Fonds BC292 - Garlick Ltd Papers

Reference code



Garlick Ltd Papers


  • 1875-1954 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

101 archive boxes

Name of creator

Administrative history

John Garlick: John Garlick was born in Lincolnshire, England, on 22 February 1852. He came to South Africa in 1872, at the age of twenty, and in May 1875 he opened his first store in Cape Town, on the corner of Bree and Strand Streets. He was a true entrepreneur, as demonstrated by his foresight in pioneering both the motor car business and office equipment, as well as establishing leading department stores in several other South African centres. He was a prominent public figure in Cape Town. In 1891 he became a member of the Cape Town City Council and served, with a break of two years, until 1900. In 1903 he was elected to the Cape Legislative Council, in 1904 to the Cape Legislative Assembly, and in 1907, Commissioner on the Table Bay Harbour Board. He married Ellen Rachel Miller in June 1878, and they had eight children. He died in Green Point, Cape Town, on 11 June 1931.

Brief history of the businesses: In 1875, John Garlick opened a small retail, general drapery, store at the corner of Bree and Strand Streets in Cape Town. By the early 1880s he had entered the wholesale trade. In 1893 he opened a new store in Exchange Place on property he had acquired. Here he operated both a retail and wholesale business. Ten years later, to cope with the expanding wholesale operation a new eight storey steel-framed building was built alongside the Exchange Place store. The retail and warehouse functions in Cape Town were originally fairly separate, but gradually evolved into one, a process that was complete by 1925. Because most goods were imported, a London office was established. This office handled purchases and shipping of goods to South Africa, as well as playing an important role in the management of company finances. In addition to merchandising, Garlick also set up manufacturing businesses to supply his store. These included factories for boots and furniture. Branches were opened elsewhere in South Africa, some under the Garlick name. There was a cycle, later motor-cycle, division, and this pioneered the import of motor cars into South Africa. In addition, Garlick also pioneered the use of the typewriter in South Africa through an agency arrangement with Remington Typewriters. Source: South African Dictionary of National Biography

See also The Garlick story by Eric Rosenthal; edited by Sherry Garlick Stanton.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The collection was presented to UCT Libraries by the firm of Garlick Ltd, with the first donation being in 1960.

Scope and content

The collection consists of the business records of companies established by John Garlick, most notably of Garlick Ltd. There is also material dealing with the personal and public life of John Garlick (1852-1930).

By far the largest section (C) consists of business correspondence for the years 1886 to 1946. This consists of internal correspondence for the Cape Town headquarters, both retail and wholesale divisions, correspondence to and from the London Office, and correspondence with the stores established in other centres of South Africa and [then] Southern Rhodesia. The wholesale stores were referred to as “Marks” for the purpose of company correspondence. There are separate summary lists for the years 1896 to 1914.

The personal papers (A) include personal and family correspondence and records of the building of John Garlick’s private residence at Muizenberg (Watersgate).

There are records of the various business ventures established by John Garlick, notably Garlick’s Motor and Cycle Supply, Garlick’s Furniture Store and the Remington Typewriter Agency.

John Garlick’s role as a public figure and philanthropist is represented in Section G. In various places in the collection are typed notes. These are by Eric Rosenthal, who was commissioned to write the company history.


System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

Contact University of Cape Town Libraries: Special Collections for information about accessing this collection.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Related units of description

There are drawings of Garlick’s buildings in the plans of John Parker (BC792) The John Orr Papers (MSB990) at the National Library of South Africa contain a substantial amount of information on John Garlick.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Eric Rosenthal: The Garlick Story
Eric Rosenthal: Across the Counter and Down the Years: Stuttaford & Co
Eric Rosenthal: The Jagger Story

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