The Lancashire cabinet making firm of Gillows is mentioned in the same revered tones as Hepplewhite and Sheraton. Many antique desks and Victorian dining chairs bearing the Gillow stamp are sold in the London area – not surprising, given that the firm had an office there.
Currently, even unsigned Gillows furniture is finding high prices in the auction rooms, even in the provinces. Just before Christmas, an unstamped Gillows antique cabinet went under the hammer at Sworders in Essex, with an estimate of £15,000 – 25,000. Following a prolonged bout of telephone bidding, it realised £84,000. Fine furniture was particularly well represented at this country house sale – the last for 2011 – with a Queen Anne style antique desk also sailing well above estimate, going under the hammer for £15,000.
Three main things define the value of antique furniture at auction – rarity, condition and provenance. This is why country house sales attract such high bidding – they can be a treasure trove for dealers. The furniture is invariably of the best quality, often commissioned by the original estate owner, and usually remains in the same family over many generations. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Gillows was a major supplier to the landed gentry, and a country house sale in Cumbria with antique marquetry furniture bearing the Gillows stamp is certain to attract lots of attention.
As time went on, Gillows furniture became more affordable to the average home, though the quality never faltered. Today, antique dealers in the Ribble Valley, Preston and other areas of Lancashire have Victorian dining chairs and antique desks bearing the Gillows stamp, at highly affordable prices.
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