Maker's Marks on British Antique Furniture
When buying antique furntiure it is important to look out for pieces stamped with the mark of their maker, to help date and vaule a piece. They may be stamped in a variety of ways and often in more than one place. In France a strict guild corporation insisted on stamping and verifying every single piece of furntiure that was made. Britain did not have such strict regulations and so it is unusual and exciting to find antique British furniture that has been stamped by its maker. Often you find quite crude marks impressed on earlier pieces of furniture. In the 18th and 19th Century most marked furntiure had more sophisticated ink or hand-written inscriptions on paper labels or they were elegantly incised into the wood. The cabinet-makers Gillows of Lancaster and London are well-known for having correctly marked their furniture. They normally punched their stamp 'Gillows.Lancaster' onto the inside of drawers or onto the bottom of the piece. In fact the signatures and names of Gillows' workmen are pencilled on much of their furniture from this period! At Reindeer Antiques we are very fortunate to have some pieces of British furniture that still retain their original Maker's Mark.
A George II Welsh dresser and rack, c.1740
This antique oak dresser and rack was made in North Wales, the canopied rack and cupboard like arrangement of drawers particularly point to this region. Interestingly this antique dresser retains its original maker's marks- to the right and rear of the rack: R, M and D are incised on in quite a rustic manner which indicates that this is an early provincial piece of furniture.
A Sheraton Mahogany Canterbury, c.1800
This boat-shaped antique canterbury with carrying handle and frieze drawer was used for holding sheet music and would only have been found in the wealthiest households, the use of mahogany on the drawer lining shows that no expense was spared! Unusually this canterbury is stamped with a sophisticated ink inscription which tells us that the maker is Ramsey and Co., Manufactory, No. 83 High Street, Poplar, they are listed in The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers as being active from about 1800.
A fine Irish Sheraton Revival Mahogany toilet mirror, c.1880
This lovely oval toilet mirrow is veneered in flame mahogany and feather banded, it stands on ogee bracket feet. Unusually it bears its original paper ink label for M.Butler, 26 and 27 Upper Abbey St., Dublin to the reverse.
The makers of these two pieces of antique furniture were influenced by the clear lines and elegant designs of Thomas Sheraton's 'The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book' published in 1791.
If you are fortunate and find a maker's mark on an antique piece of British furniture be sure to consult 'London Furniture Makers 1660-1840' and 'Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840' for more information on the maker!