Margot Hatto Photographic Collection

Moira Shearer

The daughter of Max Feibelmann, Senior Kantor of the main Synagogue in Düsseldorf, and his wife Frieda (née Grünewald), Margot Hatto was born on 17 May 1911 in Düsseldorf. She went on to study medicine at Berlin University. Hitler came to power in 1933, while she was studying there. She was sent by her parents first to Zurich and then to Bern to continue her studies.

Margot met Arthur Hatto (1910-2010) in Bern where he was her tutor in English at the University of Bern. They married in 1935 while Arthur was assistant lecturer in German at King's College, London.

When conditions began to deteriorate in Germany, Margot (with the help of Arthur) obtained leave to bring her parents to Britain in early 1939. Margot started her first venture in the production of greeting cards to enable her to help look after her parents.

Her first greeting card publications were prints of black and white photographs taken with her Leica camera. These were dried using her husband's trouser press. Her products were noticed by a retailer in the Strand, possibly named Wilson. Following his guidance in marketing, Margot began selling her greeting cards to well known high street chains under the trade name of Manor Cards. She progressed to producing cards and gift tags illustrated in colour with photographs taken by professional photographers. Ballet subjects were a particular favourite.

Margot would select the photographs she wished to use and send the colour transparencies away for copper printing plates to be produced. The pictures were printed by another company. The later stages of the manufacturing were undertaken by Margot at her home in Radlett, Hertfordshire. She acquired an old-fashioned printing press, learned how to typeset and printed the greetings inside the cards, using a small table-top machine.

As the printing and publishing business grew she acquired modern printing presses, teamed up with professional printers and launched the Trefoil Printing Company Limited. At this point she moved to a separate premise.

Margot Hatto died on 7 July 2000. Her collection of colour transparencies, glass plate negatives and photographic prints of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet was donated to the Royal Opera House by her daughter, Jane Lutman, in 2012.

Image © ROH Collections