Preston is a long way from the city of Canterbury, in Kent. However, the trend in telephone bidding makes it easy for dealers in Lancashire to bid at the prestigious Canterbury Auction Galleries, where a set of Victorian balloon backed dining chairs were recently sold to a specialist dealer for £1,300, against an estimate of £400 – 600.
The chairs, of Anglo-Indian design were a rarity, being constructed from genuine ebony, rather than the more common “japanned” wood. They were also unusual in having cane, rather than upholstered seats. However, the star of the previous month’s sale was a single Victorian dining chair with no seat at all – a rare example by Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875) which went under the hammer for £1700, against an estimate of £600-800. As with the antique balloon back dining chairs , it was sold to a telephone bidder from outside the immediate area.
The chair was a plainly built, Gothic Revival piece, of typical Pugin construction. Edward was the eldest son of Augustus Pugin (1812-1852), who designed and furnished the Houses of Parliament. He also designed and remodelled a number of ecclesiastical and domestic properties in Cumbria and Lancashire, including Scarisbrick Hall and buildings for the Kendal-Windermere Railway Company. Edward continued this work, furnishing his buildings with his own designs. The Canterbury seat was a rare survivor from a set of Victorian dining chairs created for the Granville Hotel in Ramsgate (originally intended as a terrace of luxury homes.)
Pugin’s Gothic furniture included antique dining tables, antique chests and even Victorian oak partners desks . Look in Preston antique dealers for pieces with local provenance, though be aware many were constructed “in the Pugin style”.
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