In today’s look at a smallish section of the loosely organized Covington Mechanical Library (it becomes looser every time I look at a shelf and bemoan the mis-shelving), we’ll travel to the United Kingdom and a few of her former colonies, as well as France, Estonia (via the CIA), and Sweden. And yes, I took the picture below after rearranging a bit from the lead image – so now this shelf is at least slightly more organized. (Why such a small section? I have a class that starts Monday, I’m writing this on Saturday, and I’m not quite done with stock prep. I’ll cover the rest of this shelf in my next library post.)
The first grouping is English furniture, starting (appropriately) with Edward T. Joy’s “English Furniture: 1800-1851” (Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1977), which includes the influence of Hepplewhite and Sheraton at the start of the period, the Regency period to the Great Exhibition/Victorian. That’s followed by our friend Charles H. Hayward’s “English Period Furniture Designs” (Arco, 1968). As far as I can tell, these are drawings he did for The Woodworker Magazine that were compiled by the publisher, and include measured drawings and select details for pieces ranging from the late 15th century through the Regency. In the back are one-page illustrations of various forms through the ages (chairs, chests, etc.). Next is Margaret Jourdain’s expanded edition of John C. Rogers’ “English Furniture” (Sterling, 1950). It’s divided into broad historical periods, and includes nice drawings select details and how they changed over time (drawers, cabriole legs), as well as a few tricky joints – stuff you can’t see from the outside.
David Knell’s “English Country Furniture: 1500-1900” second edition (Antique Collectors’ Club, 2000) will come as no surprise to those who know its owners love of all things vernacular – though Chris prefers Gilbert and Chinnery – both of whom are well represented in our collection…though not all on this shelf. Next is one of those favorites: Christopher Gilbert’s “English Vernacular Furniture: 1750-1900” (Yale UP, 1991), which Chris says is both excellent writing and research. Then it’s Mark P. McGrail’s “Furniture Brasses: A Short History of English Furniture Fittings (Armac Manufacturing, 1997). This one is published by a maker of hardware, so it of course shows their wares – but it’s also an invaluable education of what hardware is appropriate to the various periods in English furniture. Next up is an saddle-stitched exhibition catalog, “A Exhibition of Common Furniture” from the Stable Court Exhibition Galleries in Leeds, 1982. Our researcher extraordinaire Suzanne Ellison sent this one to Chris. It’s where he got the idea for his dearly departed dugout chair, and it has the story of his favorite “creepie” (see below).
The last book English Furniture book (in this grouping) is Christopher Gilbert’s “Selected Writings on Vernacular Furniture: 1966-98” (The Regional Furniture Society, 1991). The title alone should reveal its appeal.
Wales & Ireland
I am quite sure we have more books on both Welsh and Irish Furniture; they must be upstairs on Chris’ bedside reading stack or elsewhere on these shelves. They’ll turn up on this blog series eventually. Here, however, we have one lone Welsh offering: Richard Bebb’s “Welsh Country Furniture,” (Shire, 1994). It’s a short treatment of forms and attribution. Then it’s across the Irish Sea with Nicholas Loughnan’s “Irish Country Furniture” (Easton & Son, 1984) and John Teahan’s “Irish Furniture & Woodcraft”(Town House and Country House, 1994). Both are slim volumes that offer but a glimpse of work from the Emerald Isle. David Shaw-Smith’s “Ireland’s Traditional Crafts” (Thames & Hundson, 1984) looks at handicraft beyond furniture, from willow and straw work to other woodwork (coopering, pipes) to textiles to stonework and more. Then we have the first edition of Claudia Kinmonth’s “Irish Country Furniture 1700-1950” (Yale UP 1993). You can read more about Kinmonth in Nancy Hiller’s profile of her.
Canada & New Zealand
Howard Pain’s “The Heritage of Upper Canadian Furniture: A Study in the Survival of Formal and Vernacular Styles from Britain, America and Europe, 1780-1900” second edition (Key Porter, 1984). Publisher Steve Shanesy had this book at Popular Woodworking, and Chris always loved it. So he bought a copy. It’s an interesting look at furniture that hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage – pieces based on the traditional furniture of those who emigrated to Canada from all over the world, but produced in very different conditions. And there are a fair number of stick chairs. S. Northcote-Bade’s “Colonial Furniture in New Zealand” (Reed, 1971), a gift from a reader when Chris was working on “Campaign Furniture.” It shows some portable furniture, suitable for use on a ship and at home in the owner’s final destination.
France, Estonia & Sweden. (Together Why?)
For some reason, we’ve a single book on the crafts of France in this section (there are many more to come): “The Handicrafts of France: As Recorded in the Descriptions des Arts et Métiers 1761-1788,” (by Arthur Cole and George Watts, published by Augusts Kelley, 1952). That’s followed by Ants Viires’ revised edition of what we call “Woodworking in Estonia” – the one on which our translation is based. Alongside it is the 1969 translation into English, which has one of the craziest book stories I’ve read. Part 1 of said story is here; part 2 is here.
Last on today’s world tour is Hans Keijser, Lars Sjöberg and R. Willick’s “Making Swedish Country Furniture & Household Things” (Cloudburst Press, 1976). This was liberated from, er, a former employer, by…someone. This isn’t slöjd work; rather it’s the vernacular furniture than informs much of Chris’ work. In this book is the “Skansen Bench,” which was built as as “I Can Do That” project for Popular Woodworking, and has since been repurposed as a low workbench.
This is the ninth post in the Covington Mechanical Library tour. To see the earlier ones, click on “Categories” on the right rail, and drop down to “Mechanical Library.” Or click here.