Attribution: See “Masterful Marquetry and Majestic Mahogany” by David Harvey, chapter six, pp24 to 29 for an example of this model with the arched Tuscan pediment signed Thomas Atkinson who worked for Gillows during the late 18th and early 19th. centuries and dated May 1st. 1811. Although the piece by Atkinson was fitted with a secretaire drawer, the similarities are striking. Both retain the original blue lining paper and are executed in the finest of timbers. The quality of the dovetailing is comparable in both though the most remarkable similarity is of course the “Tuscan” Cornice which appears on several pieces by Gillows of Lancaster.
The design for the signed piece is in the Gillows Estimate Sketch Book 1803-1815, folio 1863, dated 16 May 1809.Made for B. Smith Esq. of Rochdale it is described as ‘A mahogany wardrobe with pediment’ According to the estimate it cost Gillows £15 19s. 2 1/2d for materials and labour. The drawers on both were originally and are still lined with blue paper .
There is an undeniable Gillow’s house style and quality which one sees repeatededly on documented pieces. The outstanding timbers and quality of construction of this Press confirm this. Several similar examples are recorded by both Lindsay Boynton and Susan Stuart. Indeed, illustrations Nos 145 in Boynton’s book of a “Secretary and Bookcase” and 161 “Bookshelf with drawers” both have the Tuscan Cornice and are both documented by T. Atkinson. This Cornice is a recurring theme, (136 Wardrobe dated 1799,139 Bureau and Bookcase dated 1788, 166,167,168 Three Library Bookcases dated 1787, 1792 & 1797 all in Boynton’s book)
In Susan Stuart’s book on Gillows, Atkinson, T., is recorded in folios 1578, 1619 and 1901 indicating dates during the first quarter of the 19th. Century, equally Atkinson, T. Esq., 4050 suggests prior to 16th. Feb. 1835 and Atkinson, Thomas, 1718 & 1894 implies the first decade of the century. Thomas Atkinson was named in the PCB on 30.3.1789 when he received 1gn. he was also recorded in the PL 1802-04 (344/69, 344/78, fs 183-184).
Lit: Gillows of Lancaster & London 1730 – 1840 by Susan Stuart, 2 vols.
Gillow Furniture Designs 1760 – 1800 by Lindsay Boynton.