil note, was Dante Gabriel Rossetti's own design. A crest bearing the Royal arms and the legend Royal Academy Gosport is somewhat puzzling until a connection is made with the Royal Naval Academy!

    The illustrations accompanying this article will indicate the attraction which these beautifully produced crests held for Victorian youth. If such material had been readily available through the twentieth century the pastime of crest collecting would not have passed into obscurity. The author was delighted to find in correspondence with the Royal Academy that, as befits such a body, their letterhead detail, including the Royal arms, continues to be executed in coloured relief (See Modern).

    POST SCRIPT. Rechecking the on-line catalogue of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, which holds one of the few public collections of crest albums, I encountered an entry: Arms, Crests, Monograms and Autographs of the members of the Royal Academy of Arts [1872]. Bookstack 2194 e.9: clearly a copy of the elusive 'book'. A photocopy of the work was obtained which shows it to be a cover containing four sheets sewn into it. The cover carries the title already quoted with the publishers' detail: (Published by permission.) Jenner & Knewstub, to the Queen, 33, St. James's Street, and 66, Jermyn Street, and Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., London. The four inner pages all carry the heading: Arms, Crests, Monograms, &c. OF THE MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY. (Published by permission.), and at the foot:

    Additionally the front cover gives the price: Part I. Illuminated, 10s. Ditto. Coloured 4s., and a statement that it had been Entered at Stationers' Hall. It is interesting to find the work issued in two qualities. The Bodleian's copy is coloured, the cut crests in my album are illuminated, which reinforces my belief that the album was created by someone with access to Jenner & Knewstub material. It is unlikely that anyone would cut up an attractive booklet which had cost ten shillings, a not insubstantial sum in the 1870s.

    The four sheets in the booklet contain 22 arms, crests, monograms etc. all with the member's signature beneath. My tentative ascription of the crest to Thomas Sidney Cooper proved to be correct. The eight additional crests etc. in the booklet, and the signatures of the members to whom these relate, and the three which are missing in the schedule above are given here.

    Alfred Elmore, RA

    Edward Armitage, ARA

    John Prescott Knight, ARA

    George Thomas Doo, RA

    Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, RA

    Philip Hardwick, RA

    Henry Le Jeune, ARA

    Sydney Smirke, RA

    John Henry Robinson, RA

    Henry Nelson O'Neil, ARA

    George Gilbert Scott, RA



    1 W R M Lamb The Royal Academy: A short history of its foundation and development to the present day, London 1935.
    2 The Athenaeum Index of Reviews and Reviewers: 1830-1870,
    3 The Athenaeum, No 2290, 16 September 1871, p374.

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