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A set of four George III mahogany shellback hall chairs by Martin Shannon for Gillows of Lancaster

A historically important set of chairs made for Mr. Edwards, who lent his name for this type of Gillow pattern hall chairs.

Gillows of Lancaster supplied a set of four chairs to the Reverend H. Holland Edwards in 1811. Their account book describes them as ‘4 handsome mahogany hall chairs the backs carved as a shell, shaped front feet reeded £3.6s. 0d. . . .’ The painted crest matches that of a bookplate once belonging to Mr. Edwards, and confirms that the chairs were indeed originally made for him. The distinctive shell pattern of the back was subsequently named after their patron and became known as the ‘Edwards Pattern’.

Gillows of Lancaster employed many craftsmen on their premises, but their huge output demanded further expansion. They often engaged other workshops in the area on their commissions in order to meet demand. Furniture made externally for the Gillow workshops was usually not stamped with the Gillow stamp, but was sometimes marked with letters referring to the individual external craftsmen. One of these chairs is marked ‘MS’ to the underside of one of the rails, referring to Martin Shannon, whom Gillows regularly engaged. Martin Shannon is listed as a chair-maker at 15 Bolton Street in Preston, Lancashire.

Literature: Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert, ‘The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840’, 1986, p. 802.
Susan E. Stuart, ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840’, 2008, vol. I, pp. 203-4.

Exhibitions:

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  • Provenance

    Supplied by Gillows of Lancaster in 1811 to;
    The Reverend H. Holland Edwards of Pennant, Conway, North Wales;
    Private collection, USA.


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