Lancashire antique traders have heard news that may boost sales of Victorian balloon back dining chairs – particularly those carrying the Frederick Parker stamp. Former Parker Knoll employee Jonathan Arnold has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours – for preserving the firm’s historic collection of antique chairs.
Mr Arnold is now 75, but still runs the yearly Parker Lectures. Having spent his career with Parker Knoll, which was established by Frederick Parker in 1869, he felt driven to preserve the historic Frederick Parker collections after hearing they were about to be auctioned off as “surplus to requirements.” In 1997 he, with a few dedicated others, established the Frederick Parker Foundation, which has become a major educational resource. Housed at the London Metropolitan University, it includes the Parker Company archives, wood carvings and furniture. The majority of exhibits belong to the Frederick Parker Chair Collection; numbering almost 200items, they date from 1600 to the present day.
The Parker collection provides a fascinating history of Victorian dining chairs, as well as an insight into what came before. Frederick Parker specialised in chairs, and was convinced the only way his company could produce quality new furniture was by studying the past. The collection that exists today is a mixture of antiques collected by Parker, as well as chairs made during the Victorian and post-Victorian periods.
You can see the Frederick Parker collection without leaving Lancashire. The antique balloon back dining chairs , armchairs and other seating is available as an online catalogue, which can be viewed or downloaded at the Frederick Parker Foundation website. Antique dealers in areas like the Ribble Valley have Victorian dining chairs which are remarkably similar.
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