Channel Island furniture and cabinet makers before 1830
In 2010 English antiques consultant John Vost began to research the subject aiming eventually to produce a book on this subject.
His project came about when he was asked to examine a group of furniture in England. To all intents and purposes the items were English and covered a period between 1700 and 1820.
However, every piece was odd or quirky in its construction and the designs did not conform to furniture manufactured during the period in London, Yorkshire or any other historic centre of manufacture in the UK; neither was it Scottish or Irish.
Discussions with the owner revealed that all the pieces had been inherited from the Channel Islands, the majority from Trinity Manor. The only conclusion to be reached was that the items were made in the Channel Islands.
Research was required to see if confirmation of this attribution could be established. It became apparent after many fruitless hours of exploration that apart from a few pamphlets on chairs and blanket chests, nothing has ever been published on the subject, hence Mr Vost’s project.
Elements of the project
The project has developed a number of distinct elements:
- The social history of the period 1680-1830 putting furniture into the context of each period and explaining how and for what it was used. This is being researched by Mr Vost’s colleague Clare Macarthur Stanham
- Channel Islands furniture in general
- The idiosyncrasies in the design and construction of the furniture explaining the differences between pieces from the Islands and their counterparts on the mainland
- The painted chests of Guernsey
- The furniture links between the northeast coast of America and the Islands and the work of a Jerseyman cabinet maker called Charles Guillaume
- The cabinet makers and what is known of their lives
When this project started Mr Vost knew of just two cabinet makers from the Islands and subscribed to the general view held in the islands that furniture was never made there, with the exception of a few pieces made by estate or ships carpenters. To date the number of known makers has increased to 40, indicating there was an industry in the Channel Islands.
How you can help
We are seeking the following:
Contact from anyone in the Islands who had cabinet makers in their families between 1680 and 1830. Other names for cabinet maker at the time are ebeniste and menuisier
Contact from anyone with pieces of furniture stamped, signed or labelled by the maker. These marks are not always obvious but are often to be found on the underside or back of drawers, inside the front of the drawer or on top of the drawer edge or door.
Contact from anyone owning a chest, usually on a stand with a lift-up top above a drawer, painted with carnations and tulips (see illustration at top of page)
Contact from anyone owning pieces by, or with specific knowledge of, the following individuals:
- Nicholas Lihou, b 1779 Guernsey, cabinet maker
- Charles Guillaume, born 1671 Jersey and Connecticut d 1727, cabinet maker
- Richard Le Gallais, b 1803 d 1870 Jersey, cabinet maker
- John and Edward Carrel, Jersey active in 1814 and 1818 cabinet maker
- John Allcock, Guernsey, active 1811 and 1816 cabinet maker