Jacob was one of the most renowned and prolific 18th century French chair-makers. He founded a dynasty of cabinet-makers spanning three generations between 1765 and 1847. His work spans the Louis XV period through to the Consulat. The orphaned son of a Burgundian farm worker, he went to Paris at the age of sixteen and became apprenticed to Jean-Baptiste Leroúge in 1756. Jacob continued his six years apprenticeship with Leroúge's widow and it was in this apprenticeship that he formed compagnonnages with Boucault, Forget and above all, Louis Delanois, with whom he remained particularly close, becoming godfather to his second son. Jacob was appointed a maître menuisier on 4th September 1765 and set up in business in the rue de Bourbon. In 1767 he married Jeanne-Germaine Loyer, with whom he had five children, two of which became joiners. In time he moved to the rue du Cléry where he stayed until 1775, one street away from Delanois's workshop in the rue du Petit Carreau. He finally moved to the rue de Meslay in 1775, from where some of his finest work was issued and his business prospered. From 1781 he held various offices in the Corporation des menuisiers-ébénistes, becoming syndic-adjoint (1788) then syndic (1789).
Thanks to his friendship with the Republican sympathiser and Neo-classical painter, Jacques-Louis David, he survived the Revolutionary years, both financially and personally, with relative impunity; his previous royal and aristocratic patronage making him a prime suspect of the Comité de salut public. In 1791, the Le Chapelier law, which removed the guild system, helped him diversify his workshop allowing him to include cabinet-making and mounting bronzes; within five years he had four flourishing workshops. He sold his shop and stock and rented his workshops to his sons, Georges II (1768-1803) and François Honoré-Georges (1770 1841) who worked under the name of ‘Jacob Frères’. However, when Georges II died in 1803 his father returned to the business going into a nine year partnership with his surviving son under the name of ‘Jacob-Desmalter et Cie’. The business expanded and the furniture fed an illustrious clientele. Unfortunately under François, the business went bankrupt in 1813 and this affected his father financially, leaving him to die an infamous and impecunious death.