THE USE OF ARTEFACTS IN STUDYING BANK HISTORY

THE USE OF ARTEFACTS IN STUDYING BANK HISTORY

Themes

This project conducted by Lucy Newton and Victoria Barnes started with an analysis of the use of portraits of bank directors and bank managers in the first half of the nineteenth century.  Joint stock banks were a new type of institution – having only been permitted to form after the 1826 Bank Act.  In establishing their reputation in the market, banks commissioned portraits of their directors and managers to hang in their branches.  These portraits signalled the human face of banking, and showed customers a face they could trust, but also served as a remind to staff that they were being monitored.

 Following from this analysis, research was undertaken into a project in the 1960s whereby the collection and display of portraits of past Lloyds Bank Chairmen by the then Chairman, Harald Peake, was undertaken. Thereafter, a portrait of each outgoing chairman was commissioned by Lloyds.  The practice continues to this day and the portraits are hung in the corridors surrounding the boardroom in Lloyds Bank’s London Headquarters.

Finally, the relevance of bank head office architecture has been analysed.  Business historians have emphasised the value of historic symbolism as an effective method of non-verbal communication in marketing and advertising. Using the proposed demolition of National Provincial Bank of England’s Victorian headquarters as a case study, this work has examined a case when history ceases to be seen as a useful marketing tool. The work has shown that organizational and technological change caused a rupture in the self-perceptions of the organization’s identity. When this change was coupled with the bank falling behind its competitors, National Provincial ceased to see its history as a useful marketing tool and forget thus losing touch with the importance of its past values.

Outputs

Victoria Barnes and Lucy Newton (forthcoming). ‘Visualizing organizational identity: the history of a capitalist enterprise’. Submitted to Management and Organisational History

 Victoria Barnes and Lucy Newton (forthcoming). ‘The advent of the modern corporate uniform: the case of Barclays bank, 1975 – 2010’.

 Victoria Barnes and Lucy Newton (forthcoming).  ‘The life cycle of historical symbolism in advertising: the case of National Provincial’s headquarters, 1866-1968’.

 2017, Barnes, V. and L. Newton, ‘Constructing corporate identity before the corporation: fashioning the face of the first English joint stock banking companies through portraiture’. Enterprise and Society. ISSN 1467-2235 doi: 10.1017/eso.2016.90