History

  • R.K. Burt & Co. Ltd has been supplying the trade for more than 120 years. Scroll to the right to take the tour of our heritage.


  • On the 16th December 1892, Mr. Robert K. Burt made a deposit of £160 at the Prescott & Co. bank at 50 Cornhill, London, EC. (The bank subsequently became a part of the National Westminster Bank). Thus began R. K. Burt and Company, which started trading in January 1893.

    With the experience of working for many years in the large city printing company of the same name, run by his uncle, he was ideally suited to begin supplying paper to a wide variety of customers, mainly in London.

    This image shows the composing room of the previous R.K. Burt & Co. Printing company (circa 1880-90).
  • In the early part of the 20th century, the customer list included such names as The Bank of England and Lloyds of London, as well as very many printers and publishers who are now well known names in the trade. Some are still customers, with one having been supplied continuously since paper rationing in 1916. In the same way, many of the paper mills in the purchase ledger continue to supply the company, even though some have changed name and ownership over the years. Sadly, the majority of the mills no longer exist with recent suppliers of over 100 years such as Silverton Mill, Inveresk and Guardbridge having shut.

    This image shows a page from Robert Burt's original cashbook (1903).
  • In 1940, Mr Burt was joined by his son Robert K. H. Burt, who after a short while climbing over the rubble of the Blitz to the office, joined the Royal Air Force. By 1945, he was detached to a Lancaster squadron for operations. After being demobbed at the end of the war, Robert served in the reserves in MI9 developing the techniques of escape and evasion learned by colleagues such as Airey Neave of Colditz fame.
  • From the 1970s onwards, R. K. Burt & Co. was the first wholesale distributor to introduce to the U.K. such now familiar mill names as Arches, Fabriano, Hahnemühle, Lana, Canson and Rives. Through the 1980s and 1990s, the range of papers for high quality work continued to increase with a large range of hand-made, Nepalese and Japanese papers.

    The image shows hand made paper being made at Fabriano paper mill in Italy.
  • During the 1980s, after several years in other industries, Robert was joined by his sons Richard and Clifford Burt, who continue to run the company today. The sales of paper for commercial printing and publishing developed greatly in the 1970s and 1980s, and R. K. Burt & Company continue to provide a comprehensive stock management service to publishers for these papers which are delivered direct from paper mills to printers throughout the country. However, in the 1960s R. K. Burt & Co. became London agents for Barcham Green who produced hand-made papers. Almost as a separate division, the company became the largest wholesale paper merchant in the U.K. specialising in very high quality paper for every type of use for artists, including printmaking.
  • The 21st Century saw the development of inkjet printing as the preferred method of art reproduction. With existing suppliers developing market leading inkjet papers from their range of artist papers, it was inevitable that R. K. Burt & Co. would become major bulk suppliers of such modern fine art papers, after over a hundred years in the trade.