At PFK auctioneers in Penrith, Cumbria, the final sale of the year yielded a Gillows masterpiece – a George III mahogany secretaire press cupboard, which realised £3500 against an upper estimate of £2500.
Around 90% of the furniture submitted for auction at PFK is locally owned, so it’s no surprise that the popular saleroom attracts buyers from Lancashire. The antique cabinet is actually a combination of antique desk and linen cupboard; a popular and innovative design which features in Gillows 18th century pattern books. The upper portion consists of a cabinet with fielded panel doors and adjustable shelving, above which is an arched pediment with moulded detail.
The lower section carries an old paper label that reads “Isaac Greenwood, cabinetmaker, Lancaster.” It comprises a fall-front bureau with a moulded rectangular top and baize writing surface, and a deep secretaire drawer fashioned as two elongated cockbeaded drawers with turned wooden handles. The central cupboard section is flanked by further small drawers and pigeonhole apertures; fielded panel doors conceal internal linen slides, which are raised on bracket feet. The whole is an impressive 7ft 8 inches (238 cm) in height.
Isaac Greenwood began working for Gillows after finishing his apprenticeship with Robert Thornley, another cabinetmaker with Lancaster connections. Simultaneously, he began making furniture under his own name, although this piece was commissioned for Gillows. It is featured, along with a potted Isaac Greenwood biography, in Susan E. Stuart’s iconic book: Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730 – 1840.
Any antique dealer in Preston selling antique desks or cabinets by Gillow’s will undoubtedly have a copy of this book close by.
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