1920 - 1930
In 1924, armed with a twelve months' passport issued by the Russian Refugees Relief & Travelling Permit Office, London, Jean set out for France and Belgium on ‘affaires de commerce'. This was only the first of many trips abroad for he greatly enjoyed travel for both business and pleasure. In October, 1925, Jean Schlounde was granted British Nationality and shortly thereafter changed his name to John Schlounde Sheldon.
A E Skinner was initially based in Orchard Street, W1 but in 1922 moved to 34-35 Old Bond Street. Alfred's son, Lionel Skinner, joined the Company in 1921 after having served as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, and upon the death of Alfred in 1931, took over the firm which continued to prosper despite the Depression of the early thirties. He was proud to tell people that at the height of business, such was the company's success that the shop boasted no fewer than five doormen!
In 1922 the London Refining & Metallurgical Works moved to larger premises at 125 Aldersgate Street in the City, where they continued as assayers, gold and silver and platinum refiners. With his father's retirement on 2nd December, 1926, John Sheldon, then aged twenty-four, took over control of the firm. It was from this time that the young man began to practice his own interests, trading also as a wholesale jeweller under the style of J. S. Sheldon, and setting aside some of the made-up items which had been delivered but which he realised were too good to scrap.
On the refining side business depended, as is usual for such concerns, upon working jewellers' and silversmiths' sweeps, photographers' waste including remaindered mass-produced postcards burnt to yield silver nitrate, gilt and slivered shoe-leather scraps, old false teeth and spectacle frames and, rather more out of the ordinary, the contract for disposing of the gold leaf-encrusted plaster decorations from the Tivoli Theatre demolished in 1922. Most of the firm's customers at this time were from London, especially the East End jewellery community of whom many members were themselves Russian émigrés, and Manchester.
When Great Britain came off the Gold Standard in 1932 refiners' businesses flourished as never before, and the London Refining & Metallurgical Works suddenly found themselves in receipt of some ten-thousand sovereigns a day which they exported at a profit of just three farthings apiece. With a working capital of £200, gold had to be disposed of daily and staff were regularly kept melting the precious metal until midnight.
Return to the Top