Collinson & Lock were one of the foremost producers of Aesthetic and Art Nouveau furniture in London. A large collection of their work is on display at the V & A museum, including an antique cabinet shown at the 1871 London International Exhibition.
The company was established in the 1860s by F.G. Collinson and G.J. Lock, who worked for Jackson & Graham, a firm famous for its machine-made antique marquetry furniture . This was to become a feature of Collinson & Lock’s own work.
Art Nouveau antique dining chairs and exhibition antique cabinets
Collinson & Lock achieved early success, employing some of the leading designers of the Aesthetic Art Movement. This included the architect T.E.Collcutt, who designed their new premises, and J Moyr-Smith, who was assistant to Christopher Dresser and produced an impressive catalogue of their furniture in 1871. Other names associated with the firm include Stephen Webb (their senior designer); H.W. Batley and A.H. Mackmurdo – a precursor of his Art Nouveau Victorian dining chairs is on display in the V & A.
In 1873 the company moved to St Bride Street, experimenting with new materials and techniques. Their antique marquetry furniture, incorporating rosewood, ivory and Pietre Dure marble mosaics – a 16th century Renaissance art form – is an example of this. Antique dealers in Preston and Lancashire see their intricate Italianate arabesques, scrolling foliage and carved figures as indicative of Stephen Webb, who together with H. Batley worked on the new Savoy Theatre in 1881. By contrast, the company also produced furniture for G.E Street’s Royal Courts of Justice.
Collinson & Lock also produced some outstanding international exhibition pieces. An ebonised antique cabinet, shown at the London International Exhibition in 1871, was purchased for the V & A museum in the same year, other versions being shown in Vienna and America. At the 1878 Paris Exposition, they exhibited a number of Anglo-Japanese pieces by E.W Godwin, their most important designer, leading to international recognition.
In 1885 they bought Jackson & Graham, but it was not a success and in 1897 they were themselves taken over by E. W Godwin of Lancaster. They continued producing fine furniture, however, and in Lancashire their antique cabinets, Victorian dining chairs and antique desks regularly turn up in antique shops.