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Bolt Stamp and Label Collection

1800 - 1950

Bolt labels were stuck to the ends of bolts of cloth. The labels acted as a sort of trade mark or brand, identifying a particular producer or merchant’s wares in the market place. Each label was designed specifically for the market it was sent to. The ticket was supposed to catch the eye of the shopper, and often employed various symbols which today can be baffling at first glance.

Some of the most visually striking bolt labels in Bolton’s collection were intended for the Indian, African and South American markets. The labels demonstrate the extent to which Bolton was connected to the rest of the world through the cotton trade.

Bolt stamps were made from a block of wood, usually sycamore, with strips of copper inserted edgeways into the wood to create decorative patterns and pictures. Like the labels, these could be very elaborate, and sometimes involved more than one colour.