In 1903, Harry Gibson managed to obtain an unsecured loan of £500 from the Royal Bank of Scotland in Bishopsgate, London. This generous sum enabled him to start a business, which at that time was called The International Card Co. Trading from offices in Aldersgate Street, he supplied retailers with a range of products including card games and postcards; an unlikely combination these days, but back then, most towns would have a number of stationers in the High Street and they became Harry Percy’s first customers.
The International Card business was sold to the De La Rue Company and H. P. Gibson & Sons Limited was formed in 1919. The International Series brand continued to be used on some products right up to the early 1980′s, but H P Gibson & Sons Ltd made its name with the ‘HPG’ brand of indoor games, with old favourites such as L’Attaque and Dover Patrol; huge sellers before and after the Second World War. Sadly the company’s premises, along with all its manufacturing equipment were destroyed during the blitz in 1940 and when the war ended, it was almost a case of starting from scratch.
Robert and Harry Gibson (jnr.), sons of the founder, re-established trading from Barrett Street in London’s West End. The company continued to sell its own family games and pastimes, alongside ranges from other established names, including Waddingtons and Chad Valley.
1966 Harry Percy’s grandson, Michael Gibson joined the family business. He remembers his father paying him £11.00 a week out of which he had to pay his mother living expenses. In the late 70s H P Gibson & Sons shortened its name to ‘Gibsons’, and shortly after, in the early 80s, Gibsons introduced their first jigsaw puzzle range, a series of photographic images of Britain from the Air.
Michael Gibson was determined to bring a new, luxurious feel to a decidedly lacklustre market. The result was their high quality, 100% recycled puzzle board and sturdy boxes printed in smart royal blue. Along with the new jigsaws came new themes, and Michael dispensed of the dreary subject matters and introduced delectable new imagery, often drawn by specially commissioned artists.
Having gone from only 6 puzzles in the range, we've now grown to over 250 titles, running from 2 to 2000 pieces, with over 50 new jigsaw puzzle images added every year.
Gibsons have a broad selection of products for all the family including games and puzzles suitable for pre-school to big school and beyond!
The company is now run by Harry Percy's granddaughters, Kate Gibson who is the Managing Director and Nicki Gumbrell who is the Sales Director.
Chairman Michael Gibson comments, ‘Here at Gibsons we are one big family and we are very lucky with our staff, all of whom seem to enjoy working with us and putting their heart and soul into their various roles. Being a small business, everybody gets that feeling of being involved and not just being a small cog in a big wheel.’