HBC rye whisky decanters in the shape of the Nonsuch and a beaver, 1970
As part of its mandate, Hudson's Bay Company Heritage Services maintains a collection of artifacts which document the history of the Company, and by extension, the retail industry. These artifacts inform us of our past and help us to communicate that past in displays and exhibitions. The collection consists of three broad categories of material:
1. Retail Products
Private brand items that were developed as products and marketed and sold exclusively by the Company, as well as captive brands which were sold exclusively by the Company in the territory where it operates. Examples from the collection include Luxura slippers, Woodwards motor oil, HBC Golden Santos Coffee, Cherokee brand clothing.
2. Operations Support
Items used to support operations and to carry on the business of the Company. Include store fixtures, promotional material, shopping bags and employee-related items. Examples from the collection include 15 year service medal, cash register, hat boxes, Zeddy mascot costume.
Woodward's motor oil, n.d.
3. Other Museum Pieces
This category includes artifacts related to the history of the Company or of retail but which do not have a unique or specific HBC connection. Examples from the collection include the collection of haute couture donated by the estate of Margery Steele and samples of top-selling retail products from various eras such as Hot Wheels and Barbie.
The most significant artifact in the collection is the original Royal Charter, granted to the Company in 1670 by King Charles II. This item, which is housed in a specially-built sealed case, is located at the Company's Head Office in Toronto.
HBC Heritage Services is currently working to augment the existing collection through careful acquisition of artifacts with significance to the Company's history. Our decisions are guided by a number of considerations. Key among these are the rarity and condition of the artifact, the extent to which the item is already represented in the collection, and most importantly, its significance to the history of the Company.
Simpsons Serenader, ca. 1950
Not all objects with links to HBC are being actively acquired. Items relating to the fur trade era (pre-1870) do not fall under Heritage Services' acquisition mandate. In 1994, the Company donated its extensive collection of fur trade-era artifacts to the Province of Manitoba and this collection currently resides at the Manitoba Museum. The primary focus of our collection is the modern retail activity of the Company. This includes artifacts associated with past retail acquisitions, such as Simpson's and Morgan's. Of secondary importance are items relating to the non-retail activities of the Company post 1870, which includes such endeavours as land sales and oil and gas exploration. As well, other artifacts which are not essential to the understanding of the Company but which help to illustrate the context of the Company's activities are of interest. This includes the personal archives of personnel who held important or interesting positions.
If you have an interesting artifact which you believe fits the Company's collection mandate, please Contact Us.
Please note that Hudson's Bay Company Heritage Services is not in a position to provide appraisals of HBC material. If you have questions about the value of an item in your possession, we suggest that you contact a professional appraiser, e.g. the American Society of Appraisers.