EDWARD HOLMES BALDOCK
Edward Holmes Baldock (1777-1845) was one of the first London antique dealers, in the modern sense of the word. He principally dealt in 18th century French furniture and Chinese Export porcelain, and as a retailer as well as a manufacturer he commissioned furniture to compliment his inventory.
Baldock worked in Hanway Street in London. He was listed variously in London Trade directories as 'Ornamental China Dealer', 'Furniture Broker and Appraiser', 'Foreign China Furniture Warehouse(man)' and 'Antique Furniture and Ornamental China Dealer'. Baldock was involved in the formation of some of the great collections of French furniture during the nineteenth century, among his clients were King George IV, the Dukes of Beccleuch and Northumberland, William Beckford, Lord De Saumarez, the Earl of Lonsdale, Baron Hatherton and the Lord Lowthers. In addition, Baldock held the positions of 'purveyor of China earthenware and Glass' to King William IV from 1832 to 1837 'purveyor of China' to Queen Victoria from 1838 to his death in 1845.
The mark of E.H.B., identified by Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue as Baldock's, appears to have been a retail mark as it is found on both Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century pieces. Baldock seems to have commissioned and designed furniture operating more in the manner of Poirier and Dauguerre, the 'marchands-merciers' of the Eighteenth Century, than other manufacturers. However, it appears that unlike his French predecessors and unencumbered by guild restrictions, he actually manufactured pieces in his own workshops, although this remains a matter of conjecture in the absence of documentary evidence.
References to alterations to furniture occur in the Lucy, Lowther and Buccleuch papers during the years 1836 to 1843. These involved the addition of mounts, the replacement of the interior fittings of secretaires and tables, the addition of doors to case furniture and the embellishment of other pieces with porcelain plaques. Baldock also supplied sofas and chairs made up in part or in whole of old pieces of carving. A large quantity of dismembered pieces of furniture, listed in Baldock's sale catalogues of May and July 1843, may well have been stocked for use in making up pieces. He evidently specialised in furniture in the Boulle manner, in French Seventeenth Century style ebony cabinets and in oriental Seventeenth Century style seat furniture of turned ebony and carved ivory.
Because of his dealings in both ceramics and furniture Baldock was well placed to exploit the fashion for porcelain-mounted furniture, a taste typical of the fascination of the English aristocracy with 'ancien regime' opulence. Baldock is known to have employed the Quaker artist Thomas Martin Randall to embellish plain pieces of Sevres, and some of the porcelain furniture mounts used by Baldock are closely linked to the work of John Randall.
Beard, Geoffrey; Gilbert, Christopher Dictionary of English furniture makers, 1660-1840 Furniture History Society, 1986.