06 May 2021


September 29, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Bachelor Chest — Mandy

A bachelors chest is a small, shallow and relatively low chest, English in origin, containing three to four drawers, usually graduated; in the first models, which date from the late 17th century, the top was hinged, and could fold out to become a writing surface, supported by runners or knobbed slides (lopers); later varieties, in the 18th century, had a brushing slide just underneath the top, a pull-out surface for writing or laying out of clothing; usually made of walnut, oak or elm; bun feet were most common on the early chests, but were replaced by the more fashionable bracket feet as the century.  Although the term came to mean any small chest of drawers, originally the bachelor’s chest was a multi-purpose piece of furniture, perfect for a single gentleman occupying a small bachelor’s pad.

September 20, 2013 - Filed under: Della Robbia Pottery — Mandy

The Della Robbia Pottery was a ceramic factory founded in 1894 in Birkenhead, England.

The business was started by Harold Steward Rathbone and Conrad Gustave D’huc Dressler (1856-1940). Rathbone, son of a wealthy local business man, Philip Rathbone, had been a pupil of Ford Maddox Brown, who was one of the founders of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Dressler was a sculptor, potter and also inventor of the continuous firing tunnel kiln. Giovanni CarloValentino Manzini also joined the pottery in early 1894, leaving to establish his own pottery, the minerva art ware manufacturers in Hanley in July 1895. Manzini returned to the pottery in June 1898, staying until its closure in 1906

The pottery was established as a true Arts & Crafts pottery on the lines advocated by William Morris, using local labour and raw materials such as local red clay from Moreton, Wirral. The pottery had lustrous lead glazes and often used patterns of interweaving plants, typical of art nouveau, with heraldic and Islamic motifs.

Dressler was mainly responsible for the decorative architectural panels, many of which can still be seen in the local area of Birkenhead and Liverpool, as well as in the local museums. The brightly coloured panels, inspired by the work of the FLorentine sculptor Luca Della Robbia and his family, did not prove to be very popular on the dark brick buildings of the period, the pottery turning to large two-handled vases, presentation wares, wall chargers and plates, as well as ceramic clock cases, tiled window boxes, numerous types of vases and similar wares, as a source of income. Dressler left the pottery in 1897 to establish his own pottery, the Medmemham pottery, in Marlow Buckingham.

The Della Robbia mark is usually handwritten on the base of pieces with a ship device, and often the initials of the designer and decorator, and sometimes the date. Example initials include:

  • ‘C’ for Charles Collis
  • ‘C.A.W.’ for Cassandra Annie Walker
  • ‘C.M.’ for Carlo Manzini
  • ‘L.W.’ for Liza Wilkins
  • ‘R.B’ for Ruth Bare



September 9, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Gift Vouchers — Mandy

CHRISTIAN DAVIES ANTIQUES Gift Vouchers are the imaginative alternative to conventional birthday, Christmas, wedding and retirement gifts, or indeed any special occasion, making them the ideal present for collectors and lovers of art and antiques.

Available in denominations of £50, our Gift Vouchers may be used as payment or part payment for a purchase from our website or show-room, within one year from date of issue.



September 2, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Tables — Mandy
Ashford Black Marble is the name given to a dark limestone, quarried from mines near Ashford-in-the-Water, in Derbyshire, England. Once cut, turned and polished, its shiny black surface is highly decorative. Ashford Black Marble is a very fine-grained sedimentary rock, and is not a true marble in the geological sense. It can be cut and inlaid with other decorative stones and minerals, using a technique known as pietra dura. Derby Museum has a diagram of Ecton Hill made from Ashford Black Marble and other minerals
There was a thriving trade in the manufacture of urns, obelisks and other decorative items from Ashford Black Marble during the late 18th and early 19th century. John Mawe had a museum in Matlock Bath that dealt in black marble and Ann Rayner engraved pictures, next door at another museum, on black marble using a diamond. Many fine examples of engraved and inlaid black marble exist in local collections, including those of Derby Museum, Buxton Museum and Chatsworth House. In 2009 huge blocks of unworked Ashford Black Marble were unearthed during excavation work near to the Seven Stars public house in Derby. The plan was to auction them due to the rarity of unworked Ashford Black marble. It was speculated that the rocks had been abandoned when an Ashford Black Marble manufacturer moved in the 1880s
August 29, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Seating — Mandy

A pair of Edwardian Period mahogany antique ships chairs. Each chair in the French directorie style having a carved floral cartouche, an upholstered back and arms above the generous upholstered seat with carved acanthus detail. Raised on turned and reeded supports united by an X framed undertier and a central mahogany peg which would have been used to secure the chairs on a cruise liner of this period. Originally each chair would have had a brass plaque on the top above the cartouche to indicate the seat number for dinner etc English circa 1900-1910

July 30, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Carpets — Mandy

The term carpet was originally used to describe coverings for tables, beds, and other furniture, and only from the early 18th century was it associated with floor coverings.

The history of rugs and carpets from distinct areas is divided into two major traditions: the Asian and the Western.

The older and more opulent carpet is in the Asian tradition, and includes makers from central asia, the middle east, north africa, indian, and china.

The western tradition, derived from the asian, was established much later. It had a brief period of individuality in france, but succumbed to imitation and to mechanical weaving in the 19th century.

The origins of the technique of pile-woven carpets in Europe are obscure, although asian carpets were imported from early times.

Shah abbassi carpetThe earliest european pile carpets were produced in 12th and 13th century Spain, which had familiar ties with the islamic world.

All carpets were woven with a single warp knot particular to the spanish.

 Two major weaving centres were Savonnerie in 1627 and Aubusson in 1742.

Both centres were established for the production of carpets based on eastern techniques; today the name Savonnerie is synonymous with luxurious french pile carpets.

It wasnt until the second half of the 16th Century and early part of the 17th Century that carpets were produced in England.  The three main centres of production were Kidderminster, Wilton and Aaxminster.

Those first machine manufactured carpets were cheap, coarse, reversible floor coverings woven for purely utilitarian purposes.


- Filed under: French Polishing — Mandy

French polishing became prominent in the 18th century. In the Victorian era, French polishing was commonly used on mahogany and other expensive woods. It was considered the best finish for fine furniture and string instruments such as pianos, lutes and guitars. The process was very labour intensive, and many manufacturers abandoned the technique around 1930

French polishing is a wood finishing technique that results in a very high gloss surface, with a deep colour and chatoyancy. French polishing consists of applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in alcohol using a rubbing pad lubricated with oil. The rubbing pad is made of absorbent cotton or wool cloth wadding inside a square piece of fabric (usually soft cotton cloth)

“French polish” is a process, not a material. The main material is shellac, although there are several other shellac-based finishes, not all of which class as French polishing.

The finish is considered to be one of the most beautiful ways to finish highly figured wood, but it is also recognised to be fragile. It is softer than modern varnishes and lacquers and is particularly sensitive to spills of water or alcohol, which often produce white cloudy marks. However, it is also simpler to repair than a damaged varnish finish, as patch repairs to French polish may be easily blended into an existing finish.

The process is lengthy and very repetitive. There are also many similar variations in schedule and technique.  The finish is obtained through a specific combination of different rubbing motions (generally circles and figure-eights), waiting for considerable time, building up layers of polish and then spiriting off any streaks left in the surface.

July 25, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Seating — Mandy


Check our large selection of antique seating. We have access to a traditional upholsterer and can have any item re-upholstered to a fabric of your choice at a competitive price. Please email us for quotations and further details christiandavies@btconnect.com

- Filed under: Antique Bookcases — Mandy

A barrister requires the use of many law books and may frequently move to new chambers. A specialised form of portable bookcase has thus developed to meet their needs. A barrister’s bookcase consists of several separate shelf units that may be stacked together to form a cabinet. An additional plinth and hood complete the piece. When moving chambers, each shelf is carried separately without needing to remove its contents and becomes a carrying-case full of books.

As most high-quality bookcases are closed by doors, but also to retain the books when being carried, a barrister’s bookcase has glazed doors. As the shelves must still separate it’s not possible to provide the usual hinged doors opening sideways and so instead they use an “up and over” mechanism on each shelf. The better quality cases use a metal scissor mechanism inside the shelves to ensure that the doors move in a parallel fashion without skewing and jamming. Many of this style, exported worldwide, were made by the Skandia Furniture Co. of Rockford, Illinois around the beginning of the 20th century.

This style of bookcase was either made in a Dickensian period, or harkens back to the style of such times, so they’re most commonly glazed with a leaded light and small panes of glass.

Each shelf of a true barrister’s bookcase must be portable with a heavy load of books. The more robust examples have folding handles at the ends of each shelf. Modern “decorator” copies of these may look the same, but are often too lightly constructed to be carried whilst loaded, or may even be simply a single fixed case as per a normal bookcase, but with separate doors to each shelf to give the appearance of a barrister’s bookcase.


- Filed under: Antique Bookcases — Mandy

Private libraries appeared during the late Roman republic: Seneca inveighed against libraries fitted out for show by illiterate owners who scarcely read their titles in the course of a lifetime, but displayed the scrolls in bookcases of citrus wood inlaid with ivory that ran right to the ceiling: “by now, like bathrooms and hot water, a library is got up as standard equipment for a fine house

Revolving bookcases, known as zhuanluntang, have been documented in imperial China, and its invention is credited to Fu Xi in 544. Descriptions of revolving bookcases have been found in 8th- and 9th-century Chinese texts. Revolving bookcases were popularized in Buddhist monasteries during the Song Dynasty under the reign of Emperor Taizu, who ordered the mass printing of the Buddhist Tripiṭaka scriptures.

When books were written by hand and were not produced in great quantities, they were kept in small boxes or chests which owners (usually the wealthy or clergy) carried with them. As manuscript volumes accumulated in religious houses or in homes of the wealthy, they were stored on shelves or in cupboards. These cupboards are the direct predecessors of today’s bookcases. Later the doors were discarded, and the evolution of the bookcase proceeded. Even then, however, the volumes were not arranged in the modern fashion. They were either placed in piles upon their sides, or if upright, were ranged with their backs to the wall and their edges outwards. The band of leather, vellum or parchment which closed the book was often used for the inscription of the title, which was thus on the fore-edge instead of on the spine. Titles were also commonly written onto the fore-edge.

It was not until the invention of printing had greatly reduced the cost of books, thus allowing many more people direct access to owning books, that it became the practice to write the title on the spine and shelve books with the spine outwards. Early bookcases were usually of oak, which is still deemed by some to be the most appropriate wood for an elegant library.

The oldest bookcases in England are those in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, which were placed in position in the last year or two of the sixteenth century; in that library are the earliest extant examples of shelved galleries over the flat wall-cases. Long ranges of book-shelves are somewhat severe in appearance, and many attempts have been made by means of carved cornices and pilasters to give them a less austere appearance. These attempts were most successful as in the hands of the English cabinetmakers of the second half of the eighteenth century.


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