Early Victorian Ebonised Bobbin Chair attributed to Smee & Son with Patent Lewty Castors
For sale, an early Victorian ebonised bobbin chair with JW Lewty’s patent brass castors.
The William Smee & Sons designed chair is constructed mainly of turned beech with a superb patina having formed around the arms. The backrest and arms are constructed from single numerous turned rods as are the front legs which terminate in JW Lewty’s patented castors for which the design was vested in 1833 and finally “inrolled” at The Patent Office on the 5th of April 1834. It has been newly re-upholstered in a beautiful cream fabric using the original cushions in order to contrast with the ebonised finish and the underside also bears a trade label for WE Pearkes & Son who were a prominent furniture dealer on Watford High Street in the nineteenth century.
These chairs are not enormously common and are likely to have first appeared around 1833. The date is significant because it not only ties in with the patent approval date for Lewty’s castors but it also aligns to the publication of two significant furniture and design books. The first was JC Loudon’s, “The Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm & Villa Architecture” and also William Smee & Son’s, “Designs of Furniture”. Scrutiny of both texts bears testament to the fact that Loudon was known to have used numerous William Smee & Son designs in his work suggesting they had a close relationship or at least a commercial one.
Unfortunately, Smee & Son’s bobbin chair is not one that makes an appearance in Loudon but it is clear that its design was contemporary to those which Loudon selected. Indeed, all the designs proved popular enough for Smee & Sons to have continued to re-print their pattern book until 1856 wherein it bears a more succinct description,
“Stain’d black turnery work chair with cushions ready for covering and the elbows stuff’d”.
In “A Pictorial Dictionary of British 19th Century Furniture Design”, it states that Smee was an exhibitor at The Great Exhibition in 1851 and continued to exhibit in both Paris and London until 1878. “The firm carried on both wholesale and retail business; it ranks as one of the largest wholesalers of the mid-century.”
A picture of the design is provided above.
Condition note: One castor wheel has become slightly worn but it has been maintained for reasons of originality and that it does not affect the chair’s function.
Circa 1833 - 1856