Although Arts and Crafts furniture tended to follow the Victorian trend of mainly reviving previous styles, because of their superb handcraftsmanship, these pieces had integrity which much of their machine made Victorian counterparts did not.
For example, an oak wardrobe which was made in the Queen Anne style by the cabinet maker Gilbert Olgivie was not only beautifully styled but an exceptionally well made piece of handmade oak furniture.
Olgivie was a member of the Guild of Handicraft, an organisation which was founded by C R Ashbee in 1888. The Guild is regarded as a true exponent of Arts and Crafts philosophy and Ashbee took Ruskin and Morris’ vision to heart and celebrated the skill of the artisan by teaching local working class young men from Whitechapel skills in cabinet making. Their handmade pieces would then be sold which in turn would help to finance the Guild.
Although beautifully crafted furniture was produced by the Guild, as a going concern financially it was a failure where their expensively produced handmade furniture was not able to compete with the late Victorian mass produced furniture market. Ironically, the Guild’s furniture did better in the European market where both France and Germany tended to produce better quality furniture at that time.
Plenty of fine examples of Arts and Crafts furniture still survive today which is a testament to the work of these late Victorian craftsmen. Reputable antique dealers of Arts and Crafts furniture in Preston , Lancashire will be able to show you a fine selection of pieces.
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