A Discovery in Durham: John Thompson and his Cabinetmaking Workshop

N06.109e

A George III Octagonal Mahogany Library Table by John Thompson of Durham
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We recently acquired a superb George III octagonal mahogany library table.  We were delighted to find a drawer fixed with an original trade label for John Thompson of Durham.  Thompson was an interesting character and we are delighted to share our research on him today.

John Thompson is recorded as working at Sadler Street in Durham from 1802 to 1819. He subscribed to Thomas Sheraton’s Drawing Book of 1793 and his later Cabinet Dictionary of 1803.

N06.109a

A Trade Label for John Thompson of Durham

The drawer in our table with the original trade label is framed by festoon curtain surmounted by an eagle with sarcophagus cellaret below that reads ‘I. THOMPSON, Upholsterer & Cabinet Maker, Sadler Street, DURHAM, Auctioneer & Appraiser.’

Thompson supplied Cuthbert Ellison of Hebburn Hall, Gateshead with four wash-hand tables in 1808.

In an advertisement of 1814, Thompson noted that he carried out ‘Display of Decoration & Ornaments. Plans of rooms taken and designs of furniture prepared for them.’

Marjorie Stabler in the 1976 Furniture History publication comments, ‘his billhead… seems extraordinary up to date with current fashion for a provincial firm.’

A George III Octagonal Mahogany Library Table by John Thompson of Durham Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A George III Octagonal Mahogany Library Table by John Thompson of Durham
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Our table features frieze drawers on a turned central pillar pedestal and four reeded splayed legs, each terminating in brass box castors.  The table has four true and four dummy drawers, and the top fitted with a beautifully tooled green leather.  The mahogany is of wonderful colour and patina.

To read more about the table, see the following sources:

Furniture History Society, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, p. 886.
M. Stabler, ‘Three Illustrated Billheads from the North-East,’ Furniture History, Vol. 12, 1976, pp.92.
C. G. Gilbert, ‘Georgian Provincial Furniture,’ Antique Finder, September 1973, p. 28.

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