Furniture drawings

Louis XV period 'duchesse brisee'

Does anyone living in the London area own a cherished piece of antique or ‘classic’ furniture, willing for it to be photographed and measured in order for me to produce a complete technical drawing of it? I’m looking to record the exact dimensions and details of ‘classics’ which were common to their time so they would have to be authentic .. not repro .. but it may not matter in what condition they are, in fact this may serve as a more interesting record of how and where they ‘wear’. But also I’ve included these two examples here just to illustrate that the piece doesn’t have to be ‘mainstream antique’ or particularly valuable, as long as it has some general significance, and dating from anytime up to the 1970s.

1930s school desk, possibly French

In my article Template drawings for furniture model-making in the Methods section I make reference to a gem of a book Masterpieces of Furniture by the American architect Verna Cook Salomonsky which features a clear photo and a measured drawing for selected examples from the 16th to the 19th centuries. This was published first in 1931 and then taken up by Dover from 1953 onwards .. but as far as I know there has been nothing quite like it since!

The drawings in Salomonsky’s book are in Imperial and in any case rather difficult to read due to the book format. She also chooses not to include anything from even the early 20th century, and it may be that some of the ‘masterpieces’ are American versions of classic patterns .. which I have to check once I get my only copy of the book back! Nevertheless it’s an invaluable book, and it deserves some form of transcription into metric .. with better drawings, and covering some of the craft pieces or everyday ‘milestones’ in furniture since!

If you do have something you think would be suitable and you don’t mind my spending a few hours there recording it .. please let me know! Once the measured drawing is finished you will receive your own copy for a start. If you do get in touch via WordPress I won’t publish the post .. because you probably don’t want it advertised if you own something like an original Chippendale!

8 thoughts on “Furniture drawings

  1. Fantastic work David! It reminds me that every place has valuable things unique to that area. In New Orleans, where I lived for 15 years, it was not uncommon to see those deep heavy claw foot bathtubs among the “trash”. I LOVE THOSE! (during renovations) there for the taking. Also it is definitely the land of the inexpensive (sometimes free) chifferobe, as almost all old houses had several, I believe it was during the French occupation that it was declared that a closet was considered an extra room , so to avoid the accompanying charges and taxes, chifferobes, or as the modern locals call them, “lockers” were placed in every bedroom. So there is a dearth of them and we aquired several free from aquaintances, antiques.
    I LOVE the chaise lounge, if it is still a chaise lounge in 2 pieces.

    • I’m intrigued! .. I’ll check up what you mean, these ‘chifferobes’ and what they look like. No the animal in the picture is no longer a chaise longue it’s a ‘duchesse brisee’!

  2. Hello David
    Thank-you for your website. I came across today it when researching moulding techniques.

    High Wycombe (about 30 miles from London) was a centre for making furniture, especially the ‘Windsor chair’. You might have a word with the Wycombe Museum, which has several examples of the local product.

    Have you tried the trade guilds? The Guild of Furniture Makers (or Furniture Makers Company) would be a likely source of information. One of my studio neighbours is a basket maker, and re-canes old chairs.

    • Many thanks Robert!

      I’ll make a firm note of that! .. it may be very helpful once I come to sourcing the more (how does one say?) vernacular/regional craftsmanship furniture examples, of which there are I think fewer in the major London collections. Yes, although I haven’t specifically contacted the Guild I have had a very helpful response re the associated Frederick Parker Collection, curated by Dr John Cross of London Metropolitan University where it’s now housed. The collection was built by the furniture maker Frederick Parker (whose company later became Parker Knoll) as a study/teaching aid .. more than 200 examples from 17thC onwards.

  3. David

    Just found your fascinating site. I suggest, if you are in the London area, that you try to contact Dr John Cross at London Metropolitan University. He is curator of the Frederick Parker Collection (of furniture) and may be willing to let you have access to well over 100 items spanning 150 years, maybe more. There is some information at http://www.furnituremakers.org.uk/frederick-parker-collection and, on the right, contact information for John. If you think it might help you can say you were recommended to contact him by Tony Crowther. I used to work at that University (which was formerly the London College of Furniture) but retired some years ago. Best of luck.

    • Hello Tony,

      A great many thanks for the suggestion and the links! This may prove to be just the ‘leg up’ I’m looking for in accessing authentic items of furniture. I’m still awaiting replies from the curatorial team at the Geffreye and from the ‘Furniture and Woodwork’ department at the V&A, but these things take time! Many thanks again!

      David

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