• Item: Secretaire
• Circa: 1830
• Period: Regency
• Provenance: England
• Wood: Flame Mahogany
• Cabinetmaker: Gillows of Lancaster
• Signed by Richard Irvin (Gillows cabinetmaker)
• Mahogany gallery
• Original working Bramah lock (with original key)
• Hinged Secretaire writing compartment
• 9 internal mahogany drawers
• 6 internal pigeon holes
• Original ink wells & pen tray
• Original dark navy blind tooled leather
• Original brass hinged arm supports with locking mechanism
• Original turned rosewood knobs
• Decorative quarter veneered insets (top drawer)
• Double “D” moulded doors
• 8 large Internal graduated document drawers
• Original flush brass handles
• Hand dovetailed mahogany linings
• Original melon turned feet
• Original pine backboards
• Completely original
• Stunning colour & patination
• Excellent condition & quality
• Free delivery to England, Wales & southern Scotland*
• Free 14 days UK returns policy
Here is a stunning quality antique English Regency flame mahogany Secretaire chest of drawers, circa 1830, by Gillows of Lancaster, which is in good condition and is completely original, having been constructed of the finest materials. Featuring a mahogany gallery above a moulded top, the flame mahogany veneered drawer, which retains its original working Bramah lock (and key) and original turned rosewood knobs, slides out and folds down (by unlocking the original brass mechanism on the drawer linings) to reveal a compartmentalized desktop interior. Please note, only the best quality pieces of furniture incorporated Bramah locks; they were the most sophisticated locks available at the time, as they were impenetrable (compared to lever locks). The interior comprises of six pigeonholes, flanked by nine small mahogany drawers, all of which are mahogany lined and hand dovetailed. The internal drawers retain their original rosewood turned knobs on mahogany drawer fronts; with the finest quality hand dovetailed mahogany linings. The bottom right drawer boasts two original inkwells and pen tray. The writing surface boasts the original dark navy blind-tooled inset leather.
The top drawer of the Secretaire is decorated with double “D” mouldings and the original turned rosewood knobs and the ornate squares are inset with quarter veneers, on a flame mahogany veneered background. The carcass incorporates vertical reeded columns, below carved rosettes. Further below, there are two flame mahogany doors also exhibiting matching “D” mouldings with quarter veneers, which open up to reveal a bank of eight graduated internal document drawers. The doors retain their original working brass lever lock and original key. Please note, only the best quality pieces of furniture had doors, which enclosed the drawers. The drawers retain their original brass inset military handles; they are also mahogany lined and constructed to the highest standard with fine hand dovetail joints. The Secretaire is raised on its original melon turned bun feet below a breakfront-moulded frieze, the carcass retains its original panelled backboards. This is an extremely heavy piece of furniture, which is testament to the quality construction and the finest materials used at the time.
The following provides further details and history of the famous Bramah locks: “In 1784, Joseph Bramah designed a round lock mechanism operated by a tubular key, of such complexity and security, that he put it in his shop window and offered a reward of 200 guineas to anyone who could open it. In 1851, at the Great Exhibition in London, A.C Hobbs an American locksmith spent 52 hours spread over 16 days and claimed the prize, but the method and spirit under which it was claimed is commented on by the London Times under the heading of ‘the Great Lock Controversy” (source: http://www.bramah.co.uk/default.asp?lnc=bramah_locks)
The Secretaire features a mellow brown mahogany colour. As it boasts the original polish, it has a fantastic colour and patination; this can only be achieved through age and years of care and cleaning it has received.
This item would look superb in a variety of rooms, from the landing to the bedroom. This campaign chest would certainly grace any home. So don’t miss out your chance to own a lovely piece of furniture.
Interestingly, the eighth internal drawer bottom is signed by the cabinetmaker, Richard Irvin, who was an employee of Gillows of Lancaster workshop between the years 1821 – 1841. There is reference to Richard Irvin’s work in possibly the most authoritative books on Gillows furniture, called “Gillows of Lancaster & London, 1730 – 1840” written by Susan E. Stuart (see photos).
Although this Secretaire is not stamped Gillows of Lancaster, it was most likely privately commissioned for a wealthy customer, rather than being “retailed”. However, not all of their furniture was stamped. It should be noted that this piece was sourced from a private residence, where it had been in situ since it was built. Items that were “retailed” by the Gillows of Lancaster usually bore the stamp on one of the drawer linings.
It is worth noting the same designs were used in other Gillows pieces of furniture, which can be viewed at the historic stately home of Tatton Park in Cheshire, England.
Gillows of Lancaster and London, also known as Gillow & Co., was a furniture-making firm based in Lancaster, Lancashire, and in London. It was originally established in Lancaster in about 1730 by Robert Gillow (1704-1772). The family owned Gillows until 1814 when it was taken over by Redmayne, Whiteside, and Ferguson; they continued to use the Gillow name. Gillows furniture was a byword for quality, and other designers used Gillows to manufacture their furniture. Gillows furniture is referred to by Jane Austen, Thackeray and the first Lord Lytton, and in one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas. In 1903, Gillows merged with Warings of Liverpool to become Waring and Gillow. They were the largest company of its type outside London; where they maintained showrooms and workshops. They had a solid reputation for quality. The company won commissions to furnish and decorate public buildings in Australia, South Africa, India, Russia, Germany, France and the U.S. It provided furniture for aristocratic houses, such as Tatton Hall, where some 150 extant pieces complement the work of the architect Lewis William Wyatt. Details of the commissions can be found in the Pattern Books in the Gillow archives. By 1897, they were over extended and formed an informal partnership with Warings of Liverpool. In 1903 Warings bought them out and the two companies became Waring & Gillows (Source: Wikipedia).
External Height = 116.5cm or 45⅞” or 3ft 9⅞”
External Width = 106.7cm or 42” or 3ft 6”
External Depth = 57.4cm or 22⅝” or 1ft 10⅝”
Writing Height = 70.6cm or 27¾” or 2ft 3¾”
Writing Width = 91cm or 35⅞” or 2ft 11⅞”
Writing Depth (when extended) = 57cm or 22½” or 1ft 10½”
This is a stunning quality Secretaire in completely original condition. Nominal old use marks to the corners and leading edges, including old use marks to the top of the Secretaire within the galleried area (see photos), but nothing significant considering the age of the item. The item retains all of its original drawer knobs, working locks, keys, leather, drawer linings, ink wells, pen tray, brass handles & hinges, feet, backboards and polish. It is very rare to see a piece of furniture of this quality in completely original condition. As the leather is original, there are age related old use marks to the work surface. The Secretaire retains its original working locking mechanism. All drawers close flush to the frame and feature the original working locks (with a key). The item stands on its original feet and incorporates the original backboards. As it boasts the original polish, it has a fantastic mellow colour and patination; this can only be achieved through age and years of care and cleaning it has received. This is an extremely heavy piece of furniture, which is testament to the quality construction and the finest materials used at the time. It is extremely rare to see a piece of furniture of this quality in original condition.
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Ref. Chest of Drawers 53