The Black Horse

The black horse, like many banking signs and symbols, was inherited from goldsmiths – the forerunners of our modern banks. In the 17th century, there were no street numbers, and so businesses used decorative signs to attract customers. The signs also provided a means of identification in a largely illiterate society.

The first recorded use of the black horse sign was in 1677, in Lombard Street in the City of London.

It hung above the establishment of goldsmith Humphrey Stokes. By 1728, the black horse was being used by another Lombard Street goldsmith, John Bland. This firm eventually became Barnetts, Hoares & Co, and was taken over by Lloyds Bank in 1884.

 Barnett & Co. banknote from the 1700s showing the black horse.

Barnett & Co. banknote from the 1700s showing the black horse.

Lloyds already had its own symbol, the beehive, which represented thrift and industry. But after the takeover, the two symbols were used side by side.

By the 20th century, however, the more distinctive black horse, with its prestigious history and Lombard Street connections, had become the favoured symbol. It featured extensively in promotional and advertising campaigns, raising public awareness of the Lloyds Bank name around the world. It was retained after the TSB merger in 1995, and has since become the symbol of Lloyds Banking Group.

Cartoon from Lloyds Bank staff magazine 'The Dark Horse', 1920, showing the horse and beehive.

Cartoon from Lloyds
Bank staff magazine
'The Dark Horse', 1920,
showing the horse and beehive. 

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