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The early years

felixFelix Rosenstiel was a well-known figure in the German art world at the end of the 19th Century. He often travelled to London on behalf of a picture framing company and thus developed a sound knowledge of the London framing and art world. In 1880, he moved to London with his wife, Josephine, and established an art and framing business in the City.

The business was a success. Felix Rosenstiel realised not only that the London subjects of Queen Victoria wanted fine and ornate frames but also that they had an apparently insatiable appetite for prints. Among his old business acquaintances in Bavaria, the home of lithography, were some of the finest print producers of them all and Felix was just the man to bring them together.

However, the struggle to create his own business took it's toll on Felix's health. Realising that he had a serious heart condition and not wanting his small but sound business to close down on his death, he requested that Josephine carry the company on after him. Shortly afterwards, in 1895, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Josephine. mindful of her late husband's wishes, changed the company's name to Felix Rosenstiel's Widow; a title as unusual then as now. However, she also had three children under the age of ten to raise and the struggle to combine home and business was a difficult one. When her eldest son, Percy, reached the age of 15, she was advised by the accountants to bring him into the company.

The War Years

Both Percy and his brother, Edgar, who joined a few years later, had inherited their father's business sense. The trading name of the company was changed to Felix Rosenstiel's Widow and Son and Josephine was able to retire from business life whilst the two brothers set about putting the firm back on a sound footing. The First World War brought many changes to the company; not least the change of the family name from the Germanic 'Rosenstiel' to the English 'Roe'.


The company moved to new premises and was forced by the austerity of the post-war depression and by a fall-off in demand for pictures to diversify into fields which would astonish those who know Rosenstiel's today. Barbola Ware, glass cloches, painted mirrors, dartboards, jigsaw puzzles, coasters, calendars and tablemats all became part of the range. By the end of the 1930s, Rosenstiel's employed 150 staff and occupied five buildings in Cowcross Street in London.

The Second World War brought this purple period to an end; Edgar died in 1942 and much Rosenstiel's property was destroyed by enemy action. After the war, Percy threw himself into a whole-hearted effort to restore the prosperity of the pre-war years, aided by his two eldest sons, Peter and Jervis, who had returned  after their war service.

The internationalisation

4th _GenPercy Roe died in 1953 and Peter and Jervis continued as partners until 1957, when Rosenstiel's became a limited company. In 1965, yet another Roe joined the business when David, the great-grandson of Felix and son of Jervis, decided to make fine art  publishing his career. His drive has taken Rosenstiel's into over 100 countries and culminated with the grant of the prestigious Queen's Award for Export Achievement in 1993.

Over the years, Rosenstiel's also took over a number of publishing companies, including John Harrap and Son in 1938, and Richard Wyman and Son Ltd in 1949. In 1992, the publishing business of Frost & Reed, then trading as Venture Prints, was acquired, including a complete collection of copper plates from Ackermann's and a whole raft of historic copyrights.

135 years and many more to come…

5th _GenDavid Roe's son represents the fifth generation and is now Managing Director. In 2007, Rosenstiel's were granted a second Queen's Award for Export Achievement. 

In October 2016, Rosenstiel's was proud to celebrate the 135 years of the creation of the company.