In Lancashire, antique dealers often label their antique desks and other furniture “Chippendale.” This is because the legendary furniture designer and cabinetmaker was also a wily businessman, as presenter Paul Martin explained in a recent episode of Flog It!
On 15th February, Paul and the Flog It! team were at Saltaire, near the border with Lancashire. Antique mahogany partners desks and Victorian dining chairs don’t normally feature on the show. Nonetheless, Paul was able to indulge his passion for both, when he educated viewers on the difficulties auctioneers face when trying to validate items before they go on sale.
To tell us more, Paul took us to historic Temple Newsam House, where he explained that even a Chippendale antique cabinet with a £3m price tag needn’t have been made by the master himself. Thomas Chippendale had extensive workshops in London, employing a number of craftsmen. He also made his designs freely available to other cabinetmakers, in his iconic Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director – which Paul described as a bit of marketing genius.
To some people in Lancashire, all antique dining chairs look the same. However, Paul showed how Chippendale made his seats to suit his wealthy, corpulent clients. Using the finest quarter-sawn Cuban Mahogany, he added detailed neo-classical carving, and plush, expansive seats. By comparison, a third chair was altogether meaner and cheaper in design – undoubtedly, a Victorian dining chair copied from the Director.
Paul then turned to a beautiful, authenticated Chippendale antique desk, describing an invitation to open the drawers as a “biblical moment.” Antique dealers in Preston are equally enthusiastic about the Chippendale Revival antique desks they sell, often at very reasonable prices.
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