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The history and heritage of Papeterie Pottin

en-tête de facture d'époque de la papeterie de Madame Veuve Pottin à Nantes

In the footsteps of a historic Nantes stationery factory

Rue Santeuil has been the essential place for lovers of paper and organizational items for almost 200 years. Foglietto's move to 6 Rue Santeuil at the end of 2022 is ultimately no coincidence: it is in fact on this same street that a large New Year's store has developed, that of Madame Pottin. The passion and the institution that this paper maker launched alone in the 19th century continues through the opening of thePalazzo .

Here we are going to explore her astonishing story: with incredible twists and turns, the life of Madame Pottin and her stationery company was significant for Nantes commerce!

We thank Julien Lozelli , a Nantes genealogist, who did in-depth research to help us better understand the story of this woman, a modern entrepreneur with honorable ambitions. We recommend him for any research or questions about your family: his experience and know-how are well established, so you can trust him with your eyes closed! You can also take a look at this article by Stéphane Pajot, which appeared last January in Ouest France.

rue santeuil historic stationery madame Pottin and Foglietto

Who is Anne-Marie Pottin?

Let's start at the beginning: from his birth to his marriage

Born Anne-Marie Lefèvre (sometimes written Lefeuvre) on July 31, 1805 in Nantes, this woman grew up in a modest family. His father is a blacksmith (Pierre Lefèvre) and his mother is a linen worker (Anne-Marie Beitz). She is the eldest of five children.

On April 28, 1824, at the age of 19, she married Mathurin Aristide Pottin (which can also be written as Potin), who was 23 years old. This man is a bookbinder who works in a shop which was located… Rue Santeuil!

📜 Anecdote! This street was built in 1782, and had four different names: Bouvet, Bertrand, Bertrand de Molleville, and finally Santeuil, namely the street where the Palazzo is located today. Why not propose a new name: Rue Pottin?

They had three children together, but only the eldest survives. Shortly after their marriage and the birth of their son, Mathurin Aristide was killed during a protest during the revolutionary days which followed the events of the Three Glorious Years. Our dear Anne-Marie is then called Madame Pottin, or even the Widow Pottin.

signature anne marie lefeuvre in 1824

The beginning of an incredible story: the takeover of a small business

Madame Pottin thus inherits the business from her late husband, at only 25 years old. It made its official entry into the paper business on September 9, 1930 with an insert published in the press “Commercial and maritime sheet of posters, legal announcements and various notices”. She therefore took the reins of the business launched by Mathurin Aristide, and developed this small bookbinding business by regularly adding new features (such as the introduction of office supplies).

She does not seem to be afraid of taking initiatives, on the contrary: she is determined to develop this business. And business is doing so well that she has to move her stationery to larger premises! However, she didn't need to look far: she found an ideal location across the street, at 5 rue Santeuil. The move took place on May 30, 1839, barely ten years after taking over the store. We can therefore speak of a flourishing business!

nantes map rue crébillon rue santeuil stationery pottin

Being a woman in the 19th century, being taken seriously as a merchant and manager of a New Year's store was difficult for Anne-Marie Pottin. But she was not the type to let herself be walked on: she applied for a bookseller's license on October 3, 1943. Proving in this way that she did not need anyone to manage her affairs, Madame Pottin 'will get. The mayor of Nantes sent this request to the Prefect of Loire Inférieure, outlining the profile of Madame Pottin as well as her professional intentions.

"Ms. Pottin, who is asking the Minister of the Interior for a bookseller's license at the Nantes residence, deserves all the goodwill of the government. Her integrity is irreproachable and she is heartily attached to our institutions for which her husband has gave his life in July 1830. I will therefore see with satisfaction that his request could be favorably received."

Letter from the mayor of Nantes to the Prefect, October 23, 1843.

On November 3, 1843, she obtained her bookseller's license, and took the oath two months later, thus confirming that she held it.

authentic invoice signed by Madame Pottin

The development of a prosperous business!

Over the years that followed, we can find numerous invoices as well as various press publications that sing his praises. Why would she stop so well? Driven by the momentum of her success and her ambition, Madame Pottin obtained, on April 10, 1849, a ten-year patent for an “improvement in the invention covered by the patent issued to Mr. Pellée on July 23, 1844” . This object is in reality drawing paper, known by the name of its creator “Pellée paper”, a paper whose property would be “to obtain clear effects without gouache”.

pottin paper shoveled invention improvement Foglietto

A few years later, more precisely on February 28, 1852, she again obtained a patent for improvement: that of Mr Sy for “a rocker register and spring back”.

The success continued to be seen, because in December 1852 she decided to expand the commercial area of ​​the store at 5 rue Santeuil by opening the first floor, which allowed her to deepen her offer and introduce new products. and develop the business.

We could describe her as a great businesswoman, but above all as a modern entrepreneur for her time. Madame Pottin has been driven for thirty years by a desire to advance and develop the stationery which she inherited from her late husband. She knew how to adapt to the dazzling progress of her time: she diversified her offer, she also followed the evolution of the press and politics, but also remained attentive to the development of lithography and the inventions of this century bubbling. We can say without hesitation that Madame Pottin left her mark by herself initiating patent improvements in her field.

press article madame pottin historic Nantes stationery Foglietto

A century of prosperity: the different heirs

• Madame Pottin and son: 1853 - 1859

Unfortunately, at the height of her local fame, Anne-Marie Pottin died suddenly at the age of 47, on July 27, 1853. It was therefore her only son Aristide who took over the management of the stationery from her late father and her late father. his mother, ensuring the continuity of the patents obtained.

death notice takeover of the store by the son of Madame Pottin Pottin et fils

• Catherine Irma Blot: 1859 - 1864

However, not everyone is an entrepreneur: only three years after the death of his mother, Aristide sold the business to Madame Catherine Blot, wife of a large Nantes shipowner, approximately between 1856 and 1859.

Aged 27, Madame Blot developed the business a little by bringing in some new products and continuing to publish articles and inserts in the press to advertise it.

On February 17, 1864, Madame Blot died. The business is handed over to his mother, but she is elderly and therefore probably incapable of managing a business, although flourishing, alone. She then put the Pottin stationery up for sale.

• Mr. Reverdy and Mr. Renimel: 1865 - 1883

On February 25, 1865, a company made up of two partners, Mr. Alexandre Mathurin Reverdy and Mr. François Marie Renimel, bought the business. The first obtained his bookseller's license and the second was already a stationer before purchasing the business.

However, fate seemed to be against the heirs of the Pottin stationery: the sale was called into question following the sudden death of Mr. Reverdy on February 24, 1882. It was his wife and Mr. Reverdy's first cousin who inherit, and decide by mutual agreement to sell the business on March 3, 1883.

• Antoine Marie Georges Meynieu: 1883 - 1923

pottin stationery invoice taken over by meynieu

The lucky buyer is a stationery merchant born in Bordeaux and based on the Quai de la Fosse for several years.

📜 The deed of sale specifies that “the goodwill consists of the clientele and goodwill attached to it, the patents, the equipment, such as lithographic presses, stamps, adjusting machines, special tools, gas installation, industrial furniture, in a word, everything necessary for the operation of the said business” and that the goods in store are, among other things, “stationery and bookstore items, office supplies, novelty objects , engravings, etc. We also learn that “purchasers will be able to keep on the sign, letterheads, invoices, memoranda, labels and other documents of this nature, the name of 'Ancienne maison Veuve Pottin', but that this name will never be able to be attached to the commercial signature of the purchaser; this should only contain his private name”.

In this way, Mr. Meynieu retains the name Papeterie Pottin, a guarantee of commercial reputation and success, thus building customer loyalty.

Over time, it continues to deepen the range of the offer, bringing on the one hand modern articles while on the other hand retaining everything that we could find in a bookstore-stationery store. For example, he suggests that Edison's electric pen be represented in his business in September 1888.

meynieu stationery pottin electric pen edison exhibition

June 24, 1891 marked a historic day for Papeterie Pottin: the business moved to 5 rue Boileau in a brand new spacious store!

“The praise of this house, one of the oldest in our city, is well established.”

Le Phare de Loire, July 30, 1904, about the presence of Mr. Meynieu at the Persagotière Exhibition, who came to present his articles which caused a sensation.

press article on the move to the large premises on rue boileau

📜 Anecdote! Mr. Meynieu's daughter, Yvonne Lucie Jeanne Meynieu, married Léon Jost in 1917, who was then manufacturing director and personnel manager at the LU factory. Big names for the city of Nantes!

• Jean Etienne: 1923 - 1935

The laudatory press articles follow one another, never ceasing to provide great publicity for the stationery: the business is at its peak. But the curse strikes again: Mr. Meynieu died on September 1, 1923 following a devastating illness. It is his colleague, Jean Etienne, who takes over sole management of the store, the latter approaching the centenary of its existence.

Unfortunately, Mr. Etienne has great difficulty running the business and begins to remove several items from his offering, then he is quickly forced to reduce the commercial space.

At the end of 1934, the people of Nantes seemed to be ignoring the stationery store where everything and anything could now be found there... It was then that he made the decision to cease trading, and sold off the entire stock.

It was at the beginning of 1935, on January 1 precisely, that the Papeterie Pottin closed its doors for good, after 105 years of activity. It is in this way that the name of Pottin disappears from the memory of the people of Nantes, and gradually falls into oblivion.

notice of closing sale of all items permanent closure stationery pottin

A heritage that Foglietto honors with pride!

More than a century of twists and turns have marked the history of this great Nantes institution. The end of this stationery is certainly tragic because it was not always in very good hands. However, its heritage is present: Foglietto and its 100% female team are guarantors to perpetuate this passion and this love of paper. And in 2023, we are lucky to be able to share our concept with the whole world, while having our headquarters in Nantes.

📜 Summary of the events which marked the development of this historic institution:

  • September 9, 1830 - Resumption of the bookbinding business by Anne-Marie Pottin after the death of her husband.
  • May 30, 1839 - Move of the New Year's store to more spacious premises, at 5 rue Santeuil.
  • November 3 , 1843 - Obtained his bookseller's license.
  • July 23, 1844 - Obtained a patent for improvement.
  • February 28, 1852 - Obtaining a second improvement patent.
  • December 18, 1852 - Expansion of the stationery.
  • From 1853 to 1935 - Various legacies and adventures for the purchase of Papeterie Pottin after the death of Anne-Marie.
  • January 1, 1935 - Permanent closure of Papeterie Pottin.

If you want to discover our stationery and discuss this incredible story, we look forward to meeting you at the Palazzo , 6 rue Santeuil, where we are waiting for you with a coffee! 🤗

We will soon celebrate the 200th anniversary of Papeterie Pottin!

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