Fred Roe was an accomplished artist who later became an expert and collector of oak furniture. Three of his books are available online to add to your digital library. Although most of the oak pieces are British there are some Continental examples. Even if you are not a fan of oak furniture there are historical anecdotes, and as one would expect, plenty of carvings. One great value of these old books is finding inspiration for your next project be it in wood, stone, textiles or that waiting-to-be-filled space between your tattoos.
Book One: “Ancient Coffers and Cupboards” was published in 1902, includes drawings by Fred Roe and begins with The Dark Ages. I have always been fascinated with linen fold panels and was happy to find ‘The Linen Panel’ chapter (sample platter below). Roe’s drawings are well done and help you see carving details that get lost in old halftone photographs. You can find the first book here.
Book Two: “Old Oak Furniture” was published in 1907 and all the images are drawings by Fred Roe.
In the chapter on ‘Old Furniture with Hiding-Places’ there is a tale involving a bed, a treasure and Richard III on his way to Bosworth. The chapter also gives you several ideas on where to search for your own hidden treasure. You can find the second book here.
Book Three: “A History of Oak Furniture” was published in 1920 and was part of a series by The Connoisseur Magazine.
This book is comprised of short chapters followed by a large selection of photographs. There is some overlap with his previous books, but put together the three books provide a small library of aumbries, benches, boxes, chairs, coffers, cupboards, dressers, stools, tables and all sorts of decorative details. You can find the third book here.
Fred Roe was able to document furniture and decorative elements found in public establishments and on private estates. Some of the old taverns and houses were later demolished, private estates were sold and their treasures auctioned. In the first quarter of the 20th century he captured a collection of oak furniture, and a century later we can still learn from and enjoy his time capsule.