In the Beginning12

WJ Reeves Portrait

In the Beginning 

In 1766 William Reeves opened his first shop near St Paul’s Cathedral in Well Lane, Little Britain where he manufactured and sold his own paints. The business was doing so well that he took his older brother Thomas into partnership.  

Reeves was a family orientated business where William’s brothers, children and extended family all helped to give Reeves the quality reputation that it still holds today. However, it was the successful marketing of the Moist Watercolour Paint-Cake invented by William Reeves, which placed Reeves at the forefront of manufacturing artists’ materials. 

Read on 


Pigement Box

The shop had a basement in which three young apprentices ground the pigment, and used a new and secret process to develop the innovative water colour paint-cakes.
William and Thomas were so proud of their invention that they sent a sample embossed with the original bluecoat boy device to the society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce. The society of Arts (now known as the Royal Society of Arts) was suitably impressed by Reeves’ refinement of watercolour paints through the invention of the moist paint cake and in 1781 were awarded the Messrs Reeves the ‘Great’ silver palette ‘for the manufacture of Watercolour improved’!

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  • In the Beginning

    In 1766 William Reeves opened his first shop near St Paul’s Cathedral in Well Lane, Little Britain where he ma...
    Read more

  • William & Thomas Reeves

    The Reeves brothers were very different. William had the inventiveness and intransigence of a genius and was t...
    Read more

  • Moist Watercolour Paint Cakes

    The embossed paint-cake was the invention of William Reeves. His training as a wire-drawer gave him the idea t...
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  • The Greyhound

    They greyhound crest was ’discovered’ by Thomas Reeves and adopted as trademark by William John Reeves, the st...
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  • Laying the Foundations

    Once established in England, the Reeves business grew effortlessly across foreign markets. This was mainly thr...
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  • Into education

    By 1866 Reeves was being run by Henry (son of William Reeves) Reeves’ two nephews, Henry Wild and Charles Kemp...
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  • Into the 20th Century

    In 1921 Reeves built the Greyhound Colour works at Enfield which became famous for its Greyhound Pastels. Unfo...
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  • Today

    Reeves continues to be a huge brand both in the UK and internationally. Manufacturing a range of quality acryl...
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