17 Apr 2021


December 21, 2012 - Filed under: Spindle Back Dining Chairs — Mandy

A Spindle, in furniture or architecture, is an cylindrically symmetric shaft, usually made of wood.  Spindles are usually made of a single piece of wood and typically has decoration (also axially symmetric) fashioned by hand or by a lathe. The spindle was common at least as early as the 17th century in Western Europe as an element of chair and table legs, stretchers, candlesticks, balusters, and other pieces of cabinetry.  By definition, the axis of a spindle is straight; hence, for example, a spindle-legged chair is a straight-legged design, even though cylindrical symmetry allows decoration of elaborate notches or bulbs, so long as the cylindrical symmetry is preserved.

The spindle leg design is characteristic of many Victorian and earlier Nursing chairs, exposed wood armchairs and a variety of cabinets and tables. In French furniture, the spindle leg may be found on Fauteuils,” chairs, a variety of tables and other pieces.

- Filed under: Charles Tozer — Mandy
Charles Tozer was a retailer of high quality revivalist furniture although seems to have specialised in walnut pieces in the early 18th century style and was established at 25 Brook Street London from the early 20th century and traded into the 1960s.
December 14, 2012 - Filed under: Charles Rennie Mackintosh — Mandy

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was one of the most significant figures in the history of Arts & Crafts Furniture, and a major influence on the Art Nouveau movement. A talented architect, designer and artist, he was central to the development of the Glasgow Style of design. He had few clients, yet his distinctive stained glass panels elegant Victorian dining chairs are known the world over.

Mackintosh was apprenticed to architects Honeyman and Keppie in 1889, also studying at the Glasgow School of Art. His first major architectural commission was the Glasgow Herald Building (1894), which showed amazing innovation and maturity.

Mackintosh believed that designers and architects should have freedom of expression, and began experimenting with design, aided by his friends Herbert MacNair and Frances and Margaret Macdonald (who he later married). Dubbed the Spook School, they established the Glasgow Style.

In 1896 Mackintosh, was awarded a major commission to design a new wing for the Glasgow School of Art. Constructed in two stages, it was Mackintosh’s most important work, containing baronial Scottish, rustic Japanese and many other elements. The Library is a complex geometry of timber posts and beams, complemented by dark slender antique bookcases and elegantly pierced chairs.


Mackintosh’s best-known works were for Catherine Cranston, who commissioned him for her tearooms between 1896 and 1917. He was allowed complete freedom of expression, providing everything from the light fittings to the cutlery. The dramatic high-backed Victorian dining chairs, so prized by Lancashire collectors, are still copied by designers today.

Another important commission was Hill House, for publisher Walter Blackie. However, Mackintosh had only a few patrons, his ethic of total design making him unpopular with clients. His last public commission was a Glasgow school, in 1906. Further work followed, but it was largely met with indifference.

Mackintosh moved to London, where he began working in a bold new abstract style. However, it largely went unnoticed. Today, of course, his genius is recognised, and in Cumbria his antique dining tables and elegant chairs sell for many thousands of pounds.

December 12, 2012 - Filed under: Sporting Memorabilia — Mandy

The market for sporting memorabilia is one of the most diverse areas of the antiques market. This is not just because the range of sports covered – from boxing to bowls – but also due to the vast spread of objects – from fishing tackle to football trophies.

Almost every pastime you can think of is represented in the memorabilia market and numerous sectors of the antiques industry have their own sporting sub-sector: silver, ceramics, paintings, works of art and books, to name but a few.

The items that command the most attention are those that relate to either the early history of a particular sport, or an iconic player, special match or competition.

SO WHAT DO WE COLLECT………………………………..

 So vast is the field that most collectors focus on one area. There are those who collect all memorabilia relating to their chosen sport, but there are also people who collect items only relating to their favourite team. Others favour particular items like match programmes or cigarette cards.

Most buying is based on an emotional connection to the sport  but some elements of the market are based on decorative appeal. The former may well include people who pay out for pieces of sporting equipment – a football shirt worn by a club legend or a cricket ball used to hit the winning runs in a famous Ashes series – while the latter could involve items with serious wall-power such as a carved wood fishing trophy or an Olympic poster.

Silver King Man brought £6600 in Bonhams Chester in 2005

Dunlop Man brought £900 also in the same sale

Golf Demonstrates the selectivity that exists:

For instance, a decade ago, standard early 20th century hickory-shafted golf clubs were the dependable stalwart of the saleroom, selling in sets for the equivalent of £20 to £30 each. These clubs are now fetching between £8 and £12 each, and the number of clubs that find buyers at auction is significantly lower.

The same is true of the early balls – the pre-1850 feather balls or ‘featheries’ and the first gutta percha balls made in a myriad of different patent designs. Vendors of balls that could often command five-figure sums in the 1990s are now having to settle for four-figure returns instead.

However, the flip-side of this means that, for buyers, especially new collectors, there are now plenty of relative bargains to be had.

Sporting D.jpg

Above: a bent neck putter from c.1890s used by Willie Park Junior. The club, with its longer than standard 4.5in hosel, was the kind used by Park in numerous Opens, including when he was runner-up in 1898. With a label written and signed by the club-maker Ben Sayers Junior, it sold for £3300 at Bonhams Chester in June 2010.


- Filed under: William Morris — Mandy

Founder of the English Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris was one of the most influential figures of Victorian art and design. A pre-Raphaelite artist, writer and textile designer, his name is synonymous with the beautiful Arts and Crafts furniture , textiles and artworks which flourish in England today.

Born in Walthamstow, Essex, in 1834, William Morris had a privileged upbringing, being educated at Marlborough School before attending Oxford University. Originally intending to study theology, he migrated to the arts after becoming drawn to socialism. Wanting to embed socialist ideologies into his work, he abandoned painting for architecture and design, associating with artists of the pre-Raphaelite movement. This had a profound influence on his artistic designs.

In 1861 Morris founded Britain’s first design company, which became Morris and Co. Together with his pre-Raphaelite associates he transformed the staid world of Victorian design, introducing new concepts in style and colour. Inspired by Mediaeval art, he eschewed the machine-made regularity of Victorian mass-production; instead each piece was handcrafted to reflect the individuality of the craftsman.

The company produced Arts and Crafts furniture, textiles, tiles, stained glass and wallpaper, embellished with organic forms such as vines, fruit trees, birds and Celtic animals. Each member of the company worked in a specific area of expertise; for example furniture such as Victorian antique dining chairs and cabinets was designed by Philip Webb, who also made tiles and metal ware. Jane Burden, the beautiful pre-Raphaelite model who became Morris’ wife, was taught to fashion embroideries by her husband.

In later years, the company opened new premises at Merton Abbey Mills, where their famous tapestries were woven. A prolific writer, Morris also founded the Kelmscott Press, which produced traditionally crafted, beautifully illuminated versions of classic works.

William Morris died in 1896. A staunch socialist to the last, it seems strange that his beautifully crafted works were too costly for the common man. However, he had an enormous impact on Victorian design in general. Today, arts and crafts pieces such as antique marquetry furniture are accessible to all

- Filed under: Robert (Mouseman) Thompson — Mandy

Robert (Mouseman) Thompson (7 May 1876 – 8 December 1955) was a British furniture maker. He lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, where he set up a business manufacturing oak furniture, which featured a carved mouse on almost every piece. It is claimed that the mouse motif came about accidentally in 1919 following a conversation about “being as poor as a church mouse”, which took place between Thompson and one of his colleagues during the carving of a cornice for a screen. This chance remark led to him carving a mouse and this remained part of his work from this point onwards.

He was part of the 1920s revival of craftsmanship, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement led by William Morris, John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. More specific to furniture making in this genre and era include Stanley Webb Davies of Windermere.

The workshop, now being run by his descendants, includes a showroom and visitors’ centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains “Mouseman” pews, fittings and other furniture. The company is now known as “Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd – The Mouseman of Kilburn.”

Fr Paul Nevill, a former Headmaster of Ampleforth College, asked Thompson to make the Ampleforth Abbey’s furniture; they liked it so much that Ampleforth kept asking Thompson for more works, including the library and most of the main building. Fr Gabriel Everitt, current Headmaster, has recently asked the Mouseman company for more work. Most of Ampleforth College houses are decorated with Robert Thompson’s furniture.

- Filed under: Arts and Crafts — Mandy

Sir (Sydney) Gordon Russell (1892-1982) was one of the most important figures in the history of 20th century furniture. From his early Cotswold Arts and Crafts furniture , to the modernist antique desks of the post-war period, he managed to embrace mass production and mechanisation without losing the underlying concepts of high quality craftsmanship. The history of his antique cabinets, tables, chairs and concept furniture can be tracked at the Gordon Russell Museum, housed in his original workshop premises in Worcestershire.

Russell spent his early years in Cricklewood, London, before moving to the Cotswolds town of Broadway in 1904, when his father bought the Lygon Arms Hotel. Upon finishing his education he was put in charge of the family workshop, repairing the hotel’s antique furniture. After gaining military honours in World War I, he returned to the family business and began making Arts & Crafts furniture for retail. After marrying in 1921 he began experimenting with modern styles – beginning with the marriage bed.

In 1923 Russell expanded the business and invested in modern machinery. His aim was to combine Arts and Crafts workmanship with mass-production to produce high quality furniture affordable to everyone. This ranged from homely dining tables to elaborate antique marquetry furniture , such as the 1925 print cabinet now residing in the Cheltenham Museum.

In 1929 he founded Gordon Russell Ltd, finding a market in America. The Depression caused a downturn, but he kept afloat designing and making Murphy radio cabinets. These antique cabinets are still popular auction pieces today.

In 1938 Russell set up the Good Furnishing Group, promoting the retailing of high-quality, mass produced furniture. During the war he spearheaded the government’s utility furniture scheme, and in the post-war years took posts leading to directorship of the Design Centre. He played a leading role in the Festival of Britain in 1951, and was knighted in1955. He retired to the Cotswolds in 1958, but remained closely connected with his company until his death.

Gordon Russell’s antique cabinets, desks and bookcases continue to be in demand today, evoking images of the very best in 18th century design – with a modern touch.

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