In the world of fine English antique furniture there are many variations on a theme, and quite a few are seen in the category of bookcases. From a superb George I burr walnut bureau bookcase to a Sheraton mahogany library breakfront bookcase, the range covered by the eleven monarchs whose reigns span the period we deal in is huge. Some are tall and impressive whilst others can be a mere four feet high, like the Regency rosewood examples we see from time to time. Some have doors and others, like the waterfall bookcase don't. They also come in a wide variety of timbers from oak and mahogany to satinwood and walnut.
Queen Anne Burr Walnut Bureau Bookcase
A superb Queen Anne period Burr Walnut Bureau Cabinet having a stepped, concave cornice above the two doors the top retaining the original bevelled mirror plates and fitted with adjustable shelves above a row of conforming drawers, the base with a particularly well fitted stepped concave interior to the bureau with a reading stand to the well, the whole feather banded throughout and raised on bracket feet.
H: 83½" (212 cms) W: 40½" (102 cms) D: 24" (60 cms)
Price: £45,000 / US$ 68,400 / € 53,100
George III Mahogany Library Bookcase
A very fine and rare George III Period Mahogany Library Bookcase of exceptional colour and grain, the moulded cornice above a cross-banded frieze, the top with a pair of Balloon and Lancet Astragal Glazed doors opening to adjustable shelves on either side of a central divide, the base with two fantastically flame figured panelled doors also with adjustable shelves behind on either side of a central divide, the whole raised on a plinth base.
H: 88" (223 cms) W: 51" (129 cms) D: 21½" (54 cms)
Price: £20,000 / US$ 30,400 / € 23,600
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Fabulous George III Mahogany and Satinwood Breakfront Library Bookcase
A superb George III Period Mahogany, Satinwood, Tulipwood and Kingwood Library Breakfront Bookcase, the inlaid, cavetto cornice above four inlaid 6-pane rectangular glazed doors with adjustable shelves behind, the lower section with inlaid pull out book slides at the waist above four doors inlaid with flame figured mahogany oval reserves enclosed by satinwood spandrels and kingwood and satinwood crossbandings, the whole raised on a moulded plinth base and with ebony and boxwood stringing throughout.
Every part of this wonderful example is constructed and finished to the highest of standards. There are refinements in the details that make this one of the finest pieces we have had the honour to handle in almost 60 years. For ease of transportation this bookcase was made in 11 sections. This amazing Antique Cabinet is a tribute to the makers.
H: 103" (261 cms) W: 111" (281 cms) D: 22" (55 cms)
Price: £150,000 / US$ 228,000 / € 177,000
Superb Satinwood,Ormolu and Gilt Cabinet with Wedgwood Plaques
A superb Satinwood Breakfront Cabinet by Wright and Mansfield, designed by Crosse in the Adam Revival style. The galleried superstructure supported by four reeded gilt columns with carved gilt acanthus details above three frieze drawers with a central Wedgwood green jasperware plaque , the base with three cupboard doors each with a further Wedgwood plaque depicting Greek philosophers, cupids and winged figures and flanked by classical gilt reeded Doric Columns and raised on a plinth base. The whole piece is elaborately inlaid in harewood, boxwood and other stained woods in the neo-classical manner with bell-flowers, ribbons, swags and urns.
Wright and Mansfield were one of the most prominent of Victorian Furniture makers in England producing the very finest pieces in the Adam and Sheraton Revival styles. They were established at 184 New Bond Street between 1860 and 1886 and were described in "The Cabinetmaker and Art Furnisher" Vol. II as "... the leaders of that pleasing fashion which was happily brought back into our houses many of the charming shapes of the renowned 18th. century cabinet makers."
Their comparable medal winning cabinet exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 was the only piece of British furniture to be awarded a Gold Medal. It was praised for the high quality of its materials and workmanship and seen as "very English" due to the use of Satinwood and Neo-classical decoration. It was acquired in 1868 by the Victoria and Albert Museum to show its visitors the difference between 18th. century furniture and nineteenth century reproduction pieces of the highest quality. The V&A Cabinet was designed by a Mr. Crosse of whom nothing further appears to be known.
The similarity between this cabinet and the V&A example is so striking with the same decorative motifs, timbers and identical Wedgwood plaques that a common authorship is not in doubt and there is the strong probability that the two pieces were made as part of a suite of furnishings.
Provenance: Holly Johnson Antiques, 2003, Private Collection.
Wright and Mansfield Alfred Thomas Wright first came to notice in 1856 as a junior partner in the firm of Samuel Hanson, a cabinetmaker and upholsterer trading from 16 John Street (later Great Portland Street), and 106 Oxford Street. The company was joined by George Needham Mansfield, son of the old established builders and decorators George Mansfield, of Grays Inn Lane and Wigmore Street, and the firm is recorded in Post Office journals as Hanson, Wright and Mansfield at the above addresses until 1861, when Hanson died. Thereafter the company traded as Wright and Mansfield, and swiftly rose to prominence after their exhibits at the 1862 International Exhibition held in London, on the site of what is now the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. Attended by over six million visitors, despite the death in 1861 of Prince Albert, and the absence of Queen Victoria, who was still in mourning. The Art Journal Catalogue of the International Exhibition, and J.B. Waring's ' Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture' of 1862 record their work, and two bookcases, and a fireplace constructed of 'Ginn' or 'Gean' wood, with inset Wedgwood plaques were illustrated, along with a piano, painted in the manner of George Brookshaw, and commented upon and favourably compared to the Eighteenth Century work of 'Adelphi' Adams.
The progress and incredible quality presented by the exhibitors occasioned Eugene Rouher, the prominent French statesman, after the exhibition to form a committee, taking as a premise ' the results of the Exposition prove, that if rapid progress is not made in France, we will quickly be outstripped by our rivals'. At the 1867 Paris Universelle Exposition, a remarkable satinwood, marquetry, bronze and Wedgwood mounted cabinet won a Gold medal, the only time such an honour was bestowed upon an English cabinet maker, by the judges, presided over by M. du Sommerard director of the Cluny Museum, and M Wilkinson, Administrator de Mobilier de la Courrone. The Gold medal was presented personally to Wright & Mansfield by the Emperor Napoleon the 3rd. The cabinet was purchased by the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum) for the extraordinary sum, in those days, of £800. It remains in their possession today. Their showing at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition attracted wide admiration, and was most favourably commented upon in the journals of the day
H: 66½" (168 cms) W: 55¼" (140 cms) D: 25½" (64 cms)
Price: £50,000 / US$ 76,000 / € 59,000