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Unusual Gifts For Professionals

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About us

Anyone who has ever studied law knows. Our name comes from one of the most famous lawsuits in English legal history, one which set an important precedent in 1892, and which is still cited in contractual cases today.

The cause of all the trouble was the object on the right, a piece of Victorian quackery which promised to cure influenza by releasing vapours of carbolic acid into the nostrils. Unfortunately, whilst it did plenty of releasing it didn't do so much curing. For the full facts of the case, have a look here.

Our first range of products was designed exclusively for lawyers, so when we were looking for a name back in the 1990s, it seemed logical to choose one that would mean something to them. Though quaint and old-fashioned, 'Carbolic Smoke Ball Co.' had a ring to it, and we knew it would be recognisable to lawyers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa, the USA and many other parts of the world. Of course, it is incomprehensible to non-lawyers who, for the most part, assume we make soap.

Soap is, in fact, one of the few things we don't make. On this website, you'll find virtually everything else, our product selection being guided by a simple test - is it unusual and pleasing? Many of the items are made in the UK by small, often one-man, enterprises. Literally, men in sheds. We like that sort.

Our office is near Farnham in Surrey. We keep some stock here, but there's not much point visiting us, because most of what we have is kept in a studio warehouse in Newbury. When you email us, or place an order, or telephone, it's Philip Jenks who will reply - we can be sure about that because there's no one else here (yup, a man-in-shed). On the plus side, this means you get personal, friendly service. On the downside, he does occasionally have to eat, walk the dog and sleep.

We are often asked if any shops sell Carbolic products. The answer is not many, but here are a few:

  • London: Hammicks, 191 Fleet Street on the corner of Chancery lane and Fleet Street (0207 405 5711), speak to Cally
  • Oxford: Blackwells, 50 Broad Street (01865 333668), speak to the fabulous Margot or Lydia
  • Edinburgh: Avizandum at 56a Candlemaker Row (0131 220 3373), speak to Elizabeth
  • India: M&J Services, 68, Jyotiba Phule Rd, Mohan Kunj, Mumbai (91 22 24134216), speak to Vidyut
  • Hong Kong: Bloomsbury Books, 9-10 Queen Victoria Street (852 252 65387), speak to Sheila

These shops don't have all our products (to be honest, they have only a small selection), but they are great people and will be helpful. We'd like to find outlets in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so if you know of anyone, please put them in touch.

Thanks for visiting our site. If you have any questions or suggestions, please email us. We love hearing from customers.