Saturday, 25 August 2012

Shopping Saturday - Oetzmann & Co

Oetzmann & Co were described in the London Post Office Directory of 1894 as 'complete house furnishers, cabinet makers and upholsterers, British carpet and rug warehouse, importers of Turkey, Persian, Indian and every description of Oriental carpets and rugs' or, according to the 1908 London Telephone Directory 'Cmplt Ho Frnshrs' - and you thought Text-speak was new! Their bill-head, from which the illustration above was taken, claimed that the business was founded in 1848, and it was still in business nearly a century later. You can see a selection of their advertisements on the Grace's Guide site, and one of them is dated 1947.

The founder appears to have been John Robert Augustus Oetzmann, and the business was carried on by his sons after his death in 1886. His brother, Thomas, was a piano-maker, and he too founded a successful business. The family came from Ipswich, and although their surname is German, there is no-one of that name in any English census who was born outside England. It is worth remembering that for centuries East Anglia has had close trading links with the countries that are now Germany and the Netherlands. I thought it was worth including the bill-head from which the top picture was taken, because it includes a comprehensive list of all the goods and services they provided. 

The company advertised extensively in the press, and the example above dates from 1906, when they had evidently taken over another business, Norman & Stacey, or at least acquired their stock. The London Metropolitan Archives holds some records relating to the Oetzmanns, mainly to do with their properties in Hampstead Road. 



  1. oddly - they didn't change their name with the advent of the First World War - was their brand too large to change? They had show rooms all over Europe by then too - Bucharest, Vienna, brussels & Constantinople to name a few

  2. I am the great great granddaughter of the John R A Oetzmann who founded the store. My mother's maiden name was Oetzmann. Her mother was widowed in 1919 when my grandfather FW Oetzmann died of TB. She too kept the family name all through 2nd world war and her house was raided several times incase she was harbouring german soldiers. We know the family was not German or Austrian ... and believe it most likely to be Dutch but have no evidence to prove that. My grandmother was made chairman of the company when her husband died but she knew little about business and unfortunately through mismanagement the co. went bust soon after 2nd world war.

  3. Hi - I am the great grandson of John RA Oetzmann. I still have the name - I am fascinated that your mother's house was raided - I have found out since that the company and directors had to announce that they were not aliens during the first world war. My father was a spitfire pilot during the war - his name was Oetzmann and as far as I know he had absolutely no problems - so I find it really odd that your mother's house was raided.
    Your grandfather was my father's favourite uncle.
    The name is German though - John RA's father came from Hanover in 1805 and naturalised in 1821 in Ipswich. There are Oetzmanns in Germany still - not a common surname but there are some still around Hanover and Hamburg.
    I would love to know more about the company though - perhaps we can chat in private - I'm not sure how to post a private message on here - maybe someone can tell me?
    hope to hear soon