Gillows of Lancaster Mahogany Secretaire Press  /Bookcase / Cabinet
Gillows of Lancaster Mahogany Secretaire Press  /Bookcase / Cabinet

GILLOWS OF LANCASTER & LONDON (worked 1730-1903)

Gillows of Lancaster Mahogany Secretaire Press /Bookcase / Cabinet

c. 1766 England

Offered by Michael Lipitch Limited

£275,000 gbp
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Using particularly fine mahogany throughout, and rising from stepped ogee bracket feet, which support the lower part, with one long, and two short drawers, having the drop front secretary over, housing an arrangement of small drawers, pigeonholes and slide cupboards, set about a central lockable cupboard. Secret drawers are within. The press section has two doors, dressed with a carved moulding, houses sliding trays. The everted cornice has a carved blind fret in the ‘Chinese Chippendale’ manner. The brass handles and escutcheons are original to the piece. The Gillows records are precise as to the cabinet makers and carvers, all of whom are recorded in their internal accounts.


Circa 1765

The founder of the Gillows dynasty, Robert (1704-1772) rose from humble beginnings as a provincial joiner, and evolved into a consummate businessman following a pursuit of excellence throughout his life.

Founding his business in 1730 he expanded his furniture making activities to include the direct import of quality West Indian timbers especially the finest mahogany. His talents as both a cabinetmaker as well as innovative designer brought him early success, and, bringing his two sons, Richard & Robert, into the business, he expanded his Lancaster showroom, to include another in London’s Oxford Street.

The clientele now included the Government, the aristocracy and the burgeoning middle classes. His furniture had gained its’ reputation for excellence of workmanship, and materials employed, and coupled with his insistence on being at the cutting edge of design kept the company to the fore throughout its’ one hundred and seventy year history from 1730 until its’ amalgamation with Messrs S.J. Waring in 1900. Throughout this period it was the largest manufactory of furniture in England.

The fortuitous survival of the Gillows records in their Estimate Sketch Books show over 20,000 designs and are preserved in the City of Westminster Library. Furniture made by Gillows is to be found in Royal collections and museums throughout the world. The recent publication of Susan E. Stuart’s scholarly and invaluable study on the company, published by the Antique Collectors Club is a masterpiece of its type.
The Gillows Archives, housed in London, record details of a ‘secretaire press’ made in 1766 for John France, later Lord of Rawcliffe (d1817), for one of his residences, Rawcliffe Hall, Lancashire. These records show an initial sketch of the proposed piece, along with its dimensions.
The Rawcliffe hall Secretaire Press is discussed at considerable length in volume 2, pp.54-60, of Susan E Stuart’s recently published two volume exegesis of the company, ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840’, published by the Antique Collectors Club.
Dimensions
Height 85.00 inch (215.90 cm)
Width 54.00 inch (137.16 cm)
Medium
Mahogany
Michael Lipitch Limited

Michael Lipitch Limited

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