An unusual Victorian mahogany Ottoman by F J Mercer, of rectangular form with two bow ends, the hinged deep-buttoned top and the sides re-upholstered in distressed blue leather, the frame comprising a guilloche-carved rail set upon four sturdy supports carved with spiral bands and acanthus leaves, with a moulded rail below, the interior lined in the original blue silk, with a partial label for ‘F.J. Merc(er) Cabinet maker and u(pholsterer), 24 & 26, Fargate, Sheffield’. English, 1870.
Footnote: Ann Jessop (also Wilde, Turner or Bardwell) was born around 1781 and had little formal education. Her second husband, Edward Bardwell, was a cabinet maker and when he died, in 1821, she became the registered owner of their cabinet-making business. By 1841 the business was large enough to be asked to tender to supply hundreds of mahogany chairs and matching tables. F J Mercer was her nephew and took over the business when she retired in the late 1850s.