Founded in Millwall, London by E H Archer on 15th January 1898, Venesta was the first UK importer of plywood and supplier of tea chests.
In 1895, E H Archer, a London businessman and investor in tea plantations, adapted an existing, patented chest made of ‘thin metal sheets’ to make it collapsible to enable economical reuse.
However it proved unpopular with tea blenders and grocers as, unlike wooden crates, they were useless as firewood…. so Archer set out to make a wooden chest resistant to the damp Indian tea-growing climate.
After discovering a waterproof adhesive patent developed by the A M Luther company in the Russian Empire, Archer collaborated with them to form the Patent Veneer and Metal Case Co Ltd in 1896. In December of that year, Christian W Luther applied for a patent to make rectangular boxes from cross-grained ‘plys or veneers’.
In 1897 Archer formed the Venesta Syndicate Ltd (from 1898 Venesta Ltd) to make tea chests with Luther boards and glue and to sell them in Britain and in British Colonies. Venesta’s business later extended to other parts of Europe.
The name Venesta was a portmanteau of either of the words veneer and chest, or veneer and Estonia. Christian W Luther was both an investor and a director of Venesta Ltd.
Adapted from “Plywood – A Material Story” produced by Christopher Wilk for the V&A Museum.
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