English antique furniture from the 18th century, unlike its French counterpart, is rarely signed, stamped, or otherwise inscribed with the cabinetmaker’s name. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. The impressive suite of red japanned furniture made for Lazcano Palace by Giles Grendey features Grendey’s trade label on several pieces of the suite (we wrote about this suite in a previous post here). Furniture can also be traced back to its original maker when it can be matched up with the original invoice by the cabinetmaker in various country house archives.
And occasionally, Georgian furniture does bear a stamp that gives a clue as to its maker. We have a magnificent set of four George III carved mahogany armchairs in our collection with pierced shield back splats carved at the top with a wheatsheaf motif. One of the chairs is stamped ‘RE.’
These chairs feature a superbly fluid design and exceptional craftsmanship with excellent carved detail and fine colour throughout. They contain elements from a series of design drawings from Gillows’ Estimate Sketch Books, which suggest that they may be made by that firm.
A chair from a suite of almost identical design, formerly in the collection of the Harvey family at Ickwell Bury, Bedfordshire is known to have been stamped ‘RE.’ One possible explanation for the stamp, which provides a link with the Gillows firm, has been suggested by Christopher Claxton Stevens: it may refer to Richard or Robert Edmudsen or Edmonson. Edmonson’s was a Liverpool cabinet-making firm which started in 1781. Richard and Robert are both recorded as freemen of Lancaster and are known to have worked for Gillows on a number of occasions.