Walter Thornhill assumed control of Thornhill & Co, a well-appointed firm of 18th century Cutlers (established in 1734 by James Gibbes), in 1850/51. The subsequent year Walter registered the business at its premises, 144 New Bond Street. Thornhill's excelled in the manufacture of fancy goods, including writing-cases and dressing-cases, beautifully crafted curios and games, which were well-received at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and throughout the second half of 19th century. In 1875 the firm was known as Walter Thornhill & Co. and it continued to flourish. Reviews in the fashionable ladies periodical The Queen, excitedly praised Thornhill's 1877 catalogue for its 'Novelties in Knick-nacks'.