In Cumbria, antique cabinets are often described as Chippendale, but how authentic are they? Paul Martin recently went into this subject in detail, on the BBC antiques programme Flog It!
Recorded in Saltaire, just 27 miles from Lancashire, antique marquetry furniture didn’t feature in the valuations. However, there was plenty in the auction room, where Paul explained how auctioneers can profit by authenticating furniture pieces before they go on sale. However, it’s a tricky process.
To demonstrate this, Paul went to Temple Newsam, a magnificent Tudor-Jacobean house stocked with Chippendale antiques. Chippendale’s cabinetmaking and design skills are legendary but, as Paul explained, it can be difficult to authenticate original pieces. The Harrington Commode was auctioned for £3.5m at Sotheby’s – a world record for a piece of English furniture. However, the exquisite antique cabinet would have sold for even more had it carried a bill of sale and documented evidence proving it was made by the legendary craftsman himself. As it was, it was identified as “almost certainly crafted by” Thomas Chippendale, at his London workshops. By comparison, an antique bookcase at Dumfries house, authenticated by Christie’s as a Chippendale original in 2007, is estimated to be worth £4m. However, it could make three times this at auction, making it one of the most valuable pieces of antique furniture in the world.
There are just 600 authenticated Chippendale pieces in the world. However, the designs were made available for other craftsmen to copy in his iconic book, the Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director. Ask antique dealers in the Ribble Valley about Victorian balloon backed dining chairs and other fine furniture in the “Chippendale style”.
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