Fuelled by Coffee is the next Insurance Museum online exhibition that will continue the story of the evolution of fire insurance. The different galleries in the exhibition will look at the newly formed insurance companies that proliferated in the early 18th century.
English coffee houses were important centres to network, debate and conduct business. Few merchant offices existed, so companies and associations were often founded in and run from coffee houses. Certain coffee houses attracted certain kinds of business. For example, Jonathan’s attracted the “stock-jobbers”, who eventually set up the Stock Exchange. The most famous must be Lloyd’s coffee house which attracted businessmen involved with shipping and marine insurance. They were places to meet people, carry out deals and get the most up-to-date information.
Tom’s coffee house was set up in 1692, and as well as serving coffee was a centre for games including chess, draughts and whist. It attracted mathematicians, artists including Gainsborough and Hogarth, and the novelists Henry Fielding and Daniel Defoe. It was also frequented by financiers and entrepreneurs, and in 1696, a mutual called Contributors for Insuring Houses, Chambers or Rooms from Loss by Fire, by Amicable Contribution was established and run from Tom’s Coffee House. This mutual became known as the Hand in Hand probably named after its emblem of two hands shaking under a crown, which was used for the company’s fire marks.
Fuelled by Coffee will feature the usual video interviews with experts and focus on objects from archives and museums. It will also feature some interesting facts, such as the links with Tom’s Coffee House, Benjamin Franklin and early US insurance companies in Philadelphia.
Keep any eye on our future newsletters and social media for more details about the Fuelled by Coffee launch.