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LITTLE BOOKS ABOUT 

OLD FURNITURE 

II. QUEEN ANNE 



LITTLE BOOKS ABOUT 

OLD FURNITURE 

Uniformly bound. Crown 8vo. 

price 2s. 6d. net. 

I. Tudor to Stuart 

II. Queen Anne 

III. Chippendale and his School 

IV. The Sheraton Period. 

London: William Hbinemann 
21 Bedford Street, W.C. 2. 




Queen Anne Walnut Tallboy and Stool 
(Early Eighteenth Century). 



LITTLE BOOKS ABOUT OLD FURNITURE 
ENGLISH FURNITURE : BY J. P. BLAKE 
& A. E. REVEIRS-HOPKINS. VOLUME II 

THE PERIOD OF 

QUEEN ANNE 




NEW EDITION 



ILLUSTRATED 



LONDON MCMXVII 
WILLIAM HEINEMANN 






First publiihed Octtber 1911 
New Edition January 191J 
New ImprezaioHs I9l6> 19x7 



3\4- 



Capyriikt Ltnden 1911 liy WaUam Heinemamt 



INTRODUCTION 

The sovereigns of England, unlike those of 
France, have seldom taken to themselves the 
task of acting as patrons of the fine arts. 
Therefore when we write of the "Queen Anne 
period" we do not refer to the influence of 
the undistinguished lady who for twelve years 
occupied the throne of England. The term is 
merely convenient for the purpose of classifi- 
cation, embracing, as it does, the period from 
William and Mary to George I. during which 
the furniture had a strong family likeness and 
shows a development very much on the same 
line. The change, at the last quarter of the 
seventeenth century, from the Jacobean models 
to the Dutch, was probably the most important 
change that has come over English furniture. 
It was a change which strongly influenced 
Chippendale and his school, and remains with 
us to this day. 

The period from William and Mary to 
George I. covered nearly forty years, during 
which the fashionable furniture was generally 
made from walnut-wood. No doubt walnut 
was used before the time of William and 
Mary, notably in the making of the well-known 
Stuart chairs with their caned backs and seats, 
but it did not come into general use until the 
time of William. It continued in fashion 

II V <^ 



vi INTRODUCTION 

until the discovery of its liability to the attacks 
of the worm, combined with the advent of 
mahogany, removed it from public favour. 
Walnut nevertheless remains a beautiful and 
interesting wood, and in the old examples the 
colour effects are probably unsurpassed in 
English furniture. Its liability to '* worming " 
is probably exaggerated, and in the event of 
an attack generally yields to a treatment with 
paraffin. Certainly the furniture of what is 
termed the " Queen Anne period" is in great 
request at the present day, and as the period 
was so short during which it was made, the 
supply is necessarily limited. 

We referred in the introduction to the first 
volume to the fact that the present series does 
not in any sense pretend to exhaust what is 
practically an inexhaustible subject. The series 
is merely intended to act as an introduction to 
the study of old English furniture, and to provide 
handbooks for collectors of moderate means. 
The many admirable books which have been 
already written on this subject seem to appeal 
mostly to persons who start collecting with 
that useful but not indispensable asset — a large 
income. In the present volume, although rare 
and expensive pieces are shown for historical 
reasons and to suggest standards of taste, a 
large number of interesting examples arc also 



INTRODUCTION vii 

shown and described which are within the 
reach of persons of moderate incomes, and 
frequently an approximate price at which they 
should be acquired is indicated. 

In collecting the photographs necessary for 
this volume we are indebted to the Director 
and Secretary of the Victoria and Albert 
Museum, South Kensington, London,for placing 
the various exhibits at our disposal and particu- 
larly for causing a number of new exhibits to 
be specially photographed. However good a 
photograph may be, it can only be a ghost of 
the original, which should always, if possible, 
be examined. We would therefore strongly 
recommend readers when possible to examine 
the museum objects for themselves. The South 
Kensington collection, admirable as it is, is 
still far from complete, and increased public 
interest should contribute to its improvement. 
For the further loan of photographs we are also 
indebted to Mr. F. W. Phillips, of the Manor 
House, Hitchin, Herts ; also to Mr. J. H. Sprin- 
gett, High Street, Rochester ; Messrs. Mawer 
and Stevenson Ltd., 22 1 Fulham Road, London, 
and others to whom we acknowledge our 
indebtedness in the text. 

J. P. Blake 

A. E. Reveirs-Hopkins 
21 Bedford Street, W.C. 2. 



CHAPTERS 

I. THE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD x 

II. SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN AND GRIN- 
LING GIBBON i8 

III. MIRRORS, STOOLS, AND SOME NOTES 

ON A QUEEN ANNE BEDROOM 34 

IV. CHAIRS AND TABLES 47 

V. CHESTS OF DRAWERS, TALLBOYS, 

CABINETS AND CHINA CABINETS 65 

VL SECRETAIRES, BUREAUX, AND 

WRITING-TABLES 76 

VIL CLOCKS AND CLOCK-CASES 8j 

VIIL LACQUERED FURNITURE 95 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

It is with pleasure we acknowledge our obligations to the 
following authorities : 

Percy Macquoid : " The Age of Wabut." 

fThe standard work on the furniture of this period.) 

J. H. Pollen : " Ancient and Modem Furniture and Woodwork.** 
An admirable little handbook and guide to the furniture 
and woodwork collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 
South Kensington. 

F. J. Brittin : " Old docks and Watches and their Makers." 
(Exhaustive in its treatment, and fully illustrated. The 
standard book. A new edition has recently been published.) 

John Stalker : " Japanning and Varnishing." 

fThe earliest English book on this subject. Published in 
1688 during the craze for japanned furniture.) 

Law : " History of Hampton Gjurt," vol. iii. 

AsHTON : " Social Life in the Reign of Queen AnncT 

Evelyn : " Diary." 

Macaulay: " History of England." 



CHAPTER I : THE QUEEN 
ANNE PERIOD 

WILLIAM AND MARY, 1689-1702 

ANNE, 1702-1714 
GEORGE I., 1714-1727 

William the Third was a Dutchman and, al- 
though he was for thirteen years King of England, 
he remained a Dutchman until his death. His 
English was bad, his accent was rough, and his 
vocabulary limited. He had a Dutch guard, the 
friends whom he trusted were Dutch, and they 
were always about him, filling many of the 
offices of the Royal Household. He came to 
England as a foreigner and it remained to him a 
foreign country. His advent to the throne 
brought about certain changes in the style of 
furniture which are generally described as " the 
Dutch influence," which, however, had its origin 
at least as far back as the reign of Charles H. 

Both William and Mary were greatly interested 
in furnishing and furniture. They took up their 
residence at Hampton Court Palace soon after 
their coronation, and the place suited William 
so well and pleased him so much that it was very 
difficult to get him away from it. William was a 

II I A 



2 OLD FURNITURE 

great soldier and a great statesman, but he was 
more at his pleasure in the business of a country 
house than in the festivities and scandals of a 
court life, both of which he perhaps equally 
disliked. The Queen also cordially liked country 
life, and no less cordially disliked scandal. Mr. 
Law, in his interesting book on Hampton Court, 
mentions the story that Mary would check any 
person attempting to retail scandal by asking 
whether they had read her favourite sermon — 
Archbishop Tillotson on Evil Speaking. 

With the assistance of Sir Christopher Wren 
as Architect and Grinling Gibbon as Master 
Sculptor, great changes were made in the Palace 
at Hampton Court. The fogs and street smells 
of Whitehall drove William to the pure air of 
the country, and there was the additional attrac- 
tion that the country around the palace reminded 
him in its flatness of his beloved Holland. When 
one of his Ministers ventured to remonstrate 
with him on his prolonged absences from London, 
he answered : " Do you wish to see me dead ? " 
William, perhaps naturally, cared nothing for 
English tradition : he destroyed the state rooms 
of Henry VHI. and entrusted to Wren the task 
of rebuilding the Palace. The architect appears 
to have had a difiicult task, as the King con- 
stantly altered the plans as they proceeded, and, 



OLD FURNITURE 3 

it is said, did a good deal towards spoiling the 
great architect's scheme. In William's favour 
it must be admitted that he took the blame for 
the deficiencies and gave Wren the credit for the 
successes of the building. The result — the attach- 
ment of a Renaissance building to a Tudor 
palace — is more successful than might have been 
expected. The King's relations with Wren seem 
to have been of a very friendly sort. Mr. Law 
mentions the fact that Wren was at this time 
Grand Master of Freemasons ; that he initiated 
the King into the mysteries of the craft ; and 
that William himself reached the chair and 
presided over a lodge at Hampton Court Palace 
whilst it was being completed, which is, in the 
circumstances, an interesting example of the 
working rather than the speculative masonry. 

Mary was herself a model housewife, and filled 
her Court with wonder that she should labour 
so many hours each day at her needlework as if 
for her living. She covered the backs of chairs 
and couches with her work, which was described 
as " extremely neat and very well shadowed," 
although all trace of it has long since disappeared. 
It is appropriate to observe, as being related to 
decorative schemes and furnishing, that the taste 
for Chinese porcelain, which is so general at 
this day, was first introduced into England by 



4 OLD FURNITURE 

Mary. Evelyn mentions in his diary (June 13, 
1693) that he " saw the Queen's rare cabinets and 
collection of china which was wonderfully rich 
and plentiful." Macaulay expresses his opinion 
with his usual frankness. He writes : " Mary had 
acquired at The Hague a taste for the porcelain of 
China, and amused herself by forming at Hampton 
a vast collection of hideous images, and vases upon 
which houses, trees, bridges, and mandarins were 
depicted in outrageous defiance of all the laws of 
perspective. The fashion — a frivolous and inele- 
gant fashion, it must be owned — which was thus set 
by the amiable Queen spread fast and wide. In a 
few years almost every great house in the kingdom 
contained a museum of these grotesque baubles. 
Even statesmen and generals were not ashamed 
to be renowned as judges of teapots and dragons ; 
and satirists long continued to repeat that a fine 
lady valued her mottled green pottery quite as 
much as she valued her monkey and much more 
than she valued her husband." It is strange to 
consider in these days how greatly Macaulay, 
in this opinion, was out of his reckoning. There 
is, perhaps, no example of art or handicraft upon 
which the opinion of cultured taste in all coun- 
tries is so unanimous as in its admiration for 
good Chinese porcelain, amongst which the 
Queen's collection (judging from the pieces still 



OLD FURNITURE 5 

remaining at Hampton) must be classed. Mary 
was probably the first English queen to intimately 
concern herself with furniture. We have it on 
the authority of the Duchess of Marlborough 
that on the Queen's first visit to the palace she 
engaged herself " looking into every closet and 
conveniency, and turning up the quilts upon 
the beds, as people do when they come into an 
inn, and with no other concern in her appearance 
but such as they express." 

We find in this period lavishly painted ceilings, 
woodwork carved by Grinling Gibbon and his 
school, fine needlework, upholstered bedsteads, 
and marble mantelpieces with diminishing shelves 
for the display of Delft and Chinese ware. The 
standard of domestic convenience, in one respect, 
could not, however, have been very high, if one 
may judge from the Queen's bathing-closet of 
this period at Hampton Court Palace. The bath 
is of marble and recessed into the wall, but it 
is more like a fountain than a bath, and its use 
in the latter connection must have been attended 
by inconveniences which modern women of 
much humbler station would decline to face.* 

• The bathroom is, however, not in itself so modem in England 
as might be supposed. Wheatley mentions that as early as the 
fourteenth century a bathroom was attached to the bedchamber 
in the houses of the great nobles, but more often a big tub with 
a covering like a tent was used. 



6 OLD FURNITURE 

Good specimens of the wood-carving of 
Grinling Gibbon (born 1648, died 1721) are to 
be seen at Hampton Court, to which Palace 
William III. appointed the artist Master Carver. 
He generally worked in soft woods, such as lime, 
pear and pine, but sometimes in oak. His subjects 
were very varied — fruit and foliage, wheat-ears 
and flowers, cupids and dead game, and even 
musical instruments — and were fashioned with 
amazing skill, resource, and ingenuity. He 
invented that school of English carving which 
is associated with his name. His fancy is lavish 
and his finish in this particular work has never 
been surpassed in this country ; but it is doubtful 
whether his work is not overdone, and as such 
may not appeal to the purer taste. Often his 
masses of flowers and foliage too much suggest 
the unpleasant term which is usually applied to 
them, viz. " swags." Frequently nothing is left 
to the imagination in the boldness of his realism. 
Fig. I shov\^ a very h^ppy example of his work 
over a mantelpiece in one of the smaller rooms 
in Hampton Court Palace, which is reproduced 
by the courtesy of the Lord Chamberlain, the 
copyright being the property of H.M. the King. 
Upon the shelf are pieces of china belonging to 
Queen Mary, but the portrait inset is of Queen 
Caroline, consort of George IV. In the grate 



OLD FURNITURE 7 

is an antique fire-back, and on either side of 
the fire is a chair of the period of William and 
Mary. 

The Court bedsteads (and probably on a 
smaller scale the bedsteads of the upper classes 
generally) continued to be at once elaborate and 
imhygienic, and were fitted with canopies and 
hangings of velvet and other rich stuffs. King 
William's bedstead was a great four-poster, himg 
with crimson velvet and surmounted at each 
corner with an enormous plume, which was much 
the same fashion of bedstead as at the beginning 
of the century. Fig. 2 is an interesting photo- 
graph (reproduced by permission of the Lord 
Chamberlain) of three Royal bedsteads at Hampton 
Court, viz. those of William, Mary, and George II. 
The chairs and stools in front are of the period of 
William and Mary. The table is of later date. 
Most of the old furniture at Hampton Court, 
however, has been dispersed amongst the other 
Royal palaces. 

An excellent idea of the appearance of a 
London dwelling-room of this period is shown 
in Fig. 3. It was removed from No. 3 CHfford's 
Inn, and is now to be seen at the Victoria and 
Albert Museum. The owner, John Penhallow, 
must have been well-to-do, as the fine carving 
about the mantelpiece and doors was expensive 



8 OLD FURNITURE 

even in those days. The festoons of fruit 
and flowers of the school of Grinling Gibbon 
around the mantelpiece, in the centre of which 
are the arms of the owner, and the broken 
pediments over the doors surmounting the 
cherubs' heads, are characteristic of the time. 
The table with the marquetry top and " tied " 
stretcher is of the period. The chairs retained 
for a time that rigid resistance to the lines of 
the human form which marks the Stuart chairs ; 
but very soon adapted themselves in a physio- 
logical sense. 

What is termed the Queen Anne period of 
furniture may be said to date from the reigns of 
WiUiam and Mary (i 689-1 702), and Queen Anne 
(1702-1714), to that of George I. (1714-1727). 
The Dutch influence of William and Mary became 
Anglicised during the reign of Anne and the first 
George, and the influence remains to this day. 
Mahogany was introduced about 1720, and thence- 
forward the influence of Chippendale and his 
school came into force. 

The Queen Anne style has probably been 
over-praised, a little misunderstood, and possibly 
a trifle harshly treated. Mr. Ernest Law, whose 
studies of this period we have already mentioned, 
describes it as " nothing better than an imitation 
of the bastard classic of Louis XIV., as distin- 



OLD FURNITURE 9 

guished from the so-called * Queen Anne style ' 
which never had any existence at all except in 
the brains of modern aesthetes and china maniacs," 
and as a case in point refers to Queen Anne's 
drawing-room at Hampton Court Palace. This 
verdict is no doubt a true one as regards the 
schemes of interior decoration, with their sprawl- 
ing deities and the gaudy and discordant groupings 
of classical figures of Verrio and his school, to 
be seen at Hampton Court and other great 
houses. Verrio, as Macaulay wrote, " covered 
ceilings and staircases v^th Gorgons and Muses, 
Nymphs and Satyrs, Virtues and Vices, Gods 
quaffing nectar, and laurelled princes riding in 
triumph " — a decorative scheme which certainly 
does not err on the side of parsimony. The taste 
of a Court, however, is by no means a criterion 
of taste in domestic furniture. There can be no 
doubt that to this period we are indebted for 
the introduction of various articles of furniture 
of great utility and unquestionable taste. The 
chairs and tables in particular, depending as 
they do for charm upon simple lines and the 
transverse grain of the wood, for neatness of 
design and good workmanship are unsurpassed. 
Amongst other pieces the bureaux and long- 
cased clocks made their appearance ; also double 
chests of drawers or tallboys, mirrors for toilet- 



lo OLD FURNITURE 

tables and wall decoration ; and washstands 
came into general use, as well as articles like 
card-tables, powdering-tables, &c. 
{ The houses of the wealthy were furnished 
with great magnificence and luxuriousness in a 
gaudy and ultra-decorative fashion. Restraint is 
the last quality to be found. Judging however 
from the many simple and charming specimens 
of walnut furniture surviving, the standard of 
comfort and. good taste amongst the middle 
classes was high. Table glass was now manu- 
factured in England ; carpets were made at 
Kidderminster ; chairs grew to be comfortably 
shaped ; domestic conveniences in the way of 
chests of drawers, writing bureaux, and mirrors 
were all in general use in many middle-class 
houses. Mr. Pollen, whose handbook on the 
Victoria and Albert collection is so much appre- 
ciated, writes of the Queen Anne furniture as being 
of a " genuine English style marked by great 
purity and beauty." 

Anne, the second daughter of James II., was 
the last of the Stuarts, with whom, however, 
she had little in common, and indeed it is with 
something of an effort that we think of her as a 
Stuart at all. Personally she had no more influence 
upon the period which bears her name than the 
Goths had upon Gothic architecture. The term 



OLD FURNITURE ii 

" Queen Anne " has grown to be a conveniently 
descriptive term for anything quaint and pretty. 
We are all familiar with the Queen Anne house 
of the modern architect, with its gables and 
sharply pitched roof. This, however, is probably 
suggested by various rambles in picturesque 
country districts in England and Holland ; but 
it has nothing in common with the actual houses 
of the period under review. 

The bulk of the genuine furniture which has 
come down to us was probably from the houses 
of the merchant classes, the period being one 
of great commercial activity. The condition of 
the poor, however, was such that they could not 
concern themselves with furniture. Mr. Justin 
McCarthy, in his book on these times, estimates 
that one-fifth of the population were paupers. 
A few rude tables and chairs, a chest, truckle- 
beds, and possibly a settle, would have made up 
the possessions of the working-class house ; and 
it is probable that not until the nineteenth cen- 
tury was there any material improvement in their 
household surroundings. 

It was a time in which the coffee- and chocolate- 
houses flourished ; when Covent Garden and 
Leicester Square were fashionable neighbour- 
hoods ; when the Sedan chair was the fashionable 
means of transit ; when the police were old 



12 OLD FURNITURE 

men with rattles who, sheltered in boxest 
guarded the City ; and when duels were fough, 
in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The coffee-house was 
a lively factor in the life of the times : although 
wines were also sold, coffee was the popular 
drink. The price for a dish of coffee and a seat 
by a good fire was commonly one penny, or 
perhaps three-halfpence, although to these 
humble prices there were aristocratic e:?;ceptions. 
Anderton's Hotel in Fleet Street, " The Bay 
Tree " in St. Swithin's Lane, and the now 
famous " Lloyd's " are interesting developments 
of the Queen Anne coffee-houses. Coffee itself 
was retailed at about seven shillings per pound. 
Chocolate-houses were small in number, but in- 
Icuded names so well known at the present time 
as " White's " and the " Cocoa Tree." Choco- 
late was commonly twopence the dish. " Fancy 
the beaux," Thackeray writes, " thronging the 
chocolate-houses, tapping their snuff-boxes as 
they issue thence, their periwigs appearing over 
the red curtains." 

Tea-drinking was a social function and mainly 
a domestic operation, and to its popularity we 
owe the number of small light tables of this 
period. 

Snuff, or the fan supply each pause of chat, 
With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that. 



OLD FURNITURE 13 

The price of tea fluctuated very much — some years 
it was much cheaper than others, varying from 
lOJ. to 30J. per lb., although it is said that in 
the cheaper sorts old infused leaves were dried 
and mixed with new ones. 

As regards pottery and porcelain, the Chinese 
was in great request, following, no doubt, 
on the fashion set by Queen Mary. The 
English factories — Worcester, Derby, Chelsea, 
Bow, Wedgwood, and Minton — only started 
in the last half of the eighteenth century. 
Mr. Ashton, in his interesting book on 
" Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne," 
quotes the following advertisement, which points 
to the continued popularity of decorative 
china : 

*' Whereas the New East India Company did 
lately sell all their China Ware, These are to 
advertise that a very large parcel thereof (as 
Broken and Damaged) is now to be sold by 
wholesale and Retail, extremely cheap at a 
Warehouse in Dyer's Yard. Note. — It is very 
fit to furnish Escrutores, Cabinets, Corner Cup- 
boards or Spriggs, where it usually stands for 
ornament only." 

This fashion first brought into use the various 
forms of cabinets used for the display of china. 
The earliest pieces would therefore date from 



14 OLD FURNITURE 

the end of the seventeenth, or the beginning 
of the eighteenth century. 

In the first volume of this series we referred 
to a characteristic of EHzabethan woodwork, 
viz. inlaying — the laying-in of small pieces of 
one or several kinds of wood in places cut out 
of the surface of another kind. In the period 
under review two further practices are deserving 
of special notice. The first is veneering, which 
consists of wholly covering one sort of wood 
(frequently a common wood, such as deal or 
pine, but also oak) with a thin layer of choice 
wood — walnut, mahogany, &c. The object of 
veneering was not for purposes of deception, as 
it was not intended to produce the effect that 
the whole substance was of the finer sort of 
wood ; but by means of applying these thin 
overlays a greater choice of wood was possible, 
and a more beautiful effect was produced by the 
juxtaposition of the various grains. 

Although at the present time the term veneer 
is frequently used as one of approbrium, the 
principle it stands for is a perfectly honest one. 
It is very much the same as the application of 
the thin strips of marble to the pillars and walls 
of St. Mark's at Venice, which is called incrus- 
tation, and of which Ruskin writes in the " Stones 
of Venice." The basis of St. Mark's is brick, 



OLD FURNITURE 15 

which is covered by an incrustation or veneer 
of costly and beautiful marbles, by v^hich rich 
and varied colour effects are produced v^hich 
would have been impossible in solid marble. 
The same principle applies to veneers of wood, 
in which there is likewise no intention to deceive 
but rather a desire to make the most of the 
materials on hand. It would have been impossible 
to construct a great many cabinets of solid walnut- 
wood, nor would the effect have been so satis- 
factory, because, as already pointed out, the fact 
of veneers being laid in thin strips immensely 
increases the choice of woods and facilitates the 
composition of pleasing effects. There is, more- 
over, often a greater nicety of workmanship in 
the making of veneered furniture than in the 
solid article, and it is indeed often a complaint 
that the doing up of old veneered furniture is 
so expensive and troublesome. In old days veneers 
were cut by hand — sometimes one-eighth of an 
inch thick — but the modern veneer is, of course, 
cut by machinery, and is often a mere shaving. 

In the period under discussion walnut- veneer- 
ing reached great perfection, beautiful effects 
being produced by cross-banding various strips 
and varying the course of the grains and the 
shades. Oak was first used as a base, but later 
commoner woods such as deal. 



i6 OLD FURNITURE 

It is a mistake to condemn an article because 
the basis is not of oak. As a matter of fact, after 
a time oak went out of use as a basis for the 
reason that it was unsatisfactory, the veneer 
having a tendency to come away from it. We 
frequently find the front of a drawer is built 
of pine, to take the veneer, whilst the sides and 
bottom of the drawer are of oak. 

Marquetry, which is also a feature in furniture 
of this period, is a combination of inlaying and 
veneering. A surface is covered with a veneer and 
the desired design is cut out and filled in with 
other wood. Its later developments are of French 
origin, and it was first introduced into England 
from Holland towards the end of the seventeenth 
century, after James II. (who had been a wanderer 
in Holland) came to the throne. 

Most arts date back to ancient times ; and the 
arts of woodcraft are no exceptions. Inlaying, 
veneering, and wood-carving reach back to the 
temple of Solomon ; and the Egyptians also 
practised them. Ancient inlay, moreover, was 
not confined to woods — ^ivory, pearls, marbles, 
metals, precious stones all being requisitioned. 

During the reigns of William and Mary, 
Anne, and George the First, events of great 
importance transpired. St. Paul's, that, great 
monument to Wren and Renaissance architec- 



OLD FURNITURE 17 

ture, was opened ; the Marlborough wars were 
fought ; the South Sea Babble was blown and 
burst ; Sir Christopher Wren and Grinling 
Gibbon completed their work ; Marlborough 
House and Blenheim were built ; Addison, Pope, 
and Daniel Defoe were at work ; Gibraltar was 
taken ; England. and Scotland were united ; the 
Bank of England was incorporated ; and last, 
but not least, the National Debt started. 



II 



CHAPTER II: SIR 
CHRISTOPHER WREN AND 
GRINLING GIBBON 

The temper of a nation is reflected in its archi- 
tecture and, in a lesser degree, in its furniture. 
When we look at the furniture of the last of 
the Stuarts, Mary IL and her sister Anne, we 
see written all over it in large letters one great 
virtue — sobriety. 

In the oak furniture of the last of the Tudors 
and the first of the Stuarts (Elizabeth and 
James I.) we find the same sober note ; but in 
the main it is more essentially English. In the 
Augustan era of Elizabeth we certainly see in 
the more pretentious examples of Court-cup- 
boards and cabinets the influence of the Renais- 
sance ; but the furniture made by the people 
for the people is simply English in form and 
decoration. 

During the troublous times of the two Charles 
and to the end of the revolution which placed 
William and Mary on the throne, the country 
was alternately in the throes of gaiety and Puri- 
tanism ; and a dispassionate view leads one to 
suppose that " Merric England " had the greater 

l8 



OLD FURNITURE 19 

leaning towards merriment. The people of 
England knew well enough that sobriety was 
good for them, and Cromwell gave it in an 
unpalatable form. The remedy was less to the 
country's liking than the disease, and with the 
Restoration in 1660 the passions of the nation 
ran riot in the opposite extreme. 

The final lesson came with the twenty-nine 
years of misrule under Charles 11. and James 11. 
Having drained the cup of degradation to the 
dregs, the country set about her real reformation 
by the aid of Dutch William, himself the grand- 
son of a Stuart, and his cousin-consort Anne, the 
daughter of the self-deposed James. 

James 11. had learnt his lesson from the errors 
of his brother Charles, but was not wise enough 
to fully profit by it. He realised that misrule 
had stretched his subjects' patience to the 
breaking-point, and during his short reign there 
was a certain amount of surface calm. But 
beneath was the continual struggle for absolutism 
on the part of the monarch and emancipation 
on the part of the people. The subject is familiar 
to students of history. 

With the advent of the Orange rigime we find 
a distinct revolution in EngHsh furniture. There 
is no evidence of a sudden change. We find 
comparatively severe examples durinjg James H.'s 



20 OLD FURNITURE 

reign and flamboyant patterns dating from the 
days of William. The transitional period was 
shorter than usual, and once the tide had gathered 
strength in its flow there was very little ebb. 

The Civil troubles in the country had given 
a severe check to the arts : the influence of the 
Renaissance upon furniture was upon the wane, 
and the ground was lying fallow and hungry for 
the new styles which may be said to have landed 
with William of Orange in Tor bay in 1688. 

The main influence in the furniture was Dutch, 
and the Dutch had been to a large extent in- 
fluenced by a wave of Orientalism. 

Twenty-five years before this, England's most 
renowned, if not greatest, architect had designed 
his first ecclesiastical building — the Chapel of 
Pembroke Hall, Cambridge — ^in the classical style 
which he made famous in England. 

Christopher Wren was born in 1631 or 1632. 
He was son of Dr. Christopher Wren, Dean of 
Windsor, and nephew of Matthew Wren, Bishop 
of Ely, who, to celebrate his release from the 
Tower, built Pembroke Hall Chapel in 1663, 
employing his nephew as architect. 

In 1664, when Christopher Wren was about 
thirty-two years of age, he came in contact 
with John Evelyn, the diarist, who in his journal, 
under date July 13, writes of him as that " miracle 



OLD FURNITURE 21 

of a youth." The acquaintanceship ripened into 
a friendship, only broken by Evelyn's death in 
1706. From Evelyn's diary we are able to glean 
many things concerning the then rising young 
architect. The idea of the Royal Society was 
the outcome of a meeting in 1660 of several 
scientists in Wren's room after one of the lectures 
at Gresham College. On being approached on 
the desirability of forming the Society, Charles II, 
gave his assent and encouragement to the project, 
and we learn that one of the first transactions 
of the Society was an account of Wren's pendulum 
experiment. The Society was incorporated by 
Royal Charter in 1663. 

It would appear that Wren had no world-wide 
reputation as an architect at the time, but, 
probably through the instrumentality of his 
friend Evelyn, he was appointed by the King 
as assistant to Sir John Denham, the Surveyor- 
General of Works, and in the opinion of one of 
his biographers, Lucy Phillimore, " the practical 
experience learned in the details of the assistant- 
surveyor's work was afterwards very serviceable 
to him." 

We find him occupied in 1664 in plans for 
repairing old St. Paul's and in building the 
Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford, which was finished 
in 1669. During the plague of 1665 Wren made 



7.t OLD FURNITURE 

a tour of the Continent, and there absorbed 
ideas which fructified in the new style of 
classical architecture which has made his name 
famous. During further discussions concerning 
the much-needed repairs to St. Paul's came the 
fire of London in 1666. This solved the difficulty, 
for St. Paul's was left a gaunt skeleton in the City 
of Desolation. Wren's plans for the rebuilding 
of the City were accepted by the King, but were 
never carried out in anything like their entirety. 
All attempts to patch up the cathedral were 
abandoned in 1673, and the ground was cleared 
for the new foundations. The architect and 
his master mason laid the first stone on June 21^ 
1675. The cathedral and the story of its building 
is familiar to us all. The great architect, having 
drawn the circle for the dome, called to a work- 
man to bring him a piece of stone to mark the 
centre. The man brought a fragment of an old 
tombstone on which was the single word " Resur- 
gam." All present took it as a good omen. We 
all know how the last stone of the lantern was 
laid thirty-five years afterwards by the architect's 
own son in the presence of his father. During 
those thirty-five years the great freemason's 
hands had been full, and in the City which rose 
from the ashes of the fire of 1666 no less than 
fifty-four churches were either built or restored 



OLD FURNITURE 23 

by him. In addition, we find that the rebuilding 
or restoration of thirty-six halls of the City guilds, 
as well as upwards of fifty notable buildings — 
hospitals, colleges, palaces, cathedrals and 
churches — ^in London and the provinces, is laid 
to his credit. 

St. Paul's Cathedral, Wren's City churches, 
and the Monument, would in themselves make 
London famous amongst the cities of the world. 
The Monument was erected to commemorate the 
rebuilding of the City. The inscription thereon 
absurdly attributes the origin of the fire to the 
Papists. Pope satirises it in his " Moral Essays " : 

London's Column pointing to the skies 
Like a tall bully lifts the head and lies. 

Chief, for beauty, amongst the churches is St. 
Stephen's, Walbrook. Canova, the great sculptor, 
after paying a visit to England for the purpose 
of seeing the Elgin marbles, was asked if he 
would Hke to return to the country. " Yes," 
he replied, " that I might again see St. Paul's 
Cathedral, Somerset House, and St. Stephen's, 
Walbrook." 

A dozen or more of Wren's churches have 
been swept off the map of London, in many 
cases with a wantonness amounting to sacrilege ; 
but we can still rejoice in the possession of such 
gems as St. Stephen's, Walbrook ; St. Nicholas, 



24 OLD FURNITURE 

Cole Abbey ; and St. Mary Abchurch, with 
its flat roof and cupola supported on eight 
arches. St. Dunstan's in the East, near the 
Custom House, still stands testifying to the fact 
that Wren could restore a church without spoiling 
it. St. Dunstan's, built in the latest style of 
perpendicular Gothic, was left a mere shell after 
the fire. Wren added the fine tower, and capped 
it with the curious and graceful spire supported 
on flying buttresses. It is said that the architect 
stood on London Bridge with a telescope anxiously 
watching the removal of the scaffolding from the 
spire. It is scarcely credible, however, that such a 
man should doubt his own powers of building. 
This legend recalls the story of the building of 
the Town Hall at Windsor in 1686. The spacious 
chamber on the street level is used as a corn 
exchange and above is the great hall. The 
anxious town councillors declared that the great 
room above would collapse. Wren knew exactly 
how much his four walls and great beams could 
bear, but, to appease the burghers, he promised 
to place four columns at the intersections of the 
beams. He purposely built them about two 
inches short, and, to this day, after the lapse of 
two hundred and twenty-five years, there is stiU 
a two-inch space between the top of each column 
and the ceiling it is supposed to support. On 



OLD FURNITURE 25 

the exterior of the building are two statues given 
by Wren in 1707 : one of Queen Anne and the 
other of her Danish consort, Prince George. 
Our good Christopher could flatter on occasion. 
The inscription to Prince George in his Roman 
costume reads, inter alia : 

Heroi omni saeculo venerando. 

Underneath the figure of Queen Anne is the 
legend : 

Arte tua sculptor non est imitabilis Anna 
Annae vis similem sculpere sculpe Deam. 

The local rhyming and free translation runs : 

Artist, thy skill is vain ! Thou can'st not trace 
The semblance of the matchless Anna's face ! 
Thou might'st as well to high Olympus fly 
And carve the model of some Deity ! 

We admit this is a very free and extended 
translation, but it passes current locally. To 
say the least, it is high praise ; but Wren had 
a staunch friend in Queen Anne, and every eye 
makes its own beauty. 

The exigencies of the time called for a great 
architect, and he appeared in the person of 
Christopher Wren : they called for a great 
artist to adorn the master's buildings, and he 
appeared in the guise of GrinHng Gibbon. 

The discovery of Gibbon in an obscure house 
at Deptford goes to the credit of gossipy John 



26 OLD FURNITURE 

Evelyn, who on January i8, 1671, writes : " This 
day, I first acquainted his Majesty (Charles II.) 
with that incomparable young man Gibbon, 
whom I had lately met with in an obscure place 
by mere accident, in a field in our parish, near 
Sayes Court. I found him shut in ; but looking 
in at the window, I perceived him carving that 
large cartoon or crucifix of Tintoretto, a copy 
of which I had brought myself from Venice, 
where the original painting remains. I asked ii 
I might enter ; he opened the door civilly to me, 
and I saw him about such a work as for the 
curiosity of handling, drawing and studious 
exactness, I never had before seen in all my 
travels. I questioned why he worked in such an 
obscure and lonesome place ; it was that he 
might apply himself to his profession without 
interruption, and wondered not a little how I 
found him out. I asked him if he were unwilling 
to be known to some great man, for that I believed 
it might turn to his profit, he answered, he was 
yet but a beginner, but would not be sorry to 
sell off that piece ; on demanding the price he 
said ;^ioo. In good earnest, the very frame was 
worth the money, there being nothing in nature 
80 tender and delicate as the flowers and festoons 
about it, and yet the work was very strong ; in 
the piece was more than one hundred figures 



OLD FURNITURE 27 

of men, &c. . . . Of this young artist, together 
with my manner of finding him out, I acquainted 
the King, and begged that he would give me 
leave to bring him and his work to Whitehall, 
for that I would venture my reputation with 
his Majesty that he had never seen anything 
approach it, and that he would be exceedingly 
pleased, and employ him. The King said he 
would himself go see him. This was the 
first notice his Majesty ever had of Mr. 
Gibbon." 

The King evidently did not " go see him," 
for under date March i we read : " I caused 
Mr. Gibbon to bring to Whitehall his excellent 
piece of carving, where being come, I advertised 
iis Majesty. . . . No sooner was he entered 
and cast his eye on the work, but he was astonished 
at the curiosity of it, and having considered it a 
long time and discoursed with Mr. Gibbon 
whom I brought to kiss his hand, he commanded 
It should be immediately carried to the Queen's 
side to show her. It was carried up into her bed- 
chamber, where she and the King looked on and 
admired it again ; the King being called away, 
left us with the Queen, believing she would have 
bought it, it being a crucifix ; but when his 
Majesty was gone, a French peddling woman, 
one Madame de Boord, who used to bring 



28 OLD FURNITURE 

petticoats and fans and baubles, out of France to 
the ladies, began to find fault with several things 
in the work, which she understood no more than 
an ass, or a monkey, so as in a kind of indignation, 
I caused the person who brought it to carry it 
back to the Chamber, finding the Queen so 
much governed by an ignorant French woman, 
and this incomparable artist had his labour only 
for his pains, which not a little displeased me ; 
he not long after sold it for ^80, though well 
worth ;£ioo, without the frame, to Sir George 
Viner. His Majesty's Surveyor, Mr. Wren, 
faithfully promised to employ him. I having also 
bespoke his Majesty for his work at Windsor, 
which my friend Mr. May, the architect there, 
was going to alter and repair universally." 

Grinling Gibbon was born in 1648, and so the 
" incomparable young man " would have been 
about twenty-three years of age when he sailed 
into Royal favour. We do not know the where- 
abouts of the carved cartoon after Tintoret ; 
but we shall find at the Victoria and Albert 
Museum a carving by Gibbon, measuring 6 ft. 
in height by 4 ft. 4 in. in width, of the " Stoning 
of St. Stephen." It is executed in limewood 
and lance-wood. Walpolc, in his " Catalogue 
of Painters," writes of the " Stoning of St. 
Stephen," which was purchased and placed by 



OLD FURNITURE 29 

the Duke of Chandos at Canons,* as the carving 
which had " struck so good a judge " as Evelyn. 
It is palpably not identical v^ith the Tintoret 
subject vi^hich Evelyn describes as " being a 
crucifix." Fig. 10 in Chapter III. is a remarkable 
example of Gibbon's carving of fruits, flowers, 
and foliage. 

Readers who are familiar with the Belgian 
churches will remember the wonderful carvings 
at Brussels and Mecklin by Drevot and Laurens, 
who were pupils of Gibbon. They out-Gibbon 
Gibbon in their realism. 

In Fig. 4, photographed for this book by the 
South Kensington authorities, we give an illustra- 
tion of a carving in pinewood of a pendant of 

• James Brydges, Duke of Chandos, who as Paymaster of the 
Forces during the wars in the reign of Queen Anne amassed a 
large fortune, built Canons, near Edgware, in 1 715. The building 
and furnishing is said to have cost between jf 200,000 and ^^250,000. 
It was in the classical or Palladian style of architecture, and was 
adorned with costly pillars and statuary. The great salon was 
painted by the Paolucci and the ceiling of the staircase by Thorn- 
hiU. Although the building was designed to stand for ages, under 
the second Duke the estate became so encumbered that it was 
put up to auction, and as no buyer could be found the house 
was pulled down in 1747. The materials of " Princely Canons " 
realised only jf 11,000. The marble staircase and pillars were 
bought by Lord Chesterfield for his house in Mayfair. The 
witty Earl used to speak of the columns as " the Canonical pillars 
of his house." The Grinling Gibbon carving of the " Stoning of 
St. Stephen " was transferred to Bush Hill Park, near Enfield, 
and finally acquired in 1 898 by the Victoria and Albert Museum 
at a cost of ;t300. 



30 OLD FURNITURE 

flowers attributed to Gibbon. It originally deco- 
rated the Church of St. Mary Somerset, Thames 
Street, E.G., built 1695 — one of Wren's City 
churches so wantonly destroyed. To see Gibbon's 
wood carving at its best we must go to St. Paul's 
Cathedral, Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court 
Palace. At Windsor we shall also see carved 
marble panels of trophies, emblems and realistic 
fruits, flowers and shell-fish on the pedestal 
of the statue of Charles II. At Charing Cross 
we have another example of his stone carving 
on the pedestal of the statue of Charles the 
Martyr. 

We have already referred to the Church of 
St. Mary Abchurch in Abchurch Lane, between 
King William Street and Cannon Street, City. 
It was built in 1686, eleven years after the first 
stone of St. Paul's was laid. It also serves for the 
parish of St. Laurence Pountney. It lies in a 
quiet backwater off the busy stream, and the 
flagged courtyard is still surrounded by a few 
contemporary houses. Externally it is not beau- 
tiful, but Wren and Gibbon expended loving 
care on the really beautiful interior. The soft 
light from the quaint circular and round-headed 
windows casts a gentle radiance over the carved 
festoons of fruit, palm-leaves and the "pelican 
in her piety." 



OLD FURNITURE 31 

Just across, on the other side of Cannon Street, 
is another backwater, Laurence Pountney Hill. 
Two of the old Queen Anne houses remain, 
No. I and No. 2, with beautiful old hooded 
doorways dated 1703. The circular hoods are 
supported by carved lion-headed brackets. The 
jambs arc ornamented with delicate interlaced 
carving. No. 2 has been mutilated as to its 
windows, and a modern excrescence has been 
built on to the ground floor ; but No. i appears 
to be much as it left the builders' hands in 1703, 
and still possesses the old wide staircase with 
twisted " barley-sugar " balusters and carved 
rose newel pendants. These houses may or may 
not have been designed by Wren. They seem to 
bear the impress of his genius, and in any case 
they give us a glimpse — and such glimpses are 
all too rare — of the homes of the City fathers, 
just as the little church across Cannon Street 
brings us in touch with their religious life in 
the early days of Queen Anne. 

Fig. 5 represents an interesting series of 
turned balusters taken from old houses of the 
late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 
They are executed in oak, lime, ash and pine- 
wood — mostly the latter ; and many of the 
details will be found repeated in the furniture 
legs of the Queen Anne period. The photograph 



32 OLD FURNITURE 

fvas specially taken for this volume by the courtesy 
of the Director and Secretary of the Victoria 
and Albert Museum. 

Fig. 6 represents a contemporary doorway of 
a room formerly at No. 3 Clifford's Inn. It is of 
oak, with applied carvings in cedar of acanthus- 
leaf work, enclosing a cherub's head and a broken 
pediment terminating in volutes. We shall find 
members of the same cherub family on the 
exterior of St. Mary Abchurch. Fig. 7 is the 
overmantel of the same room with a marble 
mantelpiece of somewhat later date. This room, 
now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, was 
erected in 1686 by John Penhallow, who resided 
there till 17 16. 

Fig. 8 is a beautiful doorway carved in yellow 
pine, with Corinthian columns and pediment. 
We shall find similar pediments in the tower of 
Wren's church, St. Andrew's, Holborn. This 
doorway with the carved mantelpiece (Fig. 9) came 
from an old house in Carey Street, Lincoln's 
Inn Fields. These belong to the early part of 
the eighteenth century. 

These are but a few isolated examples of beau- 
tiful settings to the furniture of the period of 
the revival of classical architecture in England. 
Such things are not for the modest collector, 
who will content himself with the chairs, tables, 



OLD FURNITURE 33 

and bureaux of the period — articles, in the main, 
of severe outline devoid of carving, and relying 
for effect much upon the rich tones of the wood 
employed, but withal eminently beautiful, inas- 
much as they were and arc eminently useful. 



If 



CHAPTER III: MIRRORS, 
STOOLS, AND SOME NOTES 
ON A QUEEN ANNE BEDROOM 

The mirror, at the present time, is so generally 
an accepted necessary of life, and so indispensable 
in many of its situations, that it may seem remark- 
able that not until the sixteenth century was it 
in anything like general use in England. The 
pleasure and interest of reflection must have 
been felt from the time when " the reindeer 
roared where Paris roars to-night." Still water 
must have been the first mirror of the first man 
and woman in which they discovered their 
astonished faces, and where it is possible that, 
like Narcissus, they fell in love with their own 
reflections. Thus we find Eve saying in " Paradise 
Lost " : 

I thither went 
And with unexperienced thought, and laid me down 
On the green bank ; to look into the clear 
Smooth lake, that to me seem'd a second sky. 
As I bent down to look, just opposite, 
A shape within the wat'ry gleam appear'd, 
Bending to look on me. 

No doubt a reflecting surface was one of the 
first things that human ingenuity concerned 
itself about. Brass mirrors were used by the 

34 



OLD FURNITURE 35 

Hebrews, and mirrors of bronze by the Egyp- 
tians, Greeks, and Romans ; surviving specimens 
may be seen in the museums. Silver mirrors were 
also used in very early times. Glass mirrors are 
also of ancient origin. Sauzay, in his work on 
" Glass-making," quotes from Aristotle as 
follows : " If metals and stones are to be polished 
to serve as mirrors, glass and crystal have to be 
lined with a sheet of metal to give back the 
image presented to them." And here we have 
the foreshadowing of the mercury-backed sheet 
of glass of modern times. 

In England mirrors of polished metal were 
well known in Anglo-Saxon times, and from the 
twelfth to the fifteenth centuries the ladies 
carried mirrors at their girdles or in their pockets. 
Venice has always been the home of glass-work, 
and it was there, in the early fourteenth century, 
that the immediate prototypes of our modern 
glass mirrors were made. For something like a 
century and a half the Venetians had the mono- 
poly of the making of the best mirrors. Their 
secrets were carefully guarded, and any workman 
emigrating had his nearest relative imprisoned. 
It is interesting to note in passing that in Jan 
van Eyck's picture in the National Gallery, 
London, painted in 1434, there is a framed 
convex wall mirror which has an astonishingly 



36 OLD FURNITURE 

modern look. It is difficult to say whether or not 
this is made of glass, but it shows, of course, that 
mirrors were used for wall decoration at that 
time. This picture, hy the way, is very interesting, 
as providing undeniable evidence as to the nature 
of the Dutch furniture of the early fifteenth 
century. 

As regards the early history of the mirror in 
Britain, there is a glass mirror in Holyrood Palace 
in the apartments used by Queen Mary the First 
and said to have belonged to her. At Hampton 
Court there are mirrors belonging to the period of 
Williamlll. and later, some of which have bevelled 
edges and borders of blue glass in the form of 
rosettes. Glass mirrors were made in England by 
Italian workmen early in the seventeenth century, 
but not extensively until about 1670, when the 
Duke of Buckingham established works in Lam- 
beth, where mirrors were made. The edges were 
bevelled in Venetian fashion. We find Evelyn 
writing in his diary under date of September 19, 
1676 : 

" To Lambeth to that rare magazine of marble, 
to take order for chimney pieces, &c., for Mr. 
Godolphin's house. The owner of the workes 
had built for himselfe a pretty dwelling house ; 
this Dutchman had contracted with the Genoese 
for all their marble. We also saw the Duke of 



OLD FURNITURE 37 

Buckingham's Glass Worke, where they made 
high vases of metal as cleare, ponderous and 
thick as chrystal ; also looking-glasses far larger 
and better than any that come from Venice." 

As will be seen at Hampton Court, the glass 
in each of the large mirrors of this tinie is in 
two pieces, for the reason that, by the methods 
then in use, it was not possible to make larger 
sheets. This method of making mirrors in two 
pieces is followed even in the present day in 
modern copies of old mirrors. It was, no doubt, 
a cause of regret to the old makers that they 
could not turn out a large glass in one sheet, 
and they would no doubt have been astonished to 
think that succeeding ages would deliberately 
copy their defect. A collector will not, probably, 
come across a mirror earlier than William and 
Mary, and he should have little difficulty in 
finding genuine mirrors of the next reign — Queen 
Anne — which are at once interesting and inex- 
pensive. Mr. Clouston thinks that " the wall 
mirrors of the Queen Anne period may very well 
rank with the best furniture of their time. They 
are simple yet satisfying, and rich without extra- 
vagance." 

A mirror is not a mere looking-glass, although 
in this connection it has always been greatly 
appreciated. Mirrors bring a sense of space to a 



38 OLD FURNITURE 

small room, and make a larger room appear more 
spacious. In the King's writing-closet at Hampton 
Court there is a mirror over the chimney-piece 
which provides a vista of all the rooms on the south 
side of the state apartments. Great furniture- 
designers from the time of Grinling Gibbon to 
that of Chippendale have appreciated the oppor- 
tunities offered by mirrors for the purposes of 
decoration. 

Fig. 10 is a mirror-frame of carved limewood 
by Grinling Gibbon to be seen in the Victoria 
and Albert Museum. It is a rich and wonderful 
example of chisel play, but, like his work in 
general, does not satisfy a taste which inclines 
to less resplendent decoration. Such a mirror 
is probably not within the reach of any collector, 
great or small ; and it is even probable — at least 
as regards the small collector — ^that, if by a stroke 
of fortune such a piece descended to him, he 
would find that it would scarcely harmonise with 
any ordinary scheme of decoration. Its presence 
would be as embarrassing as the entertainment of 
Royalty in a suburban home. 

The ordinary types — and they are many — of 
Queen Anne mirrors can with perfect propriety 
find places in almost any room in any house of 
taste, and on the walls of hall or staircase they 
are at once interesting and decorative. Particu- 



OLD FURNITURE 39 

larly are they in harmony with the surroundings 
of a " Queen Anne " bedroom. In this connec- 
tion, however, a word of warning is in place 
regarding the old glass. This is very well on the 
wall mirrors, but in the mirror for the toilet- 
table it should be replaced by new glass. Nothing 
lasts for ever, and it is rare that the old glasses 
fully retain their reflecting powers. Old mirrors 
are bad to shave by, and are, moreover, extremely 
impopular with ladies. The art of furnishing 
consists of a tactful combination of whatever is 
best in the old and the new. 

Figs. II and 12 are simple mirrors of the Queen 
Anne period. Fig. 1 1 is a wall glass with a pleasing 
scroll outline, and Fig. 12 is a toilet-table glass 
characteristic of the period, the gilt inner mould- 
ing or " embroidery " being an interesting feature. 
We find similar decorative devices to the above 
on many of the mirrors of this time, and such 
examples should be purchasable at about two 
guineas each. 

• Figs. 13 and 14 are more elaborate and expen- 
sive mirrors, the broken pediments in each case 
suggesting the influence of Sir Christopher Wren. 
Although the architectural inspiration, which 
was absolute in the Gothic periods and strong 
in the Elizabethan, was very much less marked 
in the time of Queen Anne, still the classical 



40 OLD FURNITURE 

influence of Wren's Renaissance style is shown 
in many ways, and particiilarly in the many 
varieties of the broken pediment which are 
favourite forms of decoration for the tops of 
mirror frames. Fig. 13, in addition to the broken 
pediment, is decorated on the frame with tgg- 
and-tongue mouldings, and on the base with a 
bust of a cherub in high relief. Fig. 14 is sur- 
mounted by a boldly carved figure of an eagle 
enclosed by the broken pediment. On either side 
are carved festoons of fruit and flowers, possibly 
suggested by the work of Grinling Gibbon. 
These important mirrors, interesting and effec- 
tive as they are, require large rooms to set them 
off. 

Simple mirrors, as in Figs. 11 and 12, present 
no difficulties regarding their disposal. The 
more elaborate ones, however, apart from their 
expensiveness, should not be purchased unless 
there is a suitable place in which to hang them. 
This suggests a maxim which applies to the col- 
lection of any sort of furniture, viz. not to 
purchase any piece xmtil you have decided what 
to do with it. Adherence to this rule may involve 
the occasional loss of a bargain, but it avoids 
confusion and possible domestic complications. 
We knew an enthusiastic collector wh« resisted 
the purchase of old examples with the greatest 



OLD FURNITURE 41 

difficulty. His wife, on the other hand, whilst 
appreciating possibly as keenly as her husband 
the attractions of the antique, was also fastidious 
regarding the prompt settlement of tradesmen's 
bills. The climax was reached one day when 
the husband, instead of settling certain pressing 
accounts, attended a sale and purchased an 
enormous Dutch wardrobe which was found to 
be at least eighteen inches too tall for any room 
in the house. 

Another form of decoration applied to mirror- 
frames of the Queen Anne period was that known 
as " Gesso " work, whereby a design was built 
into relief with layers of size and plaster applied 
with a brush. It gives scope for deHcate line 
work, and is often softer than carving. Figs. 15 
and 16 are mirrors decorated with. Gesso 
ornament, to which, however, little justice can 
be done in a photograph. 

Fig. 17 is a fine mirror of pinewood with 
Gesso ornamentation, in which the broken 
pediment form has taken a somewhat fanciful 
shape. 

In Fig. 18 the broken pediment appears in 
a more strictly architectural form. This mirror, 
which is of painted pine, was formerly in the 
** Flask " Tavern, Ebury Square, Pimlico. Al- 
though its date would be about 1700, it is clearly 



42 OLD FURNITURE 

in its mouldings reminiscent of the Jacobean 
period, which style no doubt continued in popu- 
larity amongst the poorer classes. This mirror 
is an interesting instance of the merging of the 
two styles. 

Marquetry was also used on the mirror-frames 
of this period, an example in a broad frame inlaid 
with a floral pattern being shown in Fig. 19. 
This mirror was sold for seventeen guineas. 

Fig. 20 is an example of a toilet mirror of the 
Queen Anne period, the front of which lets down 
with a flap, after the manner of a bureau, reveal- 
ing a nest of drawers. This form of mirror is not 
often met with, and an opportunity of acquiring 
one at a reasonable price should not be neglected. 
Fig. 21 is of similar construction mounted on a 
stand, an architectural touch being given by the 
pilasters on either side of the mirror. This pattern 
is singularly simple and charming. 

* * • • • 

Stools of the period under review are generally 
difficult and somewhat expensive to acquire, but 
these are not reasons for giving up hope. A type of 
the William and Mary stool is shown in Fig. 22. 
The scrolled feet and X-shaped stretcher are 
characteristic. Stools were very popular articles 
of furniture at this time. We find them in 
numbers in contemporary prints, and they con- 



OLD FURNITURE 43 

tinued to be used as seats at meal-times, as no doubt 
(providing the table were low enough) they were 
more comfortable than the stiff-backed chairs 
of the time. In the face of decided evidence of 
their prevalence in the Queen Anne period, 
their scarcity to-day is somewhat remarkable. 

In the coloured frontispiece is shown a simple 
stool of the time of the early Queen Anne period 
covered with Petit-point needlework, with which 
the ladies of that period delighted to occupy them- 
selves. This needlework — which, in addition to 
being used as a covering for furniture, was also 
framed to hang on the walls — ^is often patterned 
with quaint trees, people, goats, dogs, and a 
sprinkling of lovers and birds. A stool such as is 
shown in the frontispiece makes an admirable seat 
for a knee-hole writing-table. 

Fig. 23 is a large stool of the Queen Anne 
period with escallop-shell decoration, cabriole 
legs and an early form of the claw-and-ball feet. 
It is covered with contemporary needlework. 
« * « • • 

A Queen Anne bedroom conjures up the 
possibility of composing a charming scheme of 
interior decoration. First it is necessary to face 
the inevitable and accept the position that a 
modern bedstead is essential. This should be 
made of walnut-wood, and the ends shaped after 



■m 



44 OLD FURNITURE 

the manner of the solid splats in the simple 
chairs of the period. Such bedsteads are made 
by several of the good modern furniture firms. 
They are not, of course, literal reproductions of 
the bedsteads of the period, which were of the 
four-poster order, but they will be found to be 
in good taste. Upon this bed should lie a repro- 
duction of the bed-covers of the period in a 
pattern boldly coloured and Oriental in design. 
The floor should be covered by antique Persian 
rugs (or modern reproductions). A walnut toilet- 
table should stand in the window {see Fig. 64). 
Upon it should rest a toilet-glass {see Fig. 12), 
and in front of it, if possible, a stool covered with 
the needlework of the period {see Frontispiece). 
This stool will, however, be difficult to obtain, and 
its place could be taken by a simple chair of the 
period {see Figs. 32 and 34). Two other simple 
chairs should find places around the room, upon one 
side of which should be placed a walnut tallboy 
{see Fig. 56) surmounted by a piece of Chinese 
blue-and- white. We cannot too strongly emphasise 
the desirability of associating old Chinese blue- 
and-white pottery with eighteenth-century fur- 
niture. The washstand of the period (too small 
to be efficient) should be replaced by an unob- 
trusive wooden table painted white, the top of 
which should be covered with tiles in a shade 



OLD FURNITURE 45 

which does not disagree with a reproduction of an 
old " Spodc " or " Mason's Ironstone " toilet set. 

Toilet sets, as we understand the term to-day, 
were unknown in the days of Queen Anne. 
Common earthenware pitchers and basins, or at 
best English and Dutch Delft, did duty until 
the rise of the great Staffordshire factories late 
in the eighteenth century. Orignal " Spode " or 
" Mason " ware would not be of earlier dates 
than 1770 and 1804 respectively, and so quite 
out of the Queen Anne period. We merely 
mention these two styles of so-called " Indian " 
decorations as being most suitable for the pur- 
pose in hand. We might, indeed, happen upon 
an eighteenth-century blue-and-white service ; 
but all these early ewers and basins, like the 
early washstands, are altogether too diminutive 
for modern requirements. The reproductions, 
whilst retaining the old decoration, are built in 
more generous proportions. 

For wall covering a plain white- or champagne- 
coloured paper might be adopted, and for wall 
decoration one or two old mirrors {see Figs. 11 
and 15) and some reproductions of Dutch interiors 
by the old masters, framed in broad black frames, 
would be in harmony with the surroundings. A 
difficulty in composing a Queen Anne bedroom 
is to find a suitable hanging wardrobe. The 



46 OLD FURNITURE 

marquetry hanging-press or wardrobe of the 
period, with its bombe-shaped lower section, is 
somewhat heavy in appearance, except in a large 
room, and is, moreover, expensive to acquire. 
Failing a hanging cupboard in the wall, a simple 
plain cupboard should be built and painted white. 
Such a cupboard at least strikes no false note, and 
is greatly to be preferred to a modern wardrobe 
or one of another period. 

In this connection a schedule of the cost to 
the authors of furnishing a similar bedroom may- 
be of interest. 



Walnut tallboy 

3 simple Queen Anne chairs 

I „ „ toilet-table 

I „ „ toilet mirror 

I „ „ wall mirror 



lO 10 o 

900 
500 

2 2 
2 2 

£28 14 O 



The cost of such details as carpets, curtains, bed- 
covering, china, &c., is not included. 

To this, therefore, must be added the various 
modern reproductions, including the bedstead: the 
total cost of the room would be about fifty pounds. 
The result is, of course, a combination of the old 
and the new — the best points of each being pre- 
scr-ved — ^and the effect will be found harmonious. 



CHAPTER IV: CHAIRS 
AND TABLES 

In volume one we left the chair at the time of 
King James II. when it was composed of tall and 
straight lines, generally cane-backed and cane- 
seated, with a carved stretcher fixed rather higher 
than midway between the two front legs. Such 
pieces would not, of course, have been found in the 
homes of the poor. Historical books, for the most 
part, concern themselves very much v^th the 
affairs of courts and the practice of battles, but 
very little with the habits and surroundings of the 
bulk of the people. We know that the amount 
of poverty and crime at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century was enormous, and the social 
condition of the people being such, it is unlikely 
that their homes could have been either com- 
fortable or decently furnished. Very little of 
the wealth of the country percolated through 
the middle class to the poor ; but there is no 
doubt that as regards the middle-class homes, 
they had by the beginning of the eighteenth 
century reached a very tolerable standard of 
social comfort and convenience. 

It is probable that a good deal of this standard 
of comfort was attributable to Dutch influence. 

47 



48 OLD FURNITURE 

The sense of home comfort seems to have been 
developed in Holland in early times. In the 
picture of John Arnolfini and his wife in the 
National Gallery, London, painted hy Jan 
van Eyck, who lived between 1390 and 1440, 
. there is a vivid and interesting glimpse of the 
furniture of this period. This picture should be 
studied bv all interested in furniture. In the 
bedroom shown in the picture we find, in addition 
to the bed with its heavy red stuff hangings, a 
coffer, probably for clothes ; a tall chair with a 
Gothic traceried top and a red cushion ; a 
smaller chair with a red cushion ; a carpet of 
Persian pattern ; a brass chandelier ; and a 
mirror reflecting the room and its two occupants. 
The mirror is in a round wooden frame decorated 
with small medallion panels, with paintings illus- 
trative of the Passion of our Lord. The room is 
lighted by casement windows, and the whole 
effect suggests a degree of comfort creditable 
to the taste of the fifteenth century. 

A very notable feature in the male costume of 
the time of William and Mary was the enormous 
periwig, which was considered a sign of social 
importance. A man would not wear his hat (a 
chapeau-brds), but in order that his wig might 
not be disarranged would carry his hat under 
his arm. It is rather strange that a hard-headed 



OLD FURNITURE 49 

business man like William should have coun- 
tenanced such a fashion by wearing a great periwig 
himself. It appears to have been a custom to 
comb these wigs in the coffee-houses, for which 
purpose each gallant carried an elegant comb. 
The men's hats were adorned with feathers, and 
they also wore full-skirted coats decorated with 
lace and embroidery, stockings, breeches, buckled 
shoes, and huge cuffs garnished with lace. 

The ladies also wore a heavy head-gear, the 
hair being brushed away from the forehead and 
surmounted by ribbons and rows of lace, over 
which was thrown a lace scarf which hung nearly 
to the waist, giving the general impression of a 
great mob-cap. " Stiff stays," writes Mr. Dillon, 
" tightly laced over the stomacher and very long 
in the waist, became fashionable ; and to so 
great an extent was this pernicious fashion carried 
that a lady's body from the shoulders to the hip 
looked like the letter V." There was another 
fashion among the ladies of building several 
tiers of lace to a great height upon the hair. 
These structures, in the prints of the period, 
have the appearance of enormous combs. As 
regards the dress of this period, " the general 
tendency," Mr. Calthrop writes, " was to look 
Dutch, stiff, prim, but very prosperous." 

Costume and furniture have always had a 

II D 



50 OLD FURNITURE 

close relationship, and we find Mr. Percy Mac- 
quoid writing in his " Age of Walnut " : " The 
settles and chairs of the latter part of the seven- 
teenth century were evidently constructed with 
a view of forming backgrounds to the prevailing 
fashions in costume ; the strongest characteristic 
at this time being an extremely high-backed 
seat to suit the voluminous periwigs and tall 
head-dresses of the women." 

It will also be noticed that the arms of the 
chairs were set back from the front of the seat 
to allow room for the ample skirts of the 
women. 

Figs. 24, 25, and 26 are three chairs of carved 
walnut with seats covered with figured red velvet. 
These chairs, from the Old Palace, Richmond, 
at first glance appear to be of the same pattern, 
but a closer examination will show that no two 
are quite alike. Two of them certainly have 
similar backs, but a difference appears in the legs. 
In shape there is little difference between these 
chairs and those of the preceding reign except 
that the stretcher is lower. The backs, however, 
differ considerably from the Stuart chairs, the 
cane having disappeared and its place being taken 
by pierced and elaborate carvings. Fig. 27 is 
another and probably a later specimen of a fine 
William and Mary chair. Although the back is 



OLD FURNITURE 51 

less elaborate, the legs have now assumed the 
cabriole form and the feet are extremely realistic. 
The stretcher in the front has, it will be noted, 
disappeared. These chairs were, of course, made 
for the wealthy classes, and were comparatively 
few in number as the fashion was a brief one ; 
but they show the prevailing ideas which in turn 
expressed themselves on the simpler chairs. An 
example of the latter is shown in Fig. 28, which, 
purely as a matter of taste, is possibly as pleasing 
as some of the more elaborate chairs of this 
period. This example cost five pounds. 

Figs. 29 and 31 are rush-seated chairs of the 
Queen Anne period and are made of oak, probably 
in a country place where the prevailing walnut 
fashion had not reached. They are exceedingly 
simple and pleasing in shape and were sold at 
one pound each. The centre chair (Fig. 30) is 
a child's chair of the same period — a type which, 
in our experience, is not often met with. There is 
no example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 
a fact we mention in case any reader would like 
to offer such a specimen. Here the splat is slightly 
different from those of its companions. The 
present piece lacks a front rail to prevent the 
child from falling. 

Queen Anne chairs of simple character should 
not be very difficult to obtain, nor should they 



52 OLD FURNITURE 

make extravagant incursions upon the purse. 
To purchase a number of chairs of identical form 
sufficient to compose a set is a far more expensive 
method than to collect more or less odd chairs, 
singly or in pairs, and to make up a set for oneself. 
Each may not be exactly similar to the other, 
but the family likeness is amply sufficient to 
satisfy any reasonable taste. Indeed such little 
differences as are expressed, say, in the splats 
and the legs may be said to break the line of 
uniformity and to produce an effect which is per- 
manently pleasing and interesting. Such a set 
of chairs would be admirable in a dining- 
room ; and single chairs of this period and type 
would be scarcely out of place in any room in 
the house. Elaborately carved and marquetried 
chairs of this time are expensive, but it is a 
question whether the plain chairs are not as 
pleasing. At present the taste for old furniture 
rims to pieces which are highly carved and deco- 
rated, but this is often for the simple reason that 
such pieces are more uncommon, and therefore 
more expensive, than the plain ones. It is possible, 
however, that in a succeeding age, when all old 
furniture, both carved and plain, will be rare, 
that the latter may be as highly favoured as 
the former. In many of the plain old chairs 
the lines are charming and the woods rich and 



OLD FURNITURE 53 

interesting, and possessing these, we need scarcely 
envy those whose means enable them to prefer 
the richer sorts. 

We now approach a departure in the designs 
of furniture which had a far-reaching and 
lasting effect upon style in England. We 
refer to the cabriole leg and the shaped foot, 
which ultimately developed into the claw-and- 
ball. The first movement appears to have 
occurred when the straight lines of the Stuart 
furniture were superseded by the curved lines 
of the Dutch style ; and occasionally we find 
the cabriole leg on a William and Mary chair, as 
in Fig. 27. 

The cabriole leg has been traced back to China 
and Egypt, but was introduced into England 
through Holland and France. It may be called 
the leading characteristic of the domestic wood- 
work of the Queen Anne period. It made its 
appearance on chairs, tables, sofas, and chests — 
in fact, upon every form of furniture which is 
lifted from the ground. The word is adopted from 
the French cabriole^ a goat-leap, although it must 
be admitted that this is scarcely a literal descrip- 
tion of the form the carving takes. At first the 
shaping was of the simplest description and 
showed but the faintest resemblance to the 
leaping leg of an animal, but later forms took a 



54 OLD FURNITURE 

more realistic turn. The term cabriole has 
become generic, and is now applied to almost 
any furniture leg built with a knee. 

Fig. 32 is a simple type of Queen Anne chair 
with cabriole legs, carved with an escallop-shell, 
a form of decoration which finds its way upon 
very many forms of furniture of this time, and is 
as popular, as the crown and cherub decoration 
of the departed Stuarts. 

The claw-and-ball foot, which, like the cabriole 
leg, is traceable to the East, we find on the more 
elaborate chairs of the Queen Anne period, and 
is generally accepted to represent the three-toed 
claw of the Chinese dragon holding the mystic 
Buddhistic jewel. The development of the claw- 
and-ball is traceable through the feet of the 
furniture of this period, and commenced by 
the base of the chair legs being slightly shaped 
into a foot, which will be remarked in Figs. 
29 and 31. Such form is generally known as the 
club foot. 

Then the toe assumed the shape of an animal's 
foot, out of which a claw was evolved, and, having 
to clutch something to make a base, a ball was 
added, and we have the familiar claw-and-ball 
foot which has remained a favourite decoration 
to the present time. The good examples are full 
of spirit and significance, entirely different from 



OLD FURNITURE 55 

the machine-made inanimate examples on modern 
furniture. 

Figs. 33, 34, 35 are simple examples of Queen 
Anne chairs. Those with arms should be pur- 
chasable for about five guineas and the single 
chairs for about three guineas. Fig. 36 is an 
example of an inlaid chair* of this period, the tall 
graceful back being particularly pleasing. The 
earlier chairs of this period (Figs. 33 and 35) 
were provided with strengthening rails between 
the legs, but later the knee was made stronger 
and the cross rails dispensed with (Fig. 34), which 
had the effect of lightening the appearance of 
the chair but not of increasing its durability. 
The disappearance of these leg rails marks the 
later Queen Anne chairs, so that it is a fair guide 
as to date of production. Thus disappears the last 
link with the good old times, when the floors were 
so dirty that rests were provided for the feet. 

Fig. 37, in addition to its cabriole legs and 
embryo claw-and-ball feet, is especially interesting 
as foreshadowing the familiar ladder-backed chairs 
of the Chippendale school. In this chair the rail 
connecting the back legs has been retained. 

In this period the " knee " was either plain 
or ornamented with an escallop-shell ; it rarely 

• The splat of the original is nicely inlaid, but it ii impossible 
to adequately reproduce this in a photograph. 



56 OLD FURNITURE 

had any other form of decoration : but it 
developed many forms under the influence of 
Chippendale and his school. It is well to 
remember, however, that in England the cabriole 
leg in its original and simpler form belongs to 
the reign of Queen Anne. 

An essential and highly important develop- 
ment is at this period particularly noticeable in 
the chair, which is now adapted to the human 
frame instead of, as heretofore, the human frame 
having to adapt itself to the chair. It is probable 
that the greater pliability of walnut over oak 
made this departure feasible, but one has only 
to sit in the tall straight-backed Stuart chair 
and the shaped chairs of the Queen Anne reign 
to see in which direction the advantage in comfort 
lies. It will be found that in the latter the top 
of the back is curved so as to fit the nape of the 
sitter's neck, and that the splat is shaped to suit 
itself to the back and shoiJders. Examples of this 
shaping are shewn in the chairs, Figs. 32 and 36, 
which also have the simple cabriole legs. 

Figs. 38 and 39 are arm-chairs of this period. 
Fig. 38 has a central vase-shaped panel with a 
volute and leaves on either side. The arms have 
flattened elbow-rests. Fig. 39 has curiously 
twisted arms. It has suffered in the splat very 
much from the worms. In this chair it will be 



OLD FURNITURE 57 

noticed the side rail connecting the legs is missing. 
The seat is stuffed and covered with canvas, 
which is decorated with needlework (" petit- 
point ") in coloured wools and silks. 

These are arm-chairs for respectable people, 
but there were also broad-seated arm-chairs at 
this time known as " drunkards' chairs." The 
width of the seat in front was nearly three feet, 
which gave ample room for a man to comfortably 
collapse. 

Figs. 40 and 41 are two fine chairs of the late 
Queen Anne period, showing finely developed 
cabriole legs and claw-and-ball feet. In both 
specimens the connecting leg-rails have dis- 
appeared and the back feet are shaped. Fig. 40 is 
covered with gilt and embossed leather over a 
stuffed back and seat. In Fig. 41 the back has 
almost lost its Queen Anne character and is 
merging into what we know as the Chippendale 
style. The seat of this chair is covered with silk. 
The Huguenot refugee silk-workers had settled 
in Spitalfields, and in the reigns of William and 
Mary and Anne large quantities of silks and 
velvets were produced, which were frequently 
used to cover the chairs of the bedroom furniture 
of the time. Stuffed and upholstered arm-chairs 
were also favoured at this period, which was 
distinctly one for the appreciation of comfort. 



58 OLD FURNITURE 

Fig. 42 is a partly veneered corner or round- 
about chair of this time; a type of chair 
largely made in mahogany during the Chippen- 
dale period. 

The double chair, or settee, remains to be 
noticed. This, by a process of refinement and 
elimination, had no doubt been evolved from the 
old-time settle. It was also called a love-seat, and 
was constructed in such form as to allow for the 
pose of social gallantry, simpering, and the plying 
of the snuff-box and fan, inseparable from the 
manners of the period. These double seats were 
usually found in the drawing-rooms of the rich, 
and simple ones are not as a rule met with. 
Fig. 43 is a settee of the type of William and 
Mary ; the tied stretchers beneath and the 
inverted bowl turnery on the legs are charac- 
teristic features. Fig. 44 is a fine late Queen 
Anne specimen with a marquetried back, claw- 
and-ball feet, and an insistent decoration of the 
escallop-shell. Fig. 45 is another fine settee of 
the same period with a full back and claw-and- 
ball feet. Both these specimens have beautifully 
shaped arms and feet, and the back feet being 
also slightly shaped at the base, suggest the latter 
part of the period. 

In the beginning of the eighteenth century, 
tapestries, as forms of wall decoration, had been 



OLD FURNITURE 59 

replaced either by wainscoting or, more gene- 
rally, by wall-papers. Needlework was a popular 
occupation amongst the women, who made 
hangings for their bedsteads and windows and 
covers for their chairs, stools and couches. Mary, 
the Queen of William III., set an example as an 
industrious needlewoman. It was at this time 
that the gay chintzes and printed cottons, of 
which so many admirable and inexpensive repro- 
ductions can be purchased at the present day, 
came into vogue. Like so many of the decorative 
ideas of the time, they were introduced into 
England by the Dutch, who in their turn borrowed 
them from the East. They were extremely 
Oriental in design, depicting trees, birds and 
flowers, all more or less related to nature. This 
was, of course, the period when everything 
Oriental was the fashion,* when Chinese porce- 
lain and red and black lacquer were desired by 
many and acquired by some ; and the gay 
Oriental chintzes contributed fittingly to the 
scheme of decoration, as well as affording a 
protection for the cherished needlework coverings 
of the furniture. The modern reproductions are 
no less indispensable in any house in which the 

• Addison wrote that " an old lady of fourscore shall be so 
busy in cleaning an Indian mand^mn as her great-granddaughter 
is in dressing her baby." 



6o OLD FURNITURE 

old furniture of this period has a place. Some 
firms print them by hand from the old blocks, 
and from such firms they should be purchased. 
Chintzes appear to have been first produced in 
England by a foreign settlement in Richmond, 
Surrey, early in the eighteenth century. The 
English workmen afterwards greatly simplified 
the designs, and in Queen Anne's time they were 
largely the fashion. 

The Queen Anne home of the middle class 
would not have startled a visitor from the present 
century who had elected to inspect it by means 
of Mr. Wells's Time Machine. Its exterior was 
square, unpretentious and a trifle heavy, and 
the interior comfortable and efficiently furnished. 
In fact, it is at this period that we find the first 
tangible approach to our own idea of a home. 
The bathroom was still a luxury even in the 
great houses, but in most other respects the 
standard of comfort approached the modern idea. 
* * * • • 

The first tables made of walnut- wood seem to 
have followed very much the designs of the 
Jacobean oaken tables, and have the square 
sturdy look which we associate vdth oak furniture. 
One of the first changes to be noticed is in the 
appearance, on the legs, of an inverted bowl decora- 
tion as in Fig. 46. Then we find a change in the 



OLD FURNITURE 6i 

stretchers or bars connecting the legs ; these 
instead of being straight rails between the four 
corners, now assume the X or tied-stretcher 
pattern as shown in Fig. 47. This table is inlaid 
with cedar and boxwood, and is valued at twelve 
guineas. Fig. 48 is a Museum piece of the same 
period, the marquetry work on which is very- 
fine — the top being most elaborately inlaid. 
The inlaid work of this period reached great 
perfection, blossoms and birds, as well as geo- 
metrical designs, being worked out in various 
woods with great taste and dexterity. It will be 
noticed that there is a strong family likeness 
between the two tables, although the latter 
is a much finer one.* Chinese pottery was 
(as has been pointed out) the rage at this time, 
and the flat space in the centre of the tied 
stretcher was very likely intended to hold a 
Chinese bowl. 

William and Mary tables have turned legs, 
which were so popular on the furniture of the 
preceding period but which were soon to disappear 
in favour of the cabriole leg. In fact, the tables 

• Fine tables of this type are very expensive. One such 
was sold at Christie's in June 191 1 for fifty-eight guineas. It 
was thus described : " A William and Mary walnut-wood table, 
with one drawer, the top inlaid with a chariot, flowen and 
birds, in marqueterie of various woods, on turned legs with 
X-shapcd stretcher— 38 in. wide." 



62 OLD FURNITURE 

in a few years underwent a great transformation, 
as will be seen in the next example, Fig. 49. 

The Queen Anne period was a drinking, 
gambling, duelling, dice-throwing age. In fact, 
it is said that loaded dice could be purchased at 
the toy shops in Fleet Street. The spirit of 
speculation was about. The nation had accumu- 
lated wealth a trifle too quickly, and trustee 
securities, as we now understand them, had small 
attraction for any one. Every one wanted to 
grow rich at once. The wildest schemes were 
laimched. These culminated in 1720 in the 
South Sea Bubble. Companies, as is well known, 
were formed with the most extraordinary objects, 
such as " for the invention of melting down 
sawdust and chips and casting them into clean 
deal boards without cracks or flaws " ; " for the 
importing of a number of large jackasses from 
Spain " ; and " for an undertaking which shaD in 
due time be revealed." All classes were affected ; 
and the Prince of Wales became governor of a 
copper company which had an unfortunate end. 

The gambling spirit was continued in private, 
and to this fact we probably owe the existence 
of the many interesting card-tables of the late 
Queen Anne period. These were, of course, only 
found in the houses of the richer classes, and are 
often beautiful pieces of furniture. 



OLD FURNITURE 63 

Table legs developed similarly to chair legs. 
The ubiquitous cabriole, which has already been 
dealt with at length, was applied generally to 
tables, with, later, the escallop-shell decora- 
tion and the claw-and-ball foot. The fine 
example. Fig. 49, possesses all these decorations, 
together with , a pendant under the shell. 
This specimen was purchased by the Victoria 
and Albert Museum in 1904 for the sum of 
twelve pounds, which figure has, of course, 
little relation to its present value. These tables 
are generally built with a flap and covered with 
cloth, except at the four corners, where round 
or square places are left to take candlesticks or 
glasses ; cups are also shaped in the tables to 
hold money, and they are sometimes provided 
with secret drawers. We have read extraordinary 
stories of great sums being discovered in these 
drawers — the proceeds of a night when " the old 
home was gambled away " ; but personally we 
have not chanced on such a find. 

Tables with two flaps were also used as break- 
fast- and small dining-tables. They were generally 
oval, but sometimes round, and occasionally 
square. These types were repeated later in 
mahogany with added decorative details, and 
later still Sheraton adopted the folding-table, 
converting it to his own style. 



64 OLD FURNITURE 

Tables in great variety were made in this 
period, but the heavy type of table of the previous 
century v^^ent out with the banqueting-hall and 
has never returned. The gate-leg table, which 
originated in the oaken period, is dealt with in 
Volume I. ; and no doubt in many parts of the 
country it continued to be made in oak, but it does 
not appear ever to have become popular in walnut, 
which, after all, was never a wood in general 
use in country districts. Fashion has a strong 
controlling influence over furniture, as it has over 
so many other matters of taste. The table with 
cabriole legs came into fashion, and immediately 
cabriole legs in some form or other became de 
rigueur. The slender-legged gate-leg table did 
not offer sufficient opportunity to the wood- 
carver, and was also rather unsuitable for card- 
playing. Its perfect plainness, moreover, was not 
to the taste of an age which inclined towards 
richness and colour in its household surroundings. 



CHAPTER V : 
CHESTS OF DRAWERS, 
TALLBOYS, CABINETS AND 
CHINA CABINETS 

In Volume I., dealing with the oak period, we 
traced the evolution of the chest of drawers from 
the simple chest or coffer, first by the addition 
of an under-drawer to the coifer ; then, the main 
body of the chest being subdivided into convenient 
drawers (with the consequent disappearance of 
the lid), we had the primitive form of the chest 
of drawers, the term " chest " still clinging^ — 
apparently for all time — to the structure. 

The earlier chests of drawers, dating from 
about the middle of the seventeenth century, 
were comparatively small, usually with raised 
panels or mouldings ; occasionally we find them 
with decorations of simple carved scroll-work 
and guilloche banding. The prolongation of the 
stiles to form feet, as in the simple chest, had 
disappeared in favour of bracketed corners or 
ball feet, as in Figs. 50 and 51. 

Fig. 50 represents an interesting chest of 
drawers, simple in outline but elaborately deco* 
rated. The top is inlaid en 'parterre with four 
II 65 s 



66 OLD FURNITURE 

corner scroll designs and a centre design of birds, 
flowers, and fruit, in ebony and laburnum wood 
on a ground of holly. A delicately cut laurel-leaf 
band of inlay (shaded with hot sand) frames the 
top, sides, and drawer fronts. It belongs approxi- 
mately to about 1680. The dimensions are fairly 
typical for the period, being 36 in. high, 39 in. 
wide, and 23 in. deep. 

Fig. 51 is of rather unusual form, having three 
large drawers in the upper portion and one long 
drawer under, which is capped by a bold mould- 
ing. The oblong panel decorations consist of 
marquetry designs of conventional flowers in 
ebony, holly, rose, and laburnum woods. This 
also belongs to the year 1680 ; 41 in. high, 40 in. 
wide, and 23 in. deep. It has a value of about 
eighteen guineas. 

Marquetry began to come into favour in this 
country about 1 675-1 680. We quote Mr. Pollen, 
who says : " At first the chief motives in design 
appear to have been acanthus leaves, figures, 
and arabesques, under Italian and French in- 
fluence: a little later, designs of flowers and 
birds, treated in a more realistic fashion, were 
introduced by the Dutch. Finally, about 1700, 
these two styles passed into an English style of 
very delicate leaf-work of conventional form, 
often intricately mingled with scrolls and strap- 



OLD FURNITURE 67 

work ; and geometrical designs were used." 
Mr. Macquoid remarks that " investigation proves 
that, compared with the English manufacture, 
Dutch marquetrie is always duller in colour and 
more disconnected in design." 

Late in the seventeenth and early in the 
eighteenth centuries we find the chests of drawers 
raised on twisted or turned legs, which are fixed 
to a shallow plinth or joined near the ground by 
shaped stretchers. For the first-named type we 
refer readers to Fig. 52, a specimen at the Victoria 
and Albert Museum. It is built of pinewood 
overlaid with lignum vitae, sycamore and walnut, 
in small roundish pieces cut across the grain. 
The top is further decorated with sycamore 
bands arranged in two concentric circles in the 
centre, surroimded by intersecting segments. 
In the corners are quadrants. Each side has a 
large circle of similar materials. The structure is 
3 ft. 8 in. high and 3 ft. 4 in. wide. It cost the 
museum ^f 10 in 1898. 

Fig. 53, another dwarf chest of drawers of the 
same period, also at the museum, is of oak and 
pine veneered with various woods. This is an 
excellent example illustrating the amount of 
labour expended by the craftsmen of the day on 
the early examples of veneerinf , On the face of 
the top drawer alone there arc no less than 



68 OLD FURNITURE 

twenty large and thirty-three small pieces of 
veneer, exclusive of the bordering. The feet are 
very unusual, having a curiously booted appear- 
ance, with the soles clearly indicated. This 
and the previous example bear the brass drop 
handles and fretted escutcheons of the period. 
Great variety is displayed in these brass ficments. 
The handles more often are of elongated pear 
shape, but occasionally resemble a flattened flower- 
bud. The ring handles appeared somewhat 
later. 

As types of the chests of drawers on legs we 
give two illustrations. Fig. 54, from a photograph 
supplied by Messrs. Hampton and Sons Ltd., 
Pall Mall, represents a fine specimen of veneered 
work of the William and Mary period. The 
figuring in the walnut veneer is very good and 
finely matched. The stand is tall, with but one 
long shallow drawer. The turned legs are par- 
ticularly graceful in outline. It will be noticed 
that the inverted cup detail is repeated in the 
china cabinet (Fig. 69), amongst the illustrations 
of lacquered furniture.' 

Fig. 55 possesses twisted legs, a survival of 
the Stuart period proper. During the reign of 
William and Mary and that of Anne, we are, 
strictly, still in the Stuart period — the two queens 
being wholly and William half Stuart. With the 



OLD FURNITURE 69 

abdication of James II. there was a change in the 
temper of the people and a comparatively abrupt 
change in the furniture. In the chest imder dis- 
cussion the upper portion is severely plain, whilst 
the lower half or stand is of particularly graceful 
outline. We see how the stand is gradually being 
brought into requisition, not only as a stand, but 
to hold extra drawers — quite small drawers at 
first. The lifting of the central arch and conse- 
quent shallowing of the corresponding small 
drawer give a pleasing diversity of line. This 
structure is scarcely a "tallboy," being rather 
a chest of drawers on a stand ; and the stand, 
more than anything (as in the previous illustra- 
tion), points to the reign of William and Mary. 
This piece is in the possession of Mr. F. W, 
Phillips, of the Manor House, Hitchin. The 
owner values it at ten guineas. 

Something more nearly approaching the 
genuine " tallboy " is shown in the coloured 
frontispiece. Here we have the stand growing 
deeper and containing five small drawers. The 
angular-kneed cabriole legs denote the period — 
about 1 710, the middle of Queen Anne's reign. 
The veneer is of richly figured walnut banded 
with herring-bone inlay. It is furnished with 
brass handles and engraved escutcheons. 

Wc begin to sec how increasing wealth in 



70 OLD FURNITURE 

clothes called for more commodioi» lurniture. 
This piece has six drawers in the upper carcase 
in addition to the five small ones in the stand : 
altogether a very considerable storage capacity 
as compared with the dumpy chests of drawers 
of earlier make. 

By easy stages we arrive at the tallboy pure 
and simple, sometimes called " double chest " or 
" chest on chest." The term " tall " is obvious, 
but " boy " is not so clear. 

The tallboy was purely the outcome of a 
demand for something more commodious than 
the early form. It was made in two sections, 
mainly for convenience in moving, and partly, 
by breaking up the lines, to lighten the appear- 
ance of what would otherwise be a somewhat 
ungainly structure. There is scarcely room for 
much variation in form, and the tallboys of 
the Queen Anne and early Georgian period are 
very much of one family. Fig. 56 is of walnut- 
wood bordered with a herring-bone banding of 
yew-wood. A lightness is given to the upper 
portion by the corners being canted and fluted. 
The oval ring plates are a pleasing feature. This 
double chest of nine drawers stands 69 in. high. 
A well-preserved specimen of this calibre would 
have a value of from ten to fifteen guineas. 

Fig. 57 is a less pretentious tallboy chest of 



OLD FURNITURE 71 

six drawers, valued at ten guineas, in the posses- 
sion of Mr. J. H. Springett, of High Street, 
Rochester. Like the majority of these old 
veneered walnut chests, the drawer fronts and 
sides of the main structure are veneered on pine, 
whilst the bodies of the drawers are of oak. The 
fretted escutcheons and cusped handles (unfor- 
tunately not quite imiform) are exceptionally 
good. There is interesting documentary evidence 
connected with this old piece of furniture. Pasted 
on the back of the bottom drawer is the maker's 
label, yellow with age. At the top of the label 
are engraved designs of an elaborate cabinet and 
four coffins ; underneath is printed the following 
legend : 

" John Knowles Cabinet Maker and Sworn 
Appraiser, at the Cabinet and four Coffins in 
Tooley Street Southwark maketh and selleth all 
sorts of Cabinets and joiners goods, Viz Cabinets 
scruetores, desk and book cases, bewrowes, chests 
of draws and all sorts of tables as wallnut tree 
mehogny, wainscot and Japan'd. All sorts of 
corner Cubbords looking glasses and sconces and 
all other joiner's goods made and sold both whole- 
sale and retail at reasonable rates. Likewise 
fimerals decently furnished." 

We have not been able to unearth any other 
record of John Knowles. His name does not 



72 OLD FURNITURE 

appear in the first edition of the London 
Directory, a very small volume published in 
1 73 1, nor in any subsequent edition up to 177 1. 
The style of printing and archaic spelling, how- 
ever, would point to a date fairly early in the 
eighteenth century, probably during the reign 
of George I. The mention of " mehogny " 
practically precludes an earlier date than 
1715-20. 

In the earlier days — away back in the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries — the wardrobe 
was a special room, fitted with closets set apart 
for the storage of clothes. All through Tudor 
times the coffer was in use, and was all-sufficient 
to hold the clothes and household linen. We find 
in Jacobean times the coffer growing into the 
chest of drawers, and, in addition, tall hanging- 
cupboards were coming into use. But it is not 
till the reign of Queen Anne — the walnut period 
— that we find the prototype of the present-day 
wardrobe, with its roomy drawers, hanging- 
cupboards, and numerous shelves. 

The inspiration of this eminently useful article 
came from Holland. It is made usually of oak 
and pine veneered with walnut and, as often as 
not, inlaid with marquetry. The upper storey 
consists of small drawers and shelves enclosed 
by two doors and surmounted by a curved 



OLD FURNITURE 73 

cornice, the lower portion being a chest of three 
or four long drawers. 

Even the admittedly English-made specimens 
are so extremely Dutch in appearance, that it 
is probable the majority were designed and 
made by the Dutchmen who came over in the 
train of William III. We give an example in 
Fig. 58 of an inlaid hanging-press or wardrobe, 
showing decidedly Dutch influence in the 
lower portion, particularly noticeable in the 
protruding knees set at an angle of forty-five 
degrees. The marquetry designs of vases and 
flowers are also of Dutch type. It is of average 
size, being 91 in. high, 66 in. wide, and 22 in. 
deep. As with the other furniture of the 
walnut period, the early wardrobes were ex- 
tremely solid and dignified in appearance. The 
modern maker has made improvements as to 
interior fittings, but on general principles the 
old pieces leave little or nothing to be desired. 
The old-time craftsman was conscientious in 
his work. We do not find the doors flying open 
unasked ; the drawers have no nasty habits of 
refusing to open or close. The Queen Anne or 
early Georgian wardrobe, which is sound to-day, 
bids fair to outlive our great-grandchildren, and 
fihoidd be cheap at its average selling-price — say, 
twenty to thirty pounds. 



74 OLD FURNITURE 

The china cabinet came in with the craze for 
Oriental porcelain. We shall have more to say 
upon this subject in the chapter on lacquer. 
Fulham stoneware, Bristol and Lambeth " Delft " 
and other early English " Glome " had no claim 
on cabinet space. The more pretentious pieces, 
when not in actual use, adorned the court cup- 
board and sideboard cheek by jowl with the 
family silver or pewter. In the main, all pottery 
was for use rather than ornament until the blue- 
and-white zndfamille verte arrived from China, 
and we shall scarcely find a glazed china cabinet 
earlier than the Orange accession. Many of the 
William and Anne bureaux were surmounted 
by cabinets, the doors glazed with panes of 
glass set in designs consisting of small squares or 
oblongs with larger sexagonals or octagonals. 
This form was used either as a bookcase or a china 
cabinet. Unglazed corner cupboards, often bow- 
fronted and lacquered, made to hang in the 
angle of the wall, were for storage, rather than 
display, of china. Another variety of corner 
cupboard made to stand on the floor has a glazed 
upper storey. These belong to the varieties of 
furniture used by the middle classes, whilst the 
cabinet of the china collector would be an 
imposing structure of more elegant design sur- 
mounted on legs joined by shaped stretchers. 



OLD FURNITURE 75 

We give an example in the chapter on 
lacquer. 

Fig. 59 is an example of a china cabinet in 
marquetry work, with scrolled cornice, two 
glazed doors, two cupboards, bracketed base, 
and shaped under-framing. This piece has a 
value of about ^30. 

The walnut period is rich in cabinets, which 
were used for the storage of papers and valuables 
— structures quite distinct from the v^riting-desb 
of the period. Some types will be found in the 
illustrations to the chapter on lacquered furni- 
ture. It must be borne in mind that the lacquering 
was often but an afterthought decoration. Scrape 
away the pseudo-Chinese decoration and we 
shall probably find the beautiful old walnut 
veneer. 



CHAPTER VI: SECRETAIRES, 
BUREAUX, AND WRITING- 
TABLES 

One would naturally suppose that the writing- 
desk is as old as the art of writing. So far as this 
coimtryis concerned, the writing-desk of a sort 
was known in very early times. In the art library 
of the Victoria and Albert Museum arc illumi- 
nated MSS. of about 1 440-1 450 showing scribes 
working at sloping desks of simple construction. 
Coming to Elizabethan and early Jacobean times, 
we find desks of small dimensions mounted on 
table-stands, but it is fairly certain that the 
ordinary tables of the house were more often 
used for writing purposes. The composite 
article — secretaire, escritoire, or bureau (inter- 
changeable terms) — for writing and storage of 
writing materials is the product of the end of 
the seventeenth century. The connection between 
the writer or secretary {secretus, early Latin ; 
secretariuSy late Latin) and his desk, the secretaire, 
is obvious. Escritoire is but another form of the 
word ; sometimes scrutoire or scruetoire in 
corrupt English. Bureau in the French was 
originally a russet cloth which covered the desk 

76 



OLD FURNITURE ^77 

(from the Latin burrus, red), but came to mean 
the desk itself, and also the office in which the 
business was transacted. 

We look back upon the Elizabethan times as 
the Renaissance period of English literature, but 
even then the lettered were in the minority. 
By the end of the seventeenth century literature 
had spread to the middle classes, and we find the 
Press pouring out countless ponderous volumes 
on every imaginable subject. It is the age of the 
diarists, conspicuous amongst whom were Samuel 
Pepys and John Evelyn, whose gossipy daily 
journals bring us so intimately in touch with the 
political and social life of the times. It is the age 
of the pamphleteers and essayists whose effusions 
led up to the semi-satirical periodicals of the 
early eighteenth century — chief amongst them 
being the Spectator, started by Joseph Addison 
and Richard Steele in 1710. 

This vast outpouring of literature called for 
more commodious writing-desks, and the escri- 
toire or bureau is the natural result. Like the 
other furniture of the period, the desks were 
solid and dignified. In the main they were severe 
in outline, but generally reflected the prevailing 
architecture of the period, which was derived 
from the Italian Renaissance. We find the desks 
often surmounted by finely moulded, boldly carved 



78 OLD FURNITURE 

cornices and broken pediments. As the Dutch 
influence grew we find the lower portions, 
containing commodious long drawers, with 
rounded or hombe fronts. 

The principal wood used was walnut, some- 
times solid and sometimes veneered on oak and 
pine. We also find the same schemes in marquetry 
work, as in the chests of drawers, cabinets, and 
clock-cases showing Continental influences. 

Fig. 60 represents a William and Mary period 
bureau of simple outline surmounted by a 
panelled cupboard with bookshelves. The raised 
panels are of the late Jacobean type. It is built 
of solid walnut, oak and limewood. Behind the 
visible stationery cases are concealed a number 
of secret recesses ; the two pillars flanking the 
small central cupboard are the fronts of two 
narrow upright sliding receptacles ; on removing 
these, springs are released which secure inner 
secret drawers. This bureau, valued at sixteen 
guineas, is in the possession of Mr. J. H. Springett, 
of Rochester. 

Fig. 61, dating from early eighteenth century, 
is a bureau with four serpentine drawers below 
decorated with sprigs of flowers. It stands on 
depressed ball feet much like " China oranges." 
The knees set at an angle denote the Dutch 
influence, if it were not actually made in Holland. 



OLD FURNITURE 79 

The piece, standing 43 in. high and 40 in. wide, 
is valued at eighteen guineas. 

Fig. 62, a walnut- wood small bureau with 
sloping lid and knee-hole recess, belongs to 
Queen Anne's reign. Beneath the lid are numerous 
useful small drawers and stationery cases. It bears 
the charming original brass drop handles in form 
of flattened flower-buds. This type was very 
popular all through the eighteenth century. In 
general outline it is of the pattern adopted by 
modern makers of small bureaux. 

Fig. 63 represents a charming type of Queen 
Anne period pedestal writing-table with knee- 
hole recess. It is a beautiful example of figured 
walnut veneered on oak ; all the drawers are oak- 
lined. It was recently purchased in London for 
ten poimds. The knee-hole writing table — of 
which the present is an example — ^is a type of 
Queen Anne furniture of the greatest utility. 
It has many drawers as well as a cupboard under- 
neath, and, for its size, may be said to represent 
the maximum of usefulness. Whilst seated at it 
you may be said to have the whole of its resources 
to your hand, which can scarcely be said of the 
bureau, as, when the writing-flap falls, it is difficult 
to get to the drawers beneath. The Queen 
Anne knee-hole table is becoming rarer, and the 
writers would certainly recommend its purchase 



8o OLD FURNITURE 

should opportunity arise. Its pleasing lines and 
frequently beautiful arrangement of veneers make 
it a desirable addition to almost any room. Its 
dimensions are slender, usually measuring at the 
top about 30 by 21 ins. 

Fig. 64 represents a still simpler form of Queen 
Anne writing-table on solid walnut cabriole legs. 
The drawer fronts and top are veneered and inlaid 
vrfth simple bands. This specimen has a value of 
about £$, The photograph was supplied by 
Mr. Springett, of Rochester. This form of table 
and the one previously illustrated are sometimes 
described as dressing-tables. They were probably 
used for both purposes, and they certainly lend 
themselves to cither use. 

One of the most useful forms of the escritoire, 
or bureau, is of the type given in Figs. 65 and 
66, It was bought recently in Mid-Somerset 
at a cost of thirty pounds. This type is made 
in two sections, sometimes with bracketed feet 
and sometimes with ball feet. The bureau imder 
consideration is of an average size, being 5 ft. 
3 in. high, 3 ft. 7 in. wide, and 19 in. deep. It is 
of rectangular form and the falling front, which 
serves as a writing-table, is supported by jointed 
steel rods. The opened front discloses an assem- 
blage of drawers and pigeon-holes. The pigeon- 
holes at the top pull out in four sections, and 



OLD FURNITURE 8i 

behind are hidden numerous small drawers. 
Other secret drawers are so ingeniously contrived 
that they can only be discovered on pulling out 
the visible drawers and the dividing pieces on 
which the drawers run. The middle member of 
the cornice details forms the front of a shallow 
drawer running the whole length and depth of 
the bureau top. This bureau, which contains in 
all about thirty drawers and recesses, is built of red 
deal overlaid with thick veneers of walnut and fine 
knotted pollard oak of dark hue, with cross-banded 
edges of walnut in various shades. The visible 
drawers are of oak throughout, whilst the hidden 
ones are oak-bodied with red deal fronts to match 
the lining of the main structure — thus inge- 
niously disguising their presence. 

We have seen specimens of the same type 
entirely veneered with walnut and others inlaid 
with marquetry. These bureaux, dating from 
about 1690 well into Queen Anne's reign, have 
selling values of from £25 to ^^35. 

There must be an added sentimental pleasure 
in sitting at an escritoire which* was possibly the 
treasured possession of a pamphleteer or diarist 
of the last years of the rebellion : an aesthetic 
joy in rummaging amongst the secret drawers 
which contained the journals in cypher of the 
wire-pullers of the new monarchy. 

II f 



CHAPTER VII : CLOCKS 
AND CLOCK-CASES 

A LEARNED dissertation on clocks and the theory 
of time would be out of place in a volume of 
this description, and anything we have to say 
concerning the clocks of the " walnut period " 
will, of necessity, be of a popular nature. In 
England the chamber clocks, as distinguished 
from the costly and elaborate timepieces which 
adorned public buildings, appear to have been 
introduced about the year 1600.* The type is 
fairly familiar, and is known as the " lantern," 
" bird-cage," or " bedpost." Amongst dealers 
such clocks are usually styled " lantern " or 
" Cromwell." They usually stood on a wall- 
bracket, but sometimes were suspended from a 
nail. The clocks are built of brass surmounted by 
a bell, sometimes used for striking the hours and 
sometimes only for an alarm. The clocks were 
often housed in hooded oak cases, which protected 
them from the dust. These original cases are 
sometimes met v^th and are interesting in them- 

• Strictly speaking, Dc Vjrck's clock, invented about 1370, 
is the earliest known type of the domestic clock. Made for the 
wealthy few in days when the generality of people did not look 
up«n clocks as necessities, they only exist to-day as rare museum 
specimens. 

82 



OLD FURNITURE 83 

selves, but the brass clocks are more ornamental 
when minus the cases. These clocks were made 
to run for thirty hours, the motive power being 
a heavy weight v^th a cord or chain. At first 
the vertical verge movement was used, but about 
1658 the pendulum was introduced. The alter- 
nate bobbing in and out of the short pendulum 
through slits in either side of the clock accounts 
for the term " bob " pendulum. It has been 
noticed that the doors of these early clocks were 
often constructed from old sundial plates, the 
engraved figures of the sundial still showing on 
the insides. Doubtless the sundial makers, finding 
their trade falling off, used the materials in hand 
for the new-fangled clocks. The dial-plate of 
the early lantern clock is circular, vrfth a band 
of metal (sometimes silvered) for the numerals, 
which at first were rather short. About 1640 the 
hour-hands were made wider and the numerals 
longer. After about 1660, we find the circular 
dial growing larger in relation to the body of the 
clock and protruding slightly on either side. 
During the latter years of Queen Anne's reign 
the dial-plates often protruded as much as two 
or three inches on either side. This did not 
improve the general appearance. Clocks of this 
pattern are known as the " sheep's head." With 
such slight variations the lantern clock was made 



84^ OLD FURNITURE 

from Elizabeth's to George III.'s reigns. The 
late ones, probably made hy provincial clock- 
makers, have square dials with arched tops. 

The tops of the square cases of the lantern 
clocks are often surrounded by fretted galleries. 
As a rule the four fretted pieces are all of one 
pattern, but generally the front one only is 
engraved. A favourite form of fret is that in 
which the crossed dolphins appear ; this pattern 
came in between 1660 and 1670. These lantern 
clocks with ornamental galleries are furnished with 
bells as wide as the clock-case suspended from 
two intersecting arched bands stretching from 
corner to corner. They are finished off by the 
addition of a turned pinnacle at each corner and 
a fifth one on the apex of the bell. Such clocks 
were apparently not intended to be covered by 
an outer wooden case. They would not be 
greatly harmed by dust, as they contain no 
delicate mechanism. 

These old-world lantern clocks were practi- 
cally indestructible, and until a few years ago 
they could be found in plenty in the old farm- 
houses, and would fetch but a pound or two at 
auction. Of recent years, with the growth of the 
collecting habit, the dealers have found a ready 
market, and to-day a well-made lantern clock 
in original condition has an appreciable value of 



OLD FURNITURE 85 

from five to ten pounds. They have but a single 
hand, like the old clock on Westminster Abbey, 
and consequently to tell the exact time of day 
is a matter of guess-work, as only the quarters are 
marked. To tell the time within a quarter of an 
hour would have been sufficient for the original 
owners, who had no trains to catch. The usual 
process to-day is to substitute a modern eight- 
day " fuzee " movement for the old thirty-hour 
" verge." Thus, by eliminating the chain and 
weight, the clock is adapted for a place on the 
mantelshelf. From a decorative point of view 
it is difficult to conceive anything more charming 
as a finish to a '' walnut period " room. 

Fig. 67 is a " bird-cage " clock at the Victoria 
and Albert Museum. The dial, which is very 
nicely engraved with a flower design, is signed 
" Andrew Prime Londini Fecit." It has dolphin- 
pattern frets on three sides. The side frets are 
engraved to match the front one. This clock cost 
the museum ^^4 4J. in 1892. Andrew Prime was 
admitted to the Clockmakers' Company in 1647, 
and we shall be within the mark in assuming that 
the clock was made some time between that 
date and 1680. The dolphin decoration would, 
indeed, point to a date not earlier than 1660, 
and, furthermore, the length of the pendulum 
would suggest not earlier than 1675. 



86 OLD FURNITURE 

In Fig. 68 we give an illustration of a smaU 
lantern clock by Anthony Marsh, of London, 
with its original hooded oak case. 

Fig. 69 is the same clock shown without the 
hood. This subject was kindly lent for illustra- 
tion by Mr. Whittaker, of 46 Wilton Road, 
London, S.W., one of the comparatively few 
remaining clockmakers following the old-time 
traditions. A talk with Mr. Whittaker in his 
workshop takes us back to the old days of indi- 
vidual work at the lathe and bench, when each 
clockmaker was an artist with ideas of his own — 
a clockmaker in every sense of the word, making 
his own parts by hand instead of, as in these 
days, buying them by the gross from the factory. 

Anthony Marsh, the maker of the clock illus- 
trated, was a member of the Clockmakers' Com- 
pany in 1724, and worked " at ye dial opposite 
Bank of England." Marsh is a well-known name 
amongst the clock-making fraternity, no less than 
fifteen of the name following the trade between 
1691 and 1842. 

Contemporary with the lantern clocks of the 
middle period (about 1660) we find the " bracket " 
or " pedestal " clocks enclosed by wooden cases, 
as distinguished from the brass-cased chamber 
clocks. The earlier patterns had flat tops with 
brass handles for carrying. Sometimes they were 



OLD FURNITURE 87 

surmounted by perforated metal domes, resem- 
bling inverted baskets, to which the handles were 
fixed. As time went on the tops of the clock- 
cases were made more dome-shaped and the 
baskets and handles were elaborately chased. The 
cases, often of exquisite workmanship, were 
generally constructed of oak or ebony, and as 
timepieces these clocks, by skilled makers, were 
far superior to the generality of lantern clocks 
of the country-side. We associate these bracket- 
clocks with such names as Tompion, Graham, and 
Quare. 

Thomas Tompion, " the father of English 
watchmaking," was born at Northill, in Bedford- 
shire, in 1638, and died in London in 171 3. He 
was the leading watchmaker at the Court of 
Charles II. George Graham, Tompion's favourite 
pupil, was born in Cumberland in 1673, and died 
in London in 1751. He was known as " Honest 
George Graham," and was probably the most 
accomplished British horologist of his own or 
any age. He was admitted a freeman of the 
Clockmakcrs' Company on completion of his 
apprenticeship in 1695, when he entered the 
service of Tompion. A lifelong friendship was 
only severed by the death of Tompion in 1713. 
Graham was elected a fellow of the Royal Society 
in 1720, and made a member of the Society's 



88 OLD FURNITURE 

council in 1732. Even to-day Graham's " dead- 
beat escapement " is used in most pendulum 
clocks constructed for really accurate time- 
keeping. The site of Graham's shop in Fleet 
Street is now occupied by the offices of The 
S for ting Life, Tompion and Graham lie in 
one grave in the nave of Westminster Abbey, 
near the grave of David Livingstone. Daniel 
Quare, a contemporary maker of first rank, was 
born in 1648 and died in 1734. He was Clock- 
maker to William IIL There is a fine example of 
a tall clock by Quare at Hampton Court Palace. 
Quare was the inventor of the repeating watch. 

Fig. 70 is a bracket clock in marquetry case 
made by John Martin, of London, in the 
seventeenth century. It is fitted with " rack 
striking work " invented by Edward Barlow 
(born 1636, died 1716). It will be noticed that 
the corners of the dial-plate are ornamented 
with the winged cherubs' heads which we find 
so often in the scheme of decoration of Sir 
Christopher Wren's churches. This clock, lent 
by Lieut.-Col. G. B. C. Lyons, may be seen at 
the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

The " bracket " clocks were the favourite 
household timepieces before the introduction 
of the long-cased or grandfather clocks, which 
came in some time between 1660 and 1670. The 



OLD FURNITURE 89 

earliest long-cased clocks were furnished with 
the "bob" pendulum. The long or "royal" 
pendulum was introduced about 1676. The 
" bob " pendulum clock-cases were very narrow 
— ^just wide enough to comfortably accommodate 
the chain and weights, the primal idea of the 
case being merely to hide the chains and weights. 
The wide swing of the long pendulum neces- 
sitated more room in the case, and examples are 
found with added wings, showing that long 
pendulums have been added to the old move- 
ments. 

As with the lantern clocks, the early long clocks 
had thirty-hour movements ; but the great 
makers, such as Tompion, Graham, and Quare, 
constructed clocks to run for eight days, a month, 
three months, and even a year. The introduc- 
tion of the eight-day movement appears to have 
been coincident with the long pendulum. 

The cases of the grandfather clocks, in the main, 
harmonised with the other furniture of the period. 
The majority of them were built of oak, and 
those of country make were generally plain. 
Many were veneered with walnut, and others 
(more rarely) with ebony. With the advent of 
William III. came the taste for marquetry work, 
and the long-cased clocks received their due 
share of this form of ornamentation. The fronts 



90 OLD FURNITURE 

were often pierced with an oval or circular hole 
filled with greenish bull's-eye glass, through 
which the swinging pendulum bob could be seen. 
About 1 710 the taste for marquetry began to 
wane. The lacquering craze was at its height. 
Clock-cases were sent out to China to receive 
treatment at the hands of the Chinese lacquerers. 
It was a lengthy and expensive process : it 
probably would take a year or so with the slow 
travelling and slow drying of the various coats of 
lacquer. We show, in the chapter on lacquered 
furniture, how the growing demand was met by 
the English and Dutch lacquerers, who adopted 
less expensive and more expeditious, if less satis- 
factory, methods. 

It is in the nature of things that the old long- 
cased clocks were gentlytreated, and, consequently, 
genuine old specimens are still fairly plentiful. 
Old thirty-hour clocks in plain oak cases with 
painted dials may still be bought for four or five 
pounds apiece, whilst reliable eight-day clocks 
of fair make will fetch anything from five to ten 
pounds. We cannot expect to get a Tompion or 
Graham clock for anything like these prices. 
We had the opportunity five years ago of buying 
a magnificent Graham clock in a mahogany case 
of fine proportions for ^f 20. It was the chance of 
Si lifetime, and — the chance was missed. 



OLD FURNITURE 91 

The three illustrations we give (Figs. 71, 72, 
and 73) represent fine examples of marquetry- 
decorated clocks at the Victoria and Albert 
Museum. The simple naturalesque style of mar- 
quetry, showing direct Dutch influence, is shown 
in Fig. 7 1 . The carnations are exceedingly lifelike. 
The dial-plate of. this clock, which is still in good 
going order, bears the inscription " Mansell 
Bennett at Charing Cross." It was probably 
made about 1690. Figs. 72 and 73 represent the 
more typically English style of delicate geomet- 
rical marquetry work, dating from about 1700. 
In both of these clocks the fretted bands of wood 
beneath the cornices, as well as the nature of 
the marquetry, would point to a later period 
than that of the Mansell Bennett clock. They 
belong to the Queen Anne period. Fig 72 was 
made by Henry Poisson, who worked in London 
from 1695 to 1720. Fig. 73, unfortunately a 
clock-case only, has the original green bull's-eye 
glass in the door. 

A word of warning may be in place in regard 
to grandfather clocks with carved oak cases. Such 
things purporting to be " 200 years old " are 
often advertised for sale, but are scarcely likely 
to be genuine. Speaking for ourselves, we have 
never seen one which bore the impress of genuine- 
ness. We must bear in mind that at the date of 



92 OLD FURNITURE 

the introduction of the long case — say 1 660-1 670 
— ^the practice of carving furniture was rapidly 
on the wane, and by the end of the century had 
practically ceased. In this connection we quote 
that great authority on old clocks, Mr. F. J. 
Britten, who says : " Dark oak cases carved in high 
relief do not seem to have been the fashion of any 
particular period, but the result rather of occa- 
sional efforts by enthusiastic artists in wood, and 
then in most instances they appear to have been 
made to enclose existing clocks in substitution of 
inferior or worn-out coverings." 

In regard to the wonderful time-keeping 
qualities of old grandfather clocks, Mr. H. H. 
Cunyngham, in his useful little book, " Time and 
Clocks," expresses the opinion that the secret 
lies in the length of the pendulum. " This," 
he writes, ** renders it possible to have but a 
small arc of oscillation, and therefore the motion 
is kept very nearly harmonious. For practical 
purposes nothing will even now beat these old 
clocks, of which one should be in every house. 
At present the tendency is to abolish them and 
substitute American clocks with very short 
pendulums, which never can keep good time. 
They are made of stamped metal and, when 
they get out of order, no one thinks of having 
them mended. They are thrown into the ashpit 



OLD FURNITURE 93 

and a new one bought. In reality this is not 
economy." 

Mr. Cunyngham's remarks point the moral as 
to the economy of the long clock. But we should 
say, more strictly speaking, that German and 
Austrian wall and bracket clocks have to a large 
extent taken the place of the old English long- 
cased clocks. The shortness of the pendulum is 
not of necessity the weak point. The bracket 
clocks of the best English makers since the 
seventeenth century, with short pendulums, 
have been noted for their reliability as timekeepers. 
Efficiency from a badly constructed clock, be 
it American, German or English, can scarcely be 
expected. 

As we have already suggested, fine clocks by 
the great masters are now beyond the means of 
the modest collector ; but serviceable and deco- 
rative grandfather clocks of the late seventeenth 
and early eighteenth centuries are still obtainable 
at moderate prices. In many cases the dials show 
great taste in the art of engraving. We must 
bear in mind that the majority of these clocks — 
particularly those with the painted dials and 
plain oak cases — ^were the joint productions of 
the country clockmaker and the country joiner, 
and numbers of them have the very smallest 
pretentions to correctness of design. We find 



94 OLD FURNITURE 

clock-cases which have the appearance of being 
" all plinth " ; others are too long or too short 
or too wide in the body ; others are overweighted 
in the head ; and, again, others are too shallow 
and have an unhappy appearance of being flat- 
tened out against the wall. The old oak clock- 
case of perfect proportions is comparatively rare. 
The collector must studiously avoid any clock- 
case which is " obviously out of drawing," and 
in the main his eye will guide him in the selection. 
We are indebted to Mr. Stuart Parker, an 
experienced amateur collector of clocks, for a 
carefully thought-out opinion as to the ideal 
dimensions of a clock-case. 

Supposing a full-sized clock-case 7 ft. 6 in. 
high: the three main sections should measure 
as follows : 

The plinth : 2 ft. high and I ft. 10 in. wide. 

The body : 3 ft. high and i ft. 4|- in. wide. 

The head : 2 ft. 6 in. high and i ft. 10 in. wide. 

The width is taken at the middle of each of 
the three sections. The base of the plinth and 
the cornices of the head section should each 
measure 2 ft. i in. in width. 



CHAPTER VIII: LACQUERED 
FURNITURE 

English lacquered furniture " in the Oriental 
taste " belongs to the last quarter of the seven- 
teenth and the first half of the eighteenth cen- 
turies. It is not surprising that when the rage 
for everything Chinese and Japanese — ^at the 
time indiscriminately called " Indian " — was 
prevalent, a school of Anglo-Oriental craftsmen 
should have sprung up. The taste was at its 
height about 1710, and continued for many 
years. 

The art of lacquering is said by the Japanese 
themselves to have been practised in Japan as 
early as the third century, when the Empress 
Jingo conquered Corea. In the ninth century 
the Kioto artists inlaid their lacquer with mother- 
of-pearl. In the fifteenth century landscape 
decorations were used, and by the end of the 
seventeenth century the art had reached its 
zenith. The material used in Japan is resin-lac, 
an exudation from the lacquer-tree {Rhus verni- 
ciferd). Without going into the details of the 
art, it is well to bear in mind that the brilliant 
surface of Japanese lacquer is not obtained by 
varnishing, but by the actual polishing of the 

95 



96 OLD FURNITURE 

lacquer itself. It is treated as a solid body, built 
up stage by stage and polished at every stage. 
For an exposition of the art one cannot do better 
than read Mr. Marcus B. Huish's chapter on 
lacquer in " Japan and Its Art." 

It was probably not till late Tudor times 
that any specimens of Japanese or Chinese lacquer 
found their way to this country, and then prin- 
cipally in the shape of small cups, bowls, and 
trays. " Indian Cabinets " are mentioned occa- 
sionally in inventories at the end of Elizabeth's 
reign, and in the household accounts of Charles II. 
there is an item of j^ioo for " two Jappan Cabi- 



nets." 



The English and Portuguese traded with Japan 
in Elizabeth's reign, but were expelled in 1637. 
The Dutch were more tenacious, and from the 
commencement of their trading operations with 
Japan, in 1600, managed, at intervals, to keep 
in touch with their new market. Even the Dutch 
were regarded unfavourably by the Japanese 
authorities, and traded under considerable dis- 
abilities. The majority of the lacquered ware 
which came to England filtered through Holland. 
It was brought to Europe round the Cape in 
the armed Dutch merchantmen which, at the 
same time, were bringing home the beautiful 
old Imari vases and dishes with kinrande (brocade) 



OLD FURNITURE 97 

decorations, which served later on as the models 
for the early Crown Derby " Old Japan " wares 
and the simple Kakiyemon specimens copied at 
Chelsea, Bow, and Dresden. One of these old 
ships, the Middleburg, trading from the China 
Seas, homeward bound and laden with bullion 
and curios, went down in Soldanha Bay, off the 
South African coast, on October 18, 1714. In 
August 1907 the divers salvaged some of the 
cargo. Needless to say, the " Jappan Cabinets " 
had long since perished, but the little Chinese 
blue-and-white cups and saucers came to the 
surface none the worse for nearly two hundred 
years' immersion in salt water. 

We are fortunate in still possessing at Hampton 
Court Palace a goodly number of Kakiyemon 
hexagonal covered jars and bottle-shaped vases, 
and tall cylindrical Chinese blue-and-white vases 
of the Khang Hi reign, placed there by William 
and Mary ; but the scarcity of contemporary 
English furniture there is deplorable. The real 
beauty of old Oriental porcelain is never so 
apparent as when displayed on the old " Jappan 
Cabinets " or the sombre furniture of the Orange- 
Nassau dynasty. 

It was fashionable to decry the craze for things 
Chinese, and early eighteenth-century literature 
teems with gibes at the china maniacs of the 
n G 



98 OLD FURNITURE 

day. We have referred in the first chapter of the 
volume to Macaulay's small opinion of the merits 
of old Chinese porcelain. The Spectator for 
February 12, 171 2, contains a letter from an 
imaginary Jack Anvil who had made a fortune, 
married a lady of quality, and grown into Sir 
John Enville. He tells how my Lady Mary 
Enville " next set herself to reform every room 
in my house, having glazed all my chimney- 
pieces with looking glasses, and planted every 
corner with such heaps of China, that I am 
obliged to move about my own house with the 
greatest caution and circumspection for fear of 
hurting some of our brittle furniture." 

Daniel Defoe, in his " Tour of Great Britain," 
says : " The Queen (Mary) brought in the 
custom or humour, as I may call it, of furnishing 
houses with China ware which increased to a 
strange degree afterwards, piling their China 
upon the tops of Cabinets, scrutores and every 
Chymney Piece to the top of the ceiHngs and 
even setting up shelves for their China ware 
where they wanted such places, till it became a 
grivance in the expence of it and even injurious 
to their Families and Estates." 

At Hampton Court to-day we can see the 
chimney-pieces in the corners of the smaller 
closets with the tiers of diminishing shelves 



OLD FURNITURE 99 

reaching almost to the ceilings, and displayed 
thereon are the " flymy little bits of Blue " which 
Mr. Henley laughs at in his Villanelle, Perhaps 
some day our National Museum will overflow and 
refurnish Hampton Court Palace, which to-day 
in its furnishing, apart from the pictures and 
tapestries, is but a shadow of its old self. 

Although germane to the matter, the foregoing 
is somewhat in the nature of a digression from 
the subject of the " japanned " furniture, which 
took such a hold of the popular fancy that the 
making of such things was practised as a hobby 
by the amateurs of the period. " A Treatise on 
Japanning and Varnishing " was issued by John 
Stalker in 1688, and, just as " painting and the 
use of the backboard " were essentials in the 
ciirriculum of the early Victorian seminary, so 
were the young ladies of the reign of William HI. 
taught the gentle art of " Japanning." In the 
Verney Memoirs we find Edmund Verney, son 
of Sir John Verney, the Squire of East Claydon, 
writing to his little daughter Molly (aged about 
eight years) in 1682 or 1683, at Mrs. Priest's 
school at Great Chelsey : " I find you have a 
deaire to learn to Jappan, as you call it, and I 
approve of it, and so I shall of anything that is 
Good and Virtuous. Therefore learn in God's 
name all Good Things, and I will wilHngly be 



loo OLD FURNITURE 

at the Charge so farr as I am able — tho' They 
come from Japan and from never so farr and 
Look of an Indian Hue and Odour, for I admire 
all accomplishments that will render you con- 
siderable and Lovely in the sight of God and 
Man. . . . To learn this art costs a Guiney 
entrance and some 40's more to buy materials 
to work upon." 

John Stalker's treatise is probably the earliest 
printed work in connection with furniture- 
making. We never hear of any individual name 
connected with the manufacture of furniture 
dxiring the oak period, although there had been 
a guild of cofferers. The names of the makers 
of the superb Charles chairs are lost in oblivion, 
and we have to wait till the eighteenth century 
before any artist-craftsman or designer gives his 
name to a style. 

Stalker's treatise is contained in a folio volume 
of eighty-four pages of letterpress and twenty- 
four pages of copper-plate engravings. The 
title-page reads : " A Treatise of Japanning and 
Varnishing, Being a compleat discovery of those 
Arts. With the best way of making all sorts of 
Varnish for Japan, Woods, Prints, Plate or Pic- 
tures. The method of Guilding, Burnishing and 
Lackering with the art of Guilding, Separateing 
and Refining metals, and the most curios ways 



OLD FURNITURE loi 

of painting on Glass or otherwise. Also rules 
for counterfeiting Tortoise Shell, and Marble 
and for staining or Dying Wood, Ivory, etc. 
Together with above an hundred distinct pat- 
terns of Japan Work, for Tables, Stands, Frames, 
Cabinets, Boxes &c. Curiously engraven on 
24 large Copper Plates. By John Stalker Sep- 
tember the 7th 1688. Licenced R. Midgley and 
entered according to order. Oxford Printed 
for and sold by the Author, living at the Golden 
Ball in St. James Market London in the year 
MDCLXXXVIII." 

This comprehensive work is " Dedicated to 
the RIHGT Honourable The Countess of Darby 
a lady no less eminent for her quality, Beauty 
and Vertue, then for her incomparable Skill and 
Experience in the Arts that those Experiments 
belong to, as well as in several others." 

In a page and a half of the preface the author 
takes us through the history of painting from 
early Grecian times, particularly pointing out 
that the art of portrait-painting alone can keep 
our memories green. He goes on to say : " Well 
then as painting has made an honourable provi- 
sion for our bodies so Japanning has taught us 
a method, no way inferior to it, for the splendour 
and preservation of our Furniture and Houses. 
These Buildings, like our bodies, continually 



I02 OLD FURNITURE 

tending to ruin and dissolution are still in want 
of fresh supplies and reparations. On the one 
hand they are assaulted with unexpected mis- 
chances, on the other with the injuries of time 
and weather ; but the art of Japanning has 
made them almost impregnable against both ; 
no damp air, no mouldring worm, or corroding 
time, can possibly deface it ; and, which is more 
wonderful, although its ingredients the Gums^ 
which are in their own nature inflamable yet 
this most vigorously resists the fire, and is itself 
found to be incombustible. Tru«, genuine Japan, 
like the Salamander, lives in the flames, and 
stands unalterable, when the wood which was 
imprison'd in it, is utterly consumed. . . . 
What can be more surprising then to have our 
chambers overlaid with varnish more glassy and 
reflecting than polisht Marble ? No Amorous 
Nymph need entertain a Dialogue with her 
Glass, or Narcissus retire to a Fountain, to 
survey his charming countenance, when the house 
is one entire speculum. To this we subjoin the 
Golden Draught, with which Japan is so ex- 
quisitively adorned, than which nothing can be 
more beautiful, more rich or majestick." 

In John Stalker's opinion Europe, both Ancient 
and Modern, must in the adornments of cities 
give pride of place to Japan, for "surely this 



OLD FURNITURE 103 

Province was Nature's DarKng and the Favourite 
of the Gods, for Jupiter has vouchsaft it a visit 
as formally to Danae in a Golden shower." 

In an epistle to " the Reader and Practitioner " 
he severely censures inferior artificers who " with- 
out modesty or blush impose upon the gentry such 
Stuff and Trash, for Japan work, that whether it 
is a greater scandal to the name or artifice, I 
cannot determine. Might we advise such foolish 
pretenders, their time would be better imployed 
in drawing Whistles and Puppets for the Toy- 
shops to please Children, than contriving orna- 
ments for a room of State." 

He cautions the reader against the common 
error of mistaking Bantam work for real Japan. 
" This must be alledged for the Bantam work 
that it is very pretty," &c. &c. ; but the Japan is 
" more grave and majestick . . . the Japan artist 
works most of all in Gold and other metals, and 
Bantam for the generality in colours with a 
small sprinkling of Gold here and there, like the 
patches on a Ladie's countenance." 

He professes, in the " Cutts or Patterns," to 
have exactly imitated the towers, steeples, figures 
and rocks of Japan according to designs of such 
foimd on imported specimens. " Perhaps we 
have helped them a little in their proportions 
where they were lame or defective, and made 



I04 OLD FURNITURE 

them more pleasant, yet altogether as Antick. 
Had we industriously contrived the prospective, 
or shadov^ed them otherwise than they are : we 
should have wandered from the Design, which 
is only to imitate the true genuine Indian work, 
and perhaps in a great measure might puzzle and 
confound the unexperienced Practitioner." 

It may interest readers to know the market 
prices of some of the materials used in 1688. 
Seed-lac, 14J. to i8i. per lb. ; gum sandrack, 
IJ-. to IS. 2d. per lb. ; gum animae, 3/. to 5/. 
per lb. ; Venice turpentine, is. 6d. to is. Sd, 
per lb. ; white rosin, 4^. to 6d. per lb. ; shell- 
lac, IS. 6d. to 2s. per lb. ; gum arabic, is. per lb. ; 
gum copall, IJ-. to is. 6d. per lb. ; gum elemni, 
4^. to $d. per oz. ; benjamin or benzoine, 4^. 
to Sd. per oz. ; dragon's blood, Sd. to is. per oz. 
" Brass dust," Stalker says, cannot be made in 
England, though it has often been tried. The 
best, we learn, comes from Germany ! He goes 
on to describe various metal-dusts, such as 
" Silver dust," " Green Gold," " Dirty Gold," 
" Powder tinn," and ** Copper." Of the makers 
of " speckles " of divers sorts — ^gold, silver, 
copper — " I shall only mention two, viz. a Gold- 
beater, at the hand and hammer in Long Acre ; 
and another of the same trade over against 
Mercers Chappel in Chcapside." 



OLD FURNITURE 105 

The twenty-four pages of " Cutts " include 
designs for " Powder Boxes," " Looking glass 
frames," " For Drauers for Cabbinets to be 
placed according to your fancy," and " For a 
Standish for Pen Inke and paper which may 
also serve for a comb box." The drawings include 
" An Embassy," " A Pagod Worshipp in ye 
Indies," and another sketch in which the central 
figure would appear to be a hybrid Red Indian 
before whom several devotees are grovelling. 

We have quoted John Stalker at some length 
as giving interesting sidelights on an industry 
occupying the attentions of a numerous class in 
his own day. For the actual carrying out of the 
methods employed we must refer the reader to the 
book itself — a book which is invaluable to any one 
who has a piece of Old English lac in want of 
repair. There is an old-world charm about the 
work of the Stalker and contemporary schools, but 
in point of real beauty it is as far removed from 
the Japanese lacquer as the " Oriental " porce- 
lain of the eighteenth-century European fac- 
tories is from its Chinese or Japanese prototype. 
The complaint has often been made of the lack 
of perspective in the Oriental decorations. This 
may be said, to use a hackneyed phrase, to be 
the defect of its qualities. We have by this time 
come to see things to a certain extent through 



io6 OLD FURNITURE 

Japanese eyes, and have learnt to love the 
defect. 

The artist of Old Japan — be he painter, potter, 
metal-worker, or lacquerer — was an artist to his 
finger-tips, and his work was full of a symbolism 
utterly incomprehensible to the Western mind. 
Those in Japan who know will tell you that a 
master lacquerer of the seventeenth century 
would spend many years on the decoration of a 
simple, small box. In the initial stage — the pre- 
paration of the background — ^it has been calcu- 
lated that 530 hours are required in the aggregate 
for drying the various layers ; but the young 
ladies at Mrs. Priest's school at Great Chelsey 
in the seventeenth century expect, by the aid of 
Stalker's instructions, to learn the art in twelve 
lessons ! Honest John Stalker thinks he can 
improve upon his Japanese models, with the 
result that, whilst we may have a little less of 
the '' defect," we have scarcely any of the 
" qualities." It is ever thus when West attempts 
to copy East. 

We may mention in passing that the French 
furniture-makers of the eighteenth century 
utilised, in the production of some of their finest 
commodes, drawer-fronts and panels of genuine 
Japanese lacquer which must have been manufac- 
tured specially for the French market, exhibiting. 



OLD FURNITURE toy 

as they do, shapes quite foreign to anything 
in use in Japan. It is highly probable that 
these serpentine and bow-shaped drawer-fronts 
were sent out to Japan to receive their decora- 
tion. In the " Jones Bequest " at the Victoria 
and Albert Museum, we can see superb examples 
of such belonging to the period of Louis XV. 
It is said that Madame Pompadour expended 
110,000 livres on Japanese lacquer. Marie 
Antoinette's collection in the Louvre is con- 
siderable ; but it is quite certain that the finest 
examples of the art never left Japan. Mr. Huish, 
to whose book we have above referred, gives 
some interesting statistics pointing to the 
scarcity of fine old lacquer in this country during 
the early days of trade with the East. In one 
year during the eighteenth century eleven 
ships sailed, and, whilst carrying 16,580 pieces 
of porcelain, they brought only twelve pieces 
of lac. 

To-day Old English lacquered furniture is 
much sought after, and prices are advancing 
rapidly. The coloured varieties include red, 
blue, green, violet, and occasionally buff. 

The red in particular is highly prized. Black 
lac, which was made in great quantities in every 
shape of furniture, is still comparatively plen- 
tiful. An early eighteenth-century grandfather's 



io8 OLD FURNITURE 

clock, which might fetch anything from five to 
ten pounds if the case were of plain oak, would 
have a selling value of from ten to twenty pounds 
if lacquered. 

Evidence points to the fact that, in the majority 
of cases, the lacquer was an afterthought. The 
furniture of the day was turned out, in the 
ordinary course of trade, quite innocent of 
lacquer, and afterwards treated by professional 
japanners — sometimes maltreated by amateurs. 
Not long since, in our own day, there was a 
similar craze for covering furniture with enamel 
paints. 

Fig. 74 is an interesting china cabinet in black 
lacquer of William and Mary period, 7 ft. 5 in. high 
and S ft. wide, priced at ^30. A first-class modern 
mahogany or walnut-wood cabinet of the size 
could scarcely be made for the money, whilst 
the old lac, apart from its intrinsic charm, has 
an additional sentimental value as marking a 
phase in the history of furniture — a phase in 
decoration. In this cabinet we have also a 
development in form ; it is palpably the product 
of a period when the rage for collecting porcelain 
was prevalent, and in the same connection it is 
no less useful to-day. The modern designer 
Bcarcely invents anything more appropriate. It 
is interesting to note this cabinet as an example 



OLD FURNITURE 109 

of the afterthought in decoration. The owners 
— Messrs. Story and Triggs Ltd., of Queen Vic- 
toria Street, London — ^have discovered that the 
lacquer is superimposed on walnut veneer ! It 
tells its own tale. 

Fig. 75 is an early example of red lacquer, 
a cabinet with, boldly arched cornice; the 
repetition of the arch at either end gives a fine 
architectural finish to the top. The upper part 
encloses shelves, and there are four drawers in 
the base. The decoration consists of various 
Chinese views of ladies in a garden, a temple 
with a man and children, trees, rocks and lakes. 
It was probably made about 1690 ; 75 in. high, 
31 in. wide, and 23 in. deep. 

Fig. 76 is somewhat later — about 1 7 10 — ^with 
typical Queen Anne period cabriole legs and 
claw-and-ball feet. The doors, which enclose 
five drawers, are decorated with figures, buildings, 
birds and flowers, and are furnished with finely 
chased ormolu lock-plates and hinges. It is of 
black lacquer with red and gold reliefs, measures 
67 in. by 39 in. by 19 in, and is valued at 
about £^S' 

Fig. 77 is still later — about 1730 — a cabinet 
surmounted on plain cabriole legs. On the front 
is a view of a lake with Oriental figures, cocks, 
and vegetation. Inside the doors are studies of 



no OLD FURNITURE 

the lotus-flower in vases. The hinges and lock- 
plates are fine examples of English metal-work 
in the Chinese taste. This piece is 56 in. high 
and 36 in. wide, and is valued at ^^35. 

For comparison we give an example (Fig. 78) 
of a piece of lacquered furniture made in 
China about 1740. This dressing-table, built 
of camphor-wood, and still exhaling a delicate 
fragrance, was evidently made for England and 
copied, as to shape, from an English table. It 
is inlaid with mother-of-pearl designs of land- 
scape, birds, and flowers; and the interior is 
fitted with a mirror, writing-desk, and numerous 
boxes. 

During the English " japanning " period, every 
imaginable shape of furniture received this 
Oriental treatment. Besides the various forms 
of cabinet, we find lacquered mirror-frames, 
dressing-tables, corner cupboards, hanging cup- 
boards, chests and chests of drawers, chairs, work- 
boxes, writing-desks, coffee-tables, card-tables, 
pole-screens, trays, barometer-cases, and even 
bellows-cases. 

We give an example of a simple mirror in red 
lacquered frame with arched top (Fig. 79). It 
measures 39 in. by 19 in. This and the three 
preceding examples are the property of Mr. F. W, 
Phillips, of The Manor House, Hitchin. 



OLD FURNITURE iii 

Fig. 80 is a barometer in lacquered case of 
about 1700. 

Fig. 81, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 
is of Dutch make of the early eighteenth cen- 
tury — a dressing-glass suspended between two 
uprights, which are supported on a cabinet 
with sloping front. Inside the cabinet is a 
compartment with a hinged door, flanked on 
either side by an open compartment, one 
long and two short drawers. The lower part 
has seventeen compartments fitted with boxes, 
brushes, and various toilet requisites. The 
lacquer is raised and gilt on a red ground, 
showing groups of figures in Chinese costumes, 
buildings, landscapes and floral designs with 
birds. 

Fig. 82 is a somewhat similar glass but of 
English make. The woods composing it are 
poplar, pine and oak, and it is decorated with 
blue and gold lacquer, the effect of which is the 
reverse of pleasing. 

We have said that the European lacquer will 
not bear close comparison with the Old Japanese. 
The methods of the Chinese were simpler, and 
the English " japanner " (it is, of course, a mis- 
leading term) was more successful in his attempts 
to copy the Chinese cabinets. His best examples, 
if indeed they fell far short in technique, did in 



112 OLD FURNITURE 

method to a large extent approximate to the 
work of the Celestial. 

English lacquer as a mere investment is worth 
buying at reasonable prices, and in choosing 
pieces the collector will do well to look, as much 
as possible, for the real Oriental feeling. 




biu.l. MAMKI.I'lKl K IN IIA.MPION Ct)l Kl I'.ALACM'. 



II: 1 





^' liiii li III IIL ^^ 




H|^^?bf - *' 






^^^|p 


't i 




lir ■ 


.m 




1 h 








LT 






Fl(!. 4 
CARVING IN PINEWOOD 
(ATTRIBUTED TO t 
GRINLING GIBBON) 




t/ V r.* 




Fig. 5. TURNED BALUSTERS 

(LATE SEVENTEENTH AND EARLY 
EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES) 




i-M.. h. |MM)1(\S AV 

(LATE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY) 




Fig. 7. OVERMANTEL 
(LATE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY) 




Flc. 8. DOORWAY 
(BARLY* EIGHTKKNTH CENTURY) 




Fig. 9. MANTELPIECE 
(EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY) 




Fig. 10. M IRROR FR A M K 
(ATTRIJJUTKD TO GRINUNG GIHliON) 




Fig. 15 
GESSO " MIRROR (QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fig. 16, •« GESSO " MIRROR 
(QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fin. 17. FINK " OKSSO " MIHROK 
(QTTKKX ANNK PKRIOD) 




Flo. 20. TOILET MIRROR WITH DRAWERS (QUEEN 
ANNE PERIOD) , 

(Property of Messrs. Mawer & Stephenson Ltd., 
2-21 Fnlham Road, S.W.) 




Fig. 21. TOILET MIRROR ON STAND 
(QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fig. 27. FINE CHAIR 
(PERIOD WILLIAM AND MARY) 




Fig. 28. SIMPLE CHAIR 

(PERIOD WILLIAM AND MARY) 

(The Property of F. W. Phillips. The Manor Hoase, 
Uitchin, Herts) 





05 
<9 

Si 

^3 

gf 

so® 

o" P3.S 
|ii S a- 



§». 




W o 




Fio. 32 

SIMPLE CUAItt WITH CABRIOLE LEGS 

(QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fig. 38. FINE ARM CHAIR (QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




FUJ. 39. ARM CHAIR (tiUKKX ANNK FKRIOD) COVKRKI) 
WITH "PETIT POINT" NEEDLEWORK 




Fig. 40 
FINE CHAIR (LATE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




FlO. 41 
FINE CHAIR (LATK QUEEN ANNK PERIom 




Fig. 42 

CORNER OR ROUNDABOUT CHAIR (LATE QUEEN 

ANNE PERIOD) 




Fig. 44. FINE SETTEE (LATE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fig. 45. FINE SETTEE (LATE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




FIG. 46 

TABLE (PERIOD WILLIAM AND MARY) 

(The Property of Mr. F. W. Phillips, The Manor 

House, Hitchiii) 




Fl«. 47 
TABLE (PERIOD WILLIAM AM' - \KY) 



II : 3 



Via. 49. TABLE (LATE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fig. 52 



CHEST OF DRAWERS ON TWISTED LEGS (WILLIAM AND 
MARY PERIOD) 




Fig 54 
FINE CHEST ON STAND (WILLIAM AND MARY PERIOD) 




Fio. 56 
SIMPLE CUEST ON STAND (WILLIAM AND 
MARY PERIOD) 




Fl(J. 56. TALLBOY (QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




Fl«. 57. TALLBOY (QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 




r^^ 



Fig. 58. WARDROBE IN MARQUETRY 
(The Property of Mr. F. W. Phillips, The Manor House, Hitchin, Herts) 




I'KS, 50. CHINA CABIN FT IN MAKC^KTRV 



Fig. 60. SIMPLE BUREAU 
(VyiLLIAM AND MARY PERIOD) 



J 




Fig. 62. BUREAU (QUEEN Ai^NE PERIOD) 




FlO.63. WRITING TABLE (QUBBN ANNB PKRIOD) 



II: 4 



Fig. 64 
WRITING OR DRESSING TABLE (QUEEN ANNE PERIOD) 



Fig. 67. "BIRDCAGE ' CLOCK 
(SECOND HALF SEVENTEENTH 




Fio. 68 



LANTERN CLOCK IN HOODED CASE 
(FIRST HALF EIGHTEENTH CENTURY) 




Fig. 69 
LANTERN CLOCK WITHOUT CASE 
(FIRST HALF EIGHTEENTH CENTURY) ^ 

'r 




Fig. 28 FINE CHAIR 
(At St. Peter's Hospital, Bristol) 



U\H\ 




Fm. 27. FINE EARLY CHIPPENDALE CHAIR 
(The property of Edward Duveen, Esq.) 



-^m: 




Fi<}. 70. BBACKU'l CLOCK 
(SEVENTEENTH CENTURY) 




Fig. 73 Fig. 72 Fig. 71 

MARQUETRY CLOCKS AND CLOCK CASKS 




LACCiUKRKD CHINA CABINET 




Fig. 75. LACQUERED CABINET WITH DRAWEES 




Fig. 76. LACQUERED CABINET 




Fig. 77. LACQUERED CABINET 




Fi(i.78. LACj;iUEBED DRESSINQTABLE 




Fig. 79 
LACQUERED MIRROR 



Fig. 80 

BAROMETER IN 
LACQUERED 

CASE 




Fia. 81 
LACQUERED TOILET MIRROR 




Fia. 82 
LACQUKRED TOILET MIKROR 



INDEX 



Architectural inspiration 

less marked, 39 
Ashton on Queen Anne Period, 13 

Balusters, examples of, 31 
Baths at Hampton Court, 5 

in early times, 5 
Bedroom, Queen Anne, 43-46 
Bedsteads at Court, 7 

modern Queen Anne, 43-44 
Buckingham's, Duke of, glass 

works, 37 
Bureaux, Queen Anne period, 79 

William and Mary Period, 78 

with secret drawers, 80-81 

Cabriole legs, 53 
Chairs (sec Chapter IV.) 

claw-and-ball decoration, 54 

double, 58 

drunkards*, 57 

fine, 57 

ladder-backed, 55 

period of James II., 47 

Queen Anne, 51-57 

shaped, 56 

William and Mary, 50-51 

with cabriole legs, 53-54 

with rigid lines, 8, 50 
Chests of drawers (see Chapter 
V.) 

history of, 65 

the tallboy, 70-71 

veneered, 67-68 

with cabriole legs, 69 

with marquetry, 66 

with turned legs, 67-69 
China cabinets first introduced, 

13 

varieties of, 74-75 
Chinese porcelain, Dtfoe on, 98 

Evelyn on, 4 

first introduced into Eng- 
land, 3 



Chinese porcelain, Macaulay on,4 
popularity of, 13 
Spectator on, 59, 98 

Chintzes, 59-60 

Coffee-houses, II, 12 

Claw and ball, 54 

Clocks {see Chapter VII.) 
"Bob" pendulum, 83 
bracket or pedestal, 86-89 
Cromwell or lantern, 82-86 
Cunyngham on, 92-93 
Daniel Quare, 88 
George Graham, 87 
grandfather, 89-94 
in lacquer, 90 
in marquetry, 88, 91 
"sheep's head," 83 
Thomas Tompion, 87 

Clouston on Queen Anne mirrors, 

37 
Cunyngham on clocks, 92-93 

Defoe, Daniel, on Chinese por- 
celain, 98 
Doorways, carved, 32 
Dutch influence, I, 20, 47, 96 
Dwelling-room, Clifford's Inn, 7 

Escallop-shell decoration, 54 
Evelyn on Sir Christopher Wren, 

21 
Evelyn's Diary, 4, 36 

"Gesso" work, 41 
Gibbon, Grinling, and Charles 
II., 26-27 
examples at Hampton 

Court, 6 
his life and work, 25-30 
mirror frame, 38 
Graham, George (clock-maker), 
87 

Hampton Court Palace {tu 
Chapter I.), 97, 98-99 
113 M 



114 



INDEX 



Homes of the poor, II, 47 
Houses of the wealthy, 10 
Huguenot silk-workers, $7 
Huish, M.B., on "Japan and its 
Art," 9^, 107 

Inlay, 14 

Japanning or varnishing, by 
John Stalker, 99-105 

Lacqukr {see Chapter VIII.) 

cabinets, 109 

China cabinet, 108 

clock, 108 

dressing-glasses, ill 

dressing-table, no 

French, 106- 107 

history of, 95-97 

Japanese, 106 

mirror, no 
Law, Ernest, on Queen Anne 
period, 2, 3, 8 

Macaulay, on Verrio, 9 

views on collecting porce- 
lain, 4 
Macquoid, Percy,*' Age of Wal- 
nut," 50 
on marquetry, 67 
Mahogany introduced, 8, 72 
Marquetry defined, 16 
Macquoid on, 67 
Pollen on, 66 
used on clock, 83 
mirror frames, 42 
tables, 61 
wardrobes, 73 
Marsh, Anthony (clock-maker), 

86 
Martin, John (clock-maker), 88 
McCarthy, Justin, on Queen 

Annt period, ii 
Mirrors {see Chapter III.) 
by Grinling Gibbon, 38 
Clouston on, 37 
early examples, 35 
*' Gesso" work, 41 
in Hampton Court, 36-37 
in Holyrood Palact, 36 



Mirrors, in marquetry, 42 

in Van Eyck's picture in 

National Gallery, 35 
influence of Wren, 40 
mentioned in Evelyn's 

Diary, 36 
mentioned in " Paradise 

Lost," 34 
notes on purchasing, 40 
simple, 38-39 
toilet, 42 

NEEDLEWORK, "petit point," 
57 
popular with women, 59 
Queen Mary's, 3 

Pollen, J. H., on marquetry, 
66 
on Queen Anne period, 10 

Quare, Daniel (clock-maker), 88 
Queen Anne period, a gambling 
age, 62 

Anne's influence, ID 

Ashton quoted, 12 

bedroom, 43-46 

chairs and tables, &c. (set 
Chapter IV.) 

definition, 8-9 

houses of middle class, 60 

Justin McCarthy on, 1 1 

old city houses, 31 

ordinary types of mirrors, 
38.39 

simple furniture, 9, ID 

Thackeray on, 12 

writing-table, 79 
Queen Mary, her needlework, 3 

Settee, 58 

Stalker, John, on japanning and 

varnishing, 99-105 
Stools, William and Mary, 42 
Queen Anne, 43 

Tables {see Chapter IV.) 
card, 62-63 
gate-leg, 64 



INDEX 



"5 



Tables, inverted bowl decora- 
tion, 60 
William and Mary, 61 
with cabriole legs, 63 
with claw-and-ball feet, 63 
with escallop-shell decora- 
tion, 63 
with flaps, 63 
with marquetry work, 61 
with tied stretchers, 61 
Tallboys, 70-71 
Tea-drinking, 12 
Thackeray on Queen Anne 

period, 12 
Toilet sets, 45 

Tompion, Thomas (clock- 
maker), 87 

Van Eyck, picture by, 48 
Veneering, 14-15 



Verney Memoirs, 99 
Verrio, his work at Hampton 
Court, 9 

Wardrobe (or hanginf cup- 
board) in early days, 72 
in marquetry, 73 
of Dutch origin, 72 
William and Mary at Hampton 
Court, I 
costume, 48-49 
Woodcraft, ancient, 16 
Wren, Sir Christopher, 2-3 
builds St. Paul's Cathedral, 

22 
Evelyn on, 21 
his life and work, 20-25 
Writing-desks, history of, 76-78 
Queen Anne knee-hole, 79- 
80 



WOODS AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, LONDON, N. I. 




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