W.R. Harvey & Co. (Antiques) Ltd
Archive of news from Harvey's
What goes around, comes around.
Posted by David Harvey, Sunday 24 July 2011
Many years ago I was lucky to have the most remarkable quality Gentleman's Secretaire Press in stock which I showed and sold at the BADA Fair. What was remarkable about this piece? Quality can be demonstrated in many different ways and is often not what the eye first sees. In this piece it starts with the back which is in Mahogany and beautifully panelled, the drawer linings are also Mahogany as in the Secretaire Drawer where they are veneered in choice Satinwood crossbanded in Tulipwood. The cost of executing the entire carcass and drawers in Mahogany would on its own indicate a very special heritage but closer examination of the cornice shows not just a finely fluted frieze but it has a serpentine detail to three sides and even the bracket feet get special treatment with carved, shaped details. An important detail here is the s-shaped keyhole escutcheons which are always associated with the works of Thomas Chippendale.
Christopher Gilbert's 2 volume work on Thomas Chippendale illustrates many similar pieces and there are comparable friezes, feet, keyhole escutcheons etc. on several pages. (Vol II Pages 193 ill 351, pp228 ill 415, pp132 ill 237, pp139 ill 249, etc.) Above all, you have only to stand and look at this magnificent press to realise that it really is a very special piece of furniture. I am sure you will appreciate the delight I now have in being able to offer this again, the original purchaser having now moved to a house where there is no appropriate space for this example. I dated this originally at about 1775 but on re-reading Gilbert's book and taking on board that Chippendale was really a leader in terms of taste, it could be as much as 10 years earlier.
One of the most important facets for all of us here at Harvey's is the way that pieces which we may have sold ten, twenty or even fifty years ago do come back to us and this is particularly important at this time when so very little good quality stock is available through other routes. When this occurs, it really is just like seeing an old and dear friend again after a period of absence. Indeed, the pieces acquired in this way are mostly even nicer than my Father or I remember them being.